Indie rock pioneer finally has his day – Entertainment Now
M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Entertainment | Sat, 06/30/2012 12:36 PM
When speaking about the local scene in the 1970s, after lengthy discussions about who had the longest guitar solo or the biggest afro, most fans return to the familiar names from the Indonesian rock scene; Koes Plus, God Bless, AKA and The Rollies.
Only occasionally do people mention the name of Benny Soebardja and even then only when they talk about his best-selling band Giant Step and his masterpiece with Shark Move Gedhe Chokra, probably the best record ever to come out from the country’s rock scene and one of the best music ever committed to vinyl.
As a solo artist, Benny never gets the credit he rightly deserves. That’s because Benny, especially after leaving Giant Step, operated independently from the mainstream music industry which also makes him one of the country’s first indie rockers.
Disappointed over the mainstream industry’s penchant for producing ballads, Benny decided to go it alone and founded what could be the first private press in the country’s music scene.
After a brief spell of gigging in Singapore in the late 1960s and getting critical acclaim with Gedhe Chokra, which he recorded with his friends from college in Shark Move in 1972, Benny continued his independent enterprise by financing his own recording session that would be released under various imprints.
First, he set up BB Records with his Shark Move bandmate Bhagu Ramchand, to release material from Gedhe Chokra and new compositions that he recorded with his new band The Lizard.
Free from the dictates of major labels and aided by some of the country’s best musicians; the likes of Albert Warnerin, Triawan Munaf and his brother Harry — Benny could produce some of the best tunes that the country’s rock scene ever heard.
His first record under the BB imprint has tracks like “18 Years Old” which fantastically married an Eastern flavor — complete with dangdut-style tabla — with psychedelic funk, a long lost gem in the country’s rock history.
“Candle Light” is an ennui-laden song that seamlessly blends the best elements from folk rock and R&B. Last year, “Candle Light” found its way into “Those Shocking, Shaking Days” which successfully turned the world’s attention to the country’s rock scene in the 1970s.
Later in his independent career, Benny aimed for a higher level of complexity that peaked in the Night Train album, released in 1978.
The album’s closing track “A Signal From Outer Space” is probably the only space rock composition this country ever produced, heavily accentuated by Benny’s Ritchie Blackmore-sounding guitar and Triawan Munaf’s trippy synthesizer.
But like any other releases from the period, most of the master tapes from the recording have long disappeared, due to the common practice of erasing reels and reusing them after each album was finished. The only artefacts left were cassettes that until recently sold in the Jakarta used-record market for six figures.
It was these early generation cassettes that Canadian label Strawberry Rain used in the remastering of the music that was compiled for Benny Soebardja: The Lizard Years, the first and only complete retrospective on the Tasikmalaya-born musician.
For this second release of Strawberry Rain — the first being a compilation of English-language tracks of the Surabaya-based 1970s band AKA — producer Jason Connoy once again made the extra effort to re-master the sound from its original recording.
Strawberry Rain also took great pains to come up with superb artwork that could finally do justice to Benny’s timeless compositions. (The original artwork of 1977’s Night Train was so bad that it looks like the work of a second-grader).
The final result is 29 tracks of Benny’s masterwork in good quality sound spread over five vinyl records in lavish packaging.
A tribute to one of the country’s best musicians could not be better than this.
Unlike Ucok Harahap of AKA, who often mangled his English, Benny sings in flawless English in all the songs in the compilation. It is said that Benny wrote his English lyrics, with assistance from Englishman Bob Dook, to mask his political viewpoints — the song “In 1965” talks about the Communist Party purge — but he also hoped to spark interest from abroad.
Virgin Records once had an interest in signing Benny in 1978, but the deal fell through.
Now more than three decades later, Benny finally gets his long-overdue recognition, with The Lizard Years reissue selling out three weeks before its release date.
“A lot of people have compared him to Lennon, and many people were curious how music so good could remain so unknown up until this point,” Jason Connoy of Strawberry Rain said.
YANIS & ANDREA BEST OF – LA MEILLEURE DANSE M6/W9. CHOREOGRAPHY YANIS MARSHALL. MUSIC BY GOSSIP.www.yanismarshall.com BIOGRAPHIE: Yanis Marshall, chorégraphe, professeur et danseur, commence la danse dès son plus jeune âge chez sa maman (directrice d’association). A seulement 15 ans, il obtient son EAT (Examen d’Aptitude Technique) en danse Jazz avec les honneurs. Il intègre la troupe du « Roi Soleil ». Benjamin de la troupe, il n’a alors que 16 ans. Yanis poursuit sa carrière de danseur avec la comédie musicale « Les Dix Commandements » et bien d’autres spectacles. En 2009, à tout juste 20 ans, il rencontre Sheryl Murakami au Broadway Dance Center à New York City. C’est là qu’il tombe amoureux du Street Jazz à l’américaine et qu’il décide de le développer en France. Grâce à sa formation pluridisciplinaire, il enseigne aujourd’hui le Street Jazz, le Lyrical Jazz et le Cabaret en talons au Studio Harmonic à Paris et en stages partout en France. Face à des publics de niveaux différents, Yanis Marshall fait preuve d’une grande capacité d’adaptation. Depuis peu on peut le voir en tant que candidat sur M6 dans l’émission « La Meilleure Danse » où il défend ses propres chorégraphies. Yanis Marshall est là pour créer le changement et réinventer son art. Sa particularité est qu’il est l’un des seuls hommes en France à danser et proposer des cours de danse en talons ! C’est un jeune homme plein d’ambition, qui mène sa carrière seul en prenant lui-même ses décisions. Aujourd’hui, à seulement 22 ans il est l’un des meilleurs espoirs de la danse en France. On aura vite compris …
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