SINGAPORE 60's: ANDY'S POP MUSIC INFLUENCE: ON THE MUSIC N MEMORY TRAIL IS MY OWN BLOG N ROLL PROJECT. NOSTALGIA IS PERSONAL HISTORY N PICTURES TELL STORIES. POP MUSIC NOT PILLS. ANDY YOUNG. (November, 2008). SUPPORTING SG50


Monday, July 25, 2016

Broadway Beng: True Blue Singaporean


 I messaged a friend to find out if she had seen the show and whether she could do a posting since evergreens were sung in the show. The next day I received the following article. 

Comment From CYLin:

"What is it about Singapore stage musical, Broadway Beng that makes me such a fan -  an auntie labelled by one and all - total strangers.  Even the market vegetable seller who is definitely older than I calls me so.  It makes me cringe.  I'm monolingual and speak a passable Hokien and Cantonese. I love music and comedy and when the two are put together in a show, I'm sold.

Broadway Beng (actor Sebastian Tan) in his current 10th Anniversary Show, at the recently renovated Capitol Theatre, revealed that he's been in China and speaks Mandarin well, but he doesn't  feel he's one of them.  He's also been in the West and though he speaks the language proficiently, he's not English.  He epitomises me and all who are true blue Singaporeans - comfortable in our own skin in this country and able to poke harmless fun at one another.

As Ah Beng, he sings in Hokien which I can understand.  When it's in Mandarin, I'm lost but I enjoy the familiar melody.  In this latest show, he also sings hits from Les Miserable and The Lion King.  He has strong vocals and single-handedly carries off  the whole performance.  There are three back-up singers (images left) and a band, naturally.  Peppered with sing-a-long, ribbing... I had a most enjoyable time.  It really made my day - I attended the matinee."

Thanks Lin for your comments.

My wife and I attended the show too and came home still red-faced and laughing. We couldn't catch Mr Tan at the photographic session after the performance. Here's my take.

Laughter filled the theatre to capacity the minute Broadway Beng came on stage and with him in charge, the show screamed of music memories, comic capers, glittering lights, sexy ladies, and a versatile back-up band. 

Using local patois (English/Hokien) combined with a natural gift to tickle us funny, actor, singer and comedian Sebastian Tan created a night of hilarity at the Capitol with his joking gymnastics in familiar Ah Beng vocabulary every time he delivered. "I also come from pig farm, like Zoey Tay mah."

From the moment Tan opened the show with a Broadway song and revealed his vocal folds, it was an exciting discovery trip that only he could take us to.  He's ham-sum (no joke) and possesses this great tenor voice, comparable to the best artistes from the West; so whether it's a hint from Chicago or Grace Chang's Cha Cham Bo, Tan mixed well his concoction of comedic cabaret.

His singing was mostly accompanied by three chorus ladies and dancers called chio buus.   We enjoyed about two dozen English classics, Mandarin and Hokkien hits. And the production committed well with poised and pretty Elaine Chan, concert pianist extraordinaire (image above). She was music director leading the five piece Tok Kong Band  that provided orchestral sound. And like a professional, Ms Chan lip-synced nearly every song performed on stage.  The band was all unassumingly dark and shadowed just in front of the backdrop. But the well-known melodies played were enchantingly interpreted.

In one scene, when the three sexy chio buus came on stage with twirling, white, short skirts, Proud Mary came to mind. True enough the Tina Turner hit had everyone in stitches, clapping and singing in unison with the performers. And Tan was literally grinding the song with his hand gestures. 

Throughout the evening, Tan could belt out Chinese pops like he could Western ones. Versatility at its best. Didn't he sing a current Taiwanese TV drama theme song too?

I end with what I wrote on his Facebook, "Thank you Sebastian and the rest of the gang for a hilarious evening of Broadway classics peppered with hay bee hiam and Hokien Beng melodies. 

I think the musical can satisfy the most fastidious member in any audience. To enact Les Miserables in eight minutes as a comedy caper is stage antics at its best.  Ang Mohs better attend this evening class to learn Singapore patois.  Chin ho kwah!"

