Pleasure Productions - Shine
This is good listening and comprises a good selection of largely guitar based tracks in the sort of jangle pop style which was popular at the time and still manages to attract my attention even today. This was the band's second album and is overall a better work than their debut. For a start, the awful production of their first album has been replaced by something far more substantial. Secondly, the band had a new drummer, one who was less likely to drop out of step with the rest of the band. Thirdly, the band seemed to have a greater confidence in their own songwriting ability and this comes out very noticeably in a number of the tracks.
The album is a collection of pop songs with some social and political commentary thrown in for good measure. This was unusual certainly in Hong Kong where politics was never a very high priority and, for a band comprised largely of civil servants, it was a pretty risky strategy to adopt. At times, the political went well beyond what may have been considered acceptable for a supposedly impartial public servant to espouse in a public setting.
The content of the songs is wide-ranging. There are tracks like "Nic's Bastards" (about the AIDS orphans in Romania) and "Crime" (about homosexuality - then illegal in Hong Kong) to demonstrate this stance. As an aside, "Crime" was originally written for The Sun the Sun, another Hong Kong based outfit for which I was the drummer which released a 12" single a few years earlier but never had any degree of success. Other tracks cover a variety of topics, many of which have their own quirky traits - "Mill Hill" is not about London's underground trains for example but about a failed relationship.
Perhaps the best song is the quirky "Mighty Fine Healthy Club" - a reference to some of the inane manglings of the English language found on some Japanese T-shirts whoich were almost essential fashion items around this time in the territory. Like many of the songs, the keyboards stand out much more than on the previous offering, both in terms of their production being more upfront and the use of various sounds being explored with less restraint.
The difficulty is in pinning them down - do they want to be balladeers, rockers or poppers. The truth is that they are a combination of all three, and are able to achieve this because the songwriting is shared around more evenly than it is in many other bands. After this, they recorded but never released another album which was taking them in a different, more sophisticated musical direction. However, the band was never going to break through the language barrier which divided Hong Kong music, let alone the style barrier which set the Hong Kong mainstream music scene almost on an entirely different planet to the rest of the world. Perhaps that was not such a bad thing after all.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.