My Favorite Albums
By Anoushka Shankar
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Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté- In the Heart of the Moon
If I had to pick one record as a favourite, which is a near-impossible thing to do, then right now it would have to be this one. I’ve listened to it religiously for the past year and it’s still growing on me. The duet is absolutely seamless and I can’t tell where one artist ends and the other begins. There are also fabulous guest appearances by people like Ry Cooder, but mainly this is a live-duet album. The kora is one of the most pure and soothing instruments I’ve ever heard, and I really credit this record with helping me to discover its beauty.
Rodrigo y Gabriela- Rodrigo y Gabriela
When Rodrigo and Gabriela were playing at the same festival as me in England two years ago, we became fast friends. Their playing inspires me hugely. It’s some of the most fiery and passionate guitar playing I’ve ever heard, especially outside of flamenco. They have a unique style and sound and it’s mindblowing to hear such energy and texture coming out of two acoustic guitars.
Ravi Shankar- Improvisations
How do pick one record from my father’s decades of music-making? Right now I’ll go with this one, first recorded in 1961, way ahead of the curve in jazz-Indian fusion. There is a beautiful three-part recording of raga Rageshree, and one of my faourite performances ever of the raga Kirwani, both with just my father on sitar, accompanied by the great Alla Rakha on tabla. But there’s also a piece with my father improvising on his classic composition off the soundtrack for “Pather Panchali” and an amazing piece he wrote called “Fire Night,” played by Bud Shank, Gary Peacock, Alla Rakha and Lou Haynes.
Bjork has been one of my favourite artists since I was around fifteen. Her artistry, uniqueness, quirky character and unusual singing style were a huge inspiration both as a women and as a musician. Homogenic was the record I was first turned onto and it could be my greatest attachment for that reason. But all these years later the production still sounds cutting-edge, and her plaintive singing on songs like “Joga” and “Unravel” just kills me still.
The Beatles- Abbey Road?
Picking a favourite record from The Beatles’ catalogue may be somewhat akin to pulling teeth. Nevertheless they as a group make it to this list as one of my favourite bands of all-time. I’ll pick this one for sentimental reasons, because it was the last they recorded (though not the last to be released). Also, of all love songs ever written, George Harrison’s “Something” is my number-one favourite. I’ve always loved it, but now I just miss him so much whenever I hear it.
Miles Davis- Kind of Blue
My go-to album for a quiet night at home with dimmed lights, candles and a hot bath. There’s a journey the album takes from slightly energetic to deeply contemplative that takes me down the same path and helps me to unwind and relax. And it blows me away how expressive Miles Davis’ saxophone can be, and how many emotions ring through as if it’s a human voice.
Umrao Jaan- Soundtrack
This is some of favourite Hindi film music ever. I grew up watching this film and now the music fills me with nostalgia on three levels: for my own childhood, for the time when we made films like this, and for the time when the film was set. The music and lyrics, not to mention their delivery, are nothing short of magic.
Massive Attack- Mezzanine
One of the sexiest albums of all time! I remember hearing it blaring through the speakers of a music store when I was eighteen and stopping dead in my tracks as the bassline just took over my entire body. I was desperate for the music and practically shouted at the salesman in my eagerness to acquire the CD. Years have passed and technology has created so much more depth of sound, but this record still pulls me in a way no other does.
Ojos De Brujo- Techari
What energy! This ensemble from Spain draws on the fire of flamenco but presents it in an entirely new light; fresh, street, and edgy. The rap, they use a lot of Indian flavours and sharp vocal percussion, they snarl and wail and play their way right into my heart.
Prem Joshua- Sky Kisses Earth
Of all Prem Joshua’s CD’s this is by far be my favourite (followed by Water Down the Ganges). There is such a palpable feeling of love on the music on this album. I really get swept into the emotion, it’s very moving. Perfect for yoga or a quiet morning in.
Gino D’Auri- Flamenco Mystico
Gino was a dear friend until his passing two years ago. Full of love, verve and humour, his manner belied the deep soulfulness that came out in his playing. This album is full of fire, passion, heartache and inescapable beauty. His guitar-playing somehow always had a delicacy and restraint even in energetic passages, which has always inspired me.
Midival Punditz- Hello Hello
This album gets a spot because of the perfect timing (and because it’s wonderful, needless to say). Released on 31st March, the album features duo Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj along with longtime collaborator Karsh Kale. It builds on the sound they helped to create, seamlessly traveling from flavours of Indian classical to rock and various electronic genres, while still retaining the spirit of all the styles touched. My favourites are the brilliant remake of Led Zeppelin’s “Four Sticks,” “Naina Laagey Re” featuring Papon on vocals, and the acoustic version of “Electric Universe” sung by Karsh.
2009 Tour Schedule
ARTIST: (R) Ravi Shankar, (A) Anoushka Shankar
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