For us? We laugh, laugh, laugh, till stomach pain. Ayoh!

Selena Tan you did it again!

Disclaimer:
1) Articles above are not official reviews but personal opinions. 
2) Most of the songs performed were from the 60's and 70's, relevant to this blog.
Images and Video from: Dream Academy.
Articles: Copyrights Reserved.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Michael Bangar With His Multiple Bands: Part Two

Here's Part Two of the Michael Bangar story, a man so cool that even if all the six strings of his Fender Strats broke, he would still be at the mic singing.

As Michael explained his association with the numerous bands, I was amazed how he could remember the names of each group he played with. 

There was Baby Low and His Hawaiianaires, where the baby hawaiian guitar was played by Tony Chua, and himself on guitars. Edward Chua was on bass with Joe Ahmad on drums and Walter Koh vocals. Walter was dubbed the Pat Boone of Singapore in the 60's.

Michael explained how proud he was when he played with The New Notes band because, at their peak, it became a full time band that performed at large functions.

"Myself and Donald Thaver guitars, Jeffery Pinto bass, Ramon Francis drums. In January 1987 I had a one night gig, but was not with any band. Ramon (or Raymond Francis) suggested I called Donald and Jeffrey. That's how it got started. A short while later, we became a five piece with Jerry Murad (The Dukes) on saxophone and flute."

Smilingly Michael revealed, "The New Notes were also a band with multiple names but on the same line. If it was a contract I acquired, we would call ourselves The New Notes. If it was Donald's gig we were The Country Gentlemen.  If it had been Jeffrey's gig we were Mixed Combination and Jerry Murad's gig, Tropical Katz or Katz Connection. 

The group carried on for twelve years. When Donald Thaver left he was replaced by Ivor Lesslar. Currently for Ivor's gigs, he used the name Transit. Two years after that, Ramon left to be replaced by Patrick Fernando. Whoever received the contract became the band leader for the evening. That was how the group operated. 
Here is a list of Michael Bangar's gigs he was involved in these last two years:

30th March, 2016: 
The Park Royal Hotel, Beach Road, The Katz Connection with Brian Richmond doing a couple of songs together with the band.

31st. December, 2015, New Year's Eve:
The Orchid Country Club Ballroom with Michael on guitar, Hans Solo guitar and keyboards, Hanafi saxophone and flute, Eddie Munir bass and Joe Ahmad Jr. on drums.

24th December, 2015, X'mas Eve.
The Movenpick Hotel, Sentosa as a Strolling Band with Michael and Hamdi on guitars and Stephen De Souza on double bass.

Michael explained that his group had played at private condominiums. They were at the Neptune Court once where he played with one other member - Jerry Murad and at a Bukit Timah condominium with Stephen De Souza. 

Duets, trios, quartet, quintet and a full band. You name it and Michael is as versatile as the way he handles his guitar, with ease and dexterity. He has a large repertoire that comes in handy during request time at dinner and dance functions.

Songs by Elvis, Jim Reeves and other solo singers or The Beatles, Everly Brothers and other vocal groups, his list grows with every request his audience makes. A professional indeed.

And Michael Bangar's last words for this interview?

"After watching you all from afar in the past, it's an honour and a pleasure to be playing with the present members of the Silver Strings."

Actually Michael, with your years of experience and playing style, it is an honour for me to be accompanied by you on the guitar. 

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. It has been a pleasure.

Today he sings with the SILVER STRINGS: Nick Stravens, Andy Young, Audie Ng, Rickie Chng, John Cher and Michael Bangar.
Original Article (copyrights reserved).

Read Part One of Michael's story. Click connection:
Images: A Personal Collection.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Blog Hits Monthly Record High: Thank You All

Usual monthly record is 14,000 to 15,000 readers a month. This month it's 20,000+ (as of 23rd July 2016).





Popular Postings 







Thanks to readers, friends, Facebook n Twitter followers. 

