“You Say Yes, I Say No”

Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone’s got one. The problem with the interweb culture especially in relation to “hip and cool” music is that just like cheerleaders, popularity pretty much trumps everything else. Music itself is very subjective such that opinions vary so much when discussing any particular musical style or ‘genre’ or even the relative merit thereof. I mean, to use yet another proverb – ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ – and opinions have to be put into perspective of the person espousing such opinion. In the final analysis, it’s all a matter of taste and there’s no accounting for taste.

Take the latest exercise in diluting the legacy of Queen – as remaining members Brian May and Roger Taylor are slated to perform with American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert (for the umpteenth time) at the upcoming Knebworth festival. For Lambert fans (predominantly music listeners in the flush of youth) this sounds like an excellent and may even seem like a tribute to the late Freddie Mercury but to those of us Queen fans who were actually alive when the band was in its prime, this appears to be offensive and an affront to the memory of Mercury and Queen. Nothing against Adam Lambert personally but May and Taylor should really know better. But as you can see, the differing opinions lay very much in the ‘generation gap’.

This same ‘generation gap’ rears its ugly head when discussing the relative merits of a band like Foo Fighters. Those of us who remember Dave Grohl as the drummer of Nirvana rather than the alt-rock icon that he has become, may find Grohl’s current status as the undisputed godfather of indie rock rather mystifying when the kids who revere him have probably never heard of Husker Du or Pixies (I assume that they have heard of Nirvana to begin with!). Which is why I was bemused at the online frenzy when the announcement of Foo Fighters‘ concert in Singapore was first made as personally, I have never much rated the Foo Fighters (probably not the confession to make if I ever want to attain any ‘indie cred’)…

Before the lynch mob gathers, this phenomenon is nothing new. I recall Wings fans not being aware of the Beatles or hard rock fans being repulsed by punk (“the bands can’t play”) in the 70s and the circle of life continues…but please don’t kill me just because you don’t like my opinion, alright???





It’s strange that in 2012, we are still addressing the issue of ‘cover songs’ and ‘tribute bands’ in Singapore. Don’t get me wrong I believe that there is a place for ‘cover songs’ and ‘tribute bands’ – these serve a certain niche market worldwide. The problem is that in Singapore, it’s not a niche market but the only market! Whereas in the western world, new bands may be able to get away with playing cover songs early in their career, there will come a point where their success as a band will depend on the quality of their original music.

It seems almost ludicrous to have to discuss this issue at all. I mean, in the 90s, Singapore indie bands played original music and nobody thought twice about it. Radio and TV featured Singapore indie bands playing their original music and nobody demanded that these bands played familiar cover songs. I mean, that’s what you expected if you had the Oddfellows, Padres, Concave Scream or Stoned Revivals performing on stage. After all, these bands were songwriters and artists in their own right – it’s almost as ridiculous as going to a Coldplay gig and demanding that Chris Martin and company play U2 and Radiohead songs!

But visit any bar or club in Singapore nowadays and chances are that the band on stage will be playing cover songs. Again, I must stress that I am not against this per se but why must being in a cover band about the only way that Singaporean musicians can make a living from music in Singapore? So who is to blame? Musicians? Business owners? Patrons? Media? Government? All of the above?

Is the artistic voice of the Singapore musician not treasured at home? Why do Singaporeans switch off when confronted with unfamiliar Singaporean original songs? Lack of quality? I do not believe so as the acceptance of original Singapore music overseas proves otherwise. Lack of support? Ah, that’s a sticky issue. Especially when it relates to the question of the economic value and worth of music compared to other kinds of ‘products’.

Of course, these issues are not unique to Singapore indie music and apply across the board whenever one discusses the local arts & entertainment scene. But these issues must be addressed head-on by all the stakeholders (mentioned in my third paragraph) and the beginning of the new year seems like a good place to start.

