Friday, June 4, 2010

150 Best-Loved Melodies

When I was studying in Singapore in early 1980s, I had 5 very good friends in my class. They were K. Kamalanathan, Bikar Singh, Surinder Singh, Yu Huat and Wei Keong. We were so close that we had breakfast and lunch, studied, talked nonsense together almost daily. We even spent many Saturdays staying overnight at various parks, sea sides, river sides and off-shore island together.

We always pooled our brains by studying together, even on some Saturdays. However, in most study sessions, we usually ended up arguing and debating on all kinds of nonsensical issues.

During one study session, we ended up discussing classical music. Bikar Singh was the one who talked the most that day. He brought up a series of names like Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, their styles of music, names of their masterpieces, etc. The rest of us were dumbfounded and listened with full admiration as we had so little knowledge on the subject. Bikar Singh was our hero of the day.

A few weeks later, five of us went to Bikar Singh’s hostel to play football. After our football session, we went to Bikar’s room to take shower. In his room, some of us requested Bikar Singh to show us his grand collection of classical music. Bikar searched through his cassette tapes and coyly pulled out one miserable cassette tape with the title “Hooked on Classics” and declared that it was his one and only classical music collection. Needless to say, Bikar Singh was verbally bashed by us for the rest of that day.

When I listened to music on CD in late 80s, 90s and 2000s, the only classical music CD that I ever purchased was “Hooked on Classics” too.

When I started to collect LPs, I noticed that there were many classical music LPs but they never attracted my attention. During one LP hunting session in October 2008, the glossy-finished cover of a classical music box-set attracted me. The title of the box-set was “150 Best Loved melodies”. Reader Digest produced that box-set in 1981. It contained 8 LPs. Each side of an LP contained classical music of a certain theme. After close inspection, I found that the all the LPs were in mint condition. So I bought the box-set.

As the condition of all the LPs was so good and the music selection was equally great, I enjoyed listening to the classical music in this box-set very much. Subsequently I bought another 3 classical music box-sets.

If I ever have chance to meet Bikar Singh again, I will declare proudly to him that I know who is Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Chopin and many more now.
Song List:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Song - Spanish Lullaby

(Sung by Marty Robbins)

This my friends is an old Spanish lullaby.
And it's been handed down from generation to generation.
And in it, a father is singing to his baby son.
And he's telling him, "Close you eyes little one and sleep.
And dream while the angels watch over you.
I will hold your hand.
And when you wake with the morning, I'll still be here."

Cierras ya tus ojitos.
Duermete sin temor.
SueƱa con angelitos
Parecidos a ti.
Y te agarrare tu mano.
Duermete sin temor.
Cuando tu despiertes,
Yo estare aqui.

Da, da... da, da... da... da, da... da...
Da, da... da, da... da, da...
Da, da... da, da... da... da, da... da...
Da, da... da, da... da, da...

Y te agarrare tu mano.
Dueremete sin temor.
Cuando tu despiertes,
Yo estare aqui.

* * *

“Spanish Lullaby” is collected in Marty Robbins’ LP album, “Tonight Carmen”, another Marty Robbins’ album that I own. From the song’s title, lyrics (I presume that part of lyrics is in Spanish) and musical instruments, this song is Spanish from head to toe,

This is a lullaby sang by a father to baby song. The song is filled with fatherly love and the music is so warm and delightful. I fell for this song right from the very first moment I listened to i

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Marty Robbins - More Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

I bought my first Marty Robbins’ LP, “Best Loved Hits”, in October 2006. The songs in the LP did not excite me at all. I bought my second Marty Robbins’ LP , “Gun Fighter Ballads & Trail Songs” in December 2006. Two songs in that LP, “El Paso” and “A Hundred and Sixty Acres” thrilled me so much and got me started to search the Internet for more information on this singer.

I got my third Marty Robbins’ LP, “More Gun Fighter Ballads and Trail Songs in January 2007. Marty Robbins music is quite different from most of country and western singers. I personally classify Marty Robbins as “cowboy songs” as he sang many songs on the stories of good men, bandits and gunfights. And I am always cherished by these types of stories and songs. The note at the back of one of Marty Robbins’ album aptly describes my liking for cowboy songs. The note goes like this:

“The man of the west is one of the most cherished figures in Americana, a rugged symbol of the making of the country, of a hard life and of elemental existence. The lonely life of the cowboy and the gunfighter is reflected in their ballads, which are melancholy even when the tune itself is lively. There were lost families, lost sweethearts, lost friends, and around the men of the west those endless plains, magnifying the solitude. And there was work to be done, hard work herding cattle and sheep, building the railroads, and guarding them all from the bad men.”

This album was released in 1960.

