Raga Rock & Pop Sitar




To anyone who grew up with 1970s FM radio, mentioning "Games People Play" or other pop-sitar tunes can bring shrieks of terror. The heyday of sitar was too much of a good thing even if you dug Ravi Shankar's endless raga concerts. The world of sitar is generally two-fold: classical Indian music played properly on a carefully tuned, traditional instrument; and a cheesy twang added gratuitously to 1970s rock, pop, and country, usually to signify the musicians' hipness to psychedelic drugs. ("Pop sitar" here means all tunes except classical, jazz, or soul/funk played on either the traditional sitar or the electric sitar.)

The Beatles' adventures in India and the electric sitar gave pop sitar a campy life of its own. The electric sitar was invented not for amplification's sake but because the true sitar was considered too difficult to master. It soon became a popular effect despite sounding sometimes as convincing as a kazoo imitating a horn. Session guitarists added it to their repertoires, arrangers worked it in as they could, and producers twanged the precarious tightrope of taste. Some country artists even took to it as a previous generation had adopted Hawaii's steel guitar. Whether convenience or scourge, electric, pop sitar reflects the ugly, cheap side of psychedelia. Overall, however, sitar reminds us that the contemplative life is as alluring as ever in this world of harsh beats.

See Vinyl Safari for other Indian and Indo-jazz LPs, some partly pop-sitar.

Buying: Most pop-sitar LPs are very scarce, even the awful ones, yet LPs with an odd sitar track abound.



Raga Rock/Pop Sitar LPs

Rating
7Jayram Acharya: Sitar Goes Latin; EMI/Odeon SMOCE-2003; 1969 (Enoch Daniels, arranger)
8Kali Bahlu Takes the Forest Children on a Journey of Cosmic Remembrance; Liberty/World Pacific WPS-21875
7[V.] Balsara & his Singing Sitars: Great International Hits; EMI/Odeon S-MOCE-2002; 1969 (India; 1st press has bird, jacket rear btm rt corner)
6Vinnie Bell: Pop Goes the Electric Sitar; Decca DL-74938
3Prahba Devi: Sitar Goes International; Audio/Kaybee KBLS-110 (the worst)
7The Folkswingers: Raga Rock; World Pacific WPS-1846 (Harihar Rao)
3Nirvana Sitar & String Group: Sitar & Strings; Audio Fidelity/Mr. G 9001; 1968 (awful)
7Rajput & the Sepoy Mutiny: Flower Power Sitar; Design SDLP-280 (supremely awful)
-Ananda Shankar
6Lord Sitar; Capitol ST-2916
6Big Jim Sullivan: Sitar Beat; Mercury SR-61137


