Thursday, December 24, 2009
THE PADRES- BigO Singles Club #1 MCD(BigO Pte Ltd 1993)
--sojourner at 9:26 PM
Tucked away deep in the corners of the HDB units, a sweet dream forments for a regular Joe who was in all possibility allured to the Bohemian impulses of the energetic middle-class. It is an alluring option to be creatively expressive, throw in some dissent, and perhaps if one goes far enough, to leave behind a testimony of their adventure. Some hard work actually paid off for this sort of a teenage rebel who decided to form a band by the name of Corporate Toil, making artistic noise that is benignly subversive and painfully amateurish, and which consciously not wanting to sound a part like the next Dick Lee or Eric Moo. Nevermind that Joe Ng and company looked kinda part of the Xinyao movement with his meek early Corporate Toil shots with shades, he stuck to his casiotones, looked away from jeering punks and made some of the most adventurous music to be heard from the HDB arena demo circuits, in the name of the underground. It was a fun period in that part of the '80s, because other equally impressionable wide-eyed kids also saw the merit in making a world of possibilities out of the riffs in their head and a cassette tape. The DIY movement sprouted and soon they grew in congregation. Along the way they got bold enough to be heard saying there's “nothing on the radio”. Self contained with imports, tape-tradings, exquisite tastes and making own music, who cares about Vanilla Ice?
But Joe probably heard Queen's “Radio Gaga” and felt the same way. And he also probably heard it over the radio. In 1991, Joe Ng abandoned the electro-pop of Corporate Toil and formed his first rock band, The Padres, a moniker hastily selected impromptu, based on a US baseball team t-shirt. This band wrote “Radio Station”, which is anthemic for that time, a sartire on how radios would conveniently forget to play their favourite songs, but the funny thing is I actually first heard it on the radio. This song was found on the “BigO Singles Club #1” that comes together with an issue of BigO magazine back in 1993 along with other song like “Angel” (as well as a hidden track which sounds suspiciously like Kevin Matthews effort). The MCD that I am reviewing here is a piece of history for Singapore indie pop/rock music and I would consider it as the epitome of the movement because it is the first media that propagated “Radio Station” before radio gets it. This release of course is now a collector's item that every Singapore music fans talk about. No, BigO does not sell it anymore, so let's just talk about it.
In 1994 it was played on the BBC World Service; and music for the masses take on a twisted meaning.The mad hatter sliding guitars of Ben, the unstably amicable vocals of Joe, the dramatic thudding of Pat and the foreboding plodding of Francis point to the defiance of their Bohemian impulses, a sweet dream come true from a long period of toil in the Singapore music underground. Suddenly you can feel it in the air. We would wave our hands in the air like antennas to the sky, signalling for the great mothership of revolution. The idealists could envision a rock n'roll utopia and psychos prolly see an anarcho bleakness. So many years have passed, so much have happened with local music, and “Radio Station” still resonate the whole spirit, ethos and heart of Singapore indie music circa late '80s/'90s as an anthem of our youth, ideals and revolution. The Joe that made “Radio Station” will die a happy man. The other average Joes can only stand and stare.