So soon after the India LP I deliver unto you Srila Prabhupada’s Govinda! This is a fun project, thanks for the kind words. Haribol! Enjoy the download!
Govinda Prayers Sung by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Golden Avatar Productions
You will know this album by the first few notes of the first song, “Prayers to the Six Gosvamis.” The drone of the tampoura and the strikes of the sarod have been heard on countless ISKCON productions. The rest of the album, however, isn’t as well known.
In 1973, before Europe’s Hare Krishna record industry kicked off in high gear, Gold Avatar Productions released a simple, 40 minute recording by Srila Prabhupada entitled Govinda. Three songs and one spoken track are all that make up this album, but it seems to have been the first official recording of Srila Prabhupada’s singing since 1968′s Happenings LP (I’m speculating here, correct me if I’m wrong).
Govinda was re-released in 1975 with a different cover painted by Pariksit dasa. The first release lacked liner notes of any kind aside from the record label itself, which listed the instruments played, but not (with the exception of Srila Prabhupada) who played them. Two years later, all credits appeared on the back cover.
The songs are very minimalistic in contrast to the George Harrison-produced Radha-Krsna Temple. There is no percussion aside from kartals, played by Srila Prabhupada, who also played the harmonium in one song.
Recording took place at Annex Studios on Sycamore Avenue in Hollywood, California. They were Columbia Record’s main west coast studio until the late 60s and recorded the likes of Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley. Those recordings used professional sound engineers and producers. In 1973, for the Govinda recording sessions, there seems to be only Krsnakanti dasa. A year before, he founded Gold Avatar to release Srila Prabhupada’s lectures. This may have been his first attempt at producing. The quality shows. He seems to have done much better later on (even professionally producing some disco records under the “Golden Age” Studios name (rather than “Golden Avatar”).
George and Ann Ruckert, who appear on the first track and are possibly brother and sister were both students of Ali Akbar Khan. George is now an MIT professor of music while Ann, who attended Julliard at age 15, co-founded the Jazz Foundation and teaches music privately. How they became associated with this recording, however, is still a mystery to me.
The first song, “Prayers to the Six Gosvamis,” features Ann and George Ruckert on tampoura and sarod, respectively. They accompany Srila Prabhupada’s singing and kartals. The tampoura’s drone in the left channel sounds almost like a deep blues harmonica at times, adding a very strange feel to the whole piece (this is a good thing). The sarod meanders around the notes set by Srila Prabhupada’s vocals and the beat kept by the kartals. It is not a complex piece, but an odd one if you really listen for it. This has been most widely available on the CD Hare Krishna Classics & Originals.
“Gour and Nitai” (entitled “Lalasamayi” on the 1975 re-release) finishes out side two. It is loud recording, with Srila Prabhupada belting out the slow tune and grinding slowly away on the harmonium. Nobody else is present on this track. I’m not sure whether it was planned this way, but the entire piece sounds hollow and very low-fi, evidence that producer Krsnakanti was just starting out. This song has been commercially unavailable since this release.
Side two’s only song is “Chintamani” (“Cintamani” on the 1975 re-release). It again feature Srila Prabhupada on vocals on kartals, but also Visnujana Swami on tampoura. The drones of the tampoura add quite a lot to the song, as it doesn’t sound quite as “empty” as “Gour and Nitai.” It’s also interesting to hear a more traditional take on the Brahma-samita prayers. The same prayers were used on “Govinda,” the Radha-Krsna Temple’s single that is still played at every ISKCON center every morning. Aside from this recording, this sweet song has never been released by ISKCON.
The closing track is a twelve minute speech by Srila Prabhupada, simply called “Chintamani – text.” Here, Srila Prabhupada gives a little background as to the meaning of the song “Chintamani” as well as a bit of translation for the verses. This recording, oddly enough, saw the light of day on Volume 16 of the Vintage Series CDs as an explanation for a different recording of “Chintamani.”
The 1975 re-release included not only production credits, but an insert with lyrics and some text.
1) Prayers to the Six Goswamis 13:05
2) Gour and Nitai (Lalasamayi) 7:01
1) Chintamani 9:11
2) Chintamani – text 12:10
On the back of the 1975 re-release, a short note about Srila Prabhupada reads…
For thousands of years holy men in India have reached the Transcendental Realm of super-consciousness by vibrating sacred hymns. Now His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada brings this consciousness to the West in an ecstatic performance with classical Indian instruments.
This album was fairly easy to clean up, though I still wish my copy of it was in better shape. I used the 1975 release since my copy of the original release is in even worse shape. Again, it’s not perfect, but it’s the best I could do.
Just click on the button and it’ll take you to a page where you can download the zip file. Then open the zip file with WinZip (or whatever program you use to open zip files). Add to your MP3 library or burn it to a CD-R. Easy as pie!
Vinyl LP from my personal collection (I used the 1975 release since it was in better shape).
Turntable: Audio Technica PL-120A
Cartridge: ATP-2XN (Stock)
TCC TC-750LC Audiophile Phono Preamp
Soundcard: Roland Edirol UA-1EX USB external soundcard
Audacity 1.3.7 on Linux Mint 7
-Digital recording from soundcard
-Editing and splitting of tracks
Gnome Wave Cleaner 0.21-10
-Manual and automatic click/pop removal
-Converted Wav to 320kbps MP3 and FLAC
Artwork Scanned from Original @ 300 dpi with XSane .996
Edited and Restored Using GIMP Image Editor 2.6.6