The band Laal made an entrance into the music industry in 2009 and introduced a different genre of sound for the masses. At the time, Pakistan was going through political turmoil with Pervez Musharraf’s regime relinquishing control to a democratic government. The timing could not have been better for a semi-classical pop band with a socialist ideology to come into the limelight.
Laal’s first album Umeed-e-Sahar slowly became the unofficial ambassador of the lawyer’s movement, with them performing live before senior lawyers like Aitzaz Ahsan. Despite being a raag-based and semi-classical album, Umeed-e-Sehar was heard on the streets and ignited a new sense of self and society with the simple yet piercing words of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib.
Politically, the album and movement did not do as much as the band had envisioned. But the music that was created left a lasting impression on critics and listeners. After all, it was Laal that had given so much importance to poetry for a social awakening aimed at the youth after Junoon.
Earlier, the band consisted of singer Shahram Azhar –one of the finer vocalists that we have heard recently — Taimur Rehman on guitar, Mehwish Waqar on backing vocals and Haider Rehman on the flute. According to the band’s Facebook page, Azhar is no longer with them.
All of their new songs may have brilliant angles, but listening to them has become exhausting. From Meray Din to Dehshatgardi Murdabad, and Jhoot Ka Uncha Sar to their latest offering Maulana, Laal seems to have lost track of where it started; it seems that the band is in desperate need of a new vocalist and lyricist.
While Laal is essentially driven by its socialist ideology and use of poetry and might not give vocals much importance, the quality of its lyrics and composition is unimpressive. Maulana is a popular poem by Habib Jalib that was a part of street protests in Pakistan when the political left was alive. Jalib’s poem mocks the roles of clerics in Pakistan and talks about how their sermons and lectures have not improved things for the country. The poetry is simple and straightforward, making Maulana effective.
However, Laal’s take on Jalib’s poetry is like a nursery rhyme rather than a satirical piece; the rawness with which Rehman has sung the song makes one wonder how the poet would feel about this tribute.
Laal deserves credit for consistently making music, but it would be better for them to focus on the quality of their music. Their message is appreciated, but the person conveying the message (the singer) is not. It’s high time they hire a professional vocalist!
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2013.
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