Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order


Year: 1986  / Album: single/Best of New order / Other Hits: Thieves Like Us , True Faith 

‘I feel so extraordinary’… as the first stanza of the song ‘True Faith’ goes by New Order… oh but this is what I actually felt watching them live on the night of Aug 22, 2012 @ Forth Canning Park Singapore.

This English rock band was originally formed in 1976 as Joy Division, the lead vocalist committed suicide in 1980 but the rest of the members moved on and on that same year gave birth to ‘New Order’. Tension broke the group in 1993 but was able to reform in 1998.

A member who functioned in keyboard, guitars, and synthesizers was replaced in 2001. In 2007, an original member left and apparently, this dispersed the band. The lead vocals announced he no longer wishes to make music as New Order. The band reunited in 2011 without the original member who left in 2007 but returning with the member who was replaced in 2001… clear as mud?

Somewhere in between those numbers of years, at one point I thought I never get to see them live ever! The years of existence of New Order had too much drama. I’m not an avid follower of the group per se but I’m a big fan of their music. But here they are in my face, literary in my face – wrinkles and pores! because I was just standing at the side of the stage while they played. And yeah, I rest my case on the vocalist (Bernard Sumner) who looks like Horatio Caine (David Caruso) of CSI Miami if anyone noticed. They are one of the greats and influential band that 80’s music produced in the era of new wave and electronic sound.

This band was very giving, they kept throwing the crowd hits after hits and though I felt we are not worthy , they even let us hear ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ originally from Joy Division. Seeing them now, performing live after 20 plus years of enjoying ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ was an awesome experience. I would prefer to have caught them live at their prime but this is better than never.

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now – The Smiths



Year: 1984
Artists: The Smiths
Album: Non-album single
Other Hits: How soon is now, Everyday is like Sunday

On the evening of May 8, 2012 I went home disappointed from Fort Canning Park. This is the first time I ever felt I messed up my day by attending a concert to one of my favourite 80’s musician. I woke up this morning and the feeling of having been ripped off from last night’s event just won’t go away. How did a simple concert can go wrong? Let me count the ways… First, the venue. I loved attending concerts to Fort Canning Park I have seen Simple Minds, Pet Shop Boys, Cindy Lauper, INXS, Debbie Gibson, Rick Astley, Sugar Ray, etc. here. It’s the only venue in Singapore that for a minimum pay you can squeeze your way in the front row and see the pores of your favourite artists. The ground is elevated so you will be looking down to the stage instead of looking up, the crowd will be just comfortable seating on the grass because the stage is effortlessly in full view at eye level. For Morrissey, they moved it to Fort Gate and built a stage there so the tendency is for a bunch of people to trample up together and the access to the front row was difficult. Second, He was late but not worth the wait because, thirdly, he did not sing his hits! I’m talking about… Suedehead, Panic, The More You Ignore Me… The Closer I get, Girlfriend In A Comma, This Charming Man, and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable now.

I knew it! I knew it all along…I waited the last minute to purchase those damn tickets because I felt it in my gut he will pull something like this, I knew he was coming months ahead but I procrastinated and completely ignored the early bird promotion. I was contemplating if the 98 bucks I will cough up will be all worth it if ever my hint was correct but all along my brain kept telling me to just risk it …I only have this day to experience Morrissey and never again… so I went out on office lunch break and made my way to Sistic and purchased my freakin’ regret.

He commenced the show by singing ‘How Soon is Now’ and the rest was blah…then halfway thru the ending he sang ‘Every day is like Sunday’ then he mentioned coming from a cold, cold place and how it was scorching in our venue, then he bid goodbye and took off… I sense a lot of people are dissatisfied with the outcome and only his hard core fans could love him that night, so please forgive me if I can’t forgive him… yet. I’m just an admirer of his work who happened to like a few ‘select’ songs. I blamed the temperature for making him uncomfortable thus, not finishing up his play lists, if his playlist included what I really wanted to hear. I should have read concert reviews online before deciding. Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend these artists – being ordinary, I cannot figure out how the extra-ordinary think. When it’s as simple as people spent time and money to see what they want, artist should at least give them what they want and in between artists can do whatever the hell he wants! And if you are going to do things differently give people a heads up, don’t be a selfish arse.

I’m not done ranting, I got to let this fume off, but how do you get piss off when my subject is one of the most influential figures in the history of British pop who redefined the sound of British rock for the past quarter-century? Yes, his voice was golden but only lifelong fans would totally appreciate the show and recognized the songs he played. For some of them their two decades of captivation with Morrissey abruptly ended in one night. I like the man – his undecidable sexuality, advocate for animal rights and supporter of PETA, his obsession with James Dean, his contribution to music, and with his long discography with the Smiths and solo work I think he can give his audience a little more…

I remember he mentioned this after playing 2 or 3 songs.–I can’t recall the exact words but it’s something like… ‘Do you ever think why you are? Later you will ask yourself why you are here”…Yeah, I did ask myself why I was there because heaven knows I’m miserable now…

The Reflex – Duran Duran


Duran Duran – Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Andy Taylor, Roger Taylor

Year: 1984
Artists: Duran Duran
Album: Seven and the Ragged Tiger
Other Hits: Is there something I should know?, Save a Prayer, Come Undone, New Moon on Monday

All I can recall about Duran Duran was I was young… too young to like music but I liked them a fair bit. I remember them being well dressed, elegant and sharp and they have their own style of music and it doesn’t sound pop or rock and they never do ballads. Their MTVs are always amusing to watch it’s not just sing, sing, sing there’s always a story, a plot.

