Happy Independence Day - Jai Hind
Agni Nakashathram by Mani Ratnam - starring Prabhu, Karthik, Amala, Nirosha had music by the one and only IR. The album was raging hit by any standards. It had nice mix of all genres producing a feel-good effect when you complete one-round of listening :-).
Per request by many, have tried to cut down on very detailed description of the songs, baby-step at a time. Tell me, if it has worked :P
Ninnukori Varnam - Chitra
Trademark IR violins open this classic fusion number Ninnukori. Acoustic Guitar /Slap bass can be heard being beautiful played. Even though am not an expert in chords, have heard/read from many who are, that IR matches the best of best when it comes to chords. It is proved amply in this song. Azhagiya Raghuvarane (0.58- 1.00) marks the beautiful climax of the pallavi.
Awesome work on the drums, which was one of the hallmarks of this album mark the interlude which has an interesting synth sounds backed by lovely bass riffs.
The stanza, has remarkably underplayed chords, continues with the excellent backing by the guitars and the flawless chitra singing away beautifully. If there is one line that sags in the entire song it is the poojai kaaga yengudhu (2.02-2.12) but that is more than compensated for in the line that follows immediately. Unnondu Naan is constructed amazingly - yet again the guitar doing its bit. Lovely! is the only word that comes to mind.
Second interlude, a very classic IR piece, with yet again, wonderful touches on violin, synth and drums. Second stanza follows the first to a 'T'. Interesting point to note the word of 'mohanam' which is the ragam of the song for those interested. It typically is a practise for all carnatic composers to include the reference to the ragam, in which the song is based on. Will we know whether it was intentional ?
Beautiful fusion number, amazing work on the bass & guitar and flawless rendition
Rating 4.6 out of 5
Oru Poongavanam - S. Janaki
Birds chirp away, flapping their wings setting the scene for the song. Janaki starts off the song with Oru Poongavam. There is the beautiful loop of piano with simple chords. Water splashing (signifying Nirosha swimming) and solo flute sets a melancholic mood to the song which is accentuated by the piano/violin combo with cute beats.
The rhythm pattern changes and sets the tone for the stanza which continues along the main theme of the song. The best part of the stanza is when Janaki hits ulaavarum (2.18-2.28). The violin backing up those lines are simply so cute !. Just a brief one-liner is all there is before you get into the second-interlude. IMHO, second interlude is *the* highlight of the song. synth pieces with amazing violing backing is simpy out of the world.
A simple song, with a touch of melancholy, nicely done.
Rating 4.2 out of 5
Roja Poo Aadi - S. Janaki & Chorus
Cool and hip rhythm piece welcomes you along with chorus harmony/voice chaas (instead of 'oohs') and awesome guitar/slap bass combo yet again. Roja Poo was so dance-inspiring when heard 17 years back. It still is such beautiful fast number. The chords in the pallavi are very nicely layered to bring awesome effect. Janaki emotes well, not ideal for the situation, but still executing the task of sounding youthful in masterly manner. By the time the pallavi is over, You will already be humming ta.taan.ta.taan after the line Roja Poo Aadi vandhadhu
Interlude, again, has violins, guitars and drums forging a superb alliance. Stanza adds to the foot-tapping effect by building on top of the theme. A wonderful twist awaits you at Thodu Thodu 2.15- 2.24.
Second interlude has beautiful piano roll and continues superb work on the violins from where it left off from the first interlude with 'voice chaas' . Stanza is same as the first, the twist, when it comes, is still superb at Idho Idho 3.28 - 3.37.
Bass is much more muted than other songs. IR unleashes some more power chords to top-off the song on a superb note.
Such a dance number, better than many numbers belted out today.
Rating 4.3 out of 5
Thoongatha Vizhigal - K.J. Yesudas & S. Janaki
Who would'nt fall in love with this wonderful number !. It had all the ingredients of a perfect melody - tune with carnatic base (ragam Amruthavarshini - more on that later in this blog), superb orchestration, flawless rendition and voila - a chartbuster !