Partly Pop[/Rock] Sitar LPs

Rating
5101 Strings: Sounds of Today; Alshire S-5078
7The Banana Splits: We're the Banana Splits; Decca DL-75075; 1969 (TV show; "In New Orleans")
6Les Baxter/Various: Wild in the Streets ST; Capitol/Tower SKAO-5099; 1968
5Vinnie Bell: Good Morning Starshine; Decca DL-75138 ("Aquarius")
7Ambrose Brazelton/Edward Shanaphy: And the Beat Goes On & On; Kimbo Educational KIM-5010 (kid funk/sitar; 12 '60s mod-pop-rock hits)
6Jerry Byrd: The Polynesian Suite; Monument SLP-18107; 1968
3Al Caiola: King Guitar; United Artists UAS-6586; 1967 ("Stag or Drag")
6Al Caiola: Let the Sunshine In; United Artists UAS-6712 (partly electric sitar)
7Al Caiola: Blockbuster Movie/TV Themes; United Artists/Two Worlds TW-9102 (Vinnie Bell on "Assignment Munich"; also as Theme from the "Magnificent 7 Ride" '73; United Artists/Avalanche AV-LA058-F; 1973)
6Bobby Christian: Vibe-brations; Ovation OV-14-06; 1970 ("Mooganga")
8Continental Four: Dream World; Jay-Walking JWL-1020; 1972
7The Corporation: A "Sound" Contemporary Musical Investment; Command RS-929-SD (mod/sitar dir. Loren Becker & Robert Byrne; w/Vinnie Bell, Dick Hyman..)
4The Bob Crewe Generation: Music to Watch Birds By; Dynavoice DY-31902; 1967
8The Jimmy Castor Bunch Featuring the Everything Man: Butt of Course...; Atlantic SD-18124; 1974
7The Jimmy Castor Bunch Featuring the Everything Man: Supersound; Atlantic SD-18150; 1975 ("What's Best?")
7Martin Denny: A Taste of India; Liberty LST-7550; 1968
7Do'a: Light Upon Light; Philo PH-1056; 1977 (primordial New Age/occult/sitar/flute/guitar/mbira..)
7Do'a: Ornament of Hope; Philo PH-9000; 1979 (primordial New Age/occult/sitar/flute/guitar/mbira..)
8Donovan: Sunshine Superman; Columbia/Epic BN-26217
7The Bernard Ebbinghouse Orchestra: The Big Band Sound/Orchestral Sounds/Rhythmic Moods/In a Quiet Mood; Bosworth Backgrounds BLP-147; 1976 ("It's All Go"; production/mod)
3Ron Frangipane: Rated X for Excitement; Mainstream MRL-300 (Vinnie Bell, electric)
7Free Orbit; MPS 15.22517-8; 1975/1970 ("You Got It"--funky rock; Udo Lindenberg, Peter Herbolzheimer..)
7Mort Garson: The Zodiac Cosmic Sounds; Elektra EKS-74009; 1967
6Danyel Gerard: Atmosphere ST; Gema/CBS S-64222; 1971 (in French)
2Jackie Gleason: The Now Sound for Today's Lovers; Capitol (w/Emil Richards)
9Bruce Haack: The Way-Out Record for Children; Dimension 5 D-131; 1968 ("Mudra")
7Bruce Haack: Listen Compute Rock Home--The Best of Dimension 5; Emperor Norton; 1999 (compilation; "Mudra")
4Joe Harnell: Bossa Now!--A Total Sound Experience; Columbia CS-9499
7Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination & Brass: Waitaminute; MPS MB-21751; 1973 ("Wild Chick" w/Sabu Martinez, Herb Geller..)
5Paul Horn Quintet: Monday, Monday; RCA Victor LSP-3613; 1966 ("Acapulco Gold")
[Incredible String Band, various records]
5Marianne Faithful: Go Away from My World; London PS-452 ("Wild Mountain Time" w/Big Jim Sullivan)
7Wanda Jackson: Wanda Jackson Country!; Capitol ST-434
8Saeed Jaffrey: The Art of Love (Kama Sutra); Vanguard VSD-79228; 1966 (spoken w/sitar)
5Jerry Kennedy Plays with All Due Respect to Kris Kristofferson; Mercury SR-61339 (w/Pete Drake; "Casey's Last Ride")
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")
6Chim Kothari: Sound of Sitar; London/Deram DES-18001; 1966
7Phil Kraus/Living Percussion: The Beat Goes On; RCA Camden CAS-2255; 1969 (w/Dick Hyman)
8Dr. Timothy Leary: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out ST; Mercury MG-21131 (sitar/veena, Moog, voice; Performance PERF-389; film never released)
3Enoch Light & the Glittering Guitars; Project 3 PR-5038-SD; 1969 ("Games People Play"; Vinnie Bell)
