The Vital Signs Discography

Volume 1 (1989)

The local neo-pop album that not only "pioneered" the kind of 'post-modern' Pakistani pop music as we know it today, but the one that finally made talented matter like Nazia and Zoheb Hasan, Alamgir, Mohammed Ali Shehki, etc., sound like old news (and school). Within its tight neo-pop ditties was a pretty vivid documentation and reflection of all the euphoria and hope running through a new, urban middle-class generation of Pakistani's at the fall (from the sky) of a myopic, repressive dictatorship and advent of liberal democracy.

Top Tunes: Yeh Shaam, Musafir, Do Pal Ka Jeevan.

Volume 2 (1991)

In sound and production, Volume 2 was way ahead of its time, so much so that it can still match the well-produced and rich sounding pop albums today, a good ten years after its initial release. Deep, dark and subtly melancholic in mood, it is Rohail, the Floydian producer/engineer/co-composer in great form along with Junaid Jamshed and lyricist Shoaib Mansoor. Better still is the deeply melodic and moody playing by guitarist Rizwan-Ul-Haq who, though perfect for the Vital Signs' brand of rich FM-pop, was so very underrated.

Volume 2 (minus the two obnoxious Pepsi jingles introducing corporate-pop to the local scene), is not only the Vital Signs' finest and emotionally sincere hour, but it is also one of the post-'88 scene's very best albums.

Top Tunes: Mera Dil, Yaad Karna, Teray Liye, Bazaar, Aisa Na Ho Yeh Din.

Aitebar (1993)

The Vital Signs returned to the upbeat mood and theme of Volume 1, but apart from the beautiful title track and the explosive "Yehe Zameen," one would rather turn to the Strings, Awaz and the up 'n' coming Fringe Benefits for all the happy-go-lucky (albeit energetic and decently danceable) fluff stuff!

Top Tunes: Aitebar, Yehe Zameen, Woh Kon Thi.

Greatest Hits (1994)

Packed with the standard Vital Sign's hits (with, ironically, most of them being not exactly their best or greatest, as such), the impressive Vital Signs as the brooding-modern-urban-cowboys cover (by Asif Raza), becomes the best thing about the predictable album!

Top Tunes: Yeh Shaam, Sanwali, Do Pal Ka Jeevan, Aitebar.

Hum Tum (1995)

The album on which Rohail fired Rizwan-Ul-Haq, hired Aamir Zaki, fired Aamir Zaki to rent Assad Ahmed from Awaz and the last time the Vital Signs could be seen with their cool, long locks, tight cowboy boots and denims. Hum Tum also sees Rohail injecting the Floydian ambience and the moodiness of Volume 2 by further expanding it, enough to come out clean as one of the local pop scene's finest producers. And even though Junaid Jamshed and Shoaib Mansoor again do well to compliment the album's Floyd-meets-Eagles aura and the fusion of Volume 2-type moodiness and the Vital Signs trademark FM-pop melodicism with modern funk-rock. Hum Tum is really Rohail's baby, supported well (maybe even better than he would have by Aamir Zaki), by Assad Ahmed who brilliantly grabs Rohail's idea of blending together Dave Gilmour wailings, wah-wah-guitar and post-Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan eastern progressive-rock. The Vital Signs could have gone to greater heights, had Rohail not started to daydream about becoming a local Rupert Murdoch. He seems so tired now.

Top Tunes: Jaana Jaana, Main Chup Raha, Teray Liye (Unplugged).

Nadeem Farooq Paracha
May, 2000
The News International, Pakistan