It’s time for Junoon to make a comeback

Published: April 5, 2011
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Not only are they the best in the music business, they are the only band to have gained international recognition.

There I was one lonely night back in 1999, watching the Zee Cine Awards by myself. Among the Indian celebrities there were a few familiar faces. That night Junoon performed Sayeein to a packed concert hall and I remember dancing in an empty living room with sheer rock and roll joy.

Since then, the band has broken up and splintered in to Sufi analyst, confused solo musician and missing-in-action gora.

They went from being a small time English language band to the biggest musical phenomenon in the country. Lead singer Ali Azmat has said:

“In our first live concert. There were just seven people. Out of them five were our family members and two girlfriends.”

Enough is enough

It is time for Junoon to reunite. The band defied traditions with their politically motivated songs; they mixed guitar riffs so well with traditional music and Sufi poetry that listeners were overwhelmed.

During the 1992 World Cup, the band came up with inspiring songs like Hai Jazba Junoon which is now considered a sports anthem. For the political turmoil during the late 1990s, the band came up with Zamane Ke Andaaz Badlay Gaye.

Not only are they the best in the music business, they are the only band to have gained international recognition. Even when they were banned in Pakistan during Nawaz Sharif’s government in the late 90s, they did shows and concerts abroad.

What are they thinking?

Musically, both Ali Azmat and Ahmed continue to misstep since they have disbanded. The junooni passion that their earlier albums Talash, Inquilaab, Azaadi and the famous Parvaaz conveyed is missingt from their latest works.

Rock and Roll Jihad writer Salman Ahmed’s most recent claim to fame has been his role as a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations. Let’s face it – the only reason he was selected because he was a part of Junoon.

The band that inspired so many has become nothing more than a fading, but extremely fond, memory.

While Junoon is gone the trend that they started continued. Bands like Laal and singers like Jawad Ahmed have started to look towards Urdu poetry for inspiration. Sufi inspirational music has become mainstream.

Commercial endeavours like the popular Coke studio have reached unprecedented fame – season after season. But let’s admit it -these people cannot make half the music, with the crazed passion that Junoon created in their time. Despite having top singers and bands a void remains that only Junoon can fill.

Junoon’s original song’s had an honest ability to mesh Eastern gentleness with Western rock. The song surprised, challenged and engaged you. Most pop songs today are fun but they are hardly cognitive.

So, Junoon if you are reading this, I want to make an earnest plea – please comeback! I miss you!

saher.baloch

Saher Baloch

A reporter for the Karachi pages of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Salman

    Thank you! For years now, I’ve been hoping Junoon would make another album. If you guys are reading this, please get back together and mesmerize us with your magic again. There are MANY MANY Junoonis out there who would love to listen to the some of the best music Pakistan has ever heard. Recommend

  • http://studentsofpakistan.com Imran Ahmad Khan

    Junoon fan? They came up with Jazba Junoon for the 1996 WC!
    I miss them so much. But a comeback is not on the cards. Their differences are too big. Egos involved. Recommend

  • Raja

    Junoon were great in their time but please, its time to move on. Coke studio has produced music that inspires, enthralls and engages like nothing else. Ah, the pathetic state of our English language newspapers. Anyone who can put together a few words in English becomes a writer. Very uninspiring!Recommend

  • irfan urfi

    very Nice Post please comeback! I miss you!strong textRecommend

  • MAD

    The Gora left after being shabbily treated and humiliatingly dumped by his one time best friend. post Junoon Salman Ahmed has just been plain stupid and while Ali Azmat has still stuck to doing what he does best he should stop acting like a kid.Recommend

  • parvez

    Do not agree. One needs to move on to better things. The process of evolving and changing must be encouraged especially in the arts. Recommend

  • http://0mairkhalid.wordpress.com Omair Khalid

    oh god….at my early teenage or u may say my late childhood when i was not aware of what the term songs are coined for….themes like Sayyanee,n fellows made me dance.
    I didnt knew what it was but i liked it most.Then the gem “Zamanay ke Andaaz Badle gaye” came out,oh i was loving Iqbal then…n just listen to this nuber n was mad !!

    Unite the junooniyat in the nataion again…..we all need u guys again !!!

