Evolve/ Indus Creed
Universal Music/ Rs 175
MOST of my memories of Indus Creed are associated with the Independence Rock festival, held at the now-defunct Rang Bhavan in Mumbai. That was back in the mid-90s, when India’s best-known rock group had changed its name from Rock Machine, and then released its self-titled album. Their songs ‘Pretty Child’, ‘Rock n Roll Renegade’, ‘Top Of The Rock, ‘Trapped’ and ‘Sleep’ were compulsory at most gigs, and one felt sad when the band members decided to follow other paths.
Most Indian rock fans would have thought the Indus Creed chapter had ended for good, but the group bounced back with a reunion concert at Mumbai’s Hard Rock Café in October 2010. Three old-timers — vocalist Uday Benegal, guitarist Mahesh Tinaikar and keyboardist Zubin Balaporia — were joined by new entrants Rushad Mistry on bass and Jai Row Kavi on drums. At that event, the band quite clearly proved how they had evolved, and it was therefore appropriate that they christened their latest album ‘Evolve’.
Coming 17 years after their last album, ‘Evolve’ sees a clear progression for the band. The production qualities are first-rate, the sound is contemporary and each musician contributes equally, with Benegal’s vocals in prime form, Tinaikar world-class on the guitar, Balaporia churning out some exquisite keyboardwork, and Mistry and Row Kavi extra-tight on the rhythm section. What’s more, there is variety.
Each of the eight songs has something to offer. ‘Fireflies’ sets the tempo perfectly, beginning with acoustic guitars and keyboards, before Benegal’s charming vocals impress on lines like “Oh the sun went out today, for reasons you won’t say, and I just can’t look away from those fireflies”. A great build-up and wonderful hook make this a clear winner. The seven-minute-plus ‘Dissolve’ has an anthemic feel, a stunning guitar-driven start, neat changes in tempo, and a couple of spitfire guitar solos in between.
The band comes up with a true surprise with ‘The Money’, an electro-funk track which begins with some marvellous drumming, and lines about how stealing money can “shame the whole community”. With that wonderful keyboard interlude and catchy rhythm, this has the makings of a live favourite.
‘Take It Harder’ is marked by sing-along vocals, angst-ridden lyrics and a crisp guitar solo, whereas ‘No Disgrace’ is embellished by lines like “Did they trample on your dreams, smash them all to smithereens, past the point of no return, maybe someday we will learn”. The best composition of the album is probably ‘Come Around’, which questions someone who has left his family, has a later-day Beatles influence, smart acoustic guitar and keyboards, and an energetic ending.
The shortest piece ‘Bulletproof’ is a brisk, quick-tempo number which again has great live potential, whereas the final number ‘Goodbye’ has very relatable lines like “The bigger the dreams, the harder the tears will fall’ and “Living separate lives doesn’t have to be goodbye”.
Another thing that works in the album’s favour is the right-pricing. At ₹ 175, it’s truly affordable. Over the years, Indian rock has never really sold in huge quantities, probably because of inadequate marketing by the labels, some absurd pricing, and more recently, downloading. If musicians are regularly releasing new material, it is more because of their own passion and their loyalty towards fans. As such, it would be appropriate if Indian rock buffs and Indus Creed fans pass on a simple message— please buy the album, and don’t rip it just because you’ll get it for free.
As for Rock Machine/ Indus Creed, it’s only their fourth album ever – after ‘Rock n’ Roll Renegade’ in 1988, ‘The Second Coming’ in 1990, and the eponymous Indus Creed set in 1995. Over the years, they’ve had a fantastic array of musicians. Besides the current line-up, they’ve had guitarist Jayesh Gandhi, bassist Mark Selwyn, and drummers Mark Menezes, Bobby Duggal and Adrian Fernandes, besides a few others who were part of the band in the very early stages, or who did a few guest appearances later.
What’s common throughout, of course, is the incredible talent that has been part of the band. Each musician has had a unique role to play, and has helped in making the outfit ‘evolve’.
There have been quite a few Indus Creed memories. Some of the early Rock Machine gigs, the I-Rock shows at Rang Bhavan, and yes, the appearance with guitar god Slash at the MTV re-launch party in Bangalore in 1996, playing the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’. The reunion show at Hard Rock and their outing at the Jack Daniels-Rolling Stone rock awards are among the recent ones.
But my favourite Indus Creed line-up? Well, 1980s Rock Machine was one thing, 1990s Indus Creed yet another, and present-day Indus Creed something else. It’s almost like trying to analyse which of Deep Purple’s various ‘Marks’ was the best. As long as they continue to produce fantastic music, it doesn’t really matter.
And my favourite Machine/ Creed album? Again it doesn’t matter, though with ‘Evolve’, they have evolved even further.
RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Classic