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{MUSIC MINUTE} “The Devil is Loose” by Asha Puthli

Well it sure has been a minute since we’ve had the chance for another addition to our beloved {MUSIC MINUTE} corner of our blog. Things have been really hectic and full, which is great, but with summer officially in full swing we are hoping to take the opportunity to put up more content here to ensure treasures of the {PAST} can be upheld here in the {PRESENT} and hopefully continue shaping our {FUTURE}…

Here we have a wicked piece called “The Devil is Loose” by one of those icons that everyone should know (but doesn’t) – Asha Pulthi! This song is from her album by the same name, and was her third of eight recorded albums.

Asha was born in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) February 4, 1945 and trained in classical Indian music and opera before falling for the devils of jazz which she infused into her traditional roots. After graduating from a public University in India, she received a scholarship to go to New York City and study with legendary choreographer Martha Graham (that aspect will make total sense when you see her moves in the video).

Her fate was setlled when her appearance on “Aint it Peculiar” by the Peter Ivers Band which was covered by major music magazines like Billboard and Rolling Stone. Her reckless abandon and joyful reverie was heard (and you can hear it too here– HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and soon she had avant-garde jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman knocking on her door, or calling her phone? We may never know…but she would make the most prophetic and signature vocals for his out-of-this-world improvisational jazz album Science Fiction, and the rest is history!

She was signed by John Hammond who most famously discovered Billie Holliday, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen – so very good company indeed!

Like I mentioned, this is from her third album of the same name (“The Devil is Loose”). Sadly not much is written about this album at all (at least in English) since it never saw its release in the US. But throughout, her vocals are sultry, soft, sweet, soulful and mysterious… her voice vaguely reminiscent of Diana Ross and then at other times as great and grand as Aretha Franklin.

Unfortunately for Asha, the money men at CBS London found an easy way out of hoisting her up and getting paid her proper dues when she became pregnant which effectively brought an end to her escalating royalties.

But before they could stiff her completely, performances on British television  would ensure her the right to negotiate royalties that only major acts such as The Beatles were able to obtain at the time- 14%!!! This and coupled with her pregnancy, Asha was shipped off to Germany much the same way The Beatles had been shipped to Hamburg.

However, unlike The Beatles, this choice by CBS London essentially hindered her career much more into obscurity and  allowed for artists like Donna Summer to build their brand off what Asha had rightfully developed.

She herself claims that Donna Summer, alleged Queen of Space Disco, copped her style- not only vocally, but literally too!

According to Asha, during one of her performances in Germany in the early 1970s she was approached by Ms. Summer herself.

Donna was in this moment “belting out songs” according to Pulthi, rather than the subdued dreamy vocals of Asha, inspired by her Hinduistic classical training, which gave that otherworldly style that would become the virtual sound of any major Munich disco…and would soon be adapted by the now famous Disco Queen that EVERYONE has heard of.

Not only that, Donna Summer allegedly approached Ms. Puthli backstage asking where she could find Asha’s custom made dress, to which Puthli would not oblige.

Donna, unbeknownst to Asha, went ahead and asked designer Bill Gibb to which he refused. Them’s the breaks, I guess.

“A lot of people say that this album [The Devil Is Loose] and the other album are templates that later on Donna Summer, Pete Bellotte, Georgio Moroder all ripped off from my sound. Now, remember I’ve mentioned to you that I was suspended because I was pregnant. So at that time was when they jumped on the bandwagon, apparently. This is what I’m told by people in Germany, in the industry. Because when they called me up they said, ‘We want to work with the real McCoy,”

-Asha Pulthi {source: Red Bull Music Academy}

Nonetheless, she is more and more recognized in importance and relevance for her ethno-fusion cosmic disco avant-garde synthy soul vibes, her out of the world stage presence (her moves have also been centred out as a major influence to Kate Bush), and undeniable individuality. A rebel spirit through and through.

Her first album “Asha Pulthri” was shot by Mick Rock who was David Bowie’s official photographer (she would also go on to hire Pierre LaRoche, Bowie’s iconic makeup artist), and was admired by art influencers such as Richard Avedon, Manolo Blahnik Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Diane Vreeland, and even headlined at Studio 54.

Her style was always changing and was always an eclectic mash up of her heritage, the {present} day (for her, {past} for us), and the unknown frontiers of space and time….So, how about that Donna Summer?

She most notably also made an appearance in the obscure Merchant-Ivory art film “Savages”, as one of the three wild women leaving very little to the imagination.

Her music was even literally blasted into space in 2009 from the Goonhilly British Satellite Earth Station on the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing. Why, you ask? Well

“{her music is} a form of free-floating, ultra-sexualized intergalactic disco that matched hyperventilating time with erotic electronics and surreal sonic environments. Puthli has gone so far out that she has space walked into inner space.”

As well, she has been sampled by the likes of P. Diddy, The Notorious B.I.G., Redman, 50 Cent, and Dilated Peoples. She even owns writing credits to “The World is Filled” by Biggie Ft. Too Short and Puff Daddy…so yeah!

SHE’S A BOSS

 

Nowadays the notion of a globalized pop star like Asha isn’t too uncommon. Artists like BTS get millions of fans around the world; or take for instance, K-Pop Girl Band BLACKPINK who just performed at Coachella…even the song ‘Jai-Ho’ from Slumdog Millionaire went on to win both an Academy Award and a Grammy!

That is NOW…but back THEN, artists to cross-over these racial boundaries were even rarer which is why still today, we can look back in awe on the incredible artistry, bravery and honesty Asha put forth to just be who she is!

I was not encouraged to do my own songs. They wanted me glam, more Shirley Bassey than Joan Baez. I insisted upon including at least one of my own songs, just one. They (the CBS record producers) already thought I was difficult because I wouldn’t change my name. There is a cognitive dissonance when you have a name like mine….They gave me suggestions like Ann Peters, Ann Powers. I said no as I had already won the Down Beat at that time and had a fan base in India. As Asha Puthli!”

Asha Puthli @ The Grammy Museum  {source}

Oh, how wonderful it is just to be yourself!

Some people might even blame THE DEVIL…which I’m sure is why she created this cosmic disco masterpiece.

See for yourself below:

HOW EPIC WAS THAT?!

{the dress, the moves, that audience, the song…EVERYTHING}

Luckily, so much of her music is resurfacing so we hope this post will help in the manifestation of her glory. Please enjoy “The Devil is Loose” and let us know what you think in the COMMENTS.

If you are intrigued, Red Bull Music Academy has a wonderful interview with this legend published just this last February, 2019.

We barely scraped the tip of the iceberg with this one, so don’t let us down! Go check her out, channel her spirit, and play those funky cosmic disco sounds hard into the night…

+E.O.F. STYLE DIVINITY+

It’s official.

Until next time,

{theEye}

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