Instep picks top five songs that must be on everyone’s playlist.
Over the years, co-VEN has gone through several changes before settling on the present group, which features Hamza Jafri as singer-songwriter, Sikandar Mufti on drums and Sameer Ahmed on bass, respectively. Omran Shafique has also made appearances with the band on several occasions.
But before its present iteration, there was a time when co-VEN featured former Noori and current Rushk bass player (and Hamza Jafri’s older brother), Mohd Ali Jafri on bass and Ali Noor on vocals, among others. The idea that the ‘Saari Raat Jaga’ singer-songwriter led the English-language band during the nineties sounds strange but Noor owned up to it like a pro. Some won’t recognize that it is Ali Noor on vocals until they are told.
The single, ‘Killer Whale’, the finest track on the 1997 EP, Not in Your World is grunge-meets-punk-meets-rock. It can’t be pigeonholed in one genre. The song is not just the finest song on the EP but one of the best songs co-VEN has in its repertoire. Find it on SoundCloud now and prepare to be surprised.
Album: Peeli Patti Aur Raja Jaani Ki Gol Dunya
While on the subject of Noori, as the two brothers (Ali Noor and Ali Hamza) take dissimilar solo roads for the first time in their collective careers after three studio albums, here is one of their best songs. ‘Ooncha’
became a cult favourite long before any of their albums released and was known as ‘Ooncha Hoon Mein’ in its cult favourite days. This version, ‘Ooncha’ is cleaner, crisper but the rest of the song is the same, which makes it so beautiful. With an appearance by Ali Azmat in the end, ‘Ooncha’ is the antithesis of the energetic Suno Ke Main Hoon Jawan record. Featured on the band’s second album, Peeli Patti, it carried with it a sense of melancholia due to the changing world and an unkindness that reduced the feelings of hope that Noori had spread with their debut album. Written by Ali Noor, this is one of his best songs as a lyricist and shows why Noori or Ali Noor or Ali Hamza don’t need lyricists; they are poets all on their own.
There is always debate among pure Strings fans which is the best Bilal Maqsood-sung song in String’s collective records. Though Faisal Kapadia rightly continues to be the front-man with that husky voice that is unmatchable, the single ‘Khirki’ from their album Duur with its metaphorical lyrics and musicianship along with Bilal Maqsood on vocals makes you think twice. Is it better than ‘Sar Kiye’ or ‘Mil Gaya’ or ‘Urr Jaoon’ or is it the second best after ‘Sar Kiye’? It is a difficult decision to make because Bilal Maqsood has sung it so very well. The metaphors used in the lyrics always create different interpretations that adds to the charm of the song.
Song: ‘Tanha Hai Kyun’
Artist: Ali Azmat
Ali Azmat’s solo repertoire is so strong that it is hard to find a mistake other than him attempting to sing a track in English. Only ‘No More’ – made during Junoon days post 9/11 worked so let’s quit while ahead. However, the rest of the music is so good with collaborations with the likes of Ziyyad Gulzar and Omran Shafique with Mekaal Hasan’s studio serving as the space where the second album was recorded that it is hard to find flaws. As Ali Azmat noted, the songs came naturally to him. ‘Tanha Hai Kyun’ with a music video by Zeeshan Parwez is one of the most hopeful and self-aware songs on the record. With a gorgeous guitar solo from Omran Shafique and lyrical prowess that speaks of what living means and how you must never forget is also an elegy for the times we are currently facing.
Artist: The Milestones
Album: The Best of Milestones
After two albums in the 1990s, this trio dissipated. Ziyyad Gulzar went onto work with Ali Azmat on Social Circus as well as both of Rushk’s albums: Sawaal and the current one, in the making with several songs released. Ali Tim wrote on music as well as experimented with different bands while the lead vocalist, story goes, left for Canada and was never heard from again.
Despite their short history, this two-album band was one of the coolest bands in the nineties with hits like ‘Aag’ still remembered. However, ‘Baat’ is an anomaly even for them due to its unabashed love song theme and very creative music that one longs for even today.