AGAINST THE ODDS
Let me tell you straight - it was tough being a music lover in Singapore in the 70s. In my opinion, the 70s was the best decade in rock music but if you were growing up in Singapore like I was back then, we were having none of it. Due to the government's intolerance towards long hair and rock music culture in general, NO rock bands performed in Singapore. Ever.
There was no rock music on radio or TV either. The only places we could find rock music was in the records, magazines, jamming studios and nightclubs. So yes, it bugs me when I see the scores of foreign bands that play in Singapore nowadays cos we never got to see Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Who, ELO, Fleetwood Mac, Rush and so on and on and on. Sucks.
And no, watching the likes of Stereophonics, Oasis or 30 Seconds to Mars in Singapore does not come remotely close to missing out on those legends in their prime. It did not get that much better in the 80s either. Even as the post-punk bands (like Joy Division, the Jam, the Police, OMD, Depeche Mode) made an impact on the UK music scene, our local media was totally oblivious. Back then, BBC World Service was indispensable viz. Top 20 and John Peel shows (along with NME, Record Mirror, Sounds etc) pointing the way for us music lovers.
Even when MTV came along, the only way we could view these videos (pre-Youtube & cable TV), was through friends bringing back video cassette recordings of music programs from overseas, usually USA and UK.
We did however, get the occasional rock movie e.g. Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same, The Band's Last Waltz and of course, the epochal Urgh! A Music War! Censored of course as the authorities deemed necessary.
Why am I harping on these matters, now long past? Simply put, back then, to be a rock music fan came at a cost. We spent time and money to fulfill our passion - it did not come with a click of a mouse - we had to scour book and record stores and even order records from abroad, the old fashioned way!
That's why it pains and offends me when I come across self-professed music fans who know fuck all about the music they claim to love (and are blase about the fact), when the entire world wide web is available to them! And why I act so incredulous when kids lavish their acclaim and adoration on third-rate inferior bands when these kids are deliberately ignorant and oblivious of the original bands, these "superstar" bands are so obviously ripping off!
Look! Don't dismiss the music of the past as "oldies" - why settle for inferior music when you can embrace the real thing? Why the Vines (for eg) when you haven't even heard of The Kinks or The Who? Why oh why? Appreciating Vampire Weekend is well and good but irrelevant if you have no clue who the Talking Heads, XTC or Paul Simon are!
Sometimes I feel like screaming! It's frustrating to engage in conversation with kids about rock music and 90% of the time, I get a blank stare when I mention key artists/bands and worse still, this applies to our bands/musicians!!! Absolutely incredible. Which is why sometimes I feel like a freak in Singapore - nobody understands my passion for rock music, well that's not entirely true but there's not enough people out there in Singapore, who can carry on an intelligent discussion about rock music. That said, I do appreciate the precious few who do and can... you know who you are...