HUMPBACK OAK Oaksongs (Self-released)

It has been annoying me no end that so many young musicians in Singapore have not heard of Humpback Oak. Not even my aspiring singer-songwriters. Well, its not their fault as until yesterday, the three Humpback Oak albums – Pain-stained Morning, Ghostfather and SideASideB – have all been out-of-print and the record label that released them, now defunct.

Well, I’m happy to report that in order to remedy this imperfect situation, the band has self-released (and self-assembled) this wonderful 4-disc retrospective boxset which includes the aforementioned LPs as well as a disc of rare tracks from their early “demo” cassettes (presented in mp3 format). I braved the extreme heat today to pick up my copy (No. 161/500) and it has definitely worth the time, money & effort.

The sound on the discs is immaculate, even the rarities come across well – maybe even better than how they first sounded on cassette! – and the sheer wealth of material here is staggering. Also included, the band’s earnest attempts to cover Dylan e.g. Like A Rolling Stone, If Not For You and of course, one of my favourite S-ROCK songs – Twang Bar Kings’ Daddy in the Lift – with Leslie Low still on helium (and you can also find the song on +65 Indie Underground compilation).

More than a mere exercise in nostalgia, Oaksongs is positive proof of the eminent worth of S-ROCK’s special 90s revival and a milestone in the musical history of our island nation. Not since the early days of independance did our rock and pop music reflect the creative and artistic edge that Singaporeans are capable of, like the 90s. If there’s anything to be nationalistic or patriotic about our country, it is the fact that Humpback Oak is/was one of our very own – to treasure and to proclaim and yes, to enjoy…

Apart from the fine music – the band has spared no effort in making Oaksongs a complete experience for its admirers. Thus, the boxset design is something you have to savour in 3-D (though the pix look cool, huh?) and over at the band’s official site, even newbies will be treated to tons of information to pick through and devour. Oaksongs surely qualifies as one of the best retrospective collections anywhere.



4 Replies to “HUMPBACK OAK”

  1. Kevin, I’ve been checking the CDs in my copy of Oaksongs, but I have yet to find “Daddy in the Lift” included on any of them. Could you please tell me which CD in the collection features it? Thanks a lot.

  2. All the same, it really is a fantastic collection. A true labour of love for the fans.

  3. Hi Kevin, mystery solved. “Daddy in the Lift” is included as an mp3 under the Data section of the Rarities CD. Thanks for the great review. Yes, more young people in Singapore should get to know and appreciate Humpback Oak. Without a doubt, in the space of roughly ten years, they have made a tremendous contribution to Singaporean popular music.

  4. Hey guys, am from India, but was staying in Singapore sometime in the late-90s till early ’00s. I kept tabs on the local music scene back then. I heard these guys on the radio (don’t remember the station anymore), and fell in love with these guys. Amazing stuff, i would love to order this boxset, would appreciate it if someone would tell me how.


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