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)
7Enoch Light & the Light Brigade: Future Sound Shock; Project 3 PR-5077-QD (percussion/sitar/Brasil/caribeat; "Caravan"; Vinnie Bell, sitar)
8Dave Mackay & Vicky Hamilton; ABC/Impulse AS-9184; 1969 ("Blues for Hari": mod bossa w/Francisco Aguabella, Bill Plummer..)
3Henry Mancini: The Party; RCA Victor LSP-3997; 1968 ("The Party"--instrumental)
6Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66: Equinox; A&M SP-4122; 1966 ("Chove Chuva--Constant Rain")
7Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing; Sidewalk/Camaret ST-5000 ("Green Tambourine")
6Yvette Mimieux/Ustad Ali Akbar Khan/Pandit Mahapurush Misra: Flowers of Evil; Connoisseur Society CS-2007
4Tony Mottola's Guitar Factory; Project 3 PR-5044-SD; 1970 ("Tequila")
6Stanley Myers: Kaleidoscope ST; Warner Bros. WS-1663; 1966? ("Shazam!"; w/John Mayer, Diwan Motihar, Keshave Sathe)
8Chitra Neogy: The Perfumed Garden; Mercury/Pulsar AR-10600 (sex instruction)
7Hap Palmer: Movin'; Educational Activities, Inc./Activity Records AR-546; 1973 (kid funk/Moog/sitar; "Far East Blues")
[Jeannie C. Riley]
8Don Robertson: Dawn; Mercury/Limelight LS-86067 (exotic/out/psyche/sitar)
6Rotary Connection; Cadet Concept LPS-312
7Don Sebesky: The Distant Galaxy; Verve V6-5063
3Bobby Shad & the Bad Men; Mainstream/Red Lion MRL-306 ("Prelude/Instant Karma")
3Jack Sheldon: The Warm World of; Dot DLP-25908 ("Nature Boy")
7Lalo Schifrin: Music from Mission Impossible; Dot DLP-25831 ("The Sniper"--Bill Plummer)
8The Shocking Blue; Colossus CS-1000; c.1969
7The Soulful Strings: Groovin' with the Soulful Strings; Cadet LPS-796; 1967 ("Within You Without You")
7The Soulful Strings: Another Exposure; Cadet LPS-805 ("Inner Light" & "Soul Message")
8The Soulful Strings: The Magic of Christmas; Cadet LPS-814; 1968 (Ron Steele on "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy")
6Sound of Genesis/Victor Jay/Astronauts: Journey to the Moon; Buddah BDS-5045 (partly spoken; rock w/sitar & electronic effects)
6Big Jim Sullivan: Le Pays des Merveilles; Disques Vogues CLD-708.30; 1967 ("Haschish-Faction")
6Ultimate Spinach; MGM SE-4518 (Alan Lorber)
7The Unfolding: How to Blow Your Mind & Have a Freak-Out Party; Audio Fidelity AFSD-6184; 1967 ("Prana")
6The Ventures: Super Psychedelics; Liberty LST-8052
4The Ventures: Hawaii Five-O; Liberty LST-8061 ("Games People Play")
6Peter Walker: Rainy Day Raga; Vanguard VSD-79238; 1967 (sitar-esque)
6Peter Walker: Second Poem to Karmela or Gypsies are Important; Vanguard VSD-79282; 1968 ("Mixture" combines Indian instruments & ondioline)
5Various: Fusion; KPM 1121; 1973 (mainly funky rock)
5Various: Performance ST; Warner Bros. BS-2554 ("The Hashishin")
5Various: Quadraphonic Demonstration Album--Program 2; Vanguard VSQ-2X; 1972 (Joan Baez: "Love is Just a Four-Letter Word")


[Partly] Pop-Sitar 45s

Rating
6Alexys: Big Wayne/The Last of Me; Dot 16994 (country blues/novelty/folk prod. Bonnie Guitar; electric sitar)
5Louis Armstrong: Willkommen/The Happy Time; Brunswick ("Willkommen" only)
6Chim Kothari: Sitar 'n'Spice/Indian Bat; London/Deram 45-DEM-85002
7Dr. Timothy Leary: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out Parts 1 & 2; Mercury 72713 (ST promo; Part 2 not on the LP)
7The Lemon Pipers: Green Tambourine; Kama Sutra (reissue backed w/Ohio Express: Yummy Yummy Yummy)
7Doc Severinsen: Knowing When to Leave/Barbarella; Command 45-4125 (w/Don Sebesky)
7The Shocking Blue: Venus/Hot Sand; Colossus C-108 ("Hot Sand" only)


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