«­·´¯`·»¦« The 10 Best Local Pop Albums ...ever «­·´¯`·»¦«

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«­·´¯`·»¦« The 10 Best Local Pop Albums ...ever «­·´¯`·»¦«

Post  ÑiDØ_KiDØ on Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:19 am

0. Mohammad Ali Shehki - Ali in Action (1980).

After taking the cue from the late-'70s, post-Ahmed-Rushdie Filmi-Pop experiments conducted by Alamgir, Mohammad Ali Shehki, finally launched himself with this album. It helped him become the great Alamgir's closest contemporary in the post-'70s Filmi-Pop arena. Till this day, Shehki's debut remains one of his finest hours, sizzling with bouncy Filmi-Pop blended with genres, from the quasi-hippie white-kurta-worn-over-faded-denim-pop to the slick-tuxedo-club-pop! And today, even though the (now) over-40 Shehki is still active (in the post-'88 Neo-Filmi-Pop scene), the truth is, his work in the last ten years has been that of a bloated, 40-something pop-star who has been pumping iron to keep pace with the ways of his (far) younger neo-pop contemporaries.

45 ain't a good age to be dancing around trees, dad!

9. Hadiqa Kiani - Roshni (2000).

Riding high on the reputation of being a vocalist who was talented enough to eventually become the next Nazia Hassan, Hadiqa didn't disappoint in this respect with her debut album, (1995's "Raaz"), even though the compositions/music on the said album actually failed to fully utilise the singer's rapidly evolving potential. However, on the excellent and crisply produced "Roshni", not only did Hadiqa manage to ultimately become the next Nazia, but the way she so effortlessly glided through the many distinct genres she explores on "Roshni" (from Neo-Filmi-Pop to FM-Pop to Techno), elevated her status to being one of the post-modern Indo-Pak pop scene's leading "pop diva?"

8. Music Channel Charts: Vol:1 (1993): Various Artistes; & VJ:1 & VJ:2 (1996 & 1998): Various Artistes

The churning-machine-tele-producer, Ghazanfar Ali's trendsetting pop show, Music Channel Charts (hosted by the then teenaged and spontaneous Bhangra-Rap act, Fakhar-e-Alam), helped sweep-in the Second-Wave of the land's post-'88 neo-pop-explosion with a number of highly promising post-Vital Signs acts .... most of whom, unfortunately, just couldn't convert the big hits they scored on the popular show into something more permanent. But the great songs that first turned them into 15-minute-stars, all of them can be found on "Music Channel Charts: Vol:1". Especially, Collage's intense Sufi-Rock cracker, "Sonhi Mahiwaal"; Jazba's groundbreaking "militant-rap" number, "Jago"; Fakhar-e-Alam's pioneering local Bhangra-Rap chestnut, "Bhangra-Pao"; the then "underground" Junoon's angry "Talaash", plus some very promising Neo-Filmi-Pop and FM-Pop tunes by acts such as the Fringe Benefits, Arsh, Shehzad Roy, guitar-whiz, Aamir Zaki, Nadeem Jafri, the jazzy Milestones and Vital Signs-clones, the Sequencers. Apart from Fakhar-e-Alam, Aamir Zaki and, of course, Junoon, none of the others managed to survive beyond their disappointing debut releases.

VJ is the other pop show with the proud distinction of introducing the kind of new talent that was powerful enough to raise the post-'88 scene's Third-Wave. Totally low on budget (compared to slick, expensive, but rather substanceless and overtly corporate shows like Pepsi Top Of The Pops), VJ was rather hilariously hosted by anti-heroic, non-slick and parody/satire-friendly vj's like Faisal Qureshi and Ahmed Ibrahim, and directed by Jawad Bashir and Ahsan Rahim (all of whom have now become big names, but are still as anarchic as ever). Apart from introducing excellent new talent in the shape of Hadiqa, Dr Aur Billa, Abrar, Jawad Ahmed, Sharique Roomie and many others, VJ was equally popular for the mad-cap ways it went about ruthlessly parodying the pretensions of major-league local corporate-pop stars, the smug mainstream scene, cheesy Lollywood/Bollywood films and as well as itself! So, if you can lay your hands on these compilation tapes, experience the nostalgia of all the anarchic fun and power of the wave of songs and sarcastic jabs with which VJ become a massive, sponsorless cult attraction and then a real pain in the neck for a number of bloated, exhibitionistic and narcistic corporate-pop acts.

