Kula Shaker’s success was pretty much limited to the mid ’90s. Sure, they were a fine band, but their sole charting single from the last decade was in 2007, and that reached #101 on the charts. To be fair though, they weren’t exactly a band who was prepared to outlast the ’90s.
Back in the mid ’90s, plenty of bands in the UK tried to make a name for themselves. Of course, with the Britpop era dying out, they had to sort of evolve, and change into something fresh. Not only did this need give us the entire post-Britpop genre, but it gave us bands who were trying to be a bit more experimental. One such band was Kula Shaker, who attempted to bring back the psychedelic pop sounds from the ’60s that they loved, and mix it with a number of Indian influences, which tended to get them lumped under the genre of ‘raga rock’.
The group’s debut album, K, was released in 1996 and featured a number of decent tracks. Their song ‘Hey Dude’ was successful enough to reach #2 on the charts, but not quite successful enough to knock the Spice Girls off the top. Frankly, if they had, they’d probably be remembered far more fondly than they are now.
‘Hey Dude’ was a pretty good jam. I discovered it in my final years in high school, and I have vivid memories of listening to it on my unreliable Samsung flip phone. Hey, back then we had to have fun somehow, and we did that by playing with the Bluetooth capabilities on our phone. Whether it be sharing songs to everyone, or changing our Bluetooth names to ‘The Bus Driver’ in hopes that kids on the bus would assume that the school bus driver was as ‘hip as us kids’. But I digress.
The song is catchy, and certainly deserved a number 2 spot, but it’s lasting legacy isn’t exactly great, I feel. In fact, the only reason I still enjoy this song now is quite possibly due to nostalgic memories of listening to it on the school bus.
Sadly though, Kula Shaker’s legacy has been, well, strange. Despite a rather respectable level of mainstream success from the middle, to the end of the ’90s, they’ve since been overlooked and regarded as something of a ‘joke band’ by some critics. Personally, if they were indeed a joke band, then I didn’t get it. I felt as if they were just another band from that era trying to revive the ’60s psychedelic pop movement that had fallen by the wayside.