One of the odd things about the Britpop of the 90's is that it was divided into several camps. You had those bands that came from Manchester and had a decidedly dancy style to their music. You had the bands that were still recovering from the shoegazer movement. Then you had those bands that were climbing the pop charts by channeling the Beatles and the Stones (*cough* Oasis). Every once and awhile one of these bands would dabble with their musical formula and would be met with either derision by the mainstream press or adoration for stretching their musical legs. Herein lies the problem with a band like KULA SHAKER. These lads had several strikes against them when they first came to prominence:
1) Lead singer Crispin Mills was more famous for his mother (Disney staple Actress Hayley Mills) then for his music.
2) They utter pretentious nature of their musical influences. (think Pink Floyd mixed with The Stones and Ravi Shankar)
3) Mills gigantic mouth.
Obviously, the combination of these elements meant that they were slated for a meteoric rise and fall (isn't that always the case with these bands) and true to form their first record, "K", was a huge hit in the UK and made quite a bit of noise in the States. With it's mix of mystical lyrics, dancy drums and layered guitar work, Kula Shaker's debut was unique and I have to admit, very addictive. "Hey Dude" hits you from the moment it comes from the speakers with all the bravado of Trex. "Govinda" uses guitars to transport the listener to the hills of India, while "Tattva" is a perfect pop song about love and peace that seems straight from the sixties. Really, that is the key to the album; it has a dated and yet modern feel to it. Listening to it today it does not feel out of place or wain in it's potency to excite.
The rest of the Kula Shaker story is the typical downfall of a popular band. The band broke up after their second record with Mills going on to various other bands and solo projects before reforming the band in 2004 and releasing some new material. I get the impression that Mills is cut from the same cloth as other musical savants who feel that their music is never quite right and that must have driven his band mates insane. You can hear a lot of studio trickery on his later work that was not present on the debut. But for sheer joy and musical pleasure, their first album still delights.
(mp3) Kula Shaker -- Tattva
(mp3) Kula Shaker -- Hey Dude