But naturally, if you are reading this here then I’d assume that you are on board with my sentiments and the whole cliche of ‘preaching to the converted’ seems all too applicable. The real question is that do you, dear reader, believe in Singapore music (and musicians) enough to be evangelistic about the cause of Singapore original music? To put it bluntly, what are you willing to do?  For my part, as a music journalist, singer-songwriter, artist manager, mentor and teacher, I am fully committed to doing whatever I can in 2012 (and beyond) to raise the profile/support the cause of Singapore original music in any way that I can. Will you join me please?

Note: This is not meant as a personal attack on anyone within the Singapore music scene so please take this post in the positive and constructive spirit that it was written. Thanks!



As a music writer with a reviews website (I am not too comfortable with terms like ‘blog’ or ‘blogger’ – Power of Pop began in 1998, for pete’s sake!), I get numerous daily requests from bands, labels and publicists to review or feature new bands and/or new music. Typically, I will scan these email requests for familiar terms to give me an idea of what the music sounds like, to determine whether it would be something I could get behind and support. I mean, regular visitors will be aware that I know what I like. Sadly, there is so much soulless crap out there sometimes I can’t even bother or care.

Personally, I am so enamored with the great music of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, that I am quite content to fill my listening hours with albums from this fecund period and forget everything else since. Which of late – thanks to the latest remasters – has been Pink Floyd. I never tire of the Floyd’s space rock, the music is so ingrained in my psyche that it is so natural to just leave it on and simply immerse myself in its familiar textures. Thus, in that respect, it’s almost a chore to even check out new music and attempt to understand where a new band is coming from and going to through its recorded material.

In addition, writing up to 12 reviews a month for TODAY and more for ReviewYou.com does tend to leave little time (or interest) in coughing up reviews for Power of Pop itself! Which is why I am always hoping that some of my writers will pick up the slack but with Singaporean pressured lifestyle being what it is, expecting even a review a month is already too demanding! I am not keen on reviewing for reviewing’s sake and am always concerned about being positive and constructive so that also places constraints.

Not sure where I am going with this to be honest. Perhaps it’s just a way to highlight that reviews will not be as commonplace as they used to be here at Power of Pop. I figure it would be more effective to showcase promising bands/artists through videos (PoPTV) and track streaming (Listening Room) rather than album reviews. Not only that, there will probably also be more emphasis on the classic rock-pop music of the past in order to highlight what modern music makers can learn from the masters of yore. I do appreciate the support that Power of Pop has received for all these years and I hope that you will continue to maintain this support even as the site undergoes transitional times.

… still there’s more …

NB. I would still like very much to promote local shows here so please get in touch with me – info AT powerofpop DOT com – if you wanna do so, with all the necessary information.




As some of you may know, I am a part-time facilitator at Republic Polytechnic. This semester, I am facilitating a module called History of the Arts. This module basically covers mostly Western art from the pre-historic age to the modern era in 15 weeks. Early on, I had a student question me about why she had to study History of the Arts – how was it relevant to her? So I enquired what diploma she was undertaking and she replied, “arts management”! Sometimes, you can’t make this shit up!!

This is not an unusual attitude. It’s rather commonplace in our music scene where even our bands and songwriters do not appreciate the importance of knowing the history of pop & rock music. For many of them, the scope of reference is often nothing earlier than 2000, if you’re lucky! And so, they are blissfully ignorant of the bands of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s! That is a whole lot of great music to be ignorant about.

What’s the big deal you say? Well, to put it simply, you can only create from what you know and if you know very little, then you probably will not be capable to create much either. And what is truly amazing is that in the internet age, it is so easy to listen to any music from any age. So let’s play a game, shall we? Let’s take a significant band from each of the aforementioned decade (which are related and associated music wise) and feature a video taken from youtube (where else?).


The Kinks

Ray Davies, the band’s principal singer-songwriter has been cited by many (yours truly included) as a seminal influence (including the bands that follow below). He is best known for his observational songs about his native England.


