As well as producing scores for dozens of Bengali and Hindi films, legendary composer and multi-intrumentalist Vistas Ardeshir Balsara (commonly known as simply V Balsara) pitched in to the Western sitar rock trend of the late sixties with a couple of his own albums including 1968’s Great International Hits from which these two gems have been plucked.
Tag Archives: Sitar
Norwegian Wood – Circus
An epic heavy prog/jazz rock version of Norwegian Wood by the short-lived band Circus from 1969. Apparently drummer Chris Burrows now teaches Buddhism and Zen drumming while saxophonist Mel Collins went on to work with a ridiculous number of different artists including King Crimson, Bryan Ferry, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, Roger Waters, Trevor Horn, Bad Company, Joan Armatrading, Alan Parsons, Dire Straits and Tears for Fears to name but a few. Remember the sax solo in Tina Tina’s Private Dancer? That was Mel.
Norwegian Wood originally appeared on the Beatles album Rubber Soul in 1965 and is a cryptic account of an extra-marital affair that Lennon was invloved in. The title is a reference to a type of cheap wood panelling that was in vogue in London at the time. While John Lennon claimed the song as entirely his own, McCartney claims they wrote the track together. The sitar part played by George Harrison was the first appearance of an Indian string instrument on a Western rock track and sparked a late sixties sitar craze.
I Can See For Miles – Lord Sitar
You might never have heard of British session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan, the man behind the moniker of Lord Sitar, but you’ll certainly have heard him playing on over fifty number one singles from the sixties and seventies, ranging from Sandie Shaw’s Puppet on a String to Serge Gainsbourg’s Je T’aime. If you’re a follower of this blog, you might have even unwittingly seen him playing guitar for the James Last Orchestra on this cover of Hawkwind’s Silver Machine.
I Can See For Miles was written by Pete Townshend for the Who’s 1967 album The Who Sell Out. Townshend believed it would be the Who’s first number one single yet it peaked at number 10 in the UK charts. Townshend was disgusted: “To me it was the ultimate Who record,” he said “yet it didn’t sell. I spat on the British record buyer.”
I Can See For Miles was also reportedly the inspiration for the Beatles’ Helter Skelter. Paul McCartney recalled writing Helter Skelter after reading a review of The Who Sell Out in which the critic claimed I Can See for Miles was the ‘heaviest’ song he had ever heard. Helter Skelter was McCartney’s attempt to one up the Who by making an even heavier track with “the most raucous vocal, the loudest drums, et cetera”.