A look back at recordings I made over my career.
Part 15. TWO TONGUES ONE VOICE. Pete Castle and Aroti Biswas cassette Steel Carpet Music MATS009 1994
This Bengali/British folk mix was released in 1994 although the tracks were recorded at various times in the previous 10 years. It was centred on the two tracks with Bengali musician Aroti Biswas which were on my 1989 cassette One Morning By Chance (posted previously). I then added half a dozen tracks which we recorded for Chiltern Radio in about 1985/6 (I was running their folk programme at the time so was able to use the studios when they weren’t busy) and topped it up with 3 specially recorded songs one of which, Aroti, Aroti, was written by Sue to a Hungarian tune as a tribute to Aroti who died in 1990.
The album was a mix of English songs played with an Indian flavoured accompaniment and Indian songs to which I added what I could. I didn’t make a great effort to sell or publicise it widely—there was no internet in those days so it was difficult—but it sold at the events we did together in Luton and I took it round to my gigs and some brave people did buy it. In recent years people have said that it should have been more enthusiastically greeted by the folk press but it was ahead of its time, World Music was in its infancy and the folk scene is very conservative. I'm pretty sure there was also some racial prejudice around.
I met Aroti because out children went to the same school in Luton and we both appeared at local events, often arranged by the Community Relations Council. She did a lot of work within her community and ran an Asian music school teaching singing, harmonium, tabla etc. I don't know which of us suggested that we should try playing together. It was not easy but it was interesting and was beginning to work when Aroti was diagnosed with cancer.
This review from a forward looking critic sums it up:
“It’s an interesting collection, although some tracks like Lord Bateman work the cross cultural approach can at times sound a little rich for the UK palate. None the less there are some inspiring moments here especially Two Magicians and Castle’s own ‘Dark Eyed Girl’.” (Rock N Reel)
The Other Side of Jordan
The Farmer’s Curst Wife
Bengali Folk Song
Dark Eyed Girl
Gujerati Folk Song
The Seige of Delhi
Here is The Other Side of Jordan which I’d previously recorded with Jez Lowe on my Rambling Robin LP.