Funky Sitar




Before bangra (Indian hip hop), there were the usual, primordial, break beats and just plain funk (or crazy rock) cuts. The main names are Dave Pike and Ananda Shankar, but there are others. A few latterday records even purport to be "lost" sitar-funk hybrids from the funk era. Fat chance.

Among jazz musicians embracing sitar, vibraphone players number even more than guitarists. Given the difficulty of learning the instrument, guitarists probably settled for adding sarod and other Indian instruments, while lead vibists probably were happy to add the contrasting, hypnotic sound of the capable sitarist. Among Indian musicians, Ananda Shankar featured vibes prominently on one album.

There is quite a bit of hip sitar apart from Indo-jazz fusion. Ananda Shankar blended sitar and Moog synthesizer in his interpretations of such rock hits as "Light My Fire" as well as his own material. Mort Garson and Peter Walker were others who combined sitar with electronica. Funky Sitar Man, a 1990s Daptone-family release bogusly credited to "Bill Harris," features James Brown and Meters tunes performed with crunchy organ and psychedelic sitar soaring overhead.

Buying: Several of these are extremely rare originals, but many of the essential tracks have been made available on compilations and reissues.



Funky Sitar LPs

Rating
8Bill "Ravi" Harris & the Prophets: Funky Sitar Man; Barely Breaking Even BBE-LP-002; 1997 (early Daptone neo-funk LPs issued under fake name)
8Abbasss Mehrpouya [Featuring "African Jumbo"]; Persianna PSR-002; 2010/?? (reissues legendary rarity from Iran by Iran's top sitarist)
-Ananda Shankar


