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DJ H & Rags - Reloaded (Album Review)

 
                          Record Label: Reloaded Camp Records
    Release Date: August 2008
                       No Of Tracks: 13 songs & 3 remixes  

Re-loaded is the brand new album by DJ H & Rags & Bharat Goel & RDB & Jeeti & Kam Frantic. A quick look at the back of my flash DVD case shows exactly who is involved in the making of this album, so kudos to H & Rags for being honest in highlighting the fact that they are indeed only the ‘Executive Producers’ on this Re-loaded project. This is where things get interesting.

 A browse through my Bhangra cd collection and I see exactly who else calls themselves ‘Executive Producers’. Every Moviebox release is ‘Executively produced’ by Shabbir Ahmed, the owner of Moviebox. Now we all know he is not a producer, more of a figure who oversees every Moviebox release and deals with the business side of things, alongside providing the funding on certain projects as label head.  I’ll come back to this later on in the album review.

 ‘Re-loaded’ is a brand new 16 track album by DJ H & Rags and has been described as the ‘most expensive Bhangra album ever’, with four high quality videos already supporting this album, its hard to argue with this statement. The album features an impressive array of singing talent ranging from Kaka Bhainivala, Lehmber Hussainpuri, Labh Janjua, Manak E, Miss Pooja and many many more. The album also comes with massive DVD featuring loads of interviews and footage which I will get into later.

 Without boring you too much let’s get down to one of the most anticipated releases of the year!

 

The album kicks off with ‘Aaja Aaja (C’mon C’mon)’ which has been sung by Mr Bollywood Labh Janjua and Pooja Kumar, who is a new female vocalist based in the UK. This Arabic/Bollywood themed tune starts off with a nice violin piece as the hindi vocals of Labh Janjua take over. Apparently the extra violin layers were added as the video was being shot in Dubai, which is a good thing they did. As strip away the funky violin pieces and you’re left with a generic song. Decent song to kick things off with.

 Up next is ‘Mar Javan’ and has been produced by talented Indian producer Bharat Goel and sung by the equally talented Pankaj Khanna. The tempo is raised for this song and sees the addition of Jas Johal. To sum up Jas Johal’s role on this song is to describe him as a ‘hype man’. Think of the job of G Money does for Aman Hayer..alot of energy, crap lyrics but enough to keep your head bopping. Incidentally this song is also one of my favourites off the album. It’s not exactly a Bhangra track, more pop but the production is crisp and the vocals of Pankaj Khanna suit the track perfectly.

 Lehmber Hussainpuri makes his only appearance on the album with ‘Gulaab’. Now excuse me for maybe being a little blunt, but this song is an f*cking joke. Two years ago Ominous DJ’s released an album with the track ‘Yaar Da Viah’ sung also by Lehmber Hussainpuri. This song is basically an identikit copy, similar melody, basslines, tumbi. Why bother? I’m not sure if H & Rags are even aware of the similarities. For what its worth, this song is pretty average, and well I’m just going to skip as I can’t help my singing Yaar Da Viah over the music. C’mon C’mon Kam Frantic…. Stop recycling.

 Manak E is back with ‘Peeniya’, which was originally supposed to be on his ‘Aaja’ album. As the title suggests the song is about drinking, with peeniya roughly translating to drinking. Production by RDB is fairly decent with the song having enough umph to keep you dancing away.

 I’m instantly awoken by the hypnotic flute bringing in ‘Jawani’ sung by the emphatic Kaka Bhainivala. When you listen to this track just remember not to be doing anything too important, as you just feel like tapping your feet and busting some serious moves. It’s destined to tear apart the dance floors. Simple catchy Bhangra at its best. Easily the best song on the album and will be making an appearance or two at weddings this summer, I’m sure of that.

 ‘Sangna’ is up next and is sung by Tanvir Gogi who is a very talented vocalist and was behind the hit track ‘Janaab’ by Northern Lights. Production by Frantic is usual usual, nothing that I haven’t  heard before. It’s an average track with a pretty chilled out tempo. Skiiiiiiiiiip

 Billa Bakshi is one of the most hyped up vocalist of recent times, this guy has a fantastic voice and has a very very bright future ahead of him.. If managed correctly that is. Anyway he is on hand for ‘Chaa Muklavy’ which also features a rapper, who I don’t know because it doesn’t say on the track listing. Anyway this song is much better than Sangna, but still utilizes the same bass presets, beats that we’ve all heard before on various other frantic studio albums. A catchy track, but has a very limited replay value.

