To the Moon and Back – Hong Kong Beat’s musical tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing

Whether you believe what was broadcast around the World to billions of people fifty years ago today, or believe it was just a huge hoax, what can not be disagreed upon, mankind changed this day, July 20th 1969.

The human race had stepped away from its home and planted feet on an extraterrestrial body (okay, I’m with the it happened crowd, but even if we didn’t, mankind has the belief that we did, a belief that has forever changed us).

In selecting music to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, it was tempting to do what many others are no doubt doing, going for catchy tunes about space and the moon, but which owe nothing to the extraordinary exploits of the men, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, who went there. So while it hurts to leave out ‘Space Oddity’ (it was inspired by Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey, not Apollo), ‘Rocket Man’ (inspired by a 1950s science fiction story), Police ‘Walking on the Moon’ (a drunken night in a room in Munich), and REM’s ‘Man on the Moon’ (about comedian Andy Kaufman, not Armstrong), I’ve selected some of the actual songs that they suggested to a music producer friend to put together for a small pre-Walkman type cassette player, intended for them to make spoken notes, and which they played while on the journey, or on the moon itself.

Okay, I’ve allowed myself some artistic license with the opening selection, Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, because there is no evidence that I’m aware of that they took it on their playlist, nor that it was actually written about the moon, but instead to me, the song has all the right gravitas one might expect of the situation in those final moments before launch. Also, The Byrds selection and John Stewart’s tribute ‘Armstrong’ were released after the epic journey, but have direct relevance; and Zager & Evans apocalyptic song spent most of July and beyond, at the top of the charts, no doubt receiving considerable boost from the events being relayed from Houston.

All of the other songs were choices made by the three astronauts, as suggestions to their friend for what else to include. They reflect emotions of the time such as patriotism, equality, and war; thoughts of humbleness, as well as a good deal of romance and fun, including the oddest of all, Armstrong’s personal choice of the 1940s jazz-exotica piece ‘Music Out Of The Moon’ that, if some accounts are to be believed, he played over the radio as they returned to Earth, eliciting an ironic ‘thanks for ending that’ comment from Houston. His sense of humour, or really his taste in music? We don’t know, but it was just an example of how these men undertook the greatest leap of exploratory faith that man has made since the development of the sail, with a dash of flair, a touch of humour, and a huge helping of humility.

RIP Ranking Roger

Sad to hear today of the death of Ranking Roger, singer with the two-tone band The Beat (aka The English Beat in the USA, and The British Beat in Australia).
The blending of youth culture in music and race, through British two-tone and ska of the 70s and early 80s, seemed to be a beacon for racial integration in an increasingly divided UK at the time.
As a party DJ, it’s always a thrill when you get to play tunes and genres that, these days, are far from mainstream, and so it was when a small group of American lawyers and bankers in their 50s (one very senior in the firm), having their annual staff dinner in a smallish Hong Kong bar, asked if I could play some two-tone.
The bar wasn’t big enough for dancing, but tables and chairs were rapidly pushed aside for them to indulge in a bit of skanking and pogoing in their immaculate tailor-made suits.
To me, seeing that group of well-educated Caucasians embracing a British inter-racial youth culture that, itself, emanated from the poorest parts of Jamaica, was something of a legacy of a movement that almost was.

Roger has to be regarded as one of the pioneers of that movement, and I have to thank him for helping bring the joy of Jamaican music to white rude boys everywhere.

RIP Ranking Roger.

Watch him ranking on YouTube here

Cantopop All-stars 80s Dance Party with Hong Kong Beat wedding and party disco

Music in Hong Kong in the 1960s was mostly a choice between Chinese folk, and western pop and rock from the likes of the Beatles, the Carpenters, and such like.

Then, in the 70s, the advent of what was to be termed ‘Cantopop’, Cantonese language songs, mostly written for the city’s burgeoning TV and film industry, brought new stars, as well as crossovers from traditional Chinese music and opera, to the popular market.

Most songs in the 70s were still strongly influenced by pop and folk, as ballads or mid-tempo two-step, jive, and cha cha, however the end of the decade saw the birth of music for a younger generation, the ‘late boomers’, who demanded dance music like the disco, synth pop, and hi-nrg of the West.

Many of the songs were covers of Western hits, but there was creativity and showmanship among the talent as well, and this created new idols, leading to the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop, and more Queens than you could shake a sceptre at.

Here are just some of the hot tunes Hong Kong Beat played back then.

 

Hong Kong Beat wedding and party DJ wishes all my Irish friends, followers and clients a great St Patrick’s Day!

“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,

And may trouble avoid you, wherever you go.”

Have a great St Patrick’s day listening to this selection of great rock, pop and reeling tunes from some of the Emerald Isle’s finest artists.

Hong Kong Beat wedding and party disco celebrating International Women’s Day with some R&B and dance music

This year, International Women’s Day has perhaps never had more relevance.

Hong Kong Beat expressing support for all women resisting and speaking out against harassment, abuse, neglect, discrimination.

Come on guys, if somebody treated you the way some men treat women, you’d floor them.

Show respect.

Hong Kong Beat

James Brown sang “it is a man’s world”, asserting things like ‘man made the car, the train, electric light, the boat, the ark’…

Unfortunately some men stop thinking at that point, as proof of their supremacy, but James went on to say “it would be nothing, nothing, not one little thing, without a women or a girl.”

He was right, but only to a degree, because, without a woman, none of us would be here. Period.

Men, this is the 21st century. It really is time for us to cherish and respect womankind as an equal.

Wishing all women a happy and hopefully fulfilling International Women’s Day and, although I know there are many parts of the World where this means nothing at all, just wishing that at least one more man will find enlightenment towards our better half.

(Dedicated to my dear wife and wonderful daughter)

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Hong Kong Beat wedding and events DJ wishes all a Happy Year of The Dog!

February 2018 marks the start year of the Earth Dog in the Chinese almanac bringing with it masculine energy, an outgoing and fun-loving vibe, and maybe even getting a little reckless…

So what better way to celebrate such a year with Hong Kong Beat than a mix of some heavy rocking and belting tunes about dogs, and well, their canine cousins.

Kung Hei Fat Choy, and wishing all a healthy, prosperous and successful Year of the Dog!

Hong Kong Beat party and wedding disco lines up a bunch of stiffies, with punk and new wave from Stiff Records

Probably the first really influential indie label, Stiff Records was founded in 1976 at the leading edge of the wave of punk, and later, new wave rock movement, and brought together an eclectic set of artists from the UK and US counter-culture and pub rock culture of the time, and bringing the new music movement to public attention through its Stiff Tours around UK, Europe and USA.

Although many of the acts signed to the label remained or became obscure as the 80s wore on, some became icons of the movement with wider success and fame – like Elvis Costello, The Damned (with ‘The Rose’, acknowledged as punk rock record 001), Madness, Ian Dury, The Pogues, and Devo.

Delving into my collection of Stiffies to bring music as diverse as punk, ska, psychobilly, southern blues rock, synth pop, and even some Burt Bacharach and gospel, in tribute to an era and label that made a huge impact on rock music, even though it was only relatively short lived

(click the image for the show)

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