We can't think of many other performers like the singer / songwriter / dancer / actress Asha Puthli who have excelled in such a broad range of genres. From 60s psych, Classical Indian music, Free Jazz, Pop, Soul, Disco, to Rock, the list goes on. A 'best-of' or an 'essential collection' is always going to be a subjective thing, but for what is unbelievably the first official compilation covering the full breadth of Asha's illustrious career, we aimed to provide a snapshot into her ever- evolving musical journey and a tribute to the vast richness of her catalogue.
Some singers want to be famous, others are pop star icons, and some are artists; Asha is the latter. Asha is a true force of nature, regardless of the genre she explores, she fully commits, moves on, and reinvents herself, always progressing. Looking back on Asha's career, it is evident what a trail-blazer she was, opening doors for her contemporaries and those who came later to step through. Whether it was conscious or not, you can recognise Asha’s influence in aspects of Kate Bush's ethereal image and performance, in Donna Summer’s high-smooth vocal sound and disco stylings, and in the gumption and power of Grace Jones.
Kick-starting the compilation is ‘Pain’, the Indian psychedelic garage rock sounds of The Savages featuring Asha. We have to admit, we had to strongarm Asha into letting us include this track at first; also due to its rare nature (and lack of any master tapes) the recording we present here is raw and low-fi. However, we felt its inclusion was important to fully represent the journey of Asha's career, the same consideration was also applied to two of the Asha and The Surfers’ songs that we have included in this collection.
Asha saw a link between jazz and classical Indian music "the improvisation, the minor chords, the free form, the liberalness of the art" we showcase her love of jazz here with seminal works with the legendary Ornette Coleman, taken from the revered Science Fiction album.
Asha's 'CBS years' are represented here, how could we not include 'Space Talk' on this collection, and how these years progressed into her amazing disco offerings such as 'I'm Gonna Dance' and 'Music Machine'. The bizarre 'We're Gonna Bury The Rock With The Roll Tonight' from 1980 has also won us over. A pseudo-50s throw- back song that sounds not unsimilar to the post-modern, leftfield, pop of an MIA production to come years later.
Rounding off the compilation we have Asha's interpretation of a Michael Jackson classic that sat lost on a cassette-only released in India.
Released: June 2022
Label: Mr Bongo