An English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1978 by Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Stephen Duffy, with the later addition of Roger Taylor and, after numerous personnel changes, Andy Taylor and Simon Le Bon. None of the Taylors are related and Roger Taylor is not to be confused with Queen’s drummer. Duran Duran was named after the villain from Barbarella, Roger Vadim’s French science-fiction film. The villain, played by Milo O’Shea, is named “Dr. Durand Durand”. John Taylor and Nick Rhodes wanted to be the resident band at the city’s Rum Runner nightclub where John worked as a doorman and Nick as a deejay. In May 1980, London vocalist Simon Le Bon was recommended to the band by an ex-girlfriend who worked at the same pub. When they are not rehearsing they worked as disc jockey, doormen, and glass collectors by the club owner and also their manager.

In 1983, they became famous with the release of the album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger that includes the songs “Union of the Snake”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Rio”, “Save A Prayer” and “Is There Something I Should Know”, They followed up with “New Moon on Monday” and their next single “The Reflex”, became their first number one hit in the United States and was successful in numerous other countries around the world. They contribute “A View to a Kill” to the 1985 James Bond movie of the same movie title and it was the last single the band recorded as the original five-piece for twenty years.

All five members of the band were photogenic and were labelled “the prettiest boys in rock” by People magazine, the band worked with fashion designers to build a sharp and elegant image. They always looked appealing in all their posters but it’s always John Taylor who always caught my eyes, he is really a looker. Princess Diana of Wales declared Duran Duran her favourite band and the band were dubbed “The Fab Five” by the British press, comparing them to the Beatles whose nickname was The Fab Four.

Duran Duran got introduced to Generation Y, In 1993 when they released their comeback album entitled ‘Wedding Album’ with hits like “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone” their music fits likes a glove and it sound so current

Watching them live was just plain crazy the sound of Simon’s voice will lift your spirit high and take on an emotional journey and will take you back in time like it was still 1983.

“I feel sorry for the ’90s, because it was never able to be anything much more than the hangover to the party that was the ’80s” – Simon LeBon

Disappear – INXS


INXS -Garry Gary Beers, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, Ciaran Gribbin, and Michael Hutchence

Year: 1989
Artists: INXS
Album: X
Other Hits: Need You Tonight, Suicide Blonde, Original Sin

I saw INXS, (pronounced as in-excess) performed live a few years back with their front man J.D. Fortune in Singapore and they are brilliant it would have been a greater experience if Michael Hutchence was still the front man of the band, no offense to J.D.

This Australian rock/pop band started off in their high school back in 1977, Farris brothers – Tim (lead guitar), Andrew (keyboards), and Jon (drums) formed the ‘Farris Brothers’ consisting of Gary Beers on bass guitar, Geoff Kennelly on Drums, Michael Hutchence on lead vocals and Kirk Pengilly on guitar and saxophone. The manager of Midnight Oil (beds are burning), Gary Morris offered the band a work as support to Midnight Oil, He advised that a member of the Oils crew had come up with a new name and suggested they change it to INXS. The name INXS was inspired by English band XTC and Australian jam makers IXL. As per Morris:

A commercial for a brand of jam called IXL. Their ad featured a guy who said, ‘I excel in all I do.’ I’d recently seen the English band XTC when they toured Australia, and I loved their name: XTC – Ecstasy. In that moment, I put all those thoughts together. The name needed to be letters, but make a word. I put the IXL jam commercial together with XTC and the concept of a band that was inaccessible and I had it: INXS” –

In the morning of 22 November 1997, Hutchence, aged 37, was found dead in Room 524 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Double Bay, Sydney. The demised caused by a suicide while depressed and under the influence of drugs and alcohol. INXS did not perform publicly for a year.

INXS decided to continue without Hutchence and back in 2005 INXS took their search for a lead singer to Rock Star: INXS, a reality TV show on CBS. The winner was Canadian singer J.D. Fortune –I loved that show and  I was routing for Marty Casey and who can forget the encore performance of Jordis Unga’s – The Man Who Sold the World- this  made me appreciate this old David Bowie song.

