Rare Pressing: Mehdi Hassan


It just so happened that a friend and former colleague messaged me one day. Her father was getting rid of his music collection and there was quite a bit of vinyl of old Indian and Pakistani music. Should she bring it down to Melbourne next time she was in town?

The gentleman in question, who has so kindly gifted these records to me, is a Sikh from the Chakwal area of Punjab in modern day Pakistan. At the age of 11 he was forced, like nearly every other Sikh in that part of the world, to flee with his family to India. The biggest transaction of human capital and one of the biggest human, not to mention political and cultural tragedies ever to visit any country was underway in the form of the Partition of British India.

Our hero studied agriculture in India but left for Australia to pursue graduate study while still just a young man. It was the 1950s. Australia’s infamously racist White Australia immigration policy was at its peak. How a turbaned Sikh managed to make it through the bureaucratic defense systems is a story I’ve yet to be told. [About 20 years later our art teacher at school, one of India’s finest talents, who was married to an Australian, struggled for years before he managed to get an entry visa!]

Once landed he married a Latvian woman, had a family of find Latvian-Punjabi-English speaking children and developed a career as an educationist in Queensland.

One day soon I hope to have the privilege to meet him in the flesh. I will thank him for his music collection and I hope he will tell me stories of pre Partition India and 1950s Australia.

It is a joy to share the first album from his collection.

This is a rare record in that there were probably no more than a few hundred pressed. Clearly the work of music fans and homesick immigrants, this record is entitled Latest Edition in Love and Romance. It is a collection of ghazals from the modern master of the form, Mehdi Hassan.

The label, Oscar Records, has a replica of the famous golden statuette as its logo. One can safely bet that the brains behind this effort was one Mr Asghar, whose enterprise, Asghar International also gets billing on the back of the album.

The vintage of the selected ghazals is well loved rather than rare. Mr Asghar appears to have had connections and good relations with executives of EMI, Pakistan, whom he thanks for their cooperation in producing the album.

A final note of interest is the label on the front of the album which indicates the record was purchased at Ambika’s Record Bar in Vancouver, British Columbia. So altogether, a well journeyed record/music: Pakistan, New York, Vancouver, Queensland and finally to my humble home in Melbourne.

I’ve cleaned the vinyl a bit but only minimally. It is in outstanding condition, considering its date of release (early-mid 80s, I would guess).

Mehdi Hassan latest edition front

Mehdi Hassan Latest edition back

Enjoy immensely.

Track Listing:

01 Jidhar Deedaye Jana Hongay

02 Hosh-e-hasti se begana banaya hota

03 Jal Bhi Chuke Parwane

04 Tere Zalim

05 Garche Sau Bar Gham-e-hijr se Jan Guzri Hai


6 thoughts on “Rare Pressing: Mehdi Hassan

  1. Thanks for this. I must admit to be a little more obsessed with the Oscar records label than is healthy. Several of their LPs have been transferred on my blog as well as my friend Tawfiq’s excellent blog (http://oriental-traditional-music.blogspot.com).

    Recently one of my friends was recording tabla parts for an album of ghazals by one of MH’s students currently living in the US. Apparently this singer accompanied MH on most or all of his US tours in the 1980s and 1990s. I was fortunate to be invited to the recording session and I was almost about to ask the singer if he knew anything about the mysterious Oscar Records. Next time I see him I will indeed ask him.

    Thanks once again for this transfer!

  2. Another Gem Nate, and this album has a story behind it of your buddy.Interesting read. Undersigned can relate his struggle as we we were in the same boat pre partition, only solace was our family emigrated to Kenya before the partition took place, but yes we lost everything !

      • Yes History with consequences still going on with the division! Me born in heart of Nairobi, Grogan Road, lived there from 1951 to late 1969, though many of my family members were there much longer. I was in UK after that and have lost count how many more places after that…..
        Cheers Nate 🙂

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