2003   APRIL 3   #093

Salma & Sabina Agha - Dancing Queen

When I saw this tape in the store, how could I resist?

There's a great Asian market in North Minneapolis. Over the years, though a random buying process, I've learned how to cook pappadams (get yourself a proper pappadam cooker first!), which of the canned foods were yummy and which were...uh...kinda scary, what Vicco Vajradanti toothpaste tastes like, and the joys of potato rackets.

In the early 1990s, the store also sold cassettes, most for $2.99. One of the advantages of music-shopping in an Indian store is that, due to the years of British rule, most of the credits use the letters from A-Z, and not Arabic or Chinese script. So, though I first went looking for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tapes, I also picked up on other qawwali singers such as Aziz Mian and the Sabri Brothers. Indian Classical music on lots of different instruments, Bollywood soundtracks...anything that looked weird (Tamil Disco Hits Vol. 5, for example).

$3 a tape is a great encouragement to take chances. (Today, the cassettes are gone, but there are now a few $3 DVDs!)

From the early 1980s to the late 1990s, the Multitone label put out a steady stream of pop/bhangra music, and this is among the creamiest of their early releases. Released in 1981, the producers Peter Moss and Deepak Khazanchi did a great job of reproducing the Abba arrangements. In the 1990s, Multitone released a techno remix of this album...however that tape is sadly not to be found here at home.

From the liner notes:

"This cassette contains the Hindi versions of the melodies of the World's Number One Pop group -- ABBA. Their melodies are magic and their reproduction in any other language is a challenge which only the most talented and versatile musicians and singers can accept. This challenge was accepted by a group of people from the Indian Sub-Continent and Europe. Amit Khanna, the writer of numerous Indian hits is the author of the Hindi lyrics on this cassette. he has not only managed to totally preserve the feel and atmosphere of ABBA but also given a new " Indo dimension " to the lyrics, which are undoubtedly the most beautiful songs ever written...
The two Agha sisters, Salma and Sabina have put their voices to these lyrics... With their stunning personalities, looks and voices, the Agha sisters are sure to become a phenomenon on the musical scene."

Stay tuned to the Project for another Hindipop track in a few days. Thanks to Otis and all the curators, especially April Winchell who reminded me of the wondrousness of these recordings!

- Drew Miller (Omnium Recordings and Boiled In Lead)

TT-3:46 / 5.2MB / 192kbps 44.1khz
from the cassette, "Sing The Hits of ABBA in Hindi" (Multitone CMUT1006) 1981

(Image courtesy of Drew Miller)