❉ Long out of print, a unique record in world psych receives the deluxe reissue treatment. It’s a lost gem.
I love psych. I love world music. I love psych world music. Sadly, too often what gets marketed in the west as psych world music turns out to be regular local pop from the late ’60s – early ’70s with maybe some twangy guitar thrown on top (Rough Guide, don’t get me wrong, you’re great – but you are really guilty of this). Psych should at least sound like a thick fog of burning joss sticks was present during some point of the recording, if not marijuana and/or various hallucinogens.
This most recent reissue of the legendary single LP by the Norwegian band Oriental Sunshine manages to have that effect in spades, without relying on heavy guitar freakouts. Students Nina Johansen and Rune Walle met in 1968 and bonded over a shared love of The Beatles, Joni Mitchell and Ravi Shankar.
They fortuitously met Satnam Singh, an emigrant from New Delhi, who happened to be an accomplished tabla and flute player. Together Oriental Sunshine created a gentle, peaceful, evocative sound; western pop, jazzy and mellow, yet with strong Indian influences and instrumentation on every track. It all hangs together beautifully and is quite unlike anything else I’ve ever heard, yet completely within that Joni Mitchell/Beatles/Indian musical Venn diagram that originally brought Johansen and Walle together.
Their sole album, ‘Dedicated to the Bird We Love’ was released on Philips in 1970, with the trio joined by accomplished jazz musicians Espen Rud (Min Bul), Sture Janson, and Helge Grøslie (Junipher Greene). The album was recorded by the legendary Norwegian producer and recording technician Jan Erik Kongshaug.
Unfortunately for the band, Nina Johansen’s father died right before the album was released in 1970, and Satnam Singh was deported back to India, effectively ending the band. In the years since, ‘Dedicated to the Bird We Love’ (named after Blackbird by The Beatles as well as in honour of Johansen’s father) has only grown in stature among psych and world music aficionados, with original pressings selling for over a thousand dollars. Round 2’s lovingly remastered reissue of this album on vinyl brings it within a reasonable price for a new generation of music lovers to discover it.
❉ Oriental Sunshine – ‘Dedicated To The Bird We Love’ deluxe reissue was released on 2 December 2016 by Round 2 Records.