Winston Tong

Like the Others

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Given Winston Tong's interest in art in general, not simply music in and of itself, it's little surprise that his 1983 solo release, his second overall, is more than just an album -- in original form, it was a combination cassette/book release. Like the Others was reissued as a strictly stand-alone effort in the future, but the literary focus of the release remained central, pitched somewhere between a spoken word/poetic recitation and a series of musical explorations. The core of the original release, the nearly half-hour long "In a White Room," features Tong's vivid, almost feverish (yet quietly delivered instead of ranted) portrayal of a mysterious romantic/artistic relationship over his own gently rhythmic piano playing. Weirdly compelling and made more effective by Tong's gift for drama -- the occasional overdubs of himself simultaneously speaking and singing constantly keeps the focus of listening unstable -- it's not the easiest of pieces to sit down and listen to, but rewards the attention. The opening title track is more of a conventional song, with the addition of percussion by Daniel Link, while "Going out of My Head/For Your Love" -- the latter part indeed being an interpretation of the Yardbirds' breakthrough pop hit -- features his then Tuxedomoon counterparts providing spare backing. An alternate version of the title track in French appeared as a separate single appended to later editions, while LTM's 2005 re-release added two unrelated but intriguing rarities. The first was a promotional interview done for Tong's Theoretically Chinese album a couple of years later, which Tong treats more as (intentionally?) hesitant performance piece than as a standard biography. "Wild Boys," meanwhile, is the soundtrack for a film of that name that Tong directed in 1978; though the lack of visuals makes it unclear, it seems to be a combination of random TV/movie broadcasts, Tong telling curious stories and, at the end, some brief, wordless singing.

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