Previously I’ve written about Simla Beat in regards to the 1970 and 1971 contests and the records released at that time. Shyam Sunder Damoda of the Frustrations Amalgamated wrote to me about the group’s participation in the 1972 Simla Beat Contest, and sent the photos seen here.
I was the lead singer from the Frustrations Amalgamated from Madras, which won the All India Simla Beat Contest Award in 1972 at Shanmukhananda Hall, Bombay. We won the Best Group Award, the Best Singer Award and the Best Own Composition Award that year! Jaya Bhaduri gave the awards to us. On winning the Simla Beat Contest we did do a recording at the Royal Gems studio, but nothing came out of it.
Manu (Manohar Roberts, our lead guitarist) is in Chennai and still plays a mean lead guitar and is still in music. Ramji, our drummer was with the Abhaswaram and is in Chennai, still very much into music. Dumbu, our bass guitarist is in the U.S.A. and we are trying to get into contact again. Lawrence, our rhythm guitarist, is in Singapore and I believe, still in music.
I am presently in Bangalore and very much in music. I had a group called the West Wind here but am presently singing with my keyboard accompaniments and MIDIs, along with a good guitarist Dominic.
This is about as obscure as garage rock gets. For two years, 1970 and 1971, a cigarette company in India sponsored a battle-of-the-bands competition, with the winners going to Calcutta to record for compilations called Simla Beat.
Each year an album was released with no info about the bands other than their hometown. Also issued was this 45 with two of the better tracks and some silly liner notes on the back of the sleeve (detail here).
Some people think this is a hoax, or that the recordings came from somewhere other than India. It’s true that some bands have a similar sound, though this could be from sharing a studio and perhaps instruments as well. Also, the bands lean heavily on American rock of the time and show very little British influence.
The Confusions from Madras cut this amazing original, “Voice from the Inner Soul”. It has a tough, heavy sound with a rudimentary beat, sharp bluesy guitar fills, and an organ sound right out of 1966.
The Dinosaurs, from Bangalore, contribute a fine cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Sinister Purpose”, giving Fogerty writing credit, somewhat surprisingly given the usual global practice of song appropriation. This one has nice fuzz guitar and gravely vocals. I’d say it surpasses the original.
All my research so far turns up no other information about the groups on these releases. Hopefully someone associated with this project will come forward and fill us in on the story behind Simla Beat.