Release Date: October 2007
No Of Tracks: 12
When you think of Zeus, whats the first thing that comes to mind? For many its arguably two of the biggest Bhangra tracks of this century; Kangna and Sachian Suniya. For many others it’s the ground breaking album Zeus brought out way back in 2003 titled ‘Unda Da Influence’, an album which set trends, and sold more copies than I’ve had hot meals.
Since bringing out Unda Da Influence Zeus was transformed from a UK producer/dj to a worldwide Bhangra artist, whose popularity reached from India to New Zealand to Canada and back around to Handsworth Birmingham. To say that album was a success is a understatement. After travelling the globe doing gigs and events and bringing out a solo album for Mr Hussainpuri, which well, didn’t run as smoothly as he would have liked, his back with a brand new studio album, 4 years after the release of Unda Da Influence.
Aptly named ‘Back Unda Da Influence’ its 12 track album that promises to really cement Zeus as one of the pioneer producers of the Asian music scene. Now im sure the last thing Zeus would have wanted was for everyone to keep on comparing this new album to Unda Da Influence, but it’s a little hard considering the name of the new album! 4 years down the line the only thing left from his previous masterpiece is rapper Little Lox, who seems to appear everywhere Zeus does. A conscious effort of picking new vocalists has led Zeus to the pint-sized singer G.Sharmilla. Also making appearances on this album is Indian cover girl Yana Gupta. Ravindra, Karamel, Jeevan Mann and a special guest appearance by a singer we all know…I’ll get onto that later!
Before I listened to this album, I’ll be brutally honest… I wasn’t really expecting much Bhangra; I know Zeus is known for his RnB hip-hop esque beats, Im expecting more of a Bollywood album, to appeal to a market not known to me.
Track one totally blows the whole Bollywood concept out the window, titled ‘Assi Haan Punjabi’, a slow intro with a very meaningful messege introduces the song. It feels as though its going to be another ‘im Punjabi im better than you’ kinda song, but it really isn’t. The song lyrically is superb, a gentle reminder to those who have left the mother land never to forget who they are and were they came from, before they gained these riches. Anyway onto the song, its superb, a deep bassline keeps your head nodding, the production is at your typical Zeus standards, very high. A mixture of guiater, algozey, sarangi make this song a great intro to the album. The vocals by G. Sharmilla really help carry the song along, he seems to be a nice little find by Zeus. It’s the first I’ve heard of him to be honest, and before you Bhangra boffins get on my case saying his already had an album out in downtown Ludhiana, Im sure the UK Bhangra market has never used him before!
Im brought back down to realism after a great Bhangra intro Zeus shows his versatility on ‘Aag Ka Dariya’ which features the combo of Yana Gupta, Ravindra and Little Lox. After doing a little research on that Ravindra fella, turns out he won one of those Pop Idol competitions in India; so he must be the real deal! *cough*. However I like this song, its totally different to anything I’ve heard Zeus do before. The catchy brass pipes along with the guiatar stabs have been arranged to perfection by Zeus. The three singers go in tandem back and forth and it really works. Little Lox shows why he is still around since the days of Kangna, the guy really has a lot of lyrical depth. Its not Bollywood, its not Bhangra, its just…well Zeus?
Now this is the song that been doing damage up and down dancefloors across the UK recently, titled ‘Sat Sri Akaal’ Im fairly confident you have heard this song… If you haven’t then make sure you do! Once again sung by G.Sharmilla its another token Zeus dancefloor anthem! The hypnotic sarangi alongside a guitar into makes way for one of my tunes of the year. Why you ask? Lyrics. If you’ve read my reviews one of my biggest complaints from producers is the lack of decent lyrics they seem to use. Its always the same old same old nursery rhymes which we’ve all been force fed over the past 10 years. However this song actually has a messege! Some say it’s a song back to Lehmber Hussainpuri after his little antics. Whatever it is, and whoever its for you cant deny the impact of this song. If you don’t know what it means, ill give you a quick breakdown; Pitch Piche Yaar Di Joh Karda Burai Ohnu Duroon Sat Sri Akaal Chungiehn. Roughly translated that means, those ‘friends’ who talk a lot of shit about you and are little sly, its best if you keep your hellos from a far. I’m sure we all can relate to this song. The vocals by G.Sharmilla are on another level, his voice really projects itself onto the song. At just over 5 minutes long you may think you will get bored of this song, but Zeus switches up the tempo throughout the song, speeds it up slows it down, it definitely keeps you interested. Watch out for the little karaoke part at the end, it actually makes you sing along to the song. Who said Zeus doesn’t do Bhangra?
‘Rim Jhim’ is up next. First thing that strikes me is the chipmunk style voice the vocalist has. Ok im being a little harsh but after a few listens to novelty soon wears off and you get to the voice and actually appreciate how much of a tune this is! It features another appearance by Little Lox, Karamel, and even Zeus himself adds in a little lyrics ‘Put them up Put them up’, not much … although he does have to produce the song aswell you know! Karamel also chips in with a little cameo, although its only restricted to a little backing vocals. Its another head nodding song and has your typical Zeus flavour. The vocalist Baljinder Sahota is actually very good, despite by crude remarks earlier I actually like her voice and it goes well with the song.