Big Star

Often considered to be one of the pioneers of power pop, Big Star melded a melodic sensibility and shiny guitar attack to produce a highly influential concoction. Fronted by the late Alex Chilton, the band would inspire many guitar pop bands in the 80s and 90s.


The Replacements

Part of the alt-rock movement that ruled US college radio back then (with R.E.M., Husker Du and others), this Paul Westerberg-led outfit has left deep impressions which resonates strongly with numerous indie bands today.



Black Francis, the frontman of this beloved indie band, claimed that the above song was inspired by The Kinks, which brings us full circle.

As you can see, it isn’t too difficult to gather together some amazing music and bands from four different decades with the right research and of course, interest.

So, my message to all young bands and singer-songwriters out there in the S-ROCK scene, what’s stopping you???




When the announcement was first made about the Singapop event – a concert that will cost the taypayers a reported $1.5 million (!), ostensibly to celebrate 50 years of Singapore pop music – I really did not want to comment. Even when I realized that the concert would be held at the Marina Promontory at the exact same time that Cheating Sons would be rocking out at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre for Baybeats 2011, I was more than prepared to keep mum.

But when I read today’s Life section reporting the press conference announcing the concert, I could maintain my silence no longer. The organizers’ criteria for inclusion in the concert is ‘commercial success’, ‘wide appeal’ and ‘popularity’ of the selected band/artist. Yet, I understand that the concert will exclude the indie bands of the early 90s (e.g. The Oddfellows), even though the Oddfellows’ song So Happy was #1 in 1991 on the radio charts islandwide! Now, if that singular achievement does not signify ‘commercial success’, ‘wide appeal’ and ‘popularity’ – what the hell does then?

I mean, without tooting my own horn too much, Watchmen’s My One and Only stayed in the 98.7 Radio Charts for three months and at its peak was on heavy rotation on the radio EIGHT times a day (apart from being #1 also on NTUC Radio Heart) in late 1993. Naturally, I have not been invited either.

I have no qualms about being left out of the Singapop concert (and I am sure The Oddfellows and other indie bands do not give a toss either) BUT I refuse to let the EDB rewrite history in this manner. The local indie bands of the 90s had songs on the radio, TV and CD sales, were featured regularly in the press and made a deep impression on the hearts and souls of young Singaporeans at the time – to marginalize and trivialize their contribution to Singapore pop music in this manner is reprehensible.

If the organizers hated S-ROCK so much, they should have had the balls to come right out and say it instead of hiding behind this ridiculous criteria. It is clear from the deliberate timing and location of the Singapop concert that it is positioning itself in direct opposition to local indie bands and the Baybeats Festival in general. So, it’s game on – let’s make Baybeats Festival the best-ever attended public event ever and prove conclusively that S-ROCK rules!



Spotted at the Facebook profile of Great Spy Experiment drummer Fandy, a screen capture of yet another ugly Singaporean who apparently has no patience for Singapore bands opening for foreign bands. Presumably, if it was another foreign band opening for Switchfoot, he would have had no such problem. Last month, of course, we reported that when MUON opened for MGMT, it suffered the same verbal abuse from intolerant audience members. The statement that – “Then what, you think I paid money to see you guys is it!” – is telling. Why is it always about money with Singaporeans, eh? So does that give you the right to be rude and intolerant, just because you bought a ticket? Shameful.

Switchfoot must thank its lucky stars that they are not Singaporeans and are in fact White Americans, or else they would never have had a chance to showcase its talent before thousands of music fans worldwide, even in Singapore! Good thing that when Switchfoot was starting out and opening for bigger bands in San Diego, California, there were no idiots in the audience complaining that they did not pay money to watch Switchfoot…

Again, my message to you S-ROCK haters is the same – FUCK OFF! You don’t deserve good S-ROCK… I am sure that The Great Spy Experiment did not perform for YOU anyways – but to people who enjoyed its music. And believe me, there are many people who do enjoy S-ROCK…



Is the Singapore indie music scene worth saving?

