One of my biggest mistakes- and gawd knows I’ve made a few- was when a fledgling journo wishing to become Nick Kent or Dave Marsh or Lester Bangs or Greil Marcus or Ben Fong Torres and jealous of hell at that upstart Cameron Crowe, below, who, at 15, travelled with Led Zep and ended up writing and directing “Almost Famous”, and publicist extraordinare Tony Barrow asking if I wanted to interview a new band he thought had “enormous potential.”



The band was in his offices for interviews- by anyone- and seemed nice enough.

We shook hands, but all that Glam stuff left me cold- and these guys were very Glam- especially the weird looking singer.


Having learnt the chords to the still brilliant “Tell Her No” and believing “She’s Not There” to be a pop classic- that bass line remains way ahead of its time- I HAD to interview Colin Blunstone, the voice of the Rod Argent-led Zombies.


And though Colin Blunstone was a nice enough guy, that was how I passed on becoming the first journo to interview Queen months before they exploded onto the pantheons of Rockdom with “Bohemian Rhapsody”, something, on quiet days, I remind myself about by going to the nearest wall and banging my head against the wall.



Still, one cannot dwell on being a total screwup and, never, ever again did being new and not having made it on a mega scale in this very fleeting music world- whatever DID happen to Fleet Foxes?- mean ignoring them.


Never one to do things in half measures and with an addictive nature, it became my “calling” to seek out new artists and go to bat for them until finally realizing that many were absolute crap and couldn’t be saved.

This was when too many “indie” acts were being signed to the Sub Pop label and when getting through to music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, below, and having a song wafting in the background of an episode of “The O.C”, the television series that, for a while, made her one of the most powerful people in music, or an appearance on the show’s Bait Shop, a blatant ploy to feature music to compensate for the wafer-thin plots, seemed a quick way to (sync) fame. It wasn’t.


Sub Pop and Patsavas- she was given her own label under Warner Music- and, despite some excellent acts, it all dissipated into whiny acts creating a samey same musical Emo hell comprising bad hairstyles, and folksy chansons that all sounded like one turgid ballad.



After out-growing and bored with what became wallpaper music and having seen, first-hand, the hype and fake back stories created around the signings of Lily Allen and Arctic Monkeys and, some years later, revealing how the public was duped that Susan Boyle was a “YouTube sensation”, it made me see that nothing was real, there was nothing to get hung up about, and to only believe in one’s god-given beliefs in music and damned be those who didn’t share the same enthusiasm.


Nothing was gonna change my world nor curb my enthusiasm even when Dream Academy and the brilliant Life In A Northern Town never made the band “The New Beatles”.


Here’s hoping that the Struts- they’re from
Derbyshire in the UK, hardly the music capital of the world- do better.


Signed to Mercury Records, one of Universal Music’s many imprints, along with Fun and the brilliant 1975, the Struts are one of the best new bands I’ve heard.


Then again, one person’s best can be someone else’s bust, BUT, seldom have I played music by a new band to such an unanimous display of two thumbs up.


Sure, there’ll be the comparisons to Freddie Mercury as singer Luke Spiller bears a striking resemblance and vocal style to the late Queen frontman, but there’s nothing wrong with that in these books.

Plus, a new generation of music fans never grew up with Queen, but can grow together with The Struts- a VERY tight band, good songwriters and arrangers who don’t settle for Okay along with an engineer and producer equally adamant about staying away from
things we’ve all heard before and, instead tackling something like Lorde’s “Royals” in a ‘live’ setting.


On the subject of originality, anyone who’s lived in Hong Kong will tell you that if a Filipino musician- and no matter how good you are- it’s almost impossible to be recognized and respected.

The reasons are a mixture of history when bands from the Philippines under-cut local bands and took all the gigs and the albatross of playing in one of those many covers bands which, immediately, pigeonholes one into being Unoriginal. And, let’s be honest here: Most Filipino musos in Hong Kong- with their full-time gigs and trying to make ends meet- have had so little time to stay in touch with whatever is current that they are copyists.


But, at the venue that is Millions- one can really hear the sound here as opposed to the muddy waters of the Beer Garden- at Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday where current regular performer Ben Semmens from Wales was performing with a backing band comprising various experienced Hong Kong-based musos, one of the members really stood out and stole the show.


Yes, Jay- I don’t know his surname- is an excellent Rock guitarist with a playing style reminiscent of Slash, but what made me- and others present- sit up and take notice was his voice.

This guy sings “it” sweet- very sweet- he has style, he has charisma, he looks good onstage, and it would be brilliant if he can be a game-changer and be seen as the person who finally creates Hong Kong’s Original Filipino Musician -and with the HKJC backing this talent as they have Ben Semmens.


© Fast Track 2014
All Rights Reserved
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials.