Record Label: Prestige Records
Release Date: June 2009
No of Tracks: 15
Think back to the summer of 2007. What were you doing? It’s fair to say that at some point during that summer you were hearing ‘Ni Nachleh’, a summer anthem sung by the then unknown ‘Imran Khan’. In fact it’s fair to say that some point since 2007 you’ve heard ‘Ni Nachleh', wherever you are in the world.
On the back of that hit single, Imran Khan was catapulted from an unknown quantity to touring worldwide, and gaining a legion of fans. Exactly two years later, Imran Khan has released his hotly anticipated debut album ‘Unforgettable’ under Prestige Records. Intrestingly enough, Imran Khan has teamed up with Turkish producers; Eren E & Harkan Ozan. The CD version of this album also comes with a 16 page lyrics booklet.
So you’ve got a Guy from Holland, singing in Panjabi, produced by two Turkish guys, what’s the worst that could happen?
The album kicks off with a song which has been a major discussion point for some weeks now... “Amplifier”. Now I know I’m supposed to say that the lyrics are absolutely stupid, singing about a woofer and amplifier?! Well they are. But so what? I can honestly say it’s a very catchy song, much like how ‘Rambo Rambo’ was classed as stupid and cheesy, Amplifier is on the same tip, but it works. There’s nothing wrong with being different right? Imran Khan has taken the risk of branching out, thinking outside of the prefixed lyrical Bhangra box, and I congratulate him for that. All that lyrics talk, I haven’t even got to the bangin’ production by Eren E; infectious.
“Aaja We Mahiya” is one of the more simpler songs on the album. Compared to the eclectic Amplifier it’s basic but once again it works fairly well. The basic piano, beat and claps work in tandem over the vocals of Imran Khan. The lyrics are pretty straight forward, no woofer talk here. The only downside would be computerization of Imran’s vocals when he is trying to hit the high notes.
Song number three is the uplifting “Hey Girl”, once the song drops in, the thumping beats just take over. Although Imran’s vocals throughout the album have been altered, they work perfectly with the electro vibe throughout the album. Lyrics once again are pretty inventive on this track, first Bhangra song to use the words ‘MySpace’ & ‘Facebook’? Another very listenable song..
A strong guitar riff brings in “Pehli Waar". The variety already throughout the album is quite remarkable, the guitar riffs over a drum kit is something that has been tried before, but rarely perfected. Anyone remember Jassi Sidhu's attempt at a rock song? This is how it’s done. Really works well, one of my favourites.
The euro electro vibe is brought back on "Chak Glass". If you thought Amplifier was catchy, wait till you hear this. The song has actually been floating around youtube for what seems like an eternity, but listening to the full quality version really makes you appreciate the quality in production laid down by Eren E. A little short at just 3.09 minutes though.
“Nazar” is up next and is another bass thumping song. To be honest, I’m trying to sit think of something bad to say about the album, but I’m struggling as yet. The production on this song carries on the high standards, you just about make out an altered harmonium piece, which is a clever addition. The song is a little repetitive, which is down to the lyrics and melody.
“Superstar” is one of the poorer efforts on the album. It follows on the same pattern as Nazar, Hey Girl. Although the production is fairly strong, the novelty of listening to Panjabi vocals over electro beats is quickly wearing off.
Thankfully the album switches style and tempo on ”Gora Gora Rang” which was the B side for the Ni Nachleh single released in 2007. It’s the first time I’ve actually heard it, and its a pretty good song, much like Aaja We Mahiya, it’s fairly simple in terms of lyrics and formula, but the production is definitely a step up. It’s a shame that this song is almost a copy of Jassi Sohals ‘Chitiyan’ which was released in late 2006. Although I doubt many care or even know who Jassi Sohal is.
“Bounce Billo” follows, and was recently played by Bobby & Nihal on their flagship BBC Radio 1 show. Eren B continues the hard hitting Electro vibe, although it sounds strangley similar to that old Citroen TV advert, you know the one where the car starts to breakdance on ice.... YouTube it!
The song we all love; “Ni Nachleh” but not as we know it. This is a bass heavy version of the song. It’s decent, but for obvious reasons doesn’t compare with the original, which is simply brilliant.
If you had to ask me one song that really sums up Imran Khan, it would have to be “40 Pra”. The lyrics on this song are hilarious! But in a good witty way. Imran Khan sings about a girl his seeing, finding out she has fourty brothers...you can imagine the rest. It’s one of the best songs on the album. I can’t help but raise a smile whenever I hear this..
“Pata Chalgea” is the final track that Eren E produces on this album. The beat is on a hip hop tip this time, fairly different to the electro pop vibe shown throughout. I’d probably this song on par with Nazar and Superstar. It doesn’t really live up to the likes of 40 Prar and Chak Glass. The beat is quite repetitive, although Eren B has done a tremendous job throughout.
Another slow song with “Bewafa” as we slow near the end of the album. If you though Aaja We Mahiya and Gora Rang were good, Bewafa blows them away. Production by Hakan Ozan is very subtle compared to the thumping beats of Eren E. It’s a good listen.
“Nai Reina” is the penultimate song and is much more uplifting compared to Bewafa, the European vibe is back. By now this style is beginning to become very repetitive and doesn’t really live up to the previous songs prior.
The final song is “Qott Ghusian Da” and is a song all about unity. I’ve read a few snide remarks on various forums about Imran Khan being a Pakistani Panjabi singing Bhangra. For all those ignorant idiots out there, music has no boundaries, no borders and certainly no religious barriers. The song has very strong lyrics, and is the only really serious song on the album. A good way to finish the album.
Well that was definitely worth the wait. It’s hard to review albums like this. I’ve always been accustomed to reviewing ‘Bhangra’ albums that contain dhol, tumbi, and your usual Panjabi instruments. This album contains none. But that in a way is a good thing. I don’t think Imran Khan does 'Bhangra' per say. He does Urban Panjabi Fusion music, and if that doesn’t exist he has just created it.
The whole album is backed up by Eren E, who in many cases is the spine of the album. The production laid down is top quality, and suits the niche Imran Khan is aiming for. The hard hitting electro beats is something many will not have heard before on a Panjabi album and it works really well on the majority of the tracks. There were times were I was beginning to tire of the same formula, however songs like ‘Pehli Waar’, ’40 Prar’, ‘Chak Glass’ & ‘Bewafa’ kept the album refreshed and on point.
If you’re a big Imran Khan fan you’re obviously going to buy this. If you’re someone who’s maybe a little tired of listening to UK Bhangra and fancy something different, then I’d recommend giving this album a chance. Brush away the ‘Amplifier’ effect and you’ve got a very good album, full of good production, witty lyrics and catchy melodies.
Whatever you do, just don’t go calling your girlfriend a woofer.
Imran Khan – Unforgettable gets a 7.5/10
The album is out to buy now on iTunes and www.ImranKhanWorld.com