More than a couple of years ago, I wrote a series of articles for the now defunct Audioload site entitled ‘Saving the Singapore Music Scene’. If you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, it’s probably because broaching this topic is akin to flogging a dead horse. And I totally agree with that sentiment. It’s getting rather tedious to even talk about the Singapore Music Scene. Taking a step back and looking at this issue objectively, quite obviously, I personally have a vested stake in the development of the Singapore Music Scene. So naturally the success (or failure) of the Singapore Music Scene has a significant impact on me. Obviously then, it’s hard not to be emotional and subjective about the subject. But lately, certain encounters have narrowed my perspective somewhat on this issue such that I am even asking the question – is the Singapore indie music scene worth saving?

Before, we move any further, let’s have some clarity about what I’m talking about. For our purposes, the Singapore indie scene comprises of bands/artists writing, recording and performing original English language pop and rock music, independent of any major label support. Thus, this definition excludes the Singapore Idols (who are signed to Universal Music) and bands who play only cover music (like the Goodfellas). Anyone familiar with the Singapore music would then realize that this definition would include almost every Singapore band/artist out there playing English language pop-rock music. Sounds like this would be a rather massive grouping, right? But it isn’t at all. Relatively speaking, the numbers would be quite small. Maybe slightly more than a hundred active bands/artists? By ‘active’, I mean gigging on a regular basis and releasing recorded original material (either for sale or for free). Assuming that Singapore’s population is currently about 5 million people, then the ratio of band to persons is about 1: 50,000. Staggering, isn’t it?

However, out of the 5 million people that make up Singapore, the maximum number of people who would pay to watch a Singapore indie band play, will not be much more than 250-300 people! And the same numbers also apply to number of persons actually purchasing Singapore indie CDs! So… the audience that exists to patronize Singapore indie music is less than 300 people. This is 0.006% of the population of Singapore! Sad and depressing but true.

But… should it matter to anyone other than Singapore indie musicians? I’d like to say that it should and trot out all the usual cultural reasons and compare us to this country and that country but then I come to my senses. After all, this is a country of people that by and large do not understand pop culture or appreciate pop & rock music. Sure, we now host the F1 Grand Prix, rock festivals, two casinos, theme parks and so on BUT this is purely appreciated from a functional & economic value standpoint. Typically Singaporean, isn’t it? Almost nobody appreciates pop culture here on an aesthetic level – it’s purely a numbers game. e.g. number of Grammys/Oscars won, number of albums and concert tickets sold etc.

Thus, purely on this numbers game, Singapore indie musicians are losers and failures. Glorified hobbyists who should not be tolerated or given the time of day. Singapore indie musicians are no better than panhandlers and freeloaders expecting their family and friends to support their hobby. Singapore indie musicians should in fact get a proper job so that nobody else should be put out of pocket and they should be obliged then to give their music away and play gigs all for free. I mean, other ordinary Singaporeans do not expect their family and friends (and even strangers) to fund their hobbies so why should Singapore indie musicians?

This perspective has been formed by decades of social engineering, mind you, so it’s not surprising. After all, no Singaporean raises violent objection (or eyebrows) that the Singapore Symphony Orchestra consists of full-time classical musicians whose salaries are paid for by fundraising activities. You never hear any Singaporeans crying out – ‘get a proper job’ to SSO musicians, do you? But that’s because in the true Singaporean mindset, the thinking will be that these classical musicians actually have proper qualifications as they have obtained a degree in their (classical) instrument in this or that prestigious foreign university so they have the right to be professional musicians.

Therefore, as far as the public consciousness is concerned, the authorities have half succeeded in their determined quest to eradicate rock music from the local culture, which they pursued with vigor in the 70s and 80s. So even if they have recanted previous position based purely on economic grounds, at least they can savor the victory of turning Singaporeans against rock music created by Singaporeans, which is surely half the battle! Yes, let the foreigners make rock music and let our businesses benefit by charging people (Singaporean or otherwise) to watch these foreign rock bands but by no means, let a Singaporean rock band be able to do the same thing. No, that would be wrong… and which would send a dangerous message to our youth that rock music is a viable career option.

