關於生祥與瓦窯坑3
Sebastian Spiller(fR262 April 2005)

因為自己是前交工的歌迷,我帶著些許訝異,聽了生祥所創作的新專輯。約莫兩三年前到台灣時,曾聽過幾次(解散後的)他的現場演唱,缺少那些使他的音樂更完美且特殊的樂器編制,看來相當引人注目。但我沒有擔心的必要。經過數年努力,在共同製作人大大樹鍾適芳以及筆手永豐的協助下,生祥與瓦窯坑3,如果真要說的話就像是,在交工樂隊的成果上又踏出了一步。生祥創作的旋律就如以往一樣地深刻、令人難忘。而永豐所寫的詞更是恰如其分。在西方音樂人的風格基調下,生祥所唱的歌裡,飽含他清晰且熱情的信仰。

幸好在專輯中附有完整且優秀的翻譯與說明,正如我所期望的,這些歌既非陳腔濫調也非作者的無病呻吟,卻都是影響真實人民的真實命題。這張《臨暗》專輯圍繞著反映八○年代景氣飆升的社會情境,當時許多農民與鄉村子弟湧入城市,在經濟奇蹟下追尋自己的前途。當景氣開始跌入谷底,關廠頻傳時(或者轉戰勞動力低價的中國大陸),許多人失業了。因為無能履行賺大錢的承諾而羞於返鄉,我們看到這些人被迫在城市的邊緣無所適從地遊蕩。

這張專輯中,生祥的吉他加入了月琴、琵琶以及三線,甚至三線的沖繩後裔三弦,也由平安隆(Takashi Hirayasu)在最後一首曲目中演奏。口琴與無琴格貝斯代表的西方音樂元素則洗鍊地使中國、台灣與西方的元素揉合為整體聲響,成為生祥的特殊標記。

SHENG XIANG AND WATER 3
Getting Dark Trees music & Art TMCD-330

I'd been such a fan of Taiwan's former Labour Exchange Band (see fR229) that I had initially approached the first solo album by the group's leader, Sheng Xiang, with some trepidation. I'd heard a couple of stripped-down live versions of new songs on a trip to Taiwan a couple of years ago, noticeably without the extra instrumentation that had helped make his excellent material that crucially bit more special. I needn't have worried. Several years in the making, under the guidance of co-producers, Trees Music's Chung Shefong and lyricist Yongfeng, Sheng Xiang and Water 3 is, if anything, a step up on the LEB, Sheng's melodies are as strong and memorable as ever, and Yongfeng's lyrics as pertinent. He clearly believes, passionately, in whatever it is he is singing about, in his pretty much western singer-songwriter style.

Fortunately the exemplary liner notes and packaging come with full translations, and as I had hoped, expected, these are not songs of banal cliches or introverted observations, but of real issues affecting real people. Getting Dark is set around a character reflecting on the boom period of the 1980s, when many peasants and country people arrived in the cities seeking their slice of the economic miracle. As boom started to turn to bust, and the factories closed down (and opened on mainland China where the cheaper labour was), many lost their jobs. Ashamed to return home without fulfilling their earlier promise of new found wealth, these people are to be found roaming the stress on the outskirts of the cities.

Sheng Xiang's acoustic guitar is augmented by Chinese moon guitar, plus the pipa (ancient Chinese lute), the sanxian (Chinese here-stringed lute), and even its Okinawan offspring, the sanchin, performed by Takashi Hirayasu on the Album's final track. Harmonica and fretless bass add the western elements on an album that skillfully blends Chinese, Taiwanese and western elements into a sound that has become a distinctive hallmark of Sheng Xiang.

More info: www.treesmusic.com; available from www.farsidemusic.com
Sebastian Spiller
fR262 April 2005