Latin America is a region defined by years of change and social upheaval. Today, as ever, dance is a potent identifier and method of cultural expression. This Rough Guide invites you to take to your tango, roll out your rumba and set your salsa sizzling with the hottest sounds from the likes of Argentinean duo Mas Alla, Martinican melody-maker Dede Saint-Prix and Brazilian sambista Ruivao.
Kicking off the album with a swinging salsa, Virginia-based experimenters Bio Ritmo lay down a winding keys riff layered atop with the blasts of a hearty horn section and sweetly delivered male vocals. A few tracks in we are treated to ‘Oran Oran’ by Maurice El Medioni and Roberto Rodriguez. El Medioni hails from Algeria and recycles his varying influences (from American boogie-woogie to rai) delicately and dextrously on the piano. Here El Medioni is accompanied by Cuban percussionist Rodriguez and together the pair create a distinct Afro-Latin groove.
Colombiafrica reverberate their champeta straight from the streets of Colombia. A powder-keg of Colombian rhythms brewed together with Congolese soukous, Ghanaian highlife and Nigerian Afro-beat – this band offer a riotous take on contemporary street dance. Staying in Colombia but striking back through the decades, the vintage track ‘Ocho Dias’ by Los Corraleros De Majagual is a slinky throw-back to cumbia done big-band style. Harmonized horns call and respond to a caramel-smooth choir and lead male voice.
‘A Zero Por Hora’ is contributed by Brazilian singer Vitor Ramil. Teaming up with Rio-born Marcos Suzano, the pair present their hope for the future of samba; acoustic instruments riffing on traditional dance figures nestle alongside textural ambient electronics.
Watching Latin dance is like watching a living history lesson played out, every stamp and flounce encapsulating centuries of change in the region. From the circle dances of the Taino Indians, to European set-dances introduced by Columbus and his compadres, via complicated African cross-rhythms introduced during the dreaded slave trade, not forgetting jubilant Creole carnivals and contemporary urban street styles – dance is Latin Americas living history. Celebrate the legacy with this unique Rough Guide to Latin Dance.
Disco graced Bollywood big-screens in typically high-voltage fashion; metallic-lacquered flares, blinding over-sized mirror-balls, smoke machines galore, and more technicoloured flashing dance floors than you could shake a (suitably rhinestone encrusted) stick at. Throw yourself back to the glittering heyday of Bollywood disco on this handpicked Rough Guide.
James Brown’s guitarist Fred Wesley famously said ‘Disco music is funk with a bow-tie’ - a witty observation but much too modest for Bollywood’s case. In typically high-voltage fashion, disco done Indian style added so much more; metallic-lacquered flares, blinding over-sized mirror-balls, smoke machines galore, and more technicoloured flashing dance floors than you could shake a (suitably rhinestone encrusted) stick at.
Disco graced Bollywood big screens throughout the 1980s and has left its mark on the modern movies soundtracks of today. The opening track on this Rough Guide ‘Auva Auva Koi Yahan Nache’ is taken from the aptly named 1982 blockbuster Disco Dancer and features a high-energy bass-line, penetrating peppy vocals and luscious string arrangements. In the film a flock of glittery skirt-wearing females dance simultaneously atop a decked-out club stage. Other tracks offer similarly entertaining sounds and settings: ‘Hum’ is a down-tempo dramatic ballad that channels the cross-over from disco into 1980s pop styles. In the film the lead male sings while cruising aboard a speedboat, leaning at the helm in his cowboy hat and shark-toothed necklace he cuts a dapper figure. His female accomplice is awash with 1980’s patterned printed clothes and dances energetically on top of an aeroplane no less.
In the US disco steamed up from the hot and hectic streets of 1970s New York. Embracing decadence and presenting a new souped-up beat-driven sound, disco is widely read as a retaliation to the placid, perennially positive hippy-dom of the 1960s. The UK already had its ears opened to American contemporary sounds via the Northern Soul Explosion and hosted its first disco number one single in 1974 with Georgie McCrae’s ‘Rock Your Baby’. Soon imported cassettes and vinyl worked their way into the hands of Indian film composers such as Bappi Lahiri, R.D. Burman and Biddu Appaiah. As a result those who spend a little time digging through the Bollywood archive find a rich haul of four-to-the-floor party tunes.
The fun-loving magpie mentality of Bollywood meant composers were more than happy to cherry-pick their favourite disco sounds and work them into their music. ‘Boom Boom’, sung by the Pakistani popstar Nazia Hassan, lifts Giorgio Moroder’s bass line straight from the Donna Summer hit ‘I Feel Love’. Transversely many composers infused their disco groove with Indian elements, ‘Come Closer’ written by Bappi Lahiri is a hazy, smoky number with subtone vocals and intercepting sitar solos.
Legendary Bengali playback singer Kishore Kumar makes three appearances on this album. Kumar was a hugely important musical figure whose vocals epitomised the ‘Bollywood sound’ throughout the 1970s. Renowned for his distinctive style of yodelling, his forays into disco heard here reflect his versatile vocal ability. ‘Om Shanti Om’ is a mostly mid-tempo number with a sustained sing-a-long-able chorus-line. In the film Karz the song accompanies a performance by Rishi Kapoor who artfully dances on top of a huge revolving vinyl record. ‘Zingadi Ek Safar Hai Suhana’ makes use of Kumar’s yodelling skills within the first thirty seconds, and is a fast-paced floor-filling track taken from the 1971 film Andaz. ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’ is taken from the 1978 action film Don and is written by the composers Kalyanji-Anandji, a duo of brothers from Gujarat who, like many others, knew the creative and commercial appeal of working disco vibes into their Bollywood grooves.
Other treasures abound on this Rough Guide To Bollywood Disco. Make sure not to overlook classics of the genre ‘Hari Om Hari’ and ‘I Am A Disco Dancer’. Today Bollywood disco lives on via modern interpretations and vintage appreciations. The cult club night ‘Bollywood Disco’ in New York is ever popular and regularly schools the American youth in the long-lasting influence of the genre – their website explains how even contemporary hip hop producers such as Timbaland and DJ Quik glean titillating morsels from the Bollywood back catalogue and work them into their soundworld. So time to shake down those dancing shoes and throw yourself back to Bollywood’s disco heyday on this handpicked Rough Guide.