Saturday, November 18, 2017

Singapore MRT Breakdowns And Train Sentiments

Trains: Old and New

The Singapore Mass Rapid Transport (SMRT) woes have brought about a lot of heartaches for commuters, especially those who need to use the trains to go to work. It is serious and an unpleasant state of affairs. 

Singaporeans have always been encouraged to use public transport, the train, the bus or the taxi (hired car).  I am one of those lucky ones who can still afford a car but wanted to abandon it last year. To keep the car now would be a better option. 

Trains, the many different types that exist throughout the years, have always been a choice for many commuters, especially those who have to travel many miles to reach their destination. Hopefully the situation improves.
Elvis Presley: Frankfurt Special: One of the best train songs and a Presley classic. From his movie, G.I.Blues. Video by: Kevin Allen.

The earlier trains of yesteryear have always been large, bulky, long and noisy but today, in the 21st Century, the new electronic trains are quiet and clean, whipping around like grass snakes, fast and efficient. 

I remember in the 1960's taking an old mechanical train from the station at Tanjong Pagar, Singapore to a town in Malaya. Cannot remember but it could be Butterworth, Penang. It was a dreadful trip and one I wish never to remember. More so it was the condition in the train rather than the ride.  

Other train trips in Taipeh (Taiwan) and Shanghai (China), using the mass transit system were wonderful experiences. England, Canada and Europe trains were excellent too. These trains consisted of both the older train type or locomotives and the present rapid transit system.

Train Songs: Old and New

Songs about trains too are in the hundreds, perhaps more. These songs would be ones where trains are either mentioned in the titles or in the lyrics and many of them would have been written a long time ago. There is a list of nearly every train song on Wikipedia
From Abalinga Mail by Slim Dusty to Zion Train by Bob Marley, the titles are varied and an eye-opener for those who love this mode of transport and love the usual chug-a-chug-chug musical rhythm.

The titles that came off my head are not too many nor are they in order, so here goes:

Chatanooga Choo Choo - Ray Charles
Freight Train - Bob Dylan and many others
Mystery Train - Elvis Presley

Frankfurt Special - Elvis Presley
(Hear That Whistle Blow) 500 Miles - The Seekers
The Lightning Express - Everly Brothers

Morning Train (9 to 5) - Sheena Easton
Morningtown Ride - The Seekers
Rambling Man - Del Shannon

Everly Brothers 'The Lightning Express': another classic hit that expresses sadness and pain. Video by:  johnsonchusc.

Rockin' On The Railroad - Chuck Berry
Sentimental Journey - Les Brown
Wabash Cannonball - Chet Atkins

Folsom Prison Blues -Johnny Cash
Choo Choo Train - Children's Song
She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain When She Comes - Pete Seeger

Take it easier. Check out these songs and hope for the trains to run better soonest.

Any comment, please? About trains songs or train disruptions?

Images: Google
YouTube: Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Scandinavian Influence: The Sleepwalkers: Part 1

When 60's Music Friends Had A Get-Together In Singapore

The Music CD:

The Sleepwalkers are a Scandinavian, instrumental, rock n roll group that combine the Euro sounds of the Shadows with the American twang of Duane Eddy. 

According to the promotional literature on its website, The Sleepwalkers, a Finnish group, play brilliant early 60's style rock 'n' roll guitar instrumentals as they provide lots of original material, crystal clear production, and perfect musical arrangements and performances.
The band included: Ben Engblom (rhythm), Jan-Eric Saine (lead), Mikko Lund (drums) and Taito Ikavalko (bass).

"The members are strongly influenced by the great instrumental guitar bands, performing with character and originality and guaranteed to keep you awake -
Fat City Cigar Lounge."

If you like it laid back and twangy, then you've come to right place. The music is both exotic in imagery and easy on the ear.
The Sleepwalkers with 'Too Young' YouTube Video from Rautalanka The Ends

Some melodies in the selection include Sleepwalkers' Theme, Twisting Tango, Mr Z, Too Young, Shazam, Twisted Fate, Cossack, Golden Earrings, Riding Guitars and six others.

From other groups, I heard about 25 more guitar instrumentals and thought these well-produced CD's deserved an airing. You can find them on YouTube. 
These groups are The Quiets, The Dangermen, NoNo Soderberg, The Atomic Blast and The Youngers.

Horace Wee (local guitar legend) has this to say when I sent him the video, "Nice. Well played and great tone 👍."

For Horace to say that...
Andy Young with Pete Hakonen from Helsinki, Finland @ Bras Basah Book Place.

The Music Friends:

This recording and a few others from the same European connection were introduced by a Helsinki friend, Pete Hakonen (image above). Pete wrote to me just two days before coming over to Singapore last week. His speciality is rockabilly.

Pete has been reading my blog for a few years, finds Singapore and its music an interesting holiday idea. He decided to come here, away from everything else.

He had to buy his own beer when we met because I bought him only coffee and tea. Seriously though, I am glad to have met the Finland connection.
Zainal Abidin (Dukes), Michael Bangar (Silver Strings), Pete Hakonen (guest), Jerry Fernandez (Neu Faces).

This is Part One of a music connection and together, a group of 10 music-minded friends met for a chit-chat about Singapore 60's. Pete and Steven provided some insights about music from their countries.

Watch out for Part Two next when Steve, Michael Bangar and I got together to discuss Australian pops.
John Cher (Silver Strings), Horace Wee (guitar legend) and Dr Steven Farram (Darwin U).

This posting does not, in any way, promote the music CD's nor their production. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

My Tormented Heart: Tribute To A Lady Pianist

Image is for illustration only
A Mike Bangar Music Story:

Near 500  readers
since 1st Nov. '17

Hi Andy, 

Just to share another interesting episode for your blog. This true story that happened more than 40 years ago came to mind.
Michael Bangar

For those who lived, played or hung around the East Coast Road (Katong) area during that time will remember this lady everyone knew as Water Mary (we never got to know her real name) reason being, that whenever she was anywhere near large amounts of water, she would just immerse herself in it and get soaking wet. She loved it when it rained.

She used to live in one of the terraced houses in Katong and her regular hang-out was at the church which was across the road from her home. Most of the time when she walked out of the church, her clothes would be wet.

As the reader can tell by now, she was not her normal self. The story went that one day before a church service and while she and her fiance were crossing the road, they were involved in a hit-and-run accident. Witnesses who saