Ananda Shankar, nephew of world-famous sitar player, Ravi Shankar, never quite matched the success of his uncle, but made a significant impact in the '70s psychedelic underground scene by combining Western electronics and Indian music to create instrumental jams and moody soundtracks.
The son of famous classical dancers caught the show-biz bug in the late '60s and traveled to Los Angeles, where he played with rock musicians (including Jimi Hendrix) at the pinnacle of the psychedelic movement. At age 27, he signed a deal with Reprise Records who released his debut self-titled album; a fusion cult classic that combined Hindustani music with psych-rock and included sitar-heavy versions of "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Light My Fire." After poor Stateside record sales, Shankar returned to India and began constructing 1975's Ananda Shankar and His Music, a blend of furious funk beats, keyboards, and traditional Indian instruments. From 1978 to 1981, he recorded five conceptual records: India Remembers Elvis (Indian versions of Elvis standards), A Musical Discovery of India (an endeavor financed by the Indian tourist board), Missing You (a dedication to his parents), the space-themed 2001, and the jungle safari-tinged S+í-Re-G+í Mach+ín. In the mid-'90s, a new generation of DJs and musicians found an abundance of samples in his discography, and when Blue Note released the 1996 compilation album Blue Juice, Vol. 1 which featured two of his dance tracks, "Streets of Calcutta" and "Dancing Drums," a reawakened interest in his music led to a tour-slot in Peter Gabriel's Womad festival and another alongside Asian turntablist DJ State of Bengal. This collaboration resulted in 2000s Walking On, featuring Shankar's sitar virtuosity mixed with bachelor pad breakbeats and trip-hop. Sadly, he never saw the release of the album, due to a sudden heart attack at age 56. In 2007, Fallout Records reissued Ananda Shankar and His Music, with S+í-Re-G+í Mach+ín with India Remembers Elvis tacked on as bonus tracks. ~ Jason Lymangrover
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