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Album Review

To kick off this Mike D-produced East meets West extravaganza, Bhagavan Das offers the appropriate homage to Lord Ganesha, remover of obstacles and bestower of blessings. He is the first to be worshipped by dictate of his father Lord Shiva. It must be said that the words sound oh so much more sacred in the authentic Sanskrit rather than English. For instance, no one ever mistook "you have a big fat red belly" as a holy expression. A Beastie Boys feel guides the whole album, without overtaking the spirit of devotion. The traditional chant of "Raghupati" suddenly becomes a contemporary groove in his hands. Whatever gets you singing to God is a good thing, and most of the Hindu deities are represented here: Ganesha, Ram, Kali, Radha, Shiva, Hanuman, and Krishna. For good measure, Das even throws in a curve ball. On the aptly titled "Shiva Gospel," he moves from ancient mantras praising Shiva into a gospel shout-out to Jesus. Not a subtle point he's making, and well taken. To close the album, as any true devotee would do, Das tacks on a sweetly solemn arati, complete with the requisite conch blowing and bell ringing. Kudos to Mike D for the tasteful combination of Indian classical instruments such as sarangi, ektar, tabla, and dholak with Western drum'n'bass rhythms. It works really well, making this an easy listen for someone dabbling in this genre.

Biography

Born: 17 May 1945 in Laguna Beach, CA

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The inspiration for Baba Ram Dass, whose 1971 book of hipster mysticism Be Here Now became a new-age classic, Bhagavan Das (born Michael Riggs) has continued to share his vision of music and spirituality. "Singing and chanting the divine mantras repeatedly," he told an interviewer, "creates...
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