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Old 07-08-2008, 03:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Kula Shaker - K

If a group of people were to start reeling off names of British bands that had hits in the mid-nineties, it would probably be a while before Kula Shaker got a mention, if at all. However, the four piece band fronted by Crispian Mills (son of actress Hayley Mills) released K in 1996 and it became the fastest selling debut album in Britain since Oasis. Despite it’s acheivement a decade later it has become a hidden gem of the ‘Brit-pop’ movement.

A mixture of rock and Indian influences bring about a very interesting album and one that should be more well known and appreciated than it sadly is today. Clear influences are felt throughout, especially from The Beatles’ later work and The Greatful Dead. Mills’ vocals are nothing amazing but they are good throughout and have their really good moments. The band are also well adept, especially using some great guitar riffs and melodies, at times sounding almost like a Jimmi Hendrix tribute act but in a good way. This is a very enjoyable album, and whilst not the first time to mix popular music with an Eastern flavour, it certainly does it in a way that really works.

Hey Dude- A fine intro, the drums and guitar kick off and show how the ‘rockin’ side of this album will feel. A very catchy song with interesting lyrics, great guitar work and one of the rare songs where I like the verses more than the chorus.

Knight On The Town- Guitars once again lead this song, the main riff opens the tune and slight Indian tones are felt for the first time in this album as well as a prog-rock feel as the track goes on.

Temple Of Everlasting Light
-A more trippy and Indian song next. I don’t like the first half of this but once it builds up and the extra voices kick in then I am fully there even when it mellows back and resumes its semi-trippy vibe.

Govinda-This is where we get into full traditional Indian music mode. A surprise hit back in the day, it is the only top ten hit in Britain to be sung entirely in Sanskrit. however, it is very catchy and it certainly rocks out in the second half. This song shows how two styles of music can mix and still be brilliant, the guitars go so well with the beat and the tamboura etc and the public embraced it, even if they didnt know what they were singing.

Smart Dogs-We’re back with rock, though the vocal melody retains the Indian vibe. Yet another great guitar riff as it whails its way through the track, lyrically it is weak but this song is more about fun than meaningful messages.

Magic Theatre-A more mellow track follows. Some people will like this, but i don’t really care for it much. I feel it is not only in the wrong place, but it spoils the mood that has been set up by the previous tracks.

Into The Deep-Probably my favourite track on the album. I love the piano intro, love the middle eight, love everything about the track.

Sleeping Jiva-This is a purely instrumental tune, purely made up of traditional Indian instruments. It’s kind of ok but not really my thing, its more of a lead up to the next song but feels slightly too long for it’s purpose.

Tattva-Another hit here in the UK, this time with English lyrics in the verses. Slightly less catchy than Govinda, but still a really good song.

Grateful When You’re Dead/Jerry Was There-A clear reference to one of this album’s greatest influences. Another great guitar riff leads the song in, good lyrics, a strong vocal perfomance and a catchy ‘Ba ba baaaaa, ba ba baaaa’ in the chorus. This is another fun song. Unfortunately, the second half, a tribute to Jerry Garcia fro the Greatful Dead, is the opposite. It is another slow, trippy track that just plods it way to the end. Nothing exciting here, which is a shame as the first part of this combo is great.

303-Here we have some very cheesy and cliche lyrics and yet the song is catchy, fun and full of energy and life. This song is nothing amazing, but when it comes on it’s hardly one to skip. Enjoy it for what it is, don’t spend time thinking about the words, especially if you do not like them. Great guitar work throughout though and a very good peformance on the vocals.

Start All Over-I really like this track, it must be a bit understated as I always forget about it until it plays. Good lyrics, good performance by the band. There’s something missing that prevents it being a great song, but not all dongs need to be great. The song is perfectly placed in the running lost, fits fantastically with the feel and mood that the album bathes itself in.

Hollow Man-We close with a slow intro, piano based. This is a lovely gentle two and a half minutes which leads into the songs acoustic guitar and vocals. After a simple song the electric guitars make their final appearance on the album, bringing it to a rocking end, not as catchy as the better songs but still pretty good.

