Beginner's Guide to Bollywood

Bollywood music has been loved in the West for the way it Cuisinarts different styles together, mixing and matching like crazy in the same song. This extensive collection places a great emphasis on that side of the music, which makes for an easy introduction to the myriad styles that have made up Bollywood over the last 50 years. There's plenty of music from the '70s (one whole disc is devoted to it, plus part of another), which was a golden era for Bollywood, and the development of the music -- which comes from the soundtracks of the gloriously successful Bollywood films -- is well laid out here, both by example, and in the excellent booklet. While some might feel too much emphasis has been placed on the eclectic side of the music, that's the big drawing card, as composers and arrangers constantly seek new things. The 'playback singers', as Bollywood vocalists are called, are, along with the composers, the real stars, and the big names all get an airing. While more space could have been devoted to the '50s and '60s, and the '80s and '90s, which have seen such a rich development in the form with composers like A.R. Rahman showing the full possibilities of Bollywood music, greater exposure would have been nice. But with just three CDs on which to try and capture the madness and the melody, the compilers have done an excellent job of putting together this beginner's guide. ~ Chris Nickson

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