By The Bhangra Beatle (Sunny Gill)
There’s something about a boy band that I can’t get enough of. Five, Take That, Backstreet Boys…and B21.
Yep the bhangra boy band from the streets of Handsworth, Birmingham were a favourite in my teenage years. Granted I wasn’t swooning over them like I was with the Backstreet Boys (sorry lads) but man did they make some cracking songs.
Who can forget ‘Darshan’? The intro alone, “The following song, is coming at you like Mr Kipling, exceedingly good” deserves an applause. An anthem STILL being played on dance floors up and down the country. But they were no one-hit wonder.
One of my favourite B21 albums was ‘By Public Demand’ which featured absolute tunes such as ‘Putt Sardaran Da’, ‘Deor Da Viah’ and ‘Chandigarh’. There was also the infectious ‘Kuriya’ (from the album Long Overdue) which was one of three B21 tracks featured on the brilliant film ‘Bend It Like Beckham.’ Not bad ay.
But I saved the best till last…their song ‘Jawani’.
Maybe as I grow older and my jawani seems to be slowly slipping away (cries) this song has become more poignant, or maybe because it sampled 90’s dance anthem (and absolute tune) ‘Missing’, but whatever the reason, this song is still one of my most played tracks on my iPod. This is why I loved B21; they offered something fresh to the UK Punjabi/Bhangra scene.
Sadly, like most bands they too were dogged by controversies and rumours. In 2002, B21 had split *sobs* and off went Bally, Bhota Jagpal and Jassi Sidhu on their separate ways.
And that ladies and gentlemen was the end of B21… Oh hang on.
Like Take That and Five, B21 announced a comeback- in fact they never really went away! This time it would just be brothers Bally & Bhota Jagpal.
And just like the name of their previous album, this was LONG overdue. How long? When B21 split, I was about 13-years-old, I am now 26…
It was quite strange seeing Bally & Bhota on my TV. Naturally the boys (who are actually now men!) too have gotten older. It’s quite scary to think there is a generation out there who probably have no idea just what B21 did to the Punjabi/Bhangra scene. So would the new album ‘1-2-B’ live up to the hype?
The debut single from the album ‘Dil Tharkhe’ made me think “Yep they’re back.” It’s standard B21- infectious. I can’t decide which mix I love more; the desi or R&B. The rest of the album, is okay. ‘Doli Vichon Heer’ reminds me a lot of ‘Ranjha’ from Bally’s 2001 solo album ‘Untruly Yours’ as does the track ‘Mirza Yaar’. And purely because I LOVE the original, I’m not so keen on ‘Rab Ne Banadi Jori’ but I can definitely see it being played at weddings this year (it’s actually not a bad song ha).
Was it worth the wait? Even though it’s hard not to compare it to their previous work, I guess so.
I once met Bally shortly before B21 had split at my local Gurdwara car-park. I still have the autograph, might have to dig it out…. good to have you back Bally & Bhota. Don’t leave it so long next time ay?