The Very Best of Asha Bhosle, The Queen of Bollywood

COMPOSERS: Asha Bhosle
LABELS: Nascente
PERFORMER: Asha Bhosle (voice), etc
CATALOGUE NO: NSCDB 001

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The two-disc Asha Bhosle compilation is rather disingenuously named. For most Indian filmgoers the queen of Bollywood is her sister and fierce rival Lata Mangeshkar, and the 26 tracks all come from the same record company. Never mind: Asha is the connoisseurs’ favourite, more expressive and varied where Lata is harder and brighter, and the album is a treasure trove.

The second CD is the more riveting, with traditional and contemporary items including collaborations with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (as composer) and the sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan – the latter’s performance sounding like a short if rather informal classical piece.

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You need to be a dedicated retro fan to endure the 1970s rock-style backings of CD 1, played with an enthusiastic over-emphasis that quite undermines the singer’s rhythmic flair.