Tuesday, September 29, 2009
BAND OF SLAVES- 45 MCD
(Prometheus Sound Art 1993)
There are a number of things going on with this EP from Band of Slaves. This was made by the band after been spurred on by the death of its vocalist, the late Ian Xavier, who met his misfortune at the Tornado Disco incident. As Alan Ann, the bassist puts it in an age-old interview, “it's not the motivation we would ask for but this will certainly be the impetus for us to buck up and complete the album.” And hence this commemorative MCD. Band of Slaves were great entertainers with their energetic, highly groovy blues rock-reggae music and socially conscious lyrics, rocking the circuits since '87, but this EP “45” is an artwork that is somewhat dark and ominous, the handiwork of Ian and his passings. Ian wrote the song “Eternity” as an eulogy to his late father and lyrically it talks about death, which is eerily philosophical and prophetic.
Band of Slaves were few of the local bands after IGTA that did rock reggae before The Bushmen revived the movement. Musically they were very much influenced by The Police, Bob Marley, Don McClean, Lenny Kravitz and Bob Dylan. The MCD contains five songs, of which all are original materials except for “Redemption Song”, a Bob Marley cover, which is a surprising choice given so many other more reggae selections from this legendary man, yet this may also seem like an appropriate choice for the sombriety of the stuffs here. Selena Wee was roped in to do some of the vocals here, like “Blue Gates” and “Another Cold War” whereby the former has a Latin soul style and the latter more roots rock. “And Justice For Some” (is this a wordplay of Metallica's “And Justice For All”?) is the only song that has a strong reggae sound, which may not seem obvious at first with its contemporary pop piano passage.
I personally think that this tribute feels rather heavy on the heart, prefering their more cheerful material on “New School Rock III”, music that brings one back to the good ol' days when Band of Slaves and The Nonames were pleasing the crowds with their laidback roots and reggae. Still despite the apparent sense of seriousness with “45”, it is a very strong release which is unfortunately too short in length (what else do we expect from an EP) and too limited to make it to more Singapore music lovers. This MCD of mine is handnumbered and I don't remember seeing it been sold anywhere after I purchased it many years ago (maybe I bought the last copy), like all the mysteriously elusive Singapore music CDs out there. Let's say according to popular belief that very few people support local music, then where did all those CDs go to? Burnt? There MUST be another person spinning “45” somewhere on this island.
--sojourner at 7:41 AM