The opening rhythm pattern is the typical 80'ish one. But that is the only thing that is predictable about the song. Chorus singing with techno sounds in the background and a brief flute cameo sets the tone for the pallavi - literally so. The pallavi is so lavishly composed in Amruthavarshini. It has some very interesting example of how to handle of meter-thaala kattu for the lyrics. In the fourth line, you have 'Anbe Nee illadhu' and the previous line that was similar was 'Paneerai theLithAlum'. You can never do the same meter for Anbe and Paneerai and thats where you can see how IR's genius comes out in 0.44 -0.47 - Wow !
Interlude is brief, simple and harps on the theme of the song. KJY starts the stanza with Mamara Ilai Mele . This alters the style of the song, bringing in some beautiful chord backing the voice of KJY. Some of the pieces are agmark Amruthavarshini - especially 2.07 through end of the stanza. Janaki handles those sections with marked ease. Amazingly well done stanza.
Second interlude is notably different from the main theme of the song, with yet again the stanza bringing in the dialog version of SJ & KJY singing. Second stanza is no different than the first.
Yet again bass riffs & chords have to be given their due credit ! - beautiful work.
Even though KJY handles the song comfortably, I felt Janaki came out on top in this song !.
Amruthavarshini ragam is made of S G3 M2 P N3 S. The ragam is supposed to bring 'rain' when sung. Whether or not that is true, our heart is moist with lovely melody when listening :-). My roomie pointed out another song by K.V. Mahadevan Anathineya Ra (Swathi Kiranam - courtesy Raaga.com)
Awesome song !
Rating 4.7 out of 5
Vaa Vaa Anbe - K.J. Yesudas, Chitra
This songs sounds evokes a pathos kinda mood even primarily because of the use of shades of Sivaranji ragam through the major portion of the song.
Violins, flute and piano join in to welcome us for the opening of the song, before KJY can start. The pallavi is simple with nice violin & guitar backup. Violin Chords are wonderful - you just have to wonder, how such chords have been plucked out of thin air for a ragam like Sivaranjani - only IR
Guitar cotinues to shoulder the bulk-load of the interlude, which is very IR'ish by all means :-) . The stanza is very simple and straight forward, Chitra gets to join-in with Kalai Malai. The chords deserve mention starting at 1.56 - 2.16. Awesome !!. Chitra also emotes to a sad-context. Was this song recorded for some other situation and MR used it out-of-context ? But lyrics all point to a love-duet !
Second interlude, is the best part of the song, wonderful orchestration (Violin & flute). Well, who better than IR to arrange something like that !. Second stanza follows the first in all aspects and brings the song to an end.
Notable piano rolls at the back-end. Quite passable a song. IMHO this song is the weakest link of an otherwise stellar album.
Rating 4.0 out of 5
Raja Rajathi - IR & Chorus
The opening line of this song had been on the lips of everyone during its release. It also had its due share of fun-pokers as to how 'recitative' the song was instead of being a 'song'.
IR showcases his skills as a vocalist & his mastery over rhythm/drums in this song. The drum piece in the first interlude is still famous, he has actually made a 'song' out of that piece !
Pallavi has some nice harmony backing up IR going Raja Rajathi and beautiful bass riffs. Interlude as mentioned above is out-of-the-world, you just listen to it with dropped jaws period. :-)
Stanza continues on the theme of recitative singing. People looking for typical IR 'tune' would not find it in this song. The second interlude is IR with experimentative hat on. The change in rhythm, did not augur well for the song, it kinda lost the tempo, which is odd for a song, that banks on the awesome rhythm. The second stanza is all the same but for the change in rhythm pattern. The song finishes off in the same fast tempo as it opens. It was/is still a dance number amongst most youngsters !. A very catchy, foot-tapping piece indeed
Rating 4.4 out of 5
The collection, has a perfect breath-taking mix of variety of songs, fusion, western, filmi etc. Very wonderfully done. Can't repeat it enough as to how the bass guitar/chord sections are so superb, that all aspiring musicians can ignore listening to such albums only at their own peril.
Some of the other observations include, the duration of the songs - most of them are under 4.30 minutes and also how the first stanza and the seldom differ in their arrangement :-)
This album, IMHO, is one of IR's bests albums.
Overall Rating 4.4 out of 5 - Must Have in any music lover's collection !
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