Song List:

Side A - San Angelo, Prairie Fire, Streets Of Laredo, Song Of The Bandit, I've Got No Use For The Women

Side B - Five Brothers, Little Joe The Wrangler, Ride Cowboy Ride, This Peaceful Sod, She Was Young And She Was Pretty, My Love

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Marty Robbins - Gunfight Ballads and Trail Songs

I was always fascinated by cowboy shows on TV when I was a kid. Clint Eastwood's "Man with No Name" series etched very deeply in my mind. I must have watched the series 3 to 4 times. I guess that is the reason why I own so many country and western albums in my LP collection.

When I went hunting for LPs and saw a country and western LP album which I have not owned, I rarely let go the chance to own the LP. This album, Marty Robbins' "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Song" was pickup by me in this manner too.

Marty Robbins (1925 - 1982) is not strictly a country and western singer. He released country and western, pop, rock-and-roll and even Hawaiian songs in his entire recoding career. I owned several C&W and pop albums of Marty Robbins. However, I still prefer his C&W music than others. There was a presence of Latin guitar (I guess so as I am a really a novice in musical instruments) in quite a number of his songs and that made his music quite unique.

This album contains Marty Robbins' signature song "El Paso". This song reached number 1 position in Billboard's country singles and pop singles charts.

This album was released in 1959.

Song List:

Side A - Big Iron, Cool Water, Billy the Kid, Hundred and Sixty Acres, They're Hanging Me Tonight, Strawberry Roan

Side B - El Paso, In the Valley, The Master's Call, Running Gun, Down in the Little Valley, Utah Carol

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tammy Wynette - Stand By Your Man

My youngest brother, Boon Hooi, loves music. As far as CD collection is concerned, he thrashes me. I think he has more than 2,000 CDs in his collection. In fact, he introduced many singers to me. Tammy Wynette is one of the singers that I got to know from him.

He bought Tammy Wynette's CD, "Higher Ground", way back in late 1990s. During one of trips back to my hometown, he played that CD to me. After listening to just 2 or 3 songs of that CD, I simply fell for the Tammy Wynette's music. I also told him that I would look for more CDs of Tammy.
Subsequently, I did saw Tammy Wynette's CDs on music shops. However, all these CDs were having those few songs that I already owned. I was disappointed and thought I I would never have chance to listen to more songs of Tammy.
However, the situation changed when I started to collect LPs. Every now and then, an LP of Tammy surfaced and I just grabbed it. I have already owned 8 LPs of Tammy today.
This album, "Stand By Your Man" contains Tammy Wynette's greatest hit of the same name.
Song List:
Side A : (You Make Me Want To Be) A Mother, Another Lonely Song, Kids Say the Darnest Things, Love's The Answer, Bedtime Story, Stand By Your Man
Side B : Good Lovin' (Makes It Right), Reach Out Your Hand, Please Come to Boston, 'Til I Get It Right, My Man (Understand), There Goes That Old Steel Guitar, Help Me Make It Through The Night

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tammy Wynette - The First Lady

In the country and western (C&W) music world in the 50s and earlier, it was practically a man’s world. Male C&W singers completely outnumbered female singers. I could only utter the names of just 2 female C&W singers of that era, Patsy Montana of the 30s and Kitty Wells of the 50s.

In the 60s, the C&W music world was still dominated by male singers. However, there were more and more female singers that broke into the scene. In late 60s, there came a very successful one. Her name was Tammy Wynette.

Tammy Wynette (1942 - 1998) released her first singles, “Apartment No 9/I’m Not Mine to Give” in 1966. She scored her number 1 hit, “My Elusive Dreams”, in 1967. During the late 60s and early 70s, Tammy Wynette scored 17 number one hits on Billboard Country Chart. Due to her success in C&W music, she was accorded the title of “The First Lady of Country Music”.

Tammy Wynette has a coarse voice, a voice that could easily pluck the sentimental cords of our hearts. That was why she sang many songs of stormy relationship, failed marriage and loneliness.

This LP, “The First Lady”, was released in 1970.

Song List (I was unable to find this LP as it was hidden somewhere in my LP collection. When I find the LP again, I will amend the song list below if there is any mistake):

Side A - Run Woman Run, I Wish I Had A Mommy Like You, True And Lasting Love, I Never Once Stopped Loving You, Safe In These Lovin' Arms Of Mine, Sally Trash

Side B - My Daddy Doll, The Lovin' Kind, He's Still My Man, Buy Me A Daddy, Playin' Around With Love

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hank Thompson - Hank !

As I like to listen to oldies in general and classic country and western songs in particular, I spend a quite a bit of time listening to songs on YouTube. Whenever I found a singer or songs I liked, I would note down the name of singer or the title of the song in my little notebook. These notes became very helpful whenever I came across some unfamiliar singers when I went searching for LPs. Hank Thompson (1925 – 2007) is a country and western singer I first came across on YouTube.