So if the authorities deem it as such, it’s no wonder that our sheep-like populace should entertain such mindsets, it’s so logical and ultimately understandable. So any question about educating the general public about music and so on is a losing proposition. After all the powers-that-be do not want such a scenario to materialize. Why else would the Media Development Authority in a fake attempt to explore the possibilities of aiding the Singapore indie music industry commission a foreign accounting agency (who have absolutely no clue about Singapore indie music) to conduct a study into this issue. A study that to date, there is no news whatsoever about. Why else would MDA also sponsor a Mediacorp TV program – Live and Loaded – which sole purpose was to present Singapore indie music in the worst possible light? There cannot be any other reason why the producers of Live and Loaded chose to showcase mediocre bands (including school bands!) on national TV. At least, both MDA and Mediacorp can now declare to the general public that they tried to support the Singapore indie music scene in this manner but found the ground to be less than accepting and thus any further requests to support the Singapore indie music scene can be justifiably denied! A brilliant strategy!

So where does that leave my original query? Is the Singapore indie music scene worth saving? My answer would be no. But that’s because it does not need to be saved and we should not look to anyone to save it! I have said this before and I’ll say it again – if Singapore indie music is important to you, kind reader, then support it… if it isn’t, then FUCK OFF! This entire issue has nothing to do with you then and nobody is interested in your opinion.

I feel exactly the way I felt back in 1998, after the Asian Financial Crisis brought our economy to its knees. if Singaporeans are not willing to listen to my music then I will look for non-Singaporeans who are interested (which is why I worked hard to secure US distribution for the two Popland albums and did not bother with Singapore). Now, in a perverse way, the highly popular immigration policy of Singapore has actually brought many foreigners (not pathologically prejudiced against Singapore music) onto our shores. This is the demographic Singapore indie musicians should target and aggressively as well. Also, look for fans overseas, find the opportunity to gig outside Singapore to find the fans who will appreciate your music (and not care what nationality you are). Start regionally – population numbers in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines are huge and they will listen to your music without prejudice – and then move beyond South-East Asia to Japan, China, Australia, UK, Europe and the USA. Singapore bands have done this before – metal bands like Rudra, Wormrot, Meltgsnow and indie bands like Electrico, Great Spy Experiment, I Am David Sparkle, Stellarium, Etc and Caracal likewise. There’s a whole wide world of unprejudiced non-Singaporeans out there to listen to your music.

So what are you waiting for?




It’s funny how things can change from week to week. In the days leading to the Laneway Festival Singapore, I had begun to feel a little discouraged about S-ROCK. First, there was this event organized by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, which Danny Loong (musician, Timbre co-owner and all-round great guy) was speaking at regarding local music. The idea was to raise awareness about S-ROCK, the thrust of which related to the irrelevant emphasis placed on classical music in Singapore, when more effort should be placed in promoting and developing Singaporean original pop-rock music. Well, I was disappointed somewhat with the response of the audience which seemed very negative and clueless. I’d basically given up and spent much of the time chatting with (supremely talented singer-songwriter) Ling Kai but was ‘cornered’ by Danny to contribute. So I did. My 5cts worth was this – if music is important in Singapore then we must do something to support and develop it. And if music is not important, then forget it! Music, of course, means ALL kinds of music and not just classical. There were a few heads nodding even as I finished off my ‘rant’ so who knows…but I did feel down after that.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



In the end, 2010 was a good year for S-ROCK (rock music made in Singapore, in case you’re wondering).