I remember liking this band back in 1988 when I heard ‘Need You Tonight’ lead singer-songwriter was still Michael Hutchence, once dated Kylie Minogue.  He co-wrote almost all of INXS’s songs with Andrew Farris who has attributed his own success as a songwriter to Hutchence’s “genius”. There are many individuals that worked with other individual and became unstoppable i.e.  Lennon and McCartney, or Simon and Garfunkel in INXS case, ‘Disappear’ would have never happened if musical fate had not paired some unforgettable musicians – the band’s seventh and last top 10 single, written by Jon Farris and Michael Hutchence while they were living together in Hong Kong in 1989. This song made sense to me while watching an episode of The Simpsons… if you have a huge crush on someone the world seems to disappear.

Thieves Like Us – New Order


New Order - Bernard Sumner,Peter Hook, Stephen Morris,and Gillian Gilbert

Year: 1984
Artists: New Order
Album: (released as single)
Other Hits: Bizarre Love Triangle, Shellshock, Regrets, Blue Monday, True Faith

 

The instrumental of the track was featured in the 1986 movie Pretty in Pink but were not on the soundtrack album. “Thieves like Us” is a single by British group New Order, released in April 1984,

Formed in 1980 by Bernard Sumner (vocals, guitars, and synthesisers), Peter Hook (bass, synthesisers) and Stephen Morris (drums, electronic drums, synthesisers). Between 1977 and 1980, Bernard, Stephen, and Peter together with Ian Curtis, were members of the post-punk band Joy Division, the day before Joy Division (‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’) were scheduled to depart for their first American tour, Curtis committed suicide on 18 May 1980, The rest of the band decided that they would carry on but prior to Curtis’s death, they had agreement not to continue under the Joy Division name should any one member leave the band.  Thanks to the band’s manager (Robert Gretton) of 20 years this unnamed trio, found the name “New Order” in an article in The Guardian entitled “The People’s New Order of Kampuchea”. New Order was formed by the remaining members of Joy Division, following the suicide of vocalist Ian Curtis, with the addition of keyboard player Gillian Gilbert.

‘Thieves like Us’ were taken from the title of the same 1974 Cannes Film Festival movie. Starring Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall, the film was based on the novel Thieves like Us by Edward Anderson.  Many New Order song titles have nothing to do with the song. In some cases, songs with normal titles appear to have had their titles swapped with other songs. The bands rarely gave interviews and were known for performing short concert sets with no encores. In 1993 the band put New Order on hold while each member continued on with their own side-projects. The group reconvened in 1998 at the suggestion of Rob Gretton

I cannot listen to this song without seeing Molly Ringwald making her dress. One of the things I learned from Pretty in Pink – The best way to get new clothes is to make your own… (Not!) I came across this song while watching this American teen romantic comedy-drama film about teenage love and social clichés in 1980s American high schools. Kudos to the director/writer John Huges for putting this song in the movie. He introduced me to a different reverberation of an alternative rock/electronic band with the likes of New Order Sometimes I feel JH created this movies because of these music and not the other way around but whatever it is the soundtrack of his films resonates in time.

To The One I Love – R.E.M.


R.E.M. -- Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry

Year: 1987
Artists: R.E.M.
Album: Document
Other Hits: Losing My Religion, It’s the end of the world…, Everybody Hurts, Stand, Shiny Happy People

 

In morning of September 22, 2011,  I woke up and tuned in to CNN and this is what I saw — R.E.M. CALL IT A DAY… “To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.” R.E.M.

This is the kind of news that you wouldn’t expect from a band who’s been together for 31 years and so all you could ever do is sigh and uttered “now I can never hear them perform live, ever!” So what are they doing here in my blog? They are not new wave and in fact, in the early 1980s, the alternative rock of R.E.M. stood in contrast to the post-punk and new wave genres. Simply because, they are REM and they are the first alternative rock bands that paved way for other bands such as Nirvana, Live, etc. I grew up listening to their songs and remember liking their mid-tempo and enigmatic musical style long after the release of ‘Losing my Religion.’

Formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry.  Michael Stipe met Peter Buck in the Athens record store where Buck worked. The pair discovered that they shared similar tastes in music, Stipe and Buck soon met fellow University of Georgia students Mike Mills and Bill Berry, who had played music together since high school. The quartet agreed to collaborate on several songs; Stipe later commented that “there was never any grand plan behind any of it” and yet, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single “The One I Love” and in 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The name of the band was selected at random from a dictionary by Stipe. By definition, Rapid eye movement or REM is a normal stage of sleep characterized by the random movement of the eyes. We usually experience about four or five periods of REM sleep; they are quite short at the beginning of the night and longer toward the end.

I like popular people and groups who basked in their glory but never just sit there and looked pretty. This band is always active in politics and environment — According to the Los Angeles Times, R.E.M. is considered to be one of the United States’ “most liberal and politically correct rock groups.” The band’s members are “on the same page” politically, sharing a liberal and progressive outlook. R.E.M. has helped raise funds for environmental, feminist and human rights causes, and has been involved in campaigns to encourage voter registration. Stipe was involved with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

It’s a shame that after 31 years it ended; REM is no more…