 Much like Jawani prior I’m instantly awoken again by the thumping dhol of  ‘Char Panj (Desi Mix)’. Featuring the vocals of  Miss Pooja and Nirmal Sidhu, of whom you may remember from ‘Sher Punjabi’ by Aman Hayer’. It’s like your typical duet but with some very funny lyrics… Char panj kudiyan guzyaeh firdah....sounds like me! But in all seriousness, this is a very catchy track and much like Jawani, I can see it becoming an instant fixture in DJ sets up and down the country. The only negative I can think of are the vocals of Nirmal Sidhu, they sound a little distorted and unclear? Not sure if that was intentional…

 One of my favourite folk songs is next ‘Jind Mahi’. Now in my book, whenever you re-do a classic such as this, you HAVE to do it justice. Punjabi MC did it perfect justice back in 1995 with his version. Labh Janjua is on hand to re-sing the full song this time around. It’s a decent enough song, with solid production. But in all honesty the Jind Mahi lyrics are that good, there was no way this song would ever be bad.

 Kaka is back with ‘Nachda Rahu’ and the song has been credited to Leicester DJ Bola. It sounds as if Leicester based duo Sangra vibes have produced this song...but hey what do I know? It’s an ok song, but sounds dated, to around 2006 when Sangra vibes produced ‘Kan Vich Gal’ for Manak E. This song is basically alike. The lyrics and vocals are catchy, it’s just the production is outdated. Oh dear oh dear!

 Labh Janjua returns again for the ‘Wedding Boliyan’ and this song does exactly what it says. A high tempo wedding boliyan perfect for any DJ’s set. It’s a good song but really lacks any impact.

 Up next is ‘Jawani (Break beat remix)’, and this is everything a ‘remix’ should be. Totally independent from the original, as the name suggests it’s a hip hop/breakbeat orientated mix although still contains a few bits and pieces from the original. Good track.

 Another remix is next ‘Mar Javan (Reggeaton Remix)’ it’s the original song with a weak reggeaton beat on top. Seriously, you could have paid me for half the money, I would have wacked open acid pro 4 and copied and pasted a reggaeton loop over the original. I’m proud to say this song gets the official SimplyBhangra.com FILLER stamp.

 Billa Bakshi returns on ‘Koi Mor’, I said before that this guy is a big talent. Cha muklavy didn’t really utilize his full potential, but trust me Koi Mor does. Bakshi absolutely tears apart this song with his singing. One of the better songs on the album, in part due to the phenomenal vocals of Billa Bakshi. Watch out for this guy.

 ‘Challa’ is up next and once again features the vocals of Tanvir Gogi. I’m starting the feel sorry for this guy, much like Sangna previously the vocals have been given the lazy frantic treatment. Sounds like something you would hear on a Jinx album.

 Last but not least is the original version of ‘Char Panj’, it’s a lighter version of the desi mix, without the heavy dhol. Oh it also features the trademark Jeeti loop that he was rinsing around two years ago.

 

Ok and first and foremost massive credit to DJ H & Rags for bringing out an album jam packed with 16 tracks and a huge DVD, alongside 4 quality videos. Incidentally the video features interviews with a whole host of big names including Kaka, Nirmal Sidhu, Labh Janjua, Kam Frantic, the names are endless. The DVD alone is worth a couple of quid, and proves the saving grace for the album

 Now going back to this whole ‘Executive Producer’ issue. Its quite clear that Kam Frantic, RDB, Bharat Goel & Jeeti had a larger role than merely ‘engineering’ & ‘mixing’. Songs like Gulaab, Sangna, Challa are your usual generic songs. Alongside similar lacklustre songs such as Jind Mahi and even the Wedding Boliyan which lacks any sharpness or originality. Then you just have blatant rip offs such as Nachda Rahu which are old beats rehashed. The small pieces of inspiration with Koi Morr and Jawani are largely due to the brilliant vocals of the respective singers.  These engineers and mixers that H & Rags have employed have on many of these songs given second rate efforts, with only the quality of the vocals saving many of the songs.

You can’t knock H & Rags for the package they have put forward, however the main part of any album is the musical side, and here it’s lacking. A large number of these songs have no real replay value, listening to this album again I find myself skipping tracks over and over again. The DVD alongside it does go a small way in softening the blow I guess.

 For all the money spent on the flash videos and exotic locations, for DJ H & Rags no amount of money can buy them musical originality, I guess for everything else there’s MasterCard.

 DJ H & Rags – Reloaded gets 6.8/10

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