Yin: Rock Legend Cui Jian Covered by Shanghai Band Anti Dogs

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11:14 PM HKT, Fri July 6, 2018 2 mins read

Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip-hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.

Hat tip to Unite Asia — worth an RSS/Twitter follow for constant updates on all things underground from around the continent — for alerting me to this new tune from Shanghai post-rock quartet Anti Dogs:

Anti Dogs was formed in 2016 after the dissolution of one of Shanghai’s most storied and beloved underground rock bands, Top Floor Circus. After 15 years with the band, famously fierce frontman Lu Chen — who consciously name-checked GG Allin as a key influence — clocked out, and the remaining four members carried on under a new name, releasing their debut album The Poem of the Night last August.

“The Last Shot” — streaming above — is the band’s first single since then, and is actually a cover of an original by Cui Jian, a foundational figure for Chinese rock ‘n’ roll. (If you’re interested in the history there, I recommend Jonathan Campbell’s book Red Rock.) “The Last Shot” was originally released on a 1987 compilation, in the very early days of Cui’s career and Chinese rock in general.

Anti Dogs guitarist Mei Er (above, second from left) says that when he and Lu Chen first started playing together in 1997, they cut their teeth by covering Cui Jian. “He’s a musician we highly revere,” Mei tells RADII. “We did this cover to pay respect to him, covering it without vocals as a post-rock song. We told [Cui] that we wanted to do this cover and he had no problem with it, he totally agreed. We were really moved.”

Cassette cover of 1987 compilation Nameless Highland: China Red Singing Stars Golden Song Collection, Vol. 1 (Douban)

Though rock music no longer captures the underground cultural zeitgeist the way it once did, Cui Jian remains a present and relevant figure on the Chinese music scene today. He packed out Beijing’s massive Workers’ Stadium for a 30th anniversary show a few years back, and just last week was spotted at the much smaller Beijing live music venue DDC while taking in a set by rapper Dawei, a regular collaborator of his.

Even at the mainstream level — where “younger” genres of music like hip hop are breaking out in popularity — Cui remains a cultural touchstone.

On last year’s season of Kpop idol-minting show Super Boy, for example, baby-faced hopeful Yin Yuke belted out a rendition of one of Cui Jian’s most famous tunes, “Fake Monk”:

And here’s Rap of China 2017 co-champion GAI covering the same song on last year’s program:

The reigning king of reality singing shows today, Kris Wu, himself covered Cui Jian’s “Greenhouse Girl” for the soundtrack of 2015 film Mr. Six:

If you have the time and interest, find a long read about the moment Cui Jian burst onto the scene via a 1986 televised special — arguably the first time a Chinese artist became an overnight sensation on the strength of an onscreen appearance — over at Tiny Mix Tapes.

Cover image: Cui Jian (source)

Thanks to Karen Xu for tipping the Super Boy, Rap of China, and Mr. Six covers

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