Partly Funky-Sitar LPs

Rating
8Brother Ahh & the Sounds of Awareness: Move Ever Onward; Divine 52134A; 1975 (Robert Northern; not funky but hip-out-spoken)
7Brigitte Bardot: [Burlington Cameo Brings You] Special Bardot; RCA Custom BC-1000; 1968 (w/Serge Gainsbourg/Sacha Distel; "Hippies"--funky raga-rock, vocal, funny)
8Joe Bataan: Call My Name; Distrolux/Vampisoul Vampi-065; 2005 (Latin funk/Latin rock; no US distribution, Bataan not compensated?)
7The Cyrkle: The Minx ST; Flying Dutchman Amsterdam AMS-12007; 1970 ("Nicole")
6Dee-Felice Trio: In Heat; King/Bethlehem ("Never")
7Frank DeVol: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner ST; Colgems COS-108 ("Groovy Delivery Boy"--mod-soul boogaloo)
7Earth Wind & Fire: Head to the Sky; CBS KC-32194; 1973 ("Keep Your Head to the Sky")
7Free Orbit; MPS 15.22517-8; 1975/1970 ("You Got It"--funky rock; Udo Lindenberg, Peter Herbolzheimer..)
6Danyel Gerard: Atmosphere ST; Gema/CBS S-64222; 1971 (in French; "Sexologie")
7The Inner Thumb: Soul Ecstasy ST; Emporer Norton EMM-7014; 1999 (fake ST of "lost" 1972 film; "Citroens 'n' Sitars")
7Quincy Jones: $ ("Dollar") ST; Warner Bros./Reprise MS-2051; 1972 ("Brooks' 50c--Main Title Collage")
7Gladys Knight & the Pips: Imagination; Buddah BDS-5141; 1973 (funk/e-sitar "Once in a Lifetime Thing")
7Volker Kriegel: Spectrum; MPS 21-20874-5; 1971 ("Zoom")
7Volker Kriegel & Mild Maniac Orchestra: Octember Variations; MPS 68.147; 1977/1976?
6Moe Koffman Goes Electric; Jubilee JGS-8009 ("Lord Have Mercy"--mod-funky)
7Moe Koffman: Moe's Curried Soul; Buddah/Kama Sutra KSBS-2018 ("Curried Soul")
7Enoch Light & the Light Brigade: The Brass Menagerie 1973; Project 3 PRSD-5060; 1972 (mod, funky; w/Candido conga, Vinnie Bell electric sitar "Season of the Witch", Dick Hyman Moog)
7Masterfleet: High on the Sea; Buddah/Sussex SRA-8028; 1974/1973 (like Sly & Family Stone; partly sitar-soul)
6Freddie McCoy: Soul Yogi; Prestige PRST-7561; 1968 (mod, strings kill any funk)
7Okko [Becker]: Sitar & Electronics (Moog/sitar/drums; w/Herb Geller)
7Hap Palmer: Movin'; Educational Activities, Inc./Activity Records AR-546; 1973 (kid funk/Moog/sitar; "Far East Blues")
8The Dave Pike Set: Noisy Silence--Gentle Noise; MPS 15215-ST; 1969 ("Mathar")
8Dave Pike Set: Infra-Red; MPS 20739; 1972 ("Raga Jeeva Swara")
8Dave Pike Set: Riff for Rent; MPS MC-25112; 1972 ("Greater Kalesh No. 48")
7Peggy Scott & JoJo Benson: Soulshake; SSS International SSS-1
7Peggy Scott & JoJo Benson: Lover's Heaven; SSS International SSS-2
8Shades of Joy; Mercury/Fontana SRF-67592; 1969 (Martin Fierro, Millie Foster-vocalist, Jackie King, Edward Adams, Jymm Young, Jose Rodriguez)
8The Shocking Blue; Polydor; 1968 (in U.S. as Colossus CS-1000)
7The Shocking Blue at Home; Pink Elephant; 1969
7Nina Simone 1974: It is Finished; RCA Victor APL1-0241; 1974 (live; "Dambala")
8The Soulful Strings: The Magic of Christmas; Cadet LPS-814; 1968 (Ron Steele plays sitar on exotic, not funky "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy")
7Up, Bustle, & Out: Compared to What/Emerald Alley; Zen 1257; 1997 (mixes of both cuts)
8Phil Upchurch: Lovin' Feeling; Blue Thumb BTS-59; 1973 ("Sitar Soul")
7Junior Walker & the All Stars: A Gasssss; Motown/Soul SS-726; 1970 (mod soul-funk; "Carry Your Own Load")
7G. Wilden: Rockin' Soul/H. Posegga: Swingers 10"; Harmonic 630; 1970 ("Sitar Soul"; UK production/soul-jazz vibes/mod soul/funky sitar)
Joe Zawinul: [Atco/Vortex LP 2002]
7Various: Untouchable Outcaste Beats Vol. 1; Outcaste CASTE 3LP; 1997 (2-LP; mostly new but w/"Mathar" & "Streets of Calcutta")


Funky 45s w/Sitar

Rating
7The 2nd Verse: Be Right Here (in the Morning)/The Salamander; IX Chains NCS-7004; 1974 (same label both sides; Side 1 vocal soul w/electric sitar; Side 2 funk)
9The Corner Boys (& Friends): Gang War (Don't Make No Sense)/Take It Easy Soul Brother; Neptune N-13
9Lionel Hampton & his Inner Circle: A Sketch of Gladys/Cool Charlie; Glad-Hamp GH-2044 (drums, wordless chorus, A-side sitar)
8Ravi Harris & the Prophets: Hot Pants Road/Path of the Blazing Sarong; Gemini 13005 (Daptone family, pseudonymous)
8The Steve Karman Big Band [featuring Jimmy Radcliffe]: Breakaway! Parts 1 & 2; United Artists UA-50451 (crime/funky sitar)
8Kahuna Kawentzmann: GoGo Sitar/Road to Estoril; Jazzman/Stark Reality Stark.012; 2001 (bongo rock/funky Moog/sitar; UK; rec. in Germany)
8Mr. Jamo [Thomas]: Shake What You Brought With You Parts 1 & 2; Perception P-3 (SSS International SSS-79; Afro-Beat/funk)
8Andre Williams: The Stroke/Cadillac Jack; Chess Blue Chip Series (A-side w/sitar; prod. & arr. Monk Higgins)
7Joe Zawinul: Lord, Lord, Lord/The Soul of a Village; Atco/Vortex 301 (from LP 2002; B-side w/sitar)


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