There is a thirteen minute silence followed by a brief recording of a holy man speaking about his guru…..not worth the wait.

RATING: 8/10
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Very clear, concise review. I need to finally get round to hearing this album, it's one of those 90's secondhand bargain bin standards. So many great albums from that decade have been swept under the rug, I wonder why? Tattva = classic single.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wait till Urban reads this . A well written review but the album is a pile of tosh to be honest.
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Old 07-08-2008, 05:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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it's probably 'fun', like the first Beastie Boys album. i think the 90's was where this obsession with mixing everything up-front started with albums, everything is in your face. but now it's just gotten ridiculous.
people can't stomach 90's indie, it's hilarious. the 60's were definitely in back then weren't they?
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Old 07-08-2008, 06:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ToeAndno View Post
Govinda-This is where we get into full traditional Indian music mode. A surprise hit back in the day, it is the only top ten hit in Britain to be sung entirely in Sanskrit. however, it is very catchy and it certainly rocks out in the second half. This song shows how two styles of music can mix and still be brilliant, the guitars go so well with the beat and the tamboura etc and the public embraced it, even if they didnt know what they were singing.


Say to someone of Indian decent (as are half my family) that this load of tosh is based on traditional Indian music and they'll either laugh at you or punch you in the face. It might be sung in Sanskrit but it's just a load of nonsense in Sanskrit.

If you want rock mixed with bangra authentically rather than some rich kid who went to Goa to 'find himself' and now thinks he's a part of the culture get Cornershop's 6 a.m. Jullander Shere instead.
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Old 07-08-2008, 06:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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weren't they accused of being racist at one point? seems a bit harsh
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Old 07-08-2008, 06:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It is a fun album overall, but there are some really good moments in it that take it beyond.

Crispian Mills, the lead singer, made comments about the Swastika and people took it the wrong way. Most people don't understand that this symbol had origins and meanings way before Hitler came along, even after Crispian explains it, haha.

Anyway, this is taken from wikipedia:

On Sunday 20 April 1997, the national UK newspaper The Independent ran a front page article in which it claimed that Crispian Mills "had dabbled with Nazism and its most potent symbol, the swastika."[2]. The article drew together various comments Mills had made to the UK music press in 1996 and early 1997. In one of the interviews from March 1997 for the NME (New Musical Express) the following was printed:

Crispian: (in reference to his vegetarian beliefs that killing animals is just as bad as killing humans) The principle is we've got a violent society, we always go on about the virtues of peace but we aren't living a peaceful lifestyle

New Musical Express: It's an obvious comparison, but Hitler was a vegetarian who had no qualms about murdering humans, babies included, by the thousands.

Crispian: Right, but Hitler knew a lot more than he made out. Hitler and his whole gang weren't just a bunch of f___ing psychos, they were also into magic and all that. I mean, talking about ruffling feathers with statements in magazines, I love the swastika. It's a brilliant image, it symbolises peace and the sun and illumination - it's everywhere in India. I'd love to have great big flaming swastikas onstage just for the f__k of it. It's like, that was Hitler, don't let him steal something like that from you. I mean the Nazis studied the Vedas, the Scriptures, the Holy Grail, but they were just using it as a power trip.

New Musical Express: You have a sneaking admiration for Hitler don't you?

Crispian: No...but it's a shame the baddies always get the good uniforms. Ha ha! *end quote*

However the intentions, it certainly didn't help his career.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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BTW what the hell has happened to Kula Shaker
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Old 07-10-2008, 05:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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BTW what the hell has happened to Kula Shaker
They still tour, they come over here quite a lot. A load of my 60's/classic rock obsessed mates obsess over them, probably the most recent band apart from Wolfmother they listen to!

I actually saw them live about 2 years ago at a festival, very unremarkable.
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Old 07-12-2008, 01:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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They released an album in 2007, I've not heard it and wasn't even aware of its release at the time.
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