    Cant forget the moments the whole encloser shouning hte HY JAZBA JUNOON in Pak-India Test match at National Stadium……Recommend

  • Agonised Uncle

    Mere Pakistani bhaiyoon.
    You write so well on this topic.
    Why don’t you also dispense your wisdom
    on other topics and threads of the Express Tribune?
    The Indian delegates are on full swing there.
    Time for a ‘positive’ engagement
    and progressive interaction.
    Jago bhaiyoon, jago! ( Behney bhi ).
    Baat nahin karengey,
    to ladtey ladtey buddhey ho jayenge hum sub.
    Dair na karein. Please.
    Sirf Tumhara,
    Agonised Uncle Recommend

  • asif

    They performed Sayonee, not Saeen,at the Zee Cine Awards
    Jazba-e-Junoon was written for the 96 World Cup, not the 92 World Cup
    Zamaaney ke andaaz badley gayey (actual title: Saqi Nama)was derived from a poem written by Iqbal. Junoon did not come up with it. It was about modernity and youth, not the turmoil of the 1990’s.

    Ali Azmat (ignoring the dodgy politics & the crush on Zaid Hamid) has produced two very experimental, forward looking and progressive (musically) albums. He continues to be based in Pakistan. Junoon as a band had stopped functioning after Parvaaz, anyway (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2WeLwlcJu0&feature=fvwrel)

    You’re barking up the wrong tree, I’m afraid.Recommend

  • Radhika

    as a long time Junooni I’m surprised at the Bias of this article.Salman is making an album with the likes of Peter Gabriel,thats hardly being confused.Peter Gabriel’s last collaboration with a Pakistani artist was the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. artists are by nature free spirits,let them follow their hearts and passions!Recommend

  • Raza

    I once termed Junoon as Paki Led Zepplin (while Vital Signs (from VS-4 era) for me were the desi Pink Floyd!)…Both Ali & Salman have clarified it with their individual endavours that Junoon was not a one man’s band…it was all about CHEMISTRY & the magic that happens when few guys get in a room together to create the thing called ROCK MUSIC!

    All said & done, mark my words, Junoon will reunite oneday, it make take their hangover to last a few years but their differences (how big or trivial they may seem) are bound to be swept away!

    Cheers!

    PS…they dont call me hopelessly Optimistic for nothing! ;)Recommend

  • Rizwan Jamil

    love this post – we miss those magic moments Recommend

  • Atif

    Seems like the writer is still dancing in an empty living room!! Ali has done wonders going solo, whereas, Salman is still in his past…the “head gear” is still on!! grow up man!!Recommend

  • Farah

    Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • atika

    Junoon’s music is part of the soul of pakistani culture.it will always live on in our hearts!Let the music play on!!! Junoon say aur ishq say miltee hai azadi/qurbanee kee bahoun main miltee hey azadi!!!Recommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com Said Chaudhry

    its funny, I always wondered why Im such a huge fan of Junoon. Everytime I pick up my guitar, by default the first few songs I play are Heer, Aap aur Hum, Sayoonee…
    Every Junoon song is a journey, and in the journey lies a hidden meaning. Their music can never ever get old. I am lucky to have seen them perform live in Lahore, and it was a concert I am glad I attended. I wish they’d reunite, but after reading Salman’s book Rock and Roll Jihad, I highly doubt that they will.Recommend

  • yaarku

    forget junoon u cannot bring back the x singer who has become khilafat movement activist with khalifa designated of muslim ummah, zaid hamid…Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    Seriously!Recommend

  • bc

    you have to have a managment that can make sure that all members get their respective comforts and piece of the action behind the curtains and beyond, and cut all that BS off when its time to show up for rehearsal and shows, ie cut off the drama queen BS. they admitted the problem in the end was that all three members were sitting in each corner of the room backstage with their respecitve “friends/groupies” and I cant belive there where people allwowing that to happen.

    it would be interesting if junoon could use coke studio (especially considering their long relationship with coke) to start the reunion or even try out to feel if its something they can get excited about. just releasing that as a dvd would be great, take all the cuts that were great and thats it. raw and simple and short. i think rohail would be really happy about that. they could spend a little time to record a new song or two on the spot as well after or before the audience comes or goes, rohail knows what hes doing or if J want to bring in their people might not be a problem for that part. a smart person could set that up.

