This week’s Friday Flashback features an album containing perhaps the most iconic bhangra track in terms of mainstream success of our times. I am of course referring to the one and only “Legalised” by Panjabi MC, which celebrates – wait for it – 20 years (wow where has the time gone!!!).
Panjabi MC had already shown us his immense talent on his previous releases. Initially he remixed artists signed to the nachural records label with albums such as Souled Out, and Another Sell Out. Then he changed the game big time with “100% Proof” and “Grass Roots”.
It was on these albums where he introduced many of us 2nd generation Punjabi’s to the great vocalists of Panjab such as Kuldeep Manak, Surinder Shinda, and Mohamed Sadiq. This album would see Panjabi MC raise the bar once more. So without further ado let’s dust off the CD and give it a spin.
Track 1 is the global sensation “Mundian to Bachke” featuring the Busta Rhymes Knight rider sample. There’s not much that I can add to what has already been said about this track. It took the world by storm, you’ve seen the non-Punjabis on YouTube going crazy to this track. I recall that Top of the pops show when they had the smiling Bhamrah accompanying Eqbal Sarai on stage to perform the song.
It was one of, if not the greatest moment for the bhangra industry in the UK to get that exposure and recognition – take a bow PMC. The Vocals to the track had been provided by the talented Labh Janjua who tragically passed away recently. Labh Janjua had already had some exposure with the “Beyond Belief” album on the Kismet Records Label, but with this track he was going to scale new heights. The tumbi which was played by KS Bhamra was spot on.
Track 2 is Gurdas Maan’s Challa. Now when I was a kid in terms of Punjabi filmi songs, the 2 tracks that most people would recognise were Putt Jattan De (you know the one which was played at every wedding) and Challa (every uncle thought they were Gurdas Mann at the weddings by miming to this song). So PMC pulls off another major coup with this track by getting the rights to remix the anthem. PMC raps on this track too, and the talented Balwinder Safri (Yes that’s right I said Balwinder Safri) plays the vaaja. It’s a proper chilled out mellow track and PMC’s rap compliments the vibe given by Gurdas Maan.
Next we have an introduction by Hans Raj Hans who talks about the importance of remembering our mother tongue, our heritage, and our culture. He introduces us to the king of the tumbi – Lalchand Yamla Jatt who in his own distinct and unique style gives us “Neuke Chakee Jawana” with a Maxi Priest sample thrown in.
Now you may recall Achanak did a cover version of this track on the sNACH album a few years prior to legalised. PMC once again was giving the 2nd and 3rd generation Panjabis their first taste of another Panjabi legend on this track. It’s a classy track, and thanks PMC for giving us a glimpse of Lalchand Yamla Jatt.
Moving on we have another iconic singer (Surinder Shinda) taking the mic with Mirza. This is a phat track, the lyrics, the vocals, the rap, the melody, all ooze class. One of the tracks I had on repeat back in the day. The track just ends abruptly with the line “Upplan de karnail ne geet gawauney shindeytoh” leaving us all asking for more.
Kuldeep Manak joins the all star cast with “Jatt hogaya sharaabi” and he’s joined by Magnum P.I in the form of a sample – not actually Tom Selleck himself. What can you say about Manak he’s a legend and the Magnum sample blends well with this fast paced track.
PMC slows it down with Gallan Gurian, the vocals are provided by Hema Sharma. Dev Raj Jassal who wrote the “Putt Saradaran De” on the Death Jamm EP shows his talents with the flute on this track. This is another chilled track to relax to and to listen to the lyrics.
Lalchand Yamla Jatt returns with the first ever tumbi recording on the track titled “Pyaar Wich”. Its another track which has been covered many times. PMC gives it his treatment and it works a treat.
To wrap things up we have Soundz of the Des which features PMC rapping and the talented Kray Twins. PMC excels once again with his rap style, and the beat is addictive and will have you bopping your head away.
What an album folks. It got Panjabi music onto top of the pops, and was a launch pad for PMC to re- release more of his singles such as Jogi into the mainstream. “Mundian tohbachke” continues to be a phenomenon, even recently a Bollywood movie copied the track but failed miserably – why do they even bother touching Panjabi classics (that’s a whole article in itself). Anyway enjoy this vintage album and celebrate its 20th anniversary in true PMC style…