Click names under Labels below to read each posting:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Trebles: Dance Band @ Local British Bases

Laurence Lim and I became friends when he replaced me for the part of Grandfather for the You Tube video, You're The Boy, which featured Shirley Nair and the Silver Strings. He supports us during our gigs and tries to be present during our performances whenever he is free. When I found out he has a 60's guitar group I asked if he could write about the band. 

Here is his story. Thanks very much, my friend.

TheTrebles

In the early 1960's,  a group of 3 friends, in their mid 20's, Jerry Lee, Alan Yuen and Michael Tham got together to form a 3 piece band as a form of hobby and entertainment. They came from different walks of life, an accountant, a school teacher and a patissiere.

They had no expensive or flashy looking instruments to boast of, but it was their love for music that brought them together.  Their first jam session  was in an old HDB flat in Redhill Close and they named the group The Trebles.
Jerry (rhythm), Andrew (bass), Michael (drums), Alfred (percussion).  Front row: Alan (lead), Laurence (vocals).

Not long after, they managed to recruit a bassist, Andrew Lee, whose music loving father Mr.Francis Lee in subsequent years,was instrumental in securing regular contracts for The Trebles to perform. Singapore in the early 60's was still under British rule and having army camps scattered all over Singapore, from Changi to Naval Base, to Seletar was a common sight. 

With all the enthusiasm and opportunities The Trebles was still incomplete. They had no vocalist. It was by chance that Alan and myself were teaching in the same school at Bukit Ho Swee Secondary School, and during one of the lunch breaks he started talking about music and asked me whether I was a music lover. 

That was the beginning of a 50 year relationship with The Trebles and when I fronted the group as their permanent singer. The  We played twice weekly at army camps and for a one night performance of 3 hours duration we were paid $300/ which in the 60's was a princely sum.  
Like the people in attendance we dressed very formally during performance. The crowd was made up of 90% Caucasians who were British servicemen.  There was no necessity to go for supper after the gig with plenty of hard liquor and good buffet spread each time we performed.

We have a wide repertoire of songs made popular by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Bill Haley, The Animals, Frankie Avalon, Roy Orbison, Bryan Hyland, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and The Beatles. Our instrumentals include numbers by The Shadows and Ventures.

During the 60's more bands and vocal groups  began to appear namely The Quests, Trailers, The Stylers, Cyclones,Crescendos, Naomi and the Boys, The Silver Strings, Matthew and the Mandarins. 

The Trebles had never been in the limelight all those years as our interests were more towards providing dance music to party goers and dancers. We were not performing artists, as such we would only be known and heard of by dance enthusiasts.

Laurence remarked, "When the folks drink they don't care whether you go out of key, as long as the tempo is there. It is real fun but slightly different when you play dance music. The lyrics are not important but the tempo must be there. But when you perform on stage with an audience watching, words and timing must be correct."

Today we are still in the music scene for birthday, company and charity functions. All the original members of The Trebles, Michael, Andrew, Jerry, Alan (leader) and myself are now in our 70's.

Music has provided us the joy and zest to live well.

We are all Blessed.

Click comment page (below) to read more about this band and Laurence Lim's reply about band news from local 60's tabloids.
   Laurence Lim (today) as Grandpa in You Tube Video 'You're The Boy'

Latest News (July 2016):

This posting is in honour of Michael Tham (image left: drummer) who had just passed away. Friends, fans and readers of this blog send condolences to Mrs Tham and her family. 

Written by Laurence Lim (image: with yellow batik).
Article and personal photographs have been copyrighted.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Hari Raya Puasa Kampong Visits On My Vespa

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to all my Muslim Friends

A Special Posting:

Yesterday

During the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri season in the 1960's I used to visit my Muslim friends. It was easy, it was convenient and I needn't take a bus nor drive a car. There were no MRTs then. The afternoon sun could be cruel and walking or cycling visits around the kampongs of Geylang and Changi could be warm and humid indeed. 

