HOW CANTON DISCO SWAM AGAINST THE TIDE IN HONG KONG

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

It was not only part of Hong Kong coming of age, to many, it gave this unique city a very different pulse. As a much-used advertising copy line might say, here was the place to see and be seen- the vibe maker that was Canton, the disco on- where else, but Canton Road on Kowloon side- and at a time in the Eighties when Night Fever was finding its strut.

Sure, Hong Kong might have had other discos- Hollywood East, Hot Gossip, Manhattan, Pastels- but with its quirky, androgynous and now iconic logo, none of these in Hong Kong had the brand personality to attract a different group of regulars as Canton Disco.

Yes, Manhattan in Elizabeth House was popular with the advertising crowd. More often than not, it had its moments of shee shee pretentiousness with the usual suspects associated with advertising showing up for private parties and needing to feel miserable and pass that anger around. One never forgets those things, especially when they were hurled your way. Maybe they needed hugs.

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JUST DO IT, NIKE…

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

Being an ex ad guy who still can’t help thinking like an ad guy when seeing how certain products are marketed- the good, the bad and the fugly- what still has the most powerful brand recall is “Just do it”, Nike’s inspirational corporate ethos and advertising theme line.

Every time, I return to forever and my own sanity to watch that episode of the brilliant series “Mad Men” where Don Draper presents his campaign for the Polaroid Carousel by selling emotion and nostalgia with such honesty, a number of thoughts flash across my mind.


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Singer-songwriter Ash Bates and the need for direction in this free-for-all online world

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

He’s young, unknown, has demos in the can with more and more new originals being written. He has no manager- which could be a blessing- doesn’t really know how to “use” social media- another blessing as this has become The Big Bunkum Theory full…and has much going for him. He just doesn’t know it.

He is singer-songwriter Ash Bates from the UK.

Listening to his introspective songs and warming to his candour and lack of bs, sent off a silent Wake Up call. Even the most jaded music industry guy who often wonders how he could have put up being with, not one, but two majors, sees and hears that certain something in a new talent, wakes up from The Big Sleep and wants to somehow help them develop.

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If one were to rebrand Hong Kong

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

Until she mentioned it, I had either taken it for granted, or else, had completely forgotten about the diversity of the Chinese food available in Hong Kong- Cantonese, Shanghainese, Fukien, Hakka, Chiu Chow, Peking etc etc- and just how far this goes in describing what makes the city so unique.

Add to this, all the other types of cuisine available here- Italian, French, American, Indian, Nepalese, Danish, Greek, German, Swedish, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Middle Eastern…

Margaret is one of the most popular and creative chefs in town. She and I were in advertising around the same time and started talking informally about how we might rebrand Hong Kong.

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THE BULL SAW RED AND DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

It was not only part of Hong Kong coming of age, to many, it gave this unique city a very different pulse. As a much-used advertising copy line might say, here was the place to see and be seen- the vibe maker that was Canton, the disco on- where else, but Canton Road on Kowloon side- and at a time in the Eighties when Night Fever was finding its strut and swimming with sharks.

Sure, Hong Kong might have had other discos- Hollywood East, Hot Gossip, Manhattan, Pastels- but with its quirky, androgynous and now iconic logo, none of these in Hong Kong had the brand personality to attract a different group of regulars as Canton Disco.

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RIP MELVIS, THE KING OF LAN KWAI FONG

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

Melvis, real name Tsui Kam-kong, 68, is gone and long live the King of Lan Kwai Fong. Those of us who have made Hong Kong home know Melvis from his performances throughout most of the Central district of this city for the past three decades.

I would always run into him when having dinner at what still remains one of the best restaurants Hong Kong ever had- Bistro Manchu. That wonderful restaurant managed by the always honest Tom- “No order any more, Mister Hans. This enough”- and with a menu that included the best pan fried dumplings anywhere and the brilliant Cumin Lamb, closed its doors over a year ago along with many other restaurants in Elgin Street.

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Those KGV years in a changing Hong Kong

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

We didn’t know it at the time, but in our own small way, we were game changers in the makeup of what was growing up to be Hong Kong.

The secondary school that is KGV- King George V School- in Tin Kwong Road, Kowloon was a unique melting pot of nationalities that came together at a very important time in Hong Kong’s then present without even knowing it. In doing so, we were part of creating the heady gumbo mix that was to become so integral to the cosmopolitan personality Hong Kong.

Looking back, perhaps our parents learned much from us- like how kids from very different backgrounds could form a rainbow coalition long before this term became a meaningless hashtag.

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MCCARTNEY: CONTINUING TO INSPIRE

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

Inspiration is in short supply these days, and why, often, many of us go looking for it. I know I do and it isn’t necessarily the solution to the problem or the key to the inspiration highway.

Especially during these long days journey into night that often lead nowhere, we still jump on board. There’s always the thinking that this time things might be different.

Forgotten are those potholes in life that one has stepped into knowing they’re just not right- wrong love, toxicity, business with the wrong players, marriages of convenience, and wrong ideas at the wrong time.

More often than not, despite having survived the wars, that burst of inspiration is still missing in action. One possibly needs to have gone through this eureka moment sometime before to know when it knocks on your door again.

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MCCARTNEY 111: FINDING FREEDOM (TO CREATE) DURING LOCKDOWN

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

For some reason, I always thought “Ram” was Paul McCartney’s second solo record though it did feature wife Linda and a few sidemen some of whom ended up in Wings. Apparently, I missed the synth pop of “McCartney 2” somewhere along the way though familiar with the singles “Coming Up” and the cult hit “Temporary Secretary” which continues to be sampled by DJs.

Though friends and music critics thought it to be “scattered”, “Ram”, at least to me, was brilliant. I can still feel the texture of the album cover whereas many of the tracks remain favourites- not for their studio perfection and trying to boldly move Pop music’s chess pieces across the board- but for doing exactly the opposite. Like bringing this Beatles fan back to terra firma. One can’t be up there on Blue Jay Way with Lucy in the Sky forever.

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A RETURN TO PEPPERLAND

By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

It’s almost become predictable and somewhat “uncool” to say that “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is, if not the best, then the most adventurous and creative Rock record ever produced and released.

Some might argue that this honour goes to “Revolver”, maybe “Dark Side Of The Moon”, Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book”, any of the early work of The Mothers Of Invention, or Brian Wilson/Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”. But when one thinks of the packaging and design work alone that went into conceptualising the recorded music, it wasn’t just a trip, it was a magical mystery tour of its own.

Designers and pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth were tremendously important in ensuring that the famous album cover was and remains as vital and interesting as the music and the concept behind the music.

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