July 05--Che Prasad
"Shiva Me Timbers"
Che Prasad, a San Anselmo pathologist and accomplished multi-instrumentalist, shows his command of an impressive array of musical styles and influences -- from sea shanties and country rock to North Indian classical music and American folk -- on this extraordinary debut album.
The 11 original songs in this collection were inspired by Prasad's family and the characters he's come across in his dual career as a physician and musician.
The centerpiece is "Shadows from the East," written about his Indian father and American mother and set to a droning sitar track that immediately recalls George Harrison. Prasad is more than familiar with the late Beatle's music, having played in the Hairy Sons, a Harrison tribute band, with his brother, Mickie Lee Prasad, who produced the album and co-wrote most of the songs.
The Prasads also played in a Dire Straits tribute band, the Prasad Brothers in Arms, which explains the Mark Knopfler sound of the opening song, "Early Checkout." There are echoes of Jerry Garcia's soulfully strained vocal style on "Afraid of the Sting," Tom Waits never growled harder than Prasad does on the story song "Take Me to Confession," and only a pathologist could authoritatively write a song like "The Italian Pathologist," with the line, "Pointing out sights everyone sees/His eyes are trained to find disease."
In addition to
handling lead vocals, Prasad plays guitar, banjo, sitar, ukulele, accordion and tabla, and he plays them all well, having studied folk guitar with British singer-songwriter Richard Thompson, sitar with the late Ali Akbar Khan and flamenco guitar with Rene Heredia.
This is a great sounding record, its consummate musicianship due to the impressive players Prasad brought into the studio, including blues guitarist Steve Gannon, drummer Michael Urbano (Smash Mouth, Sheryl Crow), keyboardist Chris Burns (Maria Muldaur), Grammy nominated bass player, Kaveh Rastegar and several well-known New Orleans musicians, among them Big Easy Music Award winners Alex McMurray from the HBO Series "Treme," Matt Perrine, Meschiya Lake and Luke Allen.
"Shiva Me Timbers" is Prasad's first full-length studio recording, and he shows the range of his talent on it, his mastery of the styles of the established stars who have influenced him. He's managed this without coming off as derivative, but perhaps on his next album he'll settle on a style that's all his own.
Buy It: "Shiva Me Timbers," Che Prasad, independent, www.cheprasad.com, CD Baby, $15 CD, $9.99 download
Hear Him Live: CD Release Party, 4 p.m. Sept. 22, Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
-- Paul Liberatore
If you're a musician or band from Marin with an album or EP that readers can buy or download and want to be reviewed, send your CD and contact information, (if you have an upcoming gig, let us know that, too) to Press Play, 4000 Civic Center Drive, Suite 301, San Rafael, CA 94903.
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