The best mode of transport then was the scooter and it was either a Vespa or a Lambretta. I used to own one, a faithful Vespa fully made in Italy that came with a comfortable rear seat and a spare tyre specially hidden below the fat behind of the vehicle. The number plate was SAB 8254 (image below: Mr Aziz on my scooter).
So on Hari Raya Day at about ten in the morning, I would scoot to Kampong Wak Tanjong (where Sims Avenue now stands) and pay a courtesy call to Mr. Abdul Karim a well-known plumber and electrician in the Geylang, Paya Lebar area. 

He was an Indian Muslim, well-endowed with a huge tummy, thick, curly and shiny hair. We knew him because he rented a space at our shop front along Geylang Road to run his business. He became a family friend. 

The kueh-mueh (Malay cakes and delicacies) would be ready and I would spend time in his beautiful attap house trying out the Hari Raya cakes and Malay cookies like pineapple tarts or coconut biscuits. Mrs. Abdul Karim was just as gracious and usually dressed with her colorful baju kurong and simple selendang.
My next stop would be Kampong Melaka, where Lion City Hotel now stands. It is very close to Sandy Lane near the Catholic Church. It would be a 10 minute ride to my good friend's home, Moyah. 

Moyah was Bawean (Boyanese) and played the guitar extremely well. The instrument was always with him and he would carry it around everywhere, in the house, around the kampong lanes and even on his scooter, strapping it on his back as he went on his household chores at Geylang Serai Market. 

He was a Beatles expert and played Deep Purple intros like they were his own compositions. And he had only a basic acoustic guitar. If only he had a solid guitar, he exclaimed. I can believe him. Yes, he would show the other boys at Kampong Melaka the riffs that he could emulate before sang his piece. Could Moyah be one of the boys who started the Pop Yeh Yeh craze among the Malay musicians?
By then it was lunch time and I would be gobbling Moyah's delicious lontong, beef rendang and chicken curry. Cooked by his mother, I could taste the santan (coconut milk) in the food and it would have been from the fruit itself and not from some canned product. And the satay with ketupat was unbelievable.

I would reach home with a full stomach and set out again at 4 pm to a colleague's home at Pachitan 8 (Delapan) where the present Eunos MRT line is today.  At the kampong house (image above with Mr. Aziz), I would spend hours with him and his parents, brothers and sisters. 

We were so close I would bring my Telefunken reeled tape-recorder and leave it at his home. We would record songs by Elvis, Tom Jones and Engelbert. These singers were Mr Abdul Aziz' favourite. He loved listening to P. Ramlee and Saloma songs.  One of her top hits was the original, Selamat Hari Raya.

Dinner came with lauk2 (dishes) like ayam kormah, sayur lodeh, ikan belado, daging kambing and sayor-sayoran. There was always a plate of kerupok udang (prawn crackers) at centre table. Desserts would include Malay cakes and biji delima drink. By eight in the evening, I would be staggering home on my scooter, heavier and bigger with the food in me.

The above picture shows dinner at Mr Ahyar's home during another Hari Raya visit. My wife and I have been visiting his home nearly every year, even up till today. His wife cooks delicious ayam goreng (fried chicken) and sayor lodeh. By this time, but still in the 60's, many Singaporean families would have moved to high rise apartments or HDB flats. 
Today

Today the tradition goes on, still visiting Muslim friends in the East Coast area. There's Mr Eusoof Angullia and his visitors (above) where friendship, food and music rule the Hari Raya visit. His karaoke set has thousands of songs, some I've never even heard of. 

They range from English, Malay, Hindi and Tamil classics throughout the years. All at the flip of the finger. And Mr Eusoof with his family sang, Besame Mucho, Paper Roses, Please Don't Tease, Casablanca, Colors of the Wind and Rindu Rasa Hati Ku.

And I drive  a car now... On beautiful roads. Not many scooters today. And the kampong houses have become modern bungalows, terraced abodes, spacious apartments and condominiums. 

Such hospitality, kindness and care.  How could I forget the neighborliness, friendliness, goodness and love of my Malay friends during such gatherings after the fasting month?
Suasana Riang (Di Hari Raya) was recorded by Junainah M. Amin in 1973. The song was composed by Kassim Masdor and the lyrics written by Yusnor Ef. It has topped the 100 List of Popular Hari Raya songs and has been played on local radio.