In the last quarter of the year, the likes of Lunarin, TypeWriter, Basement in my Loft, Meltgsnow and Stellarium released albums that provided evidence that there was still fire in the bellies of these ‘indie’ bands. When you consider that none of these bands are truly “full-time” musicians, the quality of the music, songwriting and performances on these albums is outstanding and you cannot help but wonder what the results would be if they did not have the ‘distractions’ of day jobs.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



“In March 1978, months into his job as minister for culture, the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong found himself facing MPs who despaired that Singapore was a ‘cultural desert’.” Straits Times article, 2006.

32 years later, is this still true? Well, let’s narrow our focus to Singapore-English popular music (“pop music”) – is there a pop music culture in Singapore? Well, taking culture as shared beliefs on society, politics and human nature – the prominent shared social belief about pop music in Singapore is – rather crudely – that foreign pop music is good, local pop music is crap. This belief also extends to the value attributed to foreign pop songs over local pop songs.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



For more than a decade I wrote for Before I Get Old (BigO) magazine. The magazine was set up by Michael and Philip Cheah (with Stephen Tan) who were formerly writers with the now long defunct Singapore Monitor. BigO set themselves up as the only independent rock magazine in Singapore and actively promoted the Singapore music scene. Some might say that they single-handedly kickstarted the 90s revival but perhaps it’s more accurate to say that they were major contributors.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



“…they’re (DC) offering me a million or two million, then I would imagine that what was potentially on offer to them would be higher by a couple of factors, maybe two or three factors, who knows?  It could be a huge amount.  So this would seem to explain their apparent desperate need to get me to put my signature upon something, which I’m not inclined to do.  This is because I actually felt that the work we did on WATCHMEN was somehow special.  I have got a great deal of respect for that work.  I do not want to see it prostituted.  This has always been my position.”

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



Censorship! A word that strikes terror in the hearts of the lovers of the arts everywhere. When I was a teenager and becoming aware of pop culture, censorship in Singapore was part and parcel of life. In the 70s, rock music was deemed by the Singapore Government as undesirable decadent Western influence especially the free sex and drugs hippie culture. Thus, anything associated with that, including long hair and rock music, was strictly frowned upon.

Yeah, it seems ridiculous now but take a look at what songs were banned back in the day.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



I’m sorry if it is getting tired or boring, dear readers, for you to read about how other countries support their local bands/artists but only by such comparisons is it obvious that the powers-that-be in Singapore are doing sweet FA for Singaporean bands/artists.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



This old fogey is always complaining about how he didn’t get to watch the top rock bands of his day in Singapore as rock music was essentially banned back in the 70s. Banned, you say? Well, the no long hair rule ensured that was so. Now that we’ve lightened up a tad – but censorship still remains for some strange reason – there seems to be a non-stop flow of foreign bands coming to Singapore.

I must say that the best gigs I’ve seen in Singapore (with foreign bands/artists) include David Bowie (the 2nd time round), the Police, Elvis Costello, Blur, REM, Lloyd Cole, Patrick Watson and Imogen Heap. That’s like eight gigs in 15 years! I guess you could say I’m fussy but I don’t just go googoo gaga over every foreign band/artist that plays on a Singapore stage, sorry.

So… instead of merely complaining. I set out my wish list of the top 5 bands I would like to see in Singapore. Would appreciate your comments. In descending order…

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



Australian bands have been making waves worldwide for a long time now and each rock decade has its own memorable Oz band. Off the top of my head – AC/DC (above), Men At Work, INXS, Midnight Oil, Icehouse, You and I and many many more. I’d wager that none of that rich musical history would have been possible without the support of both the Federal and State Governments in Australia.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



How meaningful is National Day in 2010? For many Singaporeans, it is just another Public Holiday an opportunity to spend family time, get away for a holiday or catch up on sleep. For a nation comprised of different race, the sense of unity is always difficult to build, not aided by the influx of migrants in the last couple of years.

I personally think it’s a good time (as any) to take stock of S-ROCK – such as it is – especially in the light of peculiarly synchronistic events in the last week. I do not want to restate past events. Instead I will refer you to excellent pieces on this issue by Bani Haykal and Brian Koh. Check them out first before reading on.

