Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cuī Jiàn | Balls under the Red Flag


Listen to "Flying"

Listen to "Balls under the Red Flag"

Get it all here.

Found for a dollar in a Chinese-language bookstore in Flushing.

Ground-breaking Beijing art/punk rocker Cuī Jiàn has been recording since the mid-1980s. Considered the father of Chinese rock (he was the first mainlander to adapt Western-style pop), he actually started out with the Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra when he was 14 years old. His song "Nothing to My Name" became an anthem during the Tiananmen Square protests, despite his own protest that it was merely a love song--nothing more, nothing less.

His music is at times funky, experimental, slightly off-kilter--sort of like James Chance & The Contortions x Sonic Youth, though I don't think I've heard anything quite like at least some of the tracks on this CD. As the title would suggest (and yes, it means *those* balls), he often mocked China's communist past (and present), ultimately getting himself banned from airplay and major public performances until 2005. Recorded in 1994, "Balls under the Red Flag" is considered by many to be his masterpiece, one of, if not the greatest rock records ever recorded in China.

It's not out of the realm of possibility that he's single-handedly responsible for the current Beijing punk movement.

Read a long, detailed article on Cuī Jiàn here.

Read an interview with him here.

Great live version of "The Village Attacks the City" (song begins 2:10 into video):

1 comment:

tim abdellah said...

Wow - I heard some songs by Cui Jian around the time of Tiananmen. What I remember was pretty mainstream poppy sounding. The sample from this album sounds fantastic - way more edgy! Looking forward to checking this out. Thanx!