Images: A Private Collection; 3 from Google.
Video: You Tube from itsmeijan.


Friday, July 01, 2016

Elvis Rare EP 1958, Scotty Moore Born 1931

(A) In my free time I would try to clean whatever small collection I have of my vinyl pieces. Some are so dusty that it takes heavy cleaning to clear the dirt but most have the usual film of dust settled on the vinyl surface.

Expert vinyl record business person, Gabriel Tan (The Audio Medic) advises that it takes only simple soap and running water to clean the surface. And I have been doing just that. 

While selecting records to clean, I found an Elvis Presley piece called, I Need You So and according to a *collector, is a "very, very rare EP - RCA Italiana EPA 4041 - pressed only for Italian fans in 1958.  This Elvis Presley record with the Jordanaires on RCA Italian Black Label is impossible to find."  

The songs include, Side A: I Need You So; Have I Told You Lately That I Love You and B: Blueberry Hill; Don't Leave Me Now.  

On another page, this same collector announced another Elvis RCA Italiana labelled, Elvis Presley EPA 30-072 and pressed in Italy with songs: My Baby Left Me, I Want You, I Need You, I Love You and  Blue Suede Shoes, Tutti Frutti.

This same seller has a background to these two Elvis Presley vinyls and he wrote:

"This is the first Extended Play issued in Italy but in the process of researching a fair starting price, I found out that it was issued in 1958 and only 2000 copies were pressed. Apparently, it is stated so on the bottom left hand corner on the reverse. 

I can't read Italian but I do notice the 1958 and 2000 among other words and numbers. The original Italian catalog number i.e. A72V 0072 appears on the back in brackets under the main catalog number but not on the label.

I sold a hardcover version of another EP, I Need You So,  last month for £221 pounds (*S$442). The feedback report on that sale is on the first page. This is from the same batch. 

The RCA logo is in  black  print in a silver  circle on the label. It does not have a center. As it is generally a very good copy,  I have indicated a starting price of  £30 pounds (*S$60) with no reserve."

(Image above: On my own copy of I Need You So.)

So there you are folks. Are these records rare? Me, I'm just a collector, not a seller.

But let us know.

*Approximate value, especially with Brexit.

Image: A Personal Collection.
Information: popsike.com

Disclaimer
Information was taken from a seller's website. There is no intention to buy or sell products on this blog.
                 I Need You So By Elvis Presley Video from: 1wolfiesLady.

(B) Expensive Elvis Treasures:
According to one Mighty John's Top Value of Elvis Vinyls in US$

10  1977 LP Moody Blue $1000
9    1968 LP Elvis Gold Records Vol 4 (mono) $2000
8    1954 45 That's All right $2000 
7    1973 LP Aloha from Hawaii (Chicken of Sea Sticker $3500
6    1968 LP Speedway (mono) $4000
5    1956 EP Most Talked About Personality $6000
4    1959 EP King Creole (Maroon label) $7500
3    1961 7 inch 33 Cant Help Falling $16000
2    1957 LP Elvis Christmas Album (vinyl red) $18000
1    1962 7 inch Good Luck Charm $24000

Website: http://wogl.cbslocal.com
LATEST NEWS:

(C) SCOTTY MOORE (1931-2016) 84 YEARS 
ELVIS' GUITARIST HAS PASSED AWAY
A comment from the Trekkers drummer George Wang on Scotty Moore...

"Gosh! How long ago when I would catch the Capitol Changi Road Bus to get into town, then walk to Beach Road to see Elvis movie at the Alhambra Theatre. I still remember getting the nicest and coldest Coke in a bottle from the Coca Cola machine outside. Our senses and emotions were at the peak then."

                               Young Scotty Moore with Elvis Presley

Two-cent bit from me: Elvis was lucky to have a Scotty Moore, one of the greatest guitar players ever! 