G.Sharmilla returns again on ‘Adhi Holi Mar’ which is another hardcore Bhangra track, which is up there with everything that has come before this song. The tempo is slightly faster than usual and it really works. Production once again is brilliant by Zeus, he is really demonstrating his ability to create quality songs over and over again. This is another one of them
Possibly one of my favourite songs off the album, titled ‘Kambh’, it’s been sung by Jaswant Nagina and is a real Bollywood melodramatic song. The song which was recorded in Mumbai and it shows. It has a very Bollywood feel about it, the string arrangement does its best to be as dramatic as possible. Probably one of the underrated tracks on the album, granted its not Bhangra..but it is damn good! The depth in production on this song is clearly evident.
‘Akh Da Nishana’ is up next and well, I think Zeus has out done him himself here, if someone told you they thought this album was for the Indian market, they wouldn’t be far wrong..however think northern India. This song has all the traits of Bhangra song straight out of Punjab, even with the complimentary ‘cch cch’, you cant go wrong with those! Sung by G.Sharmilla, this is one of the songs that I will be playing for a long time, once again the high standards have been maintained so far.
‘Na Koi Khayal’ is next and features four vocalists; Little Lox, Yana Gupta, Karamel and Kully B, with the former two having a minimal role in the track. The song is mainly formulated around little lox and Yana Gupta trading witty verses off each other. One of my favourite verses is when little lox says ‘Body bangin like a BK tasty’ and the reply from Yana is; ‘want a bite?’ Musically its another Zeus-esque type song, more of a RnB feel but not really fully blown. It’s a fairly catchy number and I can see it appealing to a lot of people.
Earlier in the review I said theres a special appearance by a vocalist, well here it is on ‘Mitran Di Jaan’. This is were I think Zeus really shouldn’t have bothered. The credits state that this song is sung by ‘Lamb Burger Hussainpuri’, now I must admit I did chuckle a little at that..actually I still do. However I didn’t really think it was worth it. Onto the song its pretty catchy, it was released back in September 2006 on an ENVY compilation CD, so most of us have heard it before. On a first listen it would have been a solid song.
‘Tu Meri Main Tera’ is next, and as the title suggests it’s a slow ballad sung by Jeevan Mann, who had his solo album out this year. Much like Kambh before it, its on a melodramatic Bollywood tip but not up to the quality of Kambh. Its missing something; im not sure what. Nevertheless it does the job, its still a very good song.
Ravindra and Karamel return, however this time taking a much bigger part in the song. ‘Dil Tera Ho Gaya’. Karamel has been around for quite some time, her earlier stuff was with Sanj, and then she fell off the radar for a bit, this song definitely puts her right back on it. Once again I cant really fault Zeus here, he demonstrates his ability to work on different types of songs, and this is another clear example. Ravindra does a great job in his vocals, apparently Sukhwinder Singh was supposed to be sing on this track, Ravindra fills in pretty well I say!
The final track on the album is upon us and is titled ‘Gadiyan’, yeah you know...cars!
Zeus obviously wanted to finish this album on a high, and he did. Once again sung by Sharmilla, whos proved a real gem throughout this album, its another hardcore desi number. The lyrics are fairly catchy, but witty at the same time, not on par with Sat sri akaal and Assi haan Punjabi but nevertheless make a change from the usual rubbish we hear week in week out. Some people say this is the best track off the album and I can see why.
So I guess everyone wants to know, is this better than Unda Da Influence? Well that’s not really for me to say. Unda Da Influence was a one off album that totally shook Bhangra, much like Legalized did way back in 1997. I don’t think Zeus will ever better Unda Da Influence, he probably knows that himself, as that album made one hell of an impact on the scene. However ask yourselves, will Punjabi MC ever better Legalized? Will Shinda ever better Gal Sunja? I think not.
Expectations coming into this album were massive, what was the worst thing Zeus could have done? Brought out an album playing off UDI? Using the same beats, same melodies same vocalists? Tried to recreate a great album?
Instead his gone off in a total different direction, his raised his game and changed his style. Before there were snide rumours about who really did Zeus’s work. Was he really a producer? I think this goes to shut up those rumours, the album has been created by Zeus without a certain sound engineer that has been so prevalent throughout the industry. 4 years later and there’s not one thing that you can compare the two albums on, I think that really shows a great producer. Try putting this album next to Unda Da Influence and listen to both, there’s not on similarity in the sound that Zeus has used. Don’t we always complain about producers using the same old style?
I’ve listened to this album for about a month now, hence the little delay in the review. A month later its still playing, I can let it play without having to constantly press forward. This is a complete album from start to finish. No intros, no skits no outros no fillers. You really need to listen to this album more than once to appreciate it, it will grow on you immensely. It’s a real Bhangra album, something which I didn’t really expect.
Go out. Buy this album. You wont be disappointed.
Zeus is most definitely back, lets hope he doesn’t keep Bhangra waiting for his next instalment, because as in 2003 he has given us another classic.
Zeus – Back Unda Da Influence gets a 8.5/10