Release Date: November 2007
No Of Tracks: 13
Manak-E has been in this industry a long time and is a seasoned pro when it comes to releasing albums. Having previously worked with the likes of Aman Hayer & RDB on his previous releases his back with a brand new label. Signing to Serious Records seems to be a very good move for Manak E, joining Lehmber Hussainpuri at a label that has held its own in the quality of music it has brought out. His last release ‘Darr’ was one of the highlights of 2006, proving to be Untouchables final release, as they have now moved away from the Bhangra music scene.
‘Aaja’ once again sees Manak E team up with RDB and the talented Sangra Vibes, alongside Jeeti and Kam Frantic who also chip in on the production duties.
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of Darr and it turned out be a great all round album, I’m hoping more of the same here! Although it hasn’t always been plain sailing, he has had some rather disastrous albums in the past, more notably Paisa which was cringe worthy to say the least.
‘Aaja’ is up first and has been produced by Jeeti. The song has a rather long intro which features a conversation with two guys about …a girl! Onto the song which is as cheesy as the intro. It’s an upbeat song but it really doesn’t appeal much to me, Jeeti’s previous work has been much better! All in all, from the lyrics to the music to the intro it’s a rather corny song, catchy yes…be advised don’t let anyone see you listening to this song. Decent start to the album nevertheless. CLICK HERE for the video to Aaja
Following on from Aaja is the first of two duets, simply titled ‘Duet 1’. Now theres a little confusion here, we have the video for this ‘song’ on our site, CLICK HERE to view that, however it’s a totally different song to the one that I found on my cd. I guess they got their duets mixed up. It features Manak E singing alongside Sudesh Kumari, not Sundesh Kumari as the tracklisting suggests, don’t know why they named her that, unless I’m wrong which I very well could be! The song is produced by the young duo Sangra Vibes who impressed me most with their tracks off Darr. This song doesn’t quite live up to that, it’s a very faced paced duet with a bulsating bass line throughout, although I like prefer the video track to this. Oh and let me just one thing, Sudesh Kumari is better than Miss Pooja!
RDB are back! Well I don’t know if that’s something to be excited about… haha just kidding. ‘Yaariyan’ is their first of three efforts on this album and features the infamous Cheshire Cat, who Im not afraid to say does a fairly decent job this time around. His input is kept limited. I have to say off the Darr album these three combined well for the song Yeah Yeaah which in my opinion was one hell of a track! Production by RDB is pretty good and it’s a catchy song I must say, and one of favourites off the album. Although one slight negative is the backing vocals in the chorus, they do tend to get annoying after a few listens. Top song!
Sangra Vibes are back and how! ‘Khorey’ is track four and it is another quality tune. These guys seem to get better and better each time they appear on a album, and they prove a pretty good combo alongside Manak E. Some may say their sound tends to be repetitive, but I have to disagree, this song goes a long way in proving why these guys will be at the forefront of the Bhangra scene in the coming years.
Track 5 is ‘Laggiya’ and a quick glance at the tracklisting shows it’s produced by Kam Frantic. The infamous Kam Frantic, who is said to be a ghost producer for many an artist, well I don’t really believe that. Laggiya is an example of what really is the difference between Kam Frantic and the countless dj’s/producers who go through his studio, the lack of ideas and imagination is evident here. This song has the frantic studios stamp all over it, from the bass lines which we heard back in 2003 to the dhol loops. It’s a catchy song but judging from this I really cant see how he has produced all those tracks which everyone seems to think he has.
‘Dhoka’ is track 6 and is a somewhat slow number produced by RDB, although you’d begin to think it’s a garage song with the way it starts off. I’ve never really been one for sad songs, I mean Bhangra is about being upbeat right? It’s a fairly decent song, Manak E does well on the vocals. Production by RDB is kept fairly simple, they try to switch up the tempo building up to the chorus and that works fairly well. A decent track.
Now this is the best song on the album, without doubt! Any gueses to who produces it? Sangra Vibes. ‘Karkoo’ once again has that trademark Sangra Vibes edge about it, but still retaining a lot of originality to make it into a really good song. Manak-E’s voice is tweaked at times that makes him sound as if his singing underwater. The way Sangra Vibes are able to manipulate a instrument to make it sound the way it does is brilliant. The lyrics are rather innocuous… ‘Teri Meri Karkoo’…think of that what you will!
RDB are back with ‘Mukh teh Mukh’, and it is a real hardcore desi number from the guys. I don’t think RDB really managed to master the trick of making a real good desi song, and I don’t think they’ve done it here to be honest. The intro to the song doesn’t do itself any favours, sounds as though they’ve got a 2second clip of a crowd talking and relooped it over and over again, pretty amateurish guys! It’s another decent song but it really could have been much better with a little more effort.
‘Ni Soniyeh’ is up next and is Kam Frantic’s final song on the album, and it really goes along way in backing up the point I made earlier in the review. This song is basically a near copy of Laggiya, with a similar tempo, similar use of bass lines. Although you can tell both songs apart, you wouldn’t be blamed for getting them mixed up. The lyrics on the song are very catchy but the music just doesn’t do it justice. A big let down.
Jeeti returns for his last effort on the album ‘Dil’, which is a slow ballad, much so more than Dhoka previously. Its been produced well by Jeeti, it’s a better track than Dhoka in terms of a ‘sad song’ but by no means is it a real tear jerker.
‘Holi Holi’ is up next and has been produced by Punjab based Jassi Bros. Those who are not familiar with their work you may have heard the Amar Arshi & Sudesh Kumar duet titled ‘Rangli Kothi’ these guys were behind that and a lot more. Holi Holi is one of the better songs on this album. My expectations weren’t much but it’s a very good upbeat number by Manak E. It’s a refreshing change from what were given before
‘Punjab’ is the penultimate track and has been produced by BalE-Haar and much like Mukh teh Mukh is another out and out desi song but more worryingly it’s also another distinctively average song.
The final track is ‘Duet 2’ which should have been Duet 1 but on the CD comes under Duet 2, if that makes any sense. The song is another favourite and no sunrises to who has produced this one, Sangra Vibes. Its up there with Karkoo as the best song on the album and a great duet. Sudesh Kumari once again showcases why she is miles ahead of Miss Pooja! The production is brilliant with a twangy tumbi keeping your head nodding alongside the pulsating beat delivered by the Sangra boys.
So that wraps it up a; 13 track album, it’s a fairly decent release by Manak E and Serious Records, although it is obvious that a lot of the songs needed a bit more effort and creativity going into them. Bar the songs by Sangra Vibes and the one by RDB (Yaariyan) its all neither here or there. Compared to Darr its much inferior but do I feel short-changed by the album? Well no, it’s a fairly good listen throughout, the combination with Sangra Vibes and Manak E always delivers and it hasn’t failed this time. Khorey, Karkoo and Duet 2 are the highlights. The songs by Jeeti and Kam Frantic were lacklustre to say the least; although they are both very talented individuals these songs were not up to their high standards.
It’s a solid album, not up their with Darr but it would be hard to better that album. Manak-E apparently has a 5 album deal with Serious Records, it wont be a bad thing if they all came out like this…BUT we all know his voice can turn good songs into massive songs, all he needs is the right producer behind him, who can actually be bothered to put a bit of effort into a song.
It’s worth the £8 I spent on it, and I suggest those who like what they hear from the promos to go out and buy it!
Manak E – Aaja gets a 6.8/10
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