Soho Road to the Punjab

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Bhangra breakthrough Print E-mail
In the 1970s and 80s, with Bhangra tapes available in the high street, Bhangra
found its place in the home. Interviewees for this exhibition recall "Dad's
Bhangra tapes" next to "Mom's Hindi songs" in the living room. With a
new, young, optimistic audience receptive to innovation and experimentation,
Bhujangy and Saathies began to further explore the use of western
instruments, principally guitars, in their music. Birmingham band DCS
successfully fused Bhangra with Rock; the first tape Bhangra Champion Boy
Chana owned was “Teri Shaun” by DCS. The willingness to experiment that
the musicians showed was backed up by their audience’s confidence as a
visible - and audible - community on the streets of Handsworth and elsewhere.



Apna Sangeet’s “Soho Road Utey”, Chirag Pehchan’s “Rail Gaddi”
were all upbeat, optimistic anthems. Mick St Clair took Bhangra onto the
streets, emulating the reggae sound systems. Maverick London producer
Deepak Khazanchi mixed Western drums and synthesizers with traditional
Punjabi instruments; working with supergroup Alaap and Heera he lit the
blue touch paper for modern Bhangra. Alaap’s “Teri Chunni De Sitare”
and Heera’s “Diamonds” are two of the bestselling albums of all time.

This new, confident, professionally produced Bhangra sound became very
popular with the first generation of Asians to be born and educated in the UK,
many attending university or college and some living away from home. This was
the music they took with them and shared with the people they met - British
people,but also Asians from different classes,castes, cultures and faiths. This
mixing,particularly of Bhangra with the East London Asian underground, brought
forward more cerebral artists like Talvin Singh who would later impact the
development of British Asian music.
Comments (4)add comment

vinny said:

  IF IT WASNT FOR BIRMINGHAM......MAINLY HANDSWORTH...... THERE WOULDNT BE NO BHANGRA
September 15, 2007

Harry said:

  i really wished u included some of the real pioneers of bhangra in the book. The bands that were there before the 80's and the people who really made the FIRST impact of bhangra in UK. And i agree, midlands and mainly birmingham is where it all came from and you fail to include that fact
November 04, 2007

Deep said:

  I disagree with Vinny, I think you will find that the author is quite correct in terms of where Bhangra was ignited in the UK, you may recall (if you were around at that time) that although the Bhangra music scene was admittedly present in the Midlands, London was was the catalyst for Bhangra 'mania', the new sounds and style of music were in tandem with modern day popular music, fresh, electric and western sounds were pumped through the Arishma camp like they were going out of fashion and Khazanchi had a passion and vision of where he wanted to take Bhangra music (lets not forget Khazanchi has been around since the late 70's BBC 2 programme of Asian Magazine etc). The London scene was pivotal in launching the scene on to a platform that would enable punjabi music to reach the masses in the UK and beyond. Shortly after Alaap, Heera and Kala Preet albums were released and eventually the Midlands scene really took off with a big bang. Artists such as Golden Star UK, DCS, Azaad and Apna Sangeet filled the gap in demand for live shows and performances. Great times, I feel really proud that I was there to witness events unfold - its paved the way for the Asian music scene, artists such as Rishi Rich, Bally Sagoo and Jay Sean would not be here today had it not been for the bands of the 80's. Long Live Bhangra....GREAT website by the way. Deep
May 07, 2008

jin said:

  how can Anari Sangeet Party not get a mention? Ram Lubhaya is a lagend!
February 09, 2009

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