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Review

Three great composers,
one versatile singer

This is a collection that showcases SPB's younger voice under three master composers


Golden Hour
S P Balasubrahmanyam
Super Solos
HMV
Rs 55

Listening to Vaan nila by M S Viswanathan from the 1977 film Pattinapravesam was nostalgic all right. But if nostalgia can be classified into eras, then this is not the era of A M Raja or Talat Mahmood. It evokes a totally different sensibility: not of romantic melodies and visuals of black and white films, but a more intellectual expression of emotion.

In Vaan Nila, the orchestra arrangement, rich with guitar chords, accordion fill-ins and a lively chord progression, satisfies a sensibility looking for movement as well as aesthetic wholesomeness. The soulful violin solos add tenderness. The song progresses in an organic way, there are no patchy bits stuck in for lack of better ideas.

Inbam kattila
Aval deha kattila

Kannadasan plays on the word kattil and kattu, in the first line it stands for the cot and the second the body's form.

The majority of songs are composed by M S Viswanathan, a composer whose creative genius flowered in the demanding genre of film music. Aval oru navarasa natakam is fast, and SPB is breezy, but he was only then (1973) trying to find his own space and style.

The erotic mood of Idazhe idazhe from Ithayakkani (1975) flows along unexpected chord progressions and melody lines. The double bass is very close to the jazz style, there are flighty but short key-flute bits and accordions fill in unobtrusively. SPB is at his cajoling best.

The lone classically rich song is Raagangal pathinaaru from Thillu Mullu (1981). Viswanathan uses the sarod and the sitar and SPB does a definitely more creditable job than in Shankarabharanam, again music by MSV.

There are just two songs each by G K Venkatesh and Shankar-Ganesh. G K Venkatesh, one of the greatest Indian film music composers who made a huge number of wonderful tunes in Kannada, was also popular in Tamil. The song in this tape is Thoduvudenna from Sabatham (1971). His style, characterised by a misleading light, insubstantial touch, was extremely intelligent and his progressions and movements are unpredictably delightful.

SPB stylishly renders Shankar-Ganesh's cha-cha style song, Unnai naanparthathu from Pattikattu Raju (1975). He improvises set lines in the style of ghazal singers. This was a novelty and one feels it must have been his own contribution.

Three songs from Ilaiyaraja whose style was moulded by G K Venkatesh also feature here. Ennadi Meenatchi from Ilamai Oonjalaadugirathu was a big hit. Raman aandalum starts with a folk-tribal chant in Kannada, then shifts over to tappanguchi style with the tribal beat tattooing the bits.

Ilamaiyenum from Pagalil Oru Iravu, can be termed an all-time Ilaiyaraja classic. The melody is incomparable, the interludes with their sweeping violins and flutes are movingly juxtaposed with the guitar, and the chorus on the stanzas is subtle. SPB's tender voice flows with ease over the rich emotions.

The collection is worth it, but the tape we got wobbled unforgiveably. Check out the quality of the tape you buy.


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