List of top Elvis songs with Moore's accompaniment:

1.  That's All Right Mama (1954)
2.  Good Rockin' Tonight (1954)
3.  Mystery Train (1955)
4.  Baby Let's Play House (1955)
5.  Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
6.  Blue Suede Shoes (1956)
7.  Jailhouse Rock (1957)
8.  Mean Woman Blues (1964)+

+Why I choose to sing this song.

Image: Google.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Michael Meets Melodians, Moonglows: Part One


Michael Bangar: Silver Strings Rhythm Guitarist

Michael Bangar played with the Silver Strings in Sentosa and Pek Kio Community Club in 2015 before I met him for the first time during the band's practice sessions. We were preparing for Media Corp's popular prime time slot, Not The 5 Show in April 2016.

After a few chats I asked if he could provide me his music history as a guitarist and singer. Michael had been playing with many pop bands in Singapore. He obliged and sent me a portfolio of his connections with the guitar groups from the 70's onward. 

He explained, "I paid my music dues learning and watching 60's Singapore bands like Silver Strings, Quests, Thunder Birds, Mysterians, Moonglows and other bands. In the late 60's I played in a few unknown bands. I was very low key." 

He went about honing his skills on the portable six-string instrument learning much from playing at clubs and events. Then when he was ready, "I went full time as a musician in October, 1984."

He joined Robert Shotam's band, The Silver Saddles with Sam Hussein and Sam Kassim. Robert was on lead, the first Sam was on bass, second Sam on drums and Michael himself on rhythm.  

There was a change of bands and Michael made his mark by teaming up with The Strollers 3 0 or Trio. Ali Hamzah was on guitars and Abdul Hais playing the upright bass (double-bass).  Sophisticated and pleasantly a gentleman in his ways, I asked about his unique surname. 

"It's Bangar not Banger," and added, "I'm Indian and have an international family consisting of members from many countries."  

Raised in the East Coast area Michael grew up in Katong and went to Telok Kurau Primary School and St. Patrick's Secondary School. He told me how he was traumatised in primary school by a nasty teacher. 

                                          *Video by Fabian Foo 
     Michael Bangar with Silver Strings @ Kallang Wave Concert 2016. 
(We were entertaining sports participants rather than 60's music enthusiasts.)

As a young teen he learnt guitar intricacies from his father, coaxing the instrument in an unassuming way. Playing and singing with ease, enjoyment and in a relaxed manner, his body language tells that he is an experienced musician.  A six-footer, he looks the suave, pop figure anyone would look up to. 

As of late, Michael is the only Silver Strings member to don shades during a gig. With his Ray-Ban glasses, he seems shrouded in mystery as he strums the solid guitar. 

As he tells his story, he remembers the famous 60's recording artiste Maurice Patton and The Maui Chimes who invited him to play. Patton was on both electric and Hawaiian guitar with Marwan on bass. Hassan Panjang played the drums. 
Lead guitar Ivor Lesslar (Cells Unlimited), 2nd guitar Donald Thaver ( Moonglows), Bass Jeffrey Pinto, Drums Ramon Francis ( Neu Faces), Sax Jerry Murad (Dukes) n lastly Mike Bangar on lead vocals n Rhythm guitar.

Before joining 60's pop stars The Moonglows, a drummer Maurice Limoco got a six months' booking at the old Queen's Hotel and invited Michael, Maurice Patton and Marwan to perform together. 

Climbing the stairway to fame, both as singer and guitarist, it was only natural for Michael to join recording artistes, the late Sunny Bala and His Moonglows. Sunny and Michael both played the guitars, Randall Morales was on bass and Cedric Cock on drums. 

Michael rattles off band names without pausing. He remembers every detail, time, dates and places. Each name or venue he mentions has a personal history in his book. And he says in all seriousness, "My father taught me the tricks and trade of playing the guitar. It's easy if you know how."

Read Part Two of Michael's story. Click connection:



*Video was taken @ 9 am. when participants were preparing for the run. But the band had encores from the spectator crowd present. 

