22 November 2008

Kids today

"My generation grew up obsessed with Western rock music and the counterculture, all that coolness and heaviness and authenticity. In comparison all the Japanese rock bands were just leaden imitators. People talk about Flower Travellin' Band today, but how many people would honestly choose them as being more original than Led Zeppelin? They might have added a few Oriental flourishes, but Zeppelin were far cooler. We had so little information that we always had to use our own imagination. I'd see photos of a stack of Marshall amps and imagine they were all turned up to ten. I never realised that most of them were just spares. I imagined that they played at crushing volume and I'd try to do the same. Or I'd see some guitarist whirling their guitar around and imagine that they played like that through their whole set. When I picked up a guitar I thought that was how you had to play it. Our whole rock culture began from those kinds of misconceptions. But those misconceptions and the fantasies they allowed to exist have almost all gone now. Kids today grow up on J-pop and hardly listen to any Western music at all. In both a good and bad way, they've lost that yearning for something other."

Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple in The Wire October 2008.

02 November 2008

Joe Chen

Joe Chen, one time leader of The Menace, died this week long before he should have done. The Menace were in the second wave of Hong Kong's late '60s pop bands and are remembered for Strawberry Sundae, a self-composed, catchy little piece of bubblegum. Joe went on to record several albums of his own and worked in the record industry for many years after he stopped singing. He was also a DJ and had a show on RTHK until he fell ill a few months ago.

I don't know whether the English press has picked this up, but there is a nice spread in this morning's Apple Daily. Joe was one of the first people we interviewed a couple of years ago for our book on Hong Kong English pop music and he was kind enough to give us a few of his own snapshots for publication. Below is Joe at Commercial Radio and a shot of The Menace outside City Hall.

01 November 2008

Life On Mars

"All the English-lanague songs I grew up with, I had no idea what they were singing about. So it was all about the power, the expresson. Michael Jackson had a really strong expression. His dancing, his movement, his songwriting, his harmonies, his musicianship, he is incredible. Nobody in the favelas of Brazil could understand a word he says. But the feeling was there. We identified with him." Seu Jorge from Guardian News & Media in the South China Morning Post 26 October 2008.

Jorge has an album out next with covers of Roy Ayers's Everybody Loves the Sunshine and Michael Jackson's Rock With You. This is him doing David Bowie's Life On Mars.