The first Bangla rock I heard was in law school, when my room-mate started going out with a girl from Kolkata (yes girl from Kolkata, I've stopped referring to you as a mad Bong woman). Like the copybook romantic, he started learning Bengali, listening to Bengali rock, and referring to fish as a bhejjytable. We listened to tapes of bands like Ark and Taj Mahal, who sang 'missionary-position' (thanks kareem) 80s rock in Bengali. If you didn't listen too carefully, you could be forgiven for thinking they were singing in English. Of course, as time went by, the girl from Kolkata introduced him to Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen and the Doors and John Lee Hooker and so on, and somehow or the other no more Bangla rock played in our room.
Even in the brief period for which I was a 'boy from Calcutta,' I didn't manage to listen to any more Bangla rock.
Until last week that is. Week before last I'd picked up an assorted Bangla Rock CD from Cal since it cost 38 Rupees, and I had never seen a CD that cost 38 Rupees before, I wondered how bad the music would be to justify the lack of self-belief evidenced by the price, and just had to find out.
I didn't play it for a few days because a 38-buck CD doesn't really cry out to be played. And then the Robot visited, and on a lark I popped the CD into my system. And it proceeded to blow my mind.
If you like 80s rock, in all its powerchord-driven, melodic-harmonic, guitar-wankeried over-the-top glory, chances are you'd be happy with this record. The tunes are catchy, if a little derivative; the vocals and guitars are excellent, and the song structures are classic 80s rock (Van Halen, Mr. Big, Europe style). The production is average, and some of the guitar tones sound a little digital. The mixing, especially when there are multiple vocal and guitar tracks, gets a little sticky, but on the whole everything is clear enough to hear. There are some comic interludes, especially when they try to bring in some English, like this backing vocal that goes "ah wanna steal your bardy, ah wanna keel your daddy"...yup...
I can't tell you any more details about the record, because all of the information on it is (in true Bengali fashion) written only in Bangla. But from a close examination of the script, we could make out that the bands Cactus and School, are represented on the record. If you want to get your hands on it the exact same way that I did, then head over to the "City Centre" mall in Salt Lake, walk into the Planet M and look for a slim, black card-paper cased CD that costs 38 Rupees. (the store attendants might help, if they're not too busy playing on the X-Box 360 demo piece that's been set up in the store).
I'll be in Cal in a couple of weeks and I plan to stock up more on Bangla rock. I'll also try and find out more details about the records and where else they may be available. If you are interested in the info please feel free to mail in at firstname.lastname@example.org.