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.
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