Jassi Sidhu has become one of the UK's most popular Bhangra artists
Jon Lusk 2009
Since leaving Birmingham's B21 in 2002 and striking out as a solo artist, Jassi Sidhu has become one of the UK's most popular Bhangra artists. With 13 years of experience under his belt, he has enough back pages for an impressive greatest hits package, but this latest release offers a novel twist on that formula by offering a DVD of live-in-the-studio performances, plus a somewhat superfluous CD version of the same – apparently a first for UK Bhangra.
Apart from a previously unreleased cover of Ukiyah Dhi Maar Buri, the material is drawn from both his B21 days and all three of his solo albums. The DVD is beefed up with 13 videos and half an hour of extras, consisting of an interview with Ameet Chana and Jassi's profiles of his band members, which reveal him to be a funny and self-deprecating raconteur.
Although the whole studio shoot was done in 8 sweaty hours, and many of the seven-piece band were apparently suffering from 'flu, they sound surprisingly tight – a testament to the amount of dues-paying they've done on the Punjabi wedding and touring circuits. Only once or twice do the camera operators stray into each others' shots, and Sidhu pops up with light-hearted commentaries between each song, which helps keep things engaging.
But the concept does beg the question: why not give us 'real' live performances in front of an audience, as the slightly misleading cover image suggests this might be? The closest we get to that here is the sample of crowd noise on the intro to Koka Lutke Legaya, which also features guest rapper Maximus in sample form only. There's no such indignity visited on Malkit Singh, who duets with Sidh wonderfully in the video for Kee Kehneh but couldn't be there for the all-day studio perfomance, so Sidhu wisely does all the vocals himself.
Grumbles aside, if this encourages more Bhangra acts to play with proper bands (as opposed to PAs), it can only be a good thing.