Label: Ho Hum Records Release date: Out Now Link: Record Label I’m guessing it’s probably been a long time since you heard the name Crispian Mills? The genius behind one of the most successful bands of the Brit Pop era, Kula Shaker, and some of the best pop songs of a generation in ‘Govinda’, ‘Tattva’ and ‘Mystical Machine Gun’. Well he is still around and writing music, in fact he has hardly stopped since Kula Shaker’s initial split back in 1999; originally forming the band Pi, then having reasonable success with The Jeevas, and more recently reforming Kula Shaker with two new albums having been released. But now comes the release of the first single under his own name; ‘Healing Hands/ Be Merciful’ were both songs written after Kula Shaker disbanded: Mills took to the studio in 2000 to try and produce a full album but the songs never saw the light of day at the time. It must have been a huge decision to release these songs ten years later as there would always be the worry that they could sound past their sell by date. You would be right to worry as ‘Healing Hands’ does indeed sound dated, but not just by ten years. Crispian Mills’ love of various 60’s and 70’s bands is extremely obvious within this song, from the rough acoustic guitar sound and various percussion parts that open the track, to the layered vocal harmonies in the chorus and the bass groove that drives it up to full speed. Sounding almost psychedelic it has no hint of modern day music about it other than Mills’ extremely recognisable vocal tone and wah-wah guitar sound. ‘Be Merciful’ also sounds dated, this time reflecting the more acoustic side of Kula Shaker. The song is opened by an acoustic guitar playing what sounds very similar to the raga musical mode so notable within Indian music. Mills sings about losing the one he loves using metaphors of snakes and hypnosis as only he can while what sounds like a flute (possibly a pungi which is an Indian version of a flute) provides a drone to get lost within. Although the song is very short at little over two minutes it is extremely soothing and delightfully charming. ‘Healing Hands/ Be Merciful’ is a great return to form for Crispian Mills. Although the last couple of Kula Shaker albums have gone down well with the fans and press I never really felt that they were as good as they could have been, and this double single more than makes up for it. However I don’t think that they would ever sell well now: With both songs sounding very much out of place in today’s market they are definitely being aimed at fans of Mills’ career rather than new listeners, but these fans will definitely not be disappointed. Photobucket