Wikipeida describes Hank Thompson as “an American country music entertainer whose career spanned seven decades. He sold more than 60 million records worldwide. Thompson's musical style, characterized as honky tonk Western swing, was a mixture of fiddles, electric guitar and steel guitar that featured his distinctive, smooth baritone vocals. His backing band, The Brazos Valley Boys, was voted the top Country Western Band for 14 years in a row by Billboard.”

Hank Thompson released his first singles in 1946 and his first LP in 1952. This album was released in 1957.

Song List:

Side A - Hang Your Head in Shame, String of Pearls, The Gypsy, You'll Be the One, Don't Be That Way, Ole Napoleon

Side B - I Don't Want To Know, Prosperity Special, Someone Can Steal You from Me, Don't Look Now, Across the Alley from the Alamo, Don't Get Around Much Anymore

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Song - Senja Di Kuala Lumpur

(Sung by Broery)

Ku cuba akan mengubah
cerita dalam lagu
kenangan ku yang indah bersama mu
ku menyusuri jalan
di kota mu yang megah
tak sedar siang telah menjelma senja

kan ku ingat...kan ku kenang
senja indah senja di Kuala Lumpur
kan ku bawa...kan ku simpan
senja indah senja di Kuala Lumpur

di bawah sinar bulan
cinta kita berpadu
berjanji akan sehidup semati
tiba saat berpisah
ku terima bisikan mu
berjanji menunggu kembali

kan ku ingat...kan ku kenang
senja indah senja di Kuala Lumpur
kan ku bawa...kan ku simpan
senja indah senja di Kuala Lumpur

setahun telah berlalu
tadi tiba surat mu
ku genggam dalam pernikahan mu

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Broery - Senja Di Kuala Lumpur

Back in late 1990s, I worked in KL and left my wife and kids in my home town, Sungai Petani. So for several years, I had to travel back to my home town to be with them on weekends.

Since I drove back to my home town and returned to KL alone then, my car radio became my best companion. During those journeys, I usually tuned in to a radio station that played oldies and light music. One day, the radio station broadcasted a Malay song. The singer sang that melodious song with his silky-like and soulful voice. I fell for the song immediately. At the end of the song, I paid extra attention to what the DJ said and quickly jotted down the name of the singer, Broery, and the title of the song, “Senja Di Kuala Lumpur”.

For several years, my monotonous journey to and back from my hometown would become more enriching whenever this song was played over the radio station.

When I started my LP collection hobby in June 2006, this record naturally went into my earliest must-buy list. At the end of June 2006, I found Broery LP, “Senja Di Kuala Lumpur” and bought it right away.

This is the third LP that go into my collection. I still listen to this LP regularly nowadays.

Song List:

Side A - Senja Di Kuala Lumpur, Seandainya Aku Ni Raja, Mira, Setulus Cinta, Berdisko

Side B – Lahirnya Seorang Seniman, Din Teksi, Titiwangsa, Sepuluh Budak Hitam, Hey! (Dengarkanlah Bisikan Hatiku)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bob Wills - Plays The Greatest String Band Hits

In September 2009, I posted a 2-part article (part 1 and part 2) about the mother of all country and western albums, "Wagon Wheels - Legendary Songs of the Old West". The album is still my most treasured album to date. In that album, I got to know so many legendary country and western singers of the 20s, 30s and 40s. One of the singers was Bob Wills (1905 - 1975).

There is only one Bob Wills' song in that album. The title of the song is "Cherokee Maiden". This song was in Bob Wills' singles released in 1941. I was quite amused by the funny sound made by Bob Wills in that song. I subsequently I looked up Wikipedia for Bob Wills and learned that the funny sound was termed by Wikipedia as "hollering and wisecracking". I don’t know whether the hollering and wisecracking enhance or spoil the songs but I know for sure that they add the uniqueness of Bob Wills to his songs.

Here's what Wikipedia describes about Bob Wills hollering and wisecracking, "Wills was known for his hollering and wisecracking. One source for this was when, as a very young boy, he would hear his father, grandfather, and cowboys give out loud cries when the music moved them. When asked if his wisecracking and talking on the bandstand came from his medicine show experience, he said it did not. Rather, he said that it came directly from playing and living close to Negroes, and that he never did it necessarily as show, but more as a way to express his feelings".

Bob Wills was a pioneer in American Western swing music. The note at the back cover of this album describes western swing music "enriches the country music field", "is rich in blue" and "provides a rich repertoire for dance engagements at countless auditoriums and dance halls". I find that the songs and music in this album are so easy going and I tend to tap my hands along when listening to the songs.

Bob Wills was a great fiddle player and band leader of The Texas Playboys. The album contains songs and music performed by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

Song List:

Side A - Milk Cow Blues, Slow Poke, Song of the Wanderer (Where Shall I Go?), My Mary, Whose Heart are you Breaking now?, San Antonio Rose

Side B - Talkin' Bout You, Shame on You, No Letter Today, Pan Handle Rag, Brown Skin Gal

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rick Nelson - Singles 1963 - 1974 Album

A few months ago, Andy Young of "Singapore 60s Andy's Pop Music Influence" posted an article on popular songs of late 50s in Singapore. As I like to listen to oldies, I checked out all the songs listed by Andy on You Tube. I enjoyed listening to many of the songs and I liked 2 particular songs, namely Rick Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” and David Seville’s “Witch Doctor”.

“Garden Party” was the song that I remembered by heart when I was in secondary school. However, I did not Rick Nelson was the singer of this song until I checked it out on You Tube then.

I found an album of Rick Nelson just a few weeks after Andy Young’s post. The album, “The Rick Nelson Singles 1963-1974 Album” contains 16 tracks. I think all the songs can be classified as pop/rock. There are 3 songs that I like in particular, “Gypsy Woman”, “Take a City Bride” and “Garden Party”.

Song List:

Side A – You Don’t Love me Anymore, I Got a Woman, String Along, Gypsy Woman, Fools Rush In, For You, The Very Thought of You, There’s Nothing I Can Say

Side B – A Happy Guy, Mean Old World, Take a City Bride, She Belongs to me, Easy to be Free, Garden Party, Palace Guard, One Night Stand

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rolf Harris - Rolf on Saturday o.k?

When I posted an Australian singer Slim Dusty's album on 4th October 2009, my friend Andy Young of "Singapore 60s Andy's Pop Music Influence" mentioned another famous Australian artist, Rolf Harris, to me.

The name, Rolf Harris, brought my memory back to the 70s. During that period, The Malaysian TV station broadcasted "The Rolf Harris Show" on weekly basis. The Rolf Harris Show has all the entertaining elements such as dancing, singing, stories/jokes telling and even painting in it. Rolf Harris was a skillful and creative that he painted with all sizes all paint brushes. More interestingly, he sang or told stories/jokes and painted at the same time. And by the time he finished his a song, he also completed his painting. I love the show very much.

Back to October 2009, I told myself that I would like to get a Rolf Harris LP or two. My lucky star was definitely shinning on me because a week later, I found this album of Rolf Harris, "Rolf on Saturday o.k?"

Rolf Harris ran his "Rolf on Saturday o.k?" in school halls all round England. I presume all the songs in this album were recorded live. This is a highly entertaining LP.

Song List:

Side A - Sig: It's a Saturday, ok?, Boiled Beef and Carrots, The Gasman Cometh, Turkey in the Straw, Papillon, On Ilkla' Moor Bah'at, A Windmill in Old Amsterdam, Best Foot Forward

Side B - The Laughing Policeman, Herrin's Head, Hole in the Ground, Portsmouth, Sunday by the Sea, The Tailor & The Mouse, Sig: It's Saturday ok?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Charley Pride - In Person

When I bought records crazily in 2006, a vendor even sorted out all his newly acquired country and western albums and let me previewed and bought them on Saturday, which is one day before he put them up for sale on Sunday.

During one of our meetings on one Saturday morning in October 2006, he introduced Charley Pride to me. I was very surprise when I heard that Charley Pride was a black country and western singer because I had the impression that there were only white cowboys around.

I bought Charley Pride’s record with a few other country and western records on that day. When I spun the record on my record player, I was pleasantly surprised by his voice because he sounded just like other country and western singers. In fact, he even sounded a bit like Hank Williams. Needless to say, I fell for Charley Pride

This LP was recorded live in Panther Hall, Fort Worth, Texas in 1969. In this concert, Charley Pride even joked about how he sounded. He drew a lot of laughter when he mentioned that many people asked him why he didn’t sound like he’s supposed to sound. And Charley Pride’s answer was, “Well it is a little unique I admit but I have been singing country music since I was about 5 years old and that’s why I sound like I sound”.

Charley Pride was born in 1938. A check on Internet indicates that he is still performing in USA and Europe today. Charley Pride’s greatest achievement is having 36 number 1 hits on Billboard Country Chart. His first singles “Snakes Crawl at Night” was released in 1965.

This record was released in 1969.

Song List:

Side A - Intro by Bob Powell, The Last Thing on My Mind, Just between You and Me, I Know One, Lovesick Blues, The Image of Me, Kaw-liga

Side B - Shutters and Boards, Six Days On The Road, Streets Of Baltimore, Got Leavin' On Her Mind, Crystal Chandeliers, Cotton Fields