Kula Shaker – Gokula (The B-Sides Collection)

Where many Britpop bands focused on the works of Lennon & McCartney, The Who, The Kinks or XTC, Kula Shaker were one of the few, if the only band from the era who seemed to have listened to the work of George Harrison, including those songs that were influenced by his journeys into Indian music. The name of the band was even inspired by Kulasekhara who was one of the twelve Vaishnavite avatars. I would recommend you look it up if you don’t know what that is. Lead by singer and guitar player, Crispian Mills, his songs were also inspired by Indian culture and Hinduism which he had encountered whilst he was on a backpacking trip around India in the early 1990s. Having played in a couple of bands, Mills would recruit college friend Alonza Bevan on bass, Paul Winterhart on drums and Jay Darlington on keyboards. 

The band were signed to Columbia Records and released their first single, ‘Tattva’. The chorus of the song is a slice of Hindu philosophy sung in Sanskrit which reached the lower reaches of the Top 100. Not bad for a debut single that was limited to 1000 copies. The band continued by releasing some more conventional sounding rock songs in the shape of ‘Grateful When You’re Dead’ and ‘Hey Dude’, as well as a rerecording of ‘Tattva’ and ‘Govinda’. Govinda has the distinction of being the only top ten hit UK single to be sung entirely in Sanskrit. The meaning of the chorus translates as ‘Krishna, Glory, Glory’. The band seemed to go from strength to strength with the release of their debut album, ‘K’, which would eventually reach double platinum status in the UK.1996 had been a good year for the band and 1997 seemed to be going in the same direction when their cover of Joe South’s ‘Hush’ made number two in the UK singles chart, but some ill advised remarks by Mills regarding the swastika lead to a backlash in the UK press. 

This and the delay in releasing the second album lost the band the momentum they had built up. Only ‘Sound of Drums’, the first single from the ‘Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts’ LP breached the top ten. The parent album did make the Top Ten in the UK album chart but sold nowhere near as many copies as the previous album. By the end of 1999, the band split up even though they did get back together in 2007 and are still going today, even though it has taken until recently for th original four members to come back together. 

This is another in my series of B-Side albums from the era’s big hitters and there was enough material to put out an album that would stand up (in my opinion) to the main albums. Well, in some respects it does, even thought I did include what would have been an unreleased song if this album had come out in reality. That additional song is ‘Strangefolk’ which was included on the ‘Kollected’ album. ‘Strangefolk’ was the original title of the second album, but this was edited and the full length song would see the light of day on the 10th Anniversary reissue of ‘Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts’.  

Side A

  1. Avalonia (Mystical Machine Gun – 1998)
  2. Guitar Man (Mystical Machine Gun – 1998)
  3. Moonshine (Tattva – 1996)
  4. Holy River (Mystical Machine Gun – 1998)
  5. Dance In Your Shadow (Tattva – 1996)
  6. Goodbye Tin Terriers (Shower Your Love – 1999)
  7. Troubled Mind (Hey Dude – 1996)

Side B

  1. Prancing Bride (Mystical Machine Gun – 1998)
  2. Raggy One (Waiting For Tomorrow) (Hush – 1997)
  3. Gokula (Govinda – 1996)
  4. Under The Hammer (Grateful When You’re Dead/Jerry Was Here – 1996)
  5. Drop In The Sea (Hey Dude – 1996)
  6. Another Life (Grateful When You’re Dead/Jerry Was Here – 1996)
  7. Light Of The Day (Shower Your Love – 1999)
  8. Strangefolk (Kollected – The Best Of Kula Shaker – 2002)

The cover is adapted from the bands 2007 release of the B-Sides from their ‘Strangefolk’ album.

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