    another thing is that one must ask if its not better that they DONT reunite considering its more dignified. and they should certainly only reunite IF the music is good. song for song. note by note. no other reason + if that is what THEY want to do, not because I want it, you want it, or one or several journalists want it.
    even if they have to come up with two ep´s for the next several years that would be the only reason: to make the music good.

    id love to hear them play tu lung ja sung by ali…that was the only song almost that was good after ali left…everything else was pretty much crap.

    i dont understand why its a problem to make them sit in a room together with a producer, technician for a few weeks every year to write songs. why is that a problem? how can that be a problem? let them make one big summer tour and then have lots of time off with cash and bad habits. how can you miss the change of getting the best out of them?

    alis albums are really really good. the second one even better. its not junoon level but its still really good. way more diversified.

    sorry to uncle anxious or whatever his name was. i should probably apply my intelligence to all that serious stuff as well…and I will. gandhi was a…lets not go there. but its like everytime you have something good or positive to say you have to pitch it to the likes of people like pcb, pakistan cricket board, ijaz butt type people. even if youre at a wedding or if its your own parents or someone elses. theyre AWFUL idiots. corrupted. biased. igorant. arrogant. its not easy being a young pakistani with high morals and good intentions. Recommend

  • Junaid Iqbal

    Thanks Asif for correcting

    While the writer means well, he certainly got the facts wrong

    Despite so many bands, despite phenomenal successes like coke studio, not one rock band had composed one song to match the likes of junoon

    I was extremely lucky to be a student of brian’s
    Took guitar lessons from him

    Those days junoon would have a concert nearly every week at the bahria auditorium (right next to where arena is)

    They’d come in ali azmat’s sky blue Suzuki swift, Salman would wear that red sherwani with Sindhi glass work and Brian would play barefooted
    Pretty much the same cultish crowd would come every time.’i’m talking about the post talaash time

    And we’d be the luckiest of all as we would get free tickets from Brian

    Fast forward many years later, and junoon would arrive to a packed house in Dhaka in a helicopter
    Perform in central park
    Insane concerts

    What a great band, what phenomenal music!!

    Come back junnon
    We miss youRecommend

  • Saher

    Hello everyone,

    Sorry for getting a few facts wrong. It was the excitement to write about Junoon that did it maybe :D Recommend

  • Pseudo my turtle

    For Junoonis

    palat kai jo dekha,
    ankhain hui num,
    aya nazar jab,
    adhoora sa jeewan.

    For Junoon

    tu hai rangon main khoya,
    tujh se baat kya karun,
    kaisay hogi yeh tujh se mulaqat kia karun.

    People die, life goes on. We have to move on though and so do they. And anyway Dewar was pathetic. Recommend

  • Arsalan Ghumman

    It was not 1992 World Cup. “Jazba-e-Junoon” was released in 1996 World Cup which was played in South Asia.Recommend

  • Babar

    Hi Guys,
    I wholesomely agree with Saher..Ive been listening to their ‘music since their first album..i think it was 1989..though i got a chance to finally see them perform live in Islamabad Hotel (Presently Marriott) crystal ball room in 1991.. probably it was their first concert in Islamabad… we were super excited and it was like a dream come true…. and the rocked the monkey out of us… loved them since then….(i’m actually listening junoon at this very moment ;))never missed their single performance while i was in karachi.. and let me say it that they remain the best live performers in this part of the continent.. NY times called them the U2 of Pakistan..i mean c’mon.. they were phenomenal..They ought to reunite…salman is nothing without Junoon..though Ali still has a knack to give some good stuff occasionally..I don’t want to list their achievements here because they r too many..But i wud sincerely like them to make a come back..MISS THEM A LOT…

    p.s Saher.. Nice Job… Recommend

  • Adeel

    @Raja: Totally agree about the people becoming English writers… this article might have had substance if backed with some real arguments… but this writer seems as if she is in her early teens…Recommend

  • Eric

    @MAD: Your name says it all…. your comments made no sense at all… keep it upRecommend