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Baba Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert) is best known as Timothy Leary's sidekick during the lysergic era, but where Leary had a pranksterish quality that made him more of a media-friendly hippie icon, Ram Dass was a much more earnest spiritual seeker who went early into a devoted study of Indian religions and cultures and stayed there. This made for much less interesting copy, so he was largely forgotten by the time Altamont rolled around. 1994's The Chord of Love, however, proves that Ram Dass stuck to his beliefs long after they were no longer fashionable: an album of traditional chants led by noted singers Krishna Das and Jai Uttal -- "Govinda Jai Jai" and "Om Namah Shivaya" are two that might be familiar to those who have explored Indian music and religion -- and readings from the Bhagavad Gita by Ram Dass in his familiar sonorous baritone, all set to simple, completely traditional Indian instrumentation, The Chord of Love is beautifully, deeply spiritual.
Personnel include: Ram Dass (spoken vocals); John McDowell (various instruments). Ram Dass came to prominence in the 1950s and '60s as Dr. Richard Alpert (one of Dr. Timothy Leary's cohorts in the early experiments with LSD), and has continued a path of personal exploration and spiritual practice ever since. MEDITATIONS ON THE GITA combines readings by Ram Dass from the Bhagavad-Gita with musical accompaniment from a variety of guests. These include keyboardists John McDowell, bansuri player Steve Gorn, and vocalists Diana Rogers and Shyamdas, who join Dass in extended chants. The music is peaceful, soothing, and highlights the pearls of wisdom Das dispenses from the Gita, creating an overall experience conducive to meditation and self-realization.
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