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The Playlist Special: Donn Bhat

Mumbai-based vocalist-guitarist and frontman for electro-rock band Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator includes an Iggy Pop anthem that inspired his band’s name, a Prodigy classic and more for his playlist

Rolling Stone India Apr 28, 2016
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Donn Bhat. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Donn Bhat. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Mumbai-based vocalist-guitarist and frontman for electro-rock band Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator Donn Bhat packs in everything from evergreen Brit pop to Miles Davis’ improv masterpiece for his playlist.

“The Passenger” Iggy Pop, 1977

This song defines growing up in Delhi for me. “The stars were made for you and I”, Iggy Pop singing about everything and nothing (and it-really-doesn’t-matter-anyhow attitude) with that 4-chord riff jangling away. The groove never drops and nothing really changes but it’s the best 4 minute ride around town that one can have. I was inspired enough to name my band “Passenger Revelator” after it.


“Always With Me, Always With You” Joe Satriani, 1987

One of the first songs I started playing guitar with, in school. I hear this now once in five years or less because I played it so many times in competitions that I could probably sing the solo out in my sleep. From the Nineties guitar gods, Satriani was one who really sung out melodies with his guitar. This one is one of his best works.


“Smack My Bitch Up” Prodigy, 1997

The whole album Fat of the Land was a landmark in electronica. I remember parties in school where we’d have Daler Mehndi playing and this song would come up right after that and the contrast would be amazing. I mean, the energy was so huge you couldn’t help but jump like a madman.

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“Lady Midnight” Leonard Cohen, 1969

One of my favourite songwriters Leonard Cohen writes about love and relationships like no one else”¦ “Just win me or lose me, it is what that the darkness is for” I was hooked to his songs ever since I heard this track. It’s also inspiring to see him, post 80, still performing his music and releasing new material.


“Blood In My Eyes” Bob Dylan, 1993

I got hooked to Dylan quite late in my 20s and this was the first song that got me. I remember I heard it on a train back to Mumbai from Calcutta and kept listening to it repeatedly. After trying to figure how to play it I realized his music is deceptively simple and his vocals are phrased in very subtle and unusual ways. Apart from his genius song writing which in itself is a huge body of work, the way Dylan phrases his words and syncopates his guitar playing together is quite astonishing.


Bitches Brew Miles Davis, 1970

The masterpiece improv album that started the whole jazz/rock/psychedelic era is probably like Beethoven’s Fifth of music. It was considered a noble failure when it came out but 46 years after it came out, it continues to remain relevant and inspirational. Davis had the vision to keep inventing and pushing his boundaries as an artist regardless of expectations or norm.

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“Mass Destruction” Faithless, 2004

Maxi Jazz is a poet when he raps “Be it inflation or globalization, fear is a weapon of mass destruction. Whether long range weapon or a suicide bomb, wicked mind is a weapon of mass destruction. A Caucasian or a poor Asian, racism is a weapon of mass destruction. And you ain’t going to nirvana or farvana. You’re coming right back here to live out your karma”


“Savane” Ali Farke Toure, 2006

He takes the tired old blues and transforms it into something completely his own. His tone and swing on the guitar is trance-like and it feels as if the music was coming from the ground up. I can listen to Ali Farke for hours and more.


“There’s No Room For Error” Envision

One of the most original bands coming out of the scene in India, Envision’s “patterns and moodswings” is music far ahead of its time. I’ve only heard this song a few times live (don’t think they recorded it) but anyone who witnessed it back in 1998 knew the band was onto something special.

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