The Best of Shakti (Moment Records MRCD 1011)
John McLaughlin (guitar),
L Shankar (violin), Zakir Hussain (tablas and percussion), T.H. Vinayakram (ghatam and percussion).
Composed by John McLaughlin & L Shankar.
Recorded: London, England, August 1976
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
"India" originally appeared on Shakti's A Handful of Beauty album, which has been very difficult to obtain after its initial release. It opens with a mind-bending string-bending display from McLaughlin. The scalloped fret board he used on his guitar, modeled after the Indian Vina, allowed him to pull and push down the strings to such an extent that the bends he achieved were beyond belief. In this exposition he even loosens and tightens the tuning nuts to achieve further Eastern-influenced bliss.
A gentle guitar arpeggio introduces the sonorous violin of L Shankar. The tune is spatial in parts. A relaxed rhythm cycle infuses the Indo-jazz piece. Percussionists Hussain and Vinayakram ramp things up to get ready for a McLaughlin solo turn. He is just whipping the notes out. They are a blur of bends and snaps. In between runs he strums the set of harp-like strings that have been built onto the body of his guitar. His playing is melodic and percussive. At some point McLaughlin joins the rhythm section for support of L Shankar's solo. The band gets down. A lightning-quick unison fest then takes place before the gentle opening motif returns for a coda. Shakti rocks!
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky