Thinkin’ back East, part 1

Sep 30 • By • 1134 Views • No Comments on Thinkin’ back East, part 1 Benjamin C, COLUMNS, Issue 09 // Oct 2012

it’s almost a year ago to the day that i found myself plodding around kuala lumpur in a semi-desperate attempt to pick up some local records by some local bands.

something local, geddit? no imports, just home grown music. anything will do.

i mean, having never been to malaysia before the idea to me was pretty exciting – a rare thrash seven inch single, perhaps? maybe an obscure experimental lp, traditional stuff, whatever that is? sod it, anything will do.

i asked around a little, but after a short while it seemed that unless i really dug deep and discovered some kind of music scene or local alternative shops, it ain’t happening. we knew no one in “the know”.

we were staying at a reasonably priced hotel with a clear view of the petronas, an area rife with shopping malls, tacky looking bars and iffy looking clubs. petaling street had moody versions of just about any garb you wanted, be it jewellery, t shirts, “levis”, dvds, shoes, dresses, scarves, suits and so on.
but no records.

we ventured away from the affluent skyscrapers and western style fast food joints towards what looked like the old town, reckoning this was our best bet.

the decay, garbage and stench of drains got heavier, thicker, grubbier, the further we walked and we drew a certain blank. not that far down the road, the place resembled a set from a world war two film. or hackney, east london. take yer pick.

on the way back to our hotel i chanced upon a video shop that looked like it may stock music.
it did, but only compact discs that looked the same, all on warner brothers/ EMI. a plain white sleeve with the words “Kenangan Abadi” strewn across the top, the artists’ photo within a decorative circle with the band name below in staid capital letters (probably “times new roman”).

there was a deal on. three for fifty ringgits. fuck it, i’ll have six and definitely judge them by the cover.

this past weekend, twelve months later, i found them again – still shrinkwrapped and unplayed. it was time to unwrap and perhaps be pleasantly surprised by what promises to be a pile of steaming caca, if i’m honest. but hey – you never know, right?

thank someone or other for google translate:
Kenangan Abadi means “Lasting Memories” and the first two compact discs to be unsheathed date back to 1981/ 82 and 1986. So. first up, a band i did a little youtube research on. Blues Gang. airbrushed musos who appear to be pretty popular, with their Santana lite jams, pristine face furniture and occasional “blues”.

opening track “Ibu” (“Mother”) is a lukewarm slink that immediately reminded me of the gift shop at Wing Yip cash’n’carry in Croydon. i’m afraid this dreary effort had me thinking that if i was in Blues Gang, my Mother would definitely kill me.

next song, “Apo Nak Dikato” (Apo wants Dikato) lumbers along with a sloppy good time cod reggae feel, punctuated with a guitar solo in the middle that 10cc’s eric stewart perhaps would be happy with. the triggered kick drum drags the tune along for ever and boy, does it drag.

not in a good way like say, spacemen 3’s live version of “rollercoaster”, but more opus III’s “fine day”. or something. well, it does go on a bit. ugh.

track three was as far as i could get, the translated title being “Oh! Mama I Want To Marry”.
rats. very difficult to stand the almost beery revelry, faux blues and controlled party atmosphere,
topped with an icing of cliched harmonica that even paul jones would be ashamed of.
to finish, a triple chorus at the end. total bollocks.

which is a shame, really.

brings us onto the second disc, by a band called Lefthanded.
really, that is what they are called.
same cover, same decorative circle, capitals.

has anyone not seen the story of Anvil? if you close your eyes while listening to the vocals on
opener “Keadilan” (“Justice”), it could be Lips himself singing the immortal lines about tea leaves
and “a crystalll baaallllllll!!!” while recording “this is thirteen”.
or, Joe Elliot pissed up yelping a Survivor tune at a karaoke bar. wow.
from the band photo these guys could be extras from the Decline Of Western Civilisation:
the Metal Years movie and i reckon that’s what they were aiming for.
pinch harmonics on the uber-processed bass seals the deal. fucking terrible.

the following ballad is a double-handed hold of the mic under a spotlight; syrupy synth-strings
huff away in the background; the digi-piano kills it. literally. i have to skip to song number three
which translates (i kid you not) to “Fragrant Pollen”.
now either google translate is not very good or these guys are really shit.
Fragrant Farts, but not even horrid beefy ones. only the tame inoffensive farts that just pass by.

again, i had to stop after three songs.

i’m going to leave it at that for now – there are FOUR more to get through including someone called “DJ Dave” and a four piece band of young girls called “Feminin”.

watch this space, if you can be arsed.

if anyone would like a FREE copy of either Blues Gang or Lefthanded, drop your address in at Bad Sounds and i will personally post the cds to you at my own expense.

blimey.

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