Rock music has been with us for over fifty years in one form or another, inspiring youngsters around the world to follow in the footsteps of their rock heroes.
And now a spunky Singapore-based indie label, Kingsworld Management, known for its ground-breaking Asian compilations, have released an exciting new Asian rock collection that proves that this rebellious and joyous music has as much resonance in Asia as in the rest of the world.
Bringing together 17 incendiary, uplifting and innovative original tracks from all corners of the continent, "Rock in Asia" is a solid compilation of infectious guitar licks, bouncing melodies, and some uniquely Asian sounds. While most tracks are in English, some artists have opted to sing in their native tongues. (Get ready! The Vietnamese language song "Chien Tranh" - or "War" - by the Ho Chi Minh City based group Microwave rocks out! You might even unknowingly be humming in Vietnamese for a few days!)
Turn it up! The CD opens with a sensory assault from Japan ’s Zettaimu band, with their distortion-heavy progressive rock epic, ‘Oiran’. The musical journey continues with performances from bands hailing from Japan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore, all adding something unique and truly original to the traditional rock sound we have all heard before. And China ’s Hang Tian brings the unmistakable tonal quality of the Chinese language to the bluesy folk rock sound of ‘Cold Water On My Head’.
The CD ends with a stand-out track - "Take My Hand (A Song of Hope for the Victims of Agent Orange)" by the Curtis King Band (based in Vietnam), featuring a Chinese zither jamming in a rock band. The heart-wrenching tune ends with a powerful grand finale - with blues-inspired guitar licks, haunting yet joyous zither chords, and Shanghai-based Matthew "Cadillac" Cooper's bursting vocals.
On the list of notable musicians contributing to Rock effort in Asia, one must include the up-and-coming Dave D'aranjo, and the "Iron Man of Rock and Roll" Erick Swackhammer. D'aranjo, currently taking a break from Asia to study at Berklee School of Music, is the featured bassist on "Change" by Singapore favorite the Ocean Band, on "Trying to Be Calm" by the Old Kings, and finally on "Take My Hand" by the Curtis King Band. Keep an eye on this guy - a Pastorius or Wooten in the making?
Erick Swackhammer, a Canadian calling Vietnam his home, is featured playing several instruments on both his own rockin' waltz "White Horses" and the Curtis King Band's "Take My Hand."
There is something for all every music lovers on this album, and those with their minds as open as their ears will truly enjoy every song on the album. This will be the album that finally brings the best in Asian rock to the wider audience which it truly deserves. The CD itself comes in a funky, award winning fold-out design, showing off some cool Asian body art (designed by Hal Suzuki, also the bass player on the kickin' Japanese song "All Night Long").
And if that’s not enough reason to buy this record, 10 per cent of all net sales for the first two years will be donated to Child Rights and You (CRY) – India ’s leading child rights advocate, working to ensure that children across India can live, learn and thrive to their full potential. (www.cry.org)