It was 40 years ago this year when I came upon the entrancing “Ever So Lonely” being played as an import single on my college radio station of choice: WPRK-FM. I was intensely captivated by the mixture of Indian raga with modern synths and the eBow guitar of Mr. Bill Nelson all supporting the lovely voice of singer Sheila Chandra. I bought the UK import LP on release in 1983, and by 1985 could not wait to have this album on the silver disc!
Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long. I bought the first CD of this title in my Record Cell in 1988 when Great Expectations reissued the album. By that time I had already begun buying the Monsoon singles in import record catalogs which were my lifeline at the time. I managed to get almost all of the band’s singles, but sadly, none of these alternate versions, B-sides, and remixes were on the 1988 CD as bonus tracks. There was also a 1995 Mercury DLX RM CD with six bonus tracks, but that was a half measure, and I never bothered getting one. Even though it was also released in America at the time. Now, 39 years after the release of the debut [and technically, only, Monsoon album] we have an expansive 2xCD set from Cherry Red’s Cherry Pop division that looks to be a must have!
Monsoon: Third Eye DLX RM – UK – 2xCD 
- Wings Of The Dawn (Prem Kavita)
- Tomorrow Never Knows
- Third Eye And Tikka T.V.
- Shakti (The Meaning Of Within)
- Ever So Lonely
- You Can’t Take Me With You
- And I You
- Watchers Of The Night
- Man Who Makes Time
- With Your Love
- Ever So Lonely (E.P. Version 1981)
- Sunset Over The Ganges
- Mirror Of Your Mind
- Shout ‘Til You’re Heard
- Ever So Lonely (Capital Radio Session March 1982)
- Sunset Over The Ganges (Capital Radio Session March 1982)
- Shakti (The Meaning Of Within) (Capital Radio Session March 1982)
- Shout ‘Til You’re Heard (Capital Radio Session March 1982)
- Ever So Lonely (Ben Chapman 7” Remix 1990)
- Ever So Lonely (Ben Chapman 12” Extended Remix 1990)
- Ever So Lonely (Ben Chapman 7” Instrumental Remix 1990)
- Ever So Lonely (Ben Chapman 12” Instrumental Remix 1990)
- Wings Of The Dawn (Hindi Version)
- Shakti (The Meaning Of Within) (12” Version)
- Ever So Lonely (Dub Version)
- Ever So Lonely (Hindi Version)
- Indian Princess
- And I You (Edit)
- Wings Of The Dawn (7” Version)
- Tomorrow Never Knows (7” Version)
- Ever So Lonely (7” Version)
- Ever So Lonely (Edit)
The tale of how Monsoon began with keyboardist Steve Coe developing an interest in Indian music by 1980 that saw him discover the demos Sheila Chandra, then a teenage actress appearing on the UK’s “Grange Hill” children’s show had recorded for Hansa Records. She joined Coe and bass player Martin Smith to form Monsoon in 1981 just a few months before graduating school and soon released their striking EP which caught the attention of the Mobile Suit Corporation label.
This is as comprehensive as reissues get! Full original album? Check. Early indie EP with first version of signature song and B-sides? Check! All of the remixes and B-sides…even the 1990 Post-Modern remixes? Double check! And the the package has the generosity of spirit to also include the group’s Capital Radio Session and two previously un-issued songs for an abundance of Monsoon goodness. The discs have a 32 page booklet of liner notes with an interview with Sheila Chandra looking back on the path that Monsoon took. The band developed issues with their label and broke up the band.
Following that “split” Coe and Chandra continued to work as a unit making many more Sheila Chandra solo albums in the next five years. She later joined the Real World label as Peter Gabriel wisely issued further albums which saw her making largely vocal albums of spoken “bols.” The Indian practice of verbalizing tabla drum patterns to hypnotic effect. But this reissue captures the lightning in a bottle moment where one of the earliest and most successful experiments in “East meets West” musical hybridizati0n first managed to have a flashpoint that became very noticed. And the cherry on the top of this reissue is the £12.99 price, currently in pre-order [with a signed Sheila Chandra postcard] for a November 25 release. More than ever, hit that button.
It is always a rare pleasure to get the entirety of a “band’s” short-lived career in a single DLX reissue, but here is that opportunity! As noted, Sheila Chandra went on to have a lush further career under her own name, but Monsoon had a certain “spark” that really captured the imagination. Damn you (daddy sir), O Monk, for draining my scant assets with first the Mari Wilson box and now this!