A couple of years ago a random musical discovery got me reading about urban Pakistan in the late 60’s and the similarities it had to Western Europe and the U.S; one common thread was the long-haired, politicised university kids making music with whatever was available to them. Bands covered Western hits and many wrote their own songs, just as artists did everywhere, but the main difference was in the recording. In Pakistan only a privileged few got to record their material and the vast majority only got to cut a single or an EP, with instrumental versions of old folk songs and Urdu film tunes were about all they were allowed to record.
By the time the 70’s arrived all laws were tightened, alcohol similar vices were banned and General Zia’s military abolished all “un-Islamic” social gatherings with a swing of the baton. A lot of the music of this time was destroyed but thankfully, a few singles remained!…
A selection of songs put to tape in that golden era were uncovered a few years ago and subsequently documented by Stuart Ellis, a blogger with an ear for non-Western beat music. In a 2011 compilation titled, Pakistan Folk and Pop Instrumentals 1966-1976, Ellis gathered 22 Pakistani beat songs together, introducing us, the listener, to a world of surfy guitars, melodic organs and local percussion. The record, released on Sublime Frequencies, captures an extended moment in Pakistani music and its history, gathering a hearty share of recorded non-film Pakistani beat music whilst adding a small, valuable piece to the history of global rock.
Ellis began working on this album in 2005 when he began making music CD’s and box sets of obscure world music for himself and his friends. As he became more and more interested in how rock music manifested itself in non-western cultures, his record hunting ignited friendships with like-minded people from all over the world. As a result, his project quickly blossomed into the excellent blog Radiodiffusion Internationaal, a site that for the past few years has posted exceptional, forgotten beat gems from far off the beaten track, sharing songs from Brunei, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, Somalia, and dozens of other countries.
Bhairavi (Bhairavi: a Hindu goddess)is one of a few selected Panthers tracks to feature on the compilation. Not much is known about the Panthers other that they were Pakistani band was formed in the late 1960’s; but their music is rather funky (check out another track I featured a couple of years ago here.) The song is an exotic and intoxicating trip into a sinuous world of hypnotic guitars and mesmerising layered melodies….Check it out above!