Remember Shakti: The Wish
Remember Shakti (Verve 314 559 345-2)
John McLaughlin (guitar),
Hariprasad Chaurasia (bansuri Indian flute), Zakir Hussain (tabla), T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram (ghatam), Uma Metha (tanpura).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: London, September 1997
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Shakti, John McLaughlin's acoustic Indo-fusion group of the mid-'70s, couldn't sell any records. McLaughlin's label Columbia was anything but happy about this. It had been used to making big money from his previous band, the commercially successful Mahavishnu Orchestra. It turns out that Shakti was a forerunner of the world music movement, which has been going strong since.
1997 marked the 50th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan. In celebration, the Arts Council of England funded a short tour of a reformed Shakti, now called Remember Shakti, throughout the U.K. McLaughlin was now playing electric guitar. For this tour, the Indian bamboo flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia replaced the original member violinist L. Shankar.
Though it is Carnatic in nature, "The Wish" – introduced on McLaughlin's 1996 album The Promise – is actually the least Indian-sounding tune on Remember Shakti. A synthesized drone serves as the under- current for a long McLaughlin introductory exploration. The sustain offered by his electric guitar allows for more expressiveness in his improvisations than his acoustic did in the original lineup. McLaughlin plays some familiar and pleasing arpeggios inviting Hussain and the melody to join. After the uplifting theme has been stated, McLaughlin, Hussain and Vinayakram enthusiastically do their thing. They were born to play this music together. It is high-energy bliss. Hussain takes a solo turn that sets the stage for Chaurasia and the rest to restate the theme. The tune ends with a reverberating bang. Remember Shakti indeed!
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky