Tuesday, May 05, 2009
CHRIS HO- Nite Songs In Day-Glo CD
(WEA Records Pte Ltd 1989)
“Nite Songs In Day-Glo” is the solo debut by Chris Ho, ex-Zircon Lounge, before he was axed into an X'Ho. Back then he was the talk of the town with his steamy performances for the album launch and how Bobby Brown got away with it. Old stories from long long ago. But of course this album is best remembered for it's classic dance hit “Sunburn”. For those who don't know, this is the definitive Ah Beng dance number characteristic of the early '90s. The song is a collaboration between Asanee Chotikul (from the famous Asanee/Wasan brothers responsible for making alot of Thai Ah Beng “techno” hits for e.g. The Grasshoppers,etc) and Chris Ho, with its infectious melody and the memorable chorus. This is the very “Surfer Dan with 30 dirty birds” with the macho radio quality crooning of Chris and the exotic and somewhat cheesy oriental melodicism. I love “Sunburn” to death, for it is a song that stays in your head, and its amount of cheese, cornball and tom yum trash is curiously delicious here.
Chris Ho has got to be one of the most adventurous musician in Singapore. One can witness how he leapt light years between the arty cold wave of Zircon Lounge to his disco dancing solo debut, to his different spiritual transformations in incarnations of X'Ho in spoken words, electroclash and even recently black metal. He went from Duran Duran to rocker, to mohawked punkmonkhunk, to a skinhead. This colourful personality does DJing and write books; his whole bloody existence in Singapore is godsent. I'd vote for him if he forms an opposition party. On “Nite Songs In Day-Glo” cheeky Chris with his rocker locks left the deserted steampunk dystopia of “Regal Vigor” into the sunny paradise of tatoo and temples with a suntan and a grin. Chris Ho probably intended this to be the sleazebag of the century with suggestive male torsos picture, liner notes like “look at the boys waiting for some action”, “wood beams rust steely thrusts” and “you're fiction and i'm friction” sprawled across, stuffs which would probably make Morrissey bow his head in shame. And the lyrics... dammit dun even mention the lyrics! “Buddy Buddy” will prolly make those ex-new guards of AWARE convulse and writhe in agony.
“Sunburn” of course is good. It leaves behind a lingering aftertaste of a perversion of “Loy Krathong”, which is the kind of shit I seriously dig. On this album, Chris covered, or shall I say “paid homage” to some of the greatest rock, punk and postpunk grandfathers. Here, you will find Iggy Pop, The Beach Boys, Television, Element of Crime and even Bahaus numbers done in the professional firefighter Chris Ho way. Of course there's originals, and when Chris Ho is given the liberty to write his songs, he likes to add extra cheese and sex in his formula, like “Buddy Buddy” and “Fictional Stuff”, the kind of music played in SM clubs frequented by blitz kids, trannies, sad Pierrot clowns, majorettes and Carmen Mirandas, pleasure girls and pleasure boys. On “Light St. (Yvonne's Gone)”, Chris subdued his naughty ways and sing about losing love, amid the industrial, dystopian settings that bears some reminescence to his Zircon Lounge stuffs. The last track on this album is the “Sun-dance remix” of Sunburn”, which rocks alot like the original.
This album that I am reviewing is on the hyper rare CD format. Yes, even the vinyls and cassette tapes are extremely tough find in Singapore these days, however it's much more so for the CD which was released in pathetic amounts back then. You have to hate a label like WEA. I have many “rockinthefinecity” readers coming up to me and queried about how I have gotten my grubby hands on those supposedly non-existent CDs (for example like Do Not Ask, Overheads, etc) and I have to say, well it really pays off if you live for music collecting. And “Nite Songs In Day-Glo” really brightens up any self respecting local music collection, what with the ultimate rebel icon staring lasciviously on the cover. Having said that, let me go back and listen to “Sunburn” one more time.
--sojourner at 3:44 AM