Friday, June 10, 2011


Song Title: "Con Tim Va Nuoc Mat" [give or take a few diacritical marks]
Artist: Bich Loan and CBC Band
Search Term: "Loan"

This crew sadly appears not to be some unremarked-upon house band of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, teeming with misguided pluck and forever convinced that today will be the day that Peter Mansbridge finally looks their way as they ease the viewer once again into the news after a commercial break, nodding subtly but appreciatively at them to communicate, "You brought us back from the Heritage Minute with precisely the correct balance of gravity and optimism for brighter days ahead. Top showing, gents. Top showing indeed." (Why, thank you! I like to think I do have an ear for dialects!)

What Bich Loan and the CBC Band actually were is a Vietnamese rock band that were part of a boom in Western-influenced rock that sprung up as a result of the influx of US soldiers hanging around during the Vietnam War. (Unsurprisingly, the compilation from which this song hails, Saigon Rock & Soul: Vietnamese Classic Tracks 1968-1974, is a release on the invaluable Sublime Frequencies imprint and would almost certainly be worth picking up.) This particular song is a terrific psychedelic snarl derived from pugnacious Nuggets classics like the Amboy Dukes' "Journey to the Center of the Mind." Singer Loan isn't exactly Grace Slick in terms of diaphragmatic force, but she has a reedy scrappiness that suits this lively, loud, anti-romantic jag. It also boasts one of the best squalling wah-wah solos I've ever heard. It's not only a killer song but a rather heartening document of amiable cultural sharing that occurred in the midst of one of the 20th century's bleaker affairs.

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