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”



Iceland has a population of 325,000 – about 7% of Singapore’s! And yet, the reputation of the Icelandic popular music scene far exceeds our own. Iceland is not an English-speaking country, yet its bands are better known in the USA and the UK, even though Singaporeans probably speak more English than Icelanders do. Do you still want to tell me that Singapore is too small? Mmm?

Continue reading “PoPINIONS”


NO JUSTICE, NO CRY (with profuse apologies to the late, great Bob Marley)

Back in the mid-80s, my personal choice of artistic fix came in the form of comic books, which had displaced my beloved rock music in my affections. This obsession continued through most of the 90s before giving up the ghost in the early 2000s. By that time, superhero comics had become a bloated, ugly beast and had lost all the charm and creativity of the 80s. Creators like Alan Moore had even more or less given up on comic books altogether.

Not only that but with the technological improvements, films could now present superhero abilities completely and with the advent of the superhero blockbuster, superhero comic books became breeding grounds for future movie franchises and no longer a viable art form in its own right. It’s no surprise that the San Diego Comic Con is now described as “the Cannes of the blockbuster movies”.

Once in a while, I return to the world of comics to determine if there is anything of interest. Sadly, it’s worse off than before. A recent example is the Justice League series, Cry For Justice, one of the ugliest piece of exploitative convoluted superhero narratives I’ve had the misfortune to read. Together with Final Crisis, it’s proven to me that superhero comics has devolved from the grim and gritty concepts (pioneered by Moore and Frank Miller in the 80s) into soulless, heartless exercises of nastiness and meaningless violence.

What has happened to writers like Grant Morrison and James Robinson, who’d previously given us worthy comics like Doom Patrol, Animal Man and Starman? Has working out of the comic book ghetto totally warped their creative sensibilities? Truthfully, I expected more. Unlike luckier peers like Miller, Neil Gaiman and Mark Millar – who have moved on to other mediums – the likes of Morrison and Robinson seem powerless to apply their abilities to subvert the decay of superhero comics and now are as much as a part of the problem as everyone else.

This probably sounds harsh but there was a time when I could hold my head up and admit that I read comic books. Sadly no more…



Concluding my PoP 10 selection of my favorite Beatles songs (for now). Read Part 1 and Part 2.


Even as Abbey Road famously includes a suite of loosely inter-connected songs from Sun King to The End, just before that is You Never Give Me Your Money which is a mini-suite in itself. This mini-suite consists of essentially five (!) parts – a pseudo-classical opening, then a honky-tonk country section, followed by an instrumental passage backed by helium backing vocals, a downright bluesy couple of bars and finally, the closing guitar pattern/riff with the nursery rhyme-like fade-out “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7/All good children go to heaven”. Heaven indeed!


The template for almost every psychedelic rock song that followed, Rain was the B-side of Paperback Writer and contains the legendary backward John Lennon vocals at the coda. Also the subject of one of the earliest music videos.


I once dismissed Lady Madonna as McCartneysque fluff (!!!) but recently have been using it as a superb example of how arrangements can be used to cement hooks into listener’s head. Now it’s one of my favorites. I dig the music video as well.


Somehow, this track off Hard Day’s Night exudes a whole lot more power and attitude than many of the Beatles songs of that early period. Lennon’s role-playing of the jealous guy is par for the course whilst the Rickenbacker-driven rhythms keeps the song on edge. Genius!

Yes, only ten… not easy to distill but appropriate for present purposes, I think. More lists to come…

Comments welcome, of course.



And so, we continue with my favorite TEN Beatles songs (as of now, of course). Read Part 1 here.


The White Album is probably my favorite Beatles LP (Abbey Road runs a close second) and there are numerous songs I adore on this fabulous double album (Back on the USSR, Dear Prudence, Martha My Dear etc etc etc) but if I had to choose just one as representative then it would have to be George Harrison’s seminal rock interpretation of the I Ching. The icing on the cake, is of course, Eric Clapton’s performance on lead guitar. That and the vibrato organ. Oooh!


