Sun, Jul 04, 2004 - Page 19 News List

CD reviews

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wu Bai & China Blue 伍佰 & China Blue

Greatest Hits 愛你伍佰年

Rock

Wu Bai and his localized brand of rock/blues might be a household name throughout Asia, but it's safe to say that without his backing band he would never have gained such fame.

China Blue, or bassist Ju Jian-hui (朱劍輝), drummer Dino Zavolta and keyboard player Yu Dai-ho (余大豪), first appeared as China Blue on Wu Bai's 1994 album, Vagabonds Love Song (浪人情歌). Since then, the trio has been a central part of Wu Bai's sound on more than a dozen albums.

While the recently released collection of Wu Bai & China Blue tunes, Greatest Hits (愛你伍佰年), still features a photo of Wu Bai on its cover, the accompanying liner notes do thankfully give some credit to the often overlooked China Blue.

Featuring 40 tunes on three CDs, the album is the most chronological and comprehensive collection of Wu Bai & China Blue tunes ever put together. The gargantuan collection kicks in with a couple of moody blues tunes from his 1992 debut Loving Others is a Happy Thing (愛上別人是快樂的事) and goes on to plot Wu Bai & China Blue's musical development over a decade.

Along the way, listeners get to hear some of the combo's best material, including the alt-rock tune Beautiful World (美麗新世界), the Western-style, guitar driven Wash Away (沖沖沖) and the dance-club friendly Real World (真世界). The album comes to a crescendo with a selection of material taken from 2002's live album, Winter Fire (伍佰冬之火).

At times engaging, at others brilliant, yet never dull, Rock Records' three-CD Wu Bai "Best Of" does a great job of putting both the singer/songwriter and China Blue in perspective.

F.I.R.飛兒樂團

Warner

If you're a regular viewer of Channel V or MTV, then you've probably had your fill of F.I.R's (飛兒樂團) inanely entitled, yet well-produced and expertly executed pseudo-heavy rock single, Revolution.

Formed by record producer Ian Chen (陳建寧), who cut his teeth in the music industry producing albums by Rene Liu (劉若英) and William So (蘇永康), F.I.R made its longplay debut late last month.

The two core members, vocalist Faye (詹雯婷) and guitarist Real (黃漢青), are backed by Chen, who doubles as the keyboard player, and a motley crew of studio musicians. F.I.R is a hybrid combo that combines elements of Mando-pop and J-pop with heavy rock-inspired hooks and riffs and its own brand of world music-styled special sauce.

It might all sound like a recipe for a cringe-inducing musical mistake, but the result of this odd musical coupling actually works quite well. While the band's self-titled debut does have its dud moments, most of the material makes for reasonably agreeable listening.

The thought and expert production that went into tunes like the J-pop inspired Fly Away, the orchestrated love song Lydia and the highly creative Your Smile (妳的微笑) -- which sees the combo combining some nifty Middle-Eastern-styled rock riffs with a bubble-gum Mando-pop tune and the jazz/downbeat soaked Taro Card (塔羅牌) -- are enough to set F.I.R's debut in a league of its own.

Nan Quan Mama 南拳媽媽

The Summer ...的夏天

ALFA

Tipped by Golden Melody award winner Jay Chou (周杰倫) as the next big thing, the all-male four-piece Nan Quan Mama (南拳媽媽) released it long-awaited debut, The Summer (...的夏天) to rather muted applause last month.

Part Mando-rap, part folk and with a little bit of rock-rap thrown in for good measure, the memorable moments on Nan Quan Mama's debut album are so few and far between that it sounds like Chou made the wrong call.

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