7. Vital Signs - Vital Signs Volume 1 (1989).

Perhaps the local Neo-Filmi-Pop/FM-Pop album that kicked-in the very First-Wave of the post-'88 neo-pop-explosion in Pakistan. A wave led by Vital Signs and a number of acts that followed (such as: The Jupiters, Live Wires, Aamir Saleem, Ali Haider, The Barbarians, Final Cut, etc.), all of whom creatively expressed the feeling of euphoria, hope and celebration of a brand new era within the sociology and politics of (mostly the land's new urban middle-class youth culture) at the violent end of General Zia-ul-Haq's myopic and suffocatingly right-wing dictatorship; and at the realization of a post-Zia society gearing to "open-up" and slip-away from the hold of reactionary lobbies, intelligence agencies and the mullah-politicians. "Vital Signs Volume 1" (though wholesomely apolitical), the songs and the music on it, however, are vividly reflecting the euphoria of the times, in spite the fact that the album's last two songs ("Musafir" and "Yeh Shaam"), are excellent examples of the deep-blue melodicism and the dreamy melancholia of the type of beautiful '70s Filmi-Noir compositions by the great Robin Ghosh.

6. Ali Haider - Sandesa (1994).

The prolific Ali Haider's biggest hit to date and with which he solidly consolidated his position as Pakistan's leading Neo-Filmi-Pop man and the scene's most ubiquitous poster-boy-pop-star. Apart from continuing with the way he funked-up his Neo-Filmi sound on 1992's "Qaraar", Ali Haider dug-in deeper in this context by lacing "Sandesa" with more funky grooves, and Simon and Garfunkel type of Folk-Pop melodicism (a la the highly entertaining "Purani Jeans", the song which eventually put "Sandesa" in the local-pop hall-of-classics).

5. Nazia & Zoheb Hassan - Disco Deewane (1980).

Even though the roots of local homegrown pop can be traced down to Ahmed Rushdie's pioneering Rock-'n'-Roll-meets-Bubblegum-Pop-meets-Filmi-Pop dittie, 1966's "Cococorina", it was, however, Nazia and Zoheb Hassan's "Disco Deewane" that was a more direct influence on the acts which (after 1988) started the new Pakistani pop scene as we know it today. Bouncing and rebounding with cheesy late-'70s Disco beats and Filmi-Pop lyricism, "Disco Deewane" captured and successfully reflected the whole invasion of early Disco music in Bollywood and Pakistan (and which, by then, and ironically, had died a much deserved death in the West!). The album is quite like "classic" Disco: Cheesy, mindless, plastic-coated fun (a la Abba), but just short of also being sleazy (a la Donna Summer). Great entertainment, though, as in artless but in no-way heartless. Awwww....

4. Bobby & Julie (1976): Alamgir; & Aina (1976): Various Artistes

After Ahmed Rushdie had reached his peak (in 1975) as local Filmi-Pop's top man, and before that, his female counterpart, Runa Laila had left for Bangladesh, the void in this respect was rather brilliantly taken care of by a young, enthusiastic Alamgir (and later Mohammad Ali Shehki and Naheed Akhtar). He proved to be far more experimental. Like the way he so fluently blended the Filmi-Pop sound with early-'70s Glam-Pop, Latin folk music, and a bit of Disco on his compositions for 1976's Lollywood stinker, Bobby & Julie, from which "Daikha Na Tha" is a top-notch classic, and the song which finally turned Alamgir into a hugely influential star.

1976 .... the year the liberal "swinging '70s" came to a myopic halt in Pakistan via the toppling of the populist Z A. Bhutto by Zia's right-wing coup .... was also the year when local Filmi-Pop's more melodic, moody and melancholic off-shoot-genre, Filmi-Noir, reached its peak with the great Robin Ghosh's beautiful and introverted compositions for Lollywood's biggest blockbuster ever, Aina. Just check-out Mehdi Hassan's "Kabhi Main Soch Ta Hoon"; Nayara Noor's "Roothay Ho Tum Tum Ko Kaisey Manaoon Piya," and Alamgir's "Mujhay Dil Sey", and you'll know, nay, feel, exactly what I mean.

3. Junoon - Inquilaab (1996).

After belting it out for six years as the scene's leading guitar-driven Pop-Rock cult attraction and an enthusiastic bunch of left-field angry-young-men (with a solid anti- "Dil Dil Pakistan" socio-political anthem, "Talaash" [1993] to boot), Junoon finally broke-through the mainstream scene with the highly versatile and passionate Sufi-Rock bombshell, "Inquilaab". An album on which the band took leader/guitarist Salman Ahmed's catchy, off-the-wall riffs and clashed them head-on with raving Sindhi/Sufi-folk-music ("Saieen"; "Mera Mahi"); Floydian introversion ("Rooh Ki Pyaas"); the ambitious intoxicated-Rushdie-Filmi-Pop-meets-Rush-like-Progressive-Rock ("Neeli Ankhain"); and their pumped-up, U2ish & Zeppelinsque "Spiritual Revolution" chestnut ("Main Kon Hoon"). "Inquilaab" stands and walks tall (in spite the fact that it also contains cash-in patriotic-pop-anthems like "Jazba-e-Junoon" and misguided missiles like the directionless rock remake of an old Jupiters' song .... plus the fact that the band was about to get itself into a messy, contradictory situation by loudly making paranoid, right-wing Hamid-Gul-type political statements and as well as "revolutionary" and "spiritual" appeals while sitting pretty and smugly on a lucrative and cynically-packaged Coke contract!). Well, after making it really big with the patchy "Azadi" and the powerful "Parvaaz", Junoon, with last year's lame, tame and Coke-addicted "Ishq", unfortunately, have now only managed to let all their passionate hard-work burn-out with a whimper.

