Earlier feature articles:
Firstly all apologies to the people who have frequently been visiting the website.
Thanks guys and gals. If you’re thinking that I’m a lazy rocker for not writing frequently, I don’t blame you. Work and more work (my day job that is ) make me a lazy rocker.
OK, enough apologies and excuses. Now to the article.
Brader Rock is not a Western-centric rocker! Why? Because I personally believe that the Mat Rock bands of the 70s and 80s were instrumental in making heavy rock and heavy metal music have a footing in this region. They were playing a role called ‘musicing’( don’t know if I got the spelling right )
‘Musicing’ is a sociological concept in which a musician/singer/band ‘imitates’ a popular foreign act. Before you scream unoriginal, I would like to take you back to the 70s and 80s for you to understand this concept better.
The 70s and 80s….ahhhh those were the times when a local rock band can unashamedly say they are rock stars, a time when the bands had real fans. At that time, there wasn’t any internet, MTV, Tower Records or HMV. Except for Loudness playing a concert here in 1989, there were no heavy rock concerts by any major Western rock bands. You don’t have the luxury of watching Sabbath or Led Zep in the comfort of your living room like you do now watching DVDs of Slipknot etc. In other words, the ‘access’ of experiencing directly the performance of a popular Western rock band was virtually non-existent.
So how did heavy rock fans of yesteryear experience the music of their favourite foreign groups live? Ahhhhh, in comes the local bands to fulfill that role. It is a ‘traditional’ role played by local bands since the Pop Yeh Yeh days of the 60s in which you get so and so band as the “ Rolling Stones of Singapore” or a particular singer as the ‘Cliff Richard of Singapore”. Thus in the 70s and the 80s, local rock bands and musicians became the ‘so and so of Singapore’. You had Sweet Charity being labelled as the “Deep Purple of Singapore”, Rusty Blade being labelled as the “Iron Maiden of Singapore”. Some of these labeling were of course inaccurate. Sweet Charity was definitely more than just a mere Singapore version of Deep Purple as they had a strong Latin Santana-like influence in their music as well as other forms like dangdut.
Although inaccurate, being labeled a ‘local version’ of a foreign band was an honour in the 70s and 80s. It somehow gave a false but ‘confident building’ impression that your band is as good as the foreign band. The confidence building process was not mere ego boosting but also led to bands being able to have their own charisma. Yes the ‘C’ word. One thing that must be admitted whether you like it or not the 70s and 80s band exhibited charisma. Sweet Charity, The Unwanted, Black Dog Bone, Search,Rusty Blade, Lefthanded, Wings were all charismatic bands. Those are bands in which people were not ashamed to be their loyal fans.
I have to end abruptly here coz I have to go to work now. If you wanna talk about the role of Mat Rock bands in shaping heavy rock music locally, it will go beyond this article. I am aware of the criticisms thrown at Mat Rock bands for not being original eg. stealing a guitar solo or stealing a song totally because they lacked ideas. For their so-called lacked of ideas, they somehow atoned for it by putting out charismatic live performances and by becoming ‘legends’, setting standards for future generation of bands to follow.
by Brader Rock