Sunday, March 18, 2012


Okay, I can't even contain my excitement ... I've discovered the root of all Hong Kong indie rock, essentially the band that more-or-less functions as the Velvet Underground of the Special Administrative Region.

Over the last month or so I've been compiling songs for a mix that will concentrate on covers; specifically songs covered by people of a different race, gender, nationality and/or ethnicity than the people who wrote or first popularized the song. While putting this set together (which I'll upload in the coming weeks), I noticed that the Hong Kong indie/twee pop band Marshmallow Kisses had a song: "I always love the one who doesn't love me (AMK cover)."

AMK cover? I had no idea what that could refer to, but after a bit of hunting around, I figured it out: The band was Adam Met Karl (Adam for Adam Smith; Karl for Karl Marx--in other words, capitalism meets communism), better known as AMK.

The band formed in 1989, coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally) the same year that mainland rock pioneer Cuī Jiàn released his first successful album, "Rock'n'Roll on the New Long March."

According to Rock in China, AMK was active from '89 until 1996, the year before the Brits transferred ownership of Hong Kong to China, and:

"Their songs featured upbeat melodies and fast rhythms, with lyrics inspired from political issues and ordinary city life in Hong Kong often presented in a humorous and satirical way.

"One of their most notable achievements was their theme song for a television programme, 'One Person, Two Roles' (一人分飾兩角), which was recorded by Faye Wong in 1995 on an EP with the same title.

"In 2009, Harbour Records released their complete and authorized anthology [AMK History] with a bonus CD 'Rare AMK' and a bonus music video and live performance DVD '真人表演.'"

Digging around on YouTube, I discovered that someone--a mere month ago--uploaded each of the nine songs on that aforementioned Rare AMK CD. As you've probably guessed, I then converted the vids to high-quality MP3s and ... voila! I'm now sharing it here on Bodega Pop.

From what I can gather via the little written in English about AMK online, the band's entire catalog had been out of print for years until the AMK History compilation, though the band has had an obvious influence on nearly every truly fantastic indie HK act, from The Pancakes to My Little Airport to 22Cats to PixelToy to at17 to Marshmallow Kisses.

Though AMK clearly has its own roots in underground American bands like the Velvet Underground (and every band the VU can be said to have given birth to), their sound is completely their own ... and absolutely to-die-for fabulous.

Listen to "請讓我回家"

Listen to "I always love the one who doesn't love me"

Listen to "失真醉"

Get it here.


Holly said...

Psyched to listen to the rest of the songs - so far the very fun #3 of your sampler is winning my ears' attention. How's the authorized history?

Gary said...

Hi Holly ... I have no idea about the whole compilation; it's on my to-find list. I've heard other AMK songs, all from YouTube, and I've loved everything so far ....

Boebis said...

Thanks for this great blog! I really like the concept of digging "bodegas".

I’ve been doing chronological maps with music from the world. Each map covers 5 years, and you can listen to a song chosen for each country or city.
for example:
I don’t much about asian musics so if you could give me some advices about important songs or artists, (not in the "world music" network) it would be much appreciate!
the whole maps are there (the blog is in french)
thanks in advance for your help!