2. Sajjad Ali - Chief Saab (1995).

The classical-music-trained-vocalist decided to take the plunge and dive into the Neo-Filmi-Pop arena with the big-selling "Babia 93"; and even though he has gone on to become one of the finest and popular Neo-Filmi acts, it was his (most versatile) 1995 album, "Chief Saab", which broke all previous local-pop-sales- records held by such major-league players as, Alamgir, Nazia & Zoheb, Ali Haider and the Vital Signs .... until, of course, Abrar's stunning debut, 1996's "Billo De Ghar" surpassed the big retail numbers scored by "Chief Saab". But "Billo De Ghar", rather ironically, did it only due to its highly populist and snappy Bhangra-Rap title-song (because the rest of the album pretty much sucks!); while "Chief Saab" is basically Sajjad Ali in great multidimensional form, taking the listener for a superbly entertaining joy-ride across a number of genres, like: From the addictive, slow-mo' Hip-Hop of the title-track which, with a tongue-in-cheek wink, parodys Bollywood gangster movies (and that too by fluently using vintage street-smart Bombay-speak and Karachi's college-slang); to the riff-friendly Hard-Rock vibe of "Tumain Mujh Sey Nahin Pyaar", and all the way to the classic '90s Neo-Filmi-Pop of "Bulbul." "Chief Saab" is, really, sheer listening pleasure, and no wonder it eventually became Sajjad Ali's platform from where he moved rapidly into becoming one of the local pop scene's most talented vocalists and, (both creatively & commercially speaking), a solid, consistent performer.

1. Vital Signs - Vital Signs Volume 2 (1991).

Long before the Vital Signs turned from being an astute and deeply melodic FM-Pop act and into a shameless, "greedy" and complacent corporate-pop business venture they (through "Vital Signs Volume 2"), delivered not only their finest album, but also local-pop's best 45-to-50-minutes. Even though the album begins with "Vital Signs Volume 1"-like Neo-Filmi-Pop ("Sanwal Salonii"), and then moves along into scoring great, melodic FM-Pop ("Mera Dil Nahin Available"; "Teray Liye Hai Mera Dil"), its overall sound and mood throughout remains rather sombre, with subtle, moody shades of melancholia and even pessimism. In other words, if their debut album reflected the social/cultural euphoria cutting across the land's new, urban middle-class youth cultures, "Vital Signs Volume 2" captures well the confusion, depression and anti-climax that followed the shattering of the initial euphoria due to a new round of ethnic/sectarian/campus violence and the "democratic" return of Ziaist myopia and "constitutional coups" (thanks to the "rigged" election of the dead dictator's "corrupt" capitalist prodigy, Mian Nawaz Sharif, who replaced the chaotic rule of the liberal-feudal, Benazir Bhutto).

It is true that the Vital Signs were (freshly) taken under the cynical wings of a lucrative Pepsi deal, and that by the time they had gotten down to recording "Vital Signs Volume 2", they had lost their lead guitarist (Salman Ahmed, now of Junoon, and "fired" by Vital Signs leader and synth-player, Rohail Hayat, for "creative differences"), all this, paradoxically, and actually, help make the album radiate a dark-blue sound and compositions (produced crisply and in dreamy Floydian style by Rohail ... a sound and overall mood that would not have been possible without "mentor", Shoaib Mansoor's introverted lyrics; vocalist Junaid Jamshed's sombre vocals, and especially, new guitarist, the highly underrated, Rizwan-ul-Haq's deeply melodic and moody playing). Back in 1991, this album, regarding the local pop scene, was also quite ahead of its time, especially via the Floydian overtones giving great melodic depth to Neo-Filmi-Pop/FM-Pop beauties like "Yaad Karna" and "Hum Rahay Rahi"; and the pumping sub-Techno landscapes of songs such as "Baazar" and the band's most angry and direct socio-political statement, the powerful and thumping, "Aisa Na Ho Yeh Din."

The production-and-creative-qualities of "Vital Signs Volume 2" have helped it to sound as modern as anything done with the help of far more advanced recording facilities today, even after eleven years when it was first released. Brilliant stuff, indeed .... but its makers are now unfortunately fat, decadent and bald. Quite like Mian Nawaz Sharif at the peak of his, pre-disgraceful-exit and nihari-loving PM days!


These reviews and rating are based on facts and figures provided by people.
I thought you might be interested in by looking back to the fathers of pakistani pop
music and their beautiful kavishes....ENJOY

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