Images: A Personal Collection.
Article: As told by Michael Bangar to Andy Lim.
(Copyrights Reserved.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Les Miz, Miss Saigon: Singapore To London Part 2




Miss Saigon (1989) and Les Miserables (1985)

A Personal Experience

Each live musical my wife and I attended and seeing it on stage was a phenomenon in itself and each visit to the theatre had a story to tell. I cannot exactly remember the names of the theatres we went to but the 5 shows we attended were at the West End in London, an area like Broadway in New York, where musicals, plays and theatre acts were of the best quality with pomp, pageantry, and people.  
                          Buzzing Helicopter Icon: Miss Saigon

And during the 1990's attending stage musicals was trendy indeed, a happening that went on for many years and visitors going to London specially to watch these extravaganzas. But for us, it was just the music; a natural flow from musicals in the 50's to these ones in the 90's.
                                

Miss Saigon

Cameron Mitchell's Miss Saigon was exceptional because it was one of the first musicals we went to in the early 90's.  The draw for this particular show was Lea Salonga, a Philipino superstar who made it big with the starring role as Kim. We wanted to hear her sing in person. She was supposed to be performing that evening but didn't.  

It was a let down that night at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane but an unforgettable one. Strangely when I played the CD I could not recall many of the songs I thought I knew except for The Overture, The Heat Is On In Saigon, The Movie In My Mind, Sun and Moon, I Still Believe and the mental awakening of, If You Wanna Die In Bed.

It is based on the opera, Madame Butterfly and tells the sad tale of a romance, doomed from the start, between an Asian woman and her American lover. The plot setting was in 1975 in Vietnam during the war.

Not a musical I would take a child to since the lyrics would not be within the youngster's vocabulary, "Men pay a lot for virgin arse..." 

Miss Saigon lasted 10 years at the West End. To me it was The World of Suzie Wong revived, with Vietnam the buzz word. Great theatre though, especially with a huge 'helicopter' (or half of it) buzzing with full stereophonic sound and hovering near the ceiling on stage. It was a thrill for many of us in the audience. And lots of space for Asian actors to perform. But we loved the show!


                         Revolution Street Barrier Icon: Les Miserables.
Les Miserables

Another Cameron Mitchell sensation, this musical I could not appreciate*. Honestly, we didn't enjoy it, found it too heavy because we were tired out during the show after some heavy London eating and sight seeing. The plot was simple enough but we did get a little miserable watching it in the evening. The songs too didn't make it out for me.

The ones that I vaguely remember were, On My Own, One Day MoreI Dreamed A Dream and Lovely Ladies. The jocular Master Of The House woke me up from my golden slumber at the theatre.

To be fair, the musical was a huge success but the biggest impact for me was the unique street barricade on stage erected by the youthful revolutionists.  It became an icon for Les Miz, like the chopper did for Miss Saigon. The original stage production in London was the longest running musical since 1985 and second in the world. 

Queen's Theatre, Soho, Shaftesbury Avenue, Gerrard Street and a walk to a Chinese restaurant, where a bowl of won-ton noodles cost 10 Pounds and the restaurant had a minimum price entry tagged at 15 Pounds; kept me confused even to this day. Tickets too, cost a whopper then. But no Leicester Square for us. We weren't walking there to buy half price ones. Too tired.

No CD's from the show but watched the movie at home in later years. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman were huge. But neither Victor Hugo nor the musical was for me. Could be the long journey from Vietnam to France? (Below a tired looking Andy Young posing outside the British Museum in 1990.)
                 Les Miserables: Master of the House video: tongwarit

Perhaps I just wanted to be happily entertained, with the emphasis on happily. The experience came only when we saw Cats, The Phantom of The Opera and Starlight Express. Another two stops on the road to witness musicals.

But it was a long way from the Cathay Cinema in the 50's to West End in the 90's.
     British Museum, Rear Entrance, Bloomsbury, London with Andy Young.

Disclaimer*
There is no intention to denigrate the plays mentioned.

Images: Google; Personal Collection.