From the opening clipped guitar chords, the repetitive piano notes to the Indian tambura at the final verse, there is a driving drone evident throughout this powerful song. The contradiction in the chorus – “it can’t get no worse” (from Lennon) – is the Beatles at their humorous best. Sophisticated pop-rock that has seldom been bettered since. Heh!


The Fab Four were constantly creatively curious, and with more time in the studio the band began to change the very concept of pop and rock music. Taxman opened the ground-breaking Revolver, George Harrison’s tirade against the kind of high taxes the likes of Beatles had to face. Musically, Paul McCartney’s contribution was stellar: a raga-influenced solo and a bass line that has been imitated ad nauseum ever since. John Lennon provided much of the backing vocal concepts including naming the two main political party leaders of the time viz Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. Memorable!

Stay tuned for Part 3.



I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone out there that the Fab Four are my favorite band of all time. Forty years after their demise, their music still enthralls and touches me. Two years ago (!), I did my PoP Ten of my favorite Beach Boys tunes, here’s part 1 (of 3) of my list for the Beatles. Comments welcome, of course…


The finest recording ever? Two distinct songs from John Lennon and Paul McCartney cobbled together by the most inventive instrumental section ever committed to magnetic tape. Lennon provides some of his best non-sequitur lyrics – “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall” and his singing is haunting and evocative throughout. McCartney contributes an incongruous jaunty middle part equally memorable. This is what I mean when I say “legendary”.

2. HELP!

One of my favorites from the early Beatles period, Lennon’s impassioned vocals and the tight harmonies gets me everytime. Of course, the heartfelt lyrics are something anyone can identify with. Great beat and melody. Hypnotic.


Originally, In My Life was supposed to reflect upon the childhoods of Lennon and McCartney and would refer to specific landmarks in their hometown Liverpool. That didn’t materialize and the concept was only fully realized on Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever. Both tracks were recorded during the Sgt Pepper’s sessions. Penny Lane is brilliantly nostalgic, colorful in both words and music, its music hall sensibility echoes the Kinks and the piccolo flute at the coda now the stuff of legend.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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In the 80s, thanks to popular LPs like So and Us, Peter Gabriel finally achieved status of rock superstar. As much as I do consider So and Us to be good albums, for me personally, the best musical period for Gabriel was between 1977 to 1982, when he released four eponymous albums.

I first came across Gabriel when he was the lead singer of the progressive rock outfit Genesis. Gabriel quit Genesis in 1976 and embarked on a solo career. In the next five years, he would produce some of the finest rock music ever.

Now also referred to as Car, Gabriel’s debut is a powerful one featuring memorable tracks like Moribund the Burgermeister, Solsbury Hill (video below), Modern Love, Humdrum and perennial live fave, Here Comes the Flood.

A year later, Gabriel released his sophomore effort (often called Scratch), produced by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp. Fripp’s influence is evident in the use of his patented Frippertronic effects in Exposure. Not quite as strong as the album before and after it, Scratch still contains On the Air, D.I.Y. (video below), White Shadow, Animal Magic and the aforementioned Exposure.

Easily one of my favourite albums of all time, Gabriel’s 3rd album (or Melt) was co-produced by Gabriel and renowned 80s producer Steve Lillywhite, and the muscular sound being the main result (the influence of post-punk is obvious). The songs on Melt are probably among Gabriel’s best known – Games Without Frontier (video below) and Biko (a tribute to South African martyr Steven Biko) – along with such classics as Intruder, Not One of Us, And Through the Wires, Family Snapshot etc. The entire album is essential, nuff said!

Not as accessible as Melt, Gabriel’s 4th LP (or Security) is an ambitious, experimental song cycle where Gabriel’s interest in world music flowers and blooms. Memorable tracks litter the LP, including The Rhythm of the Heat, San Jacinto (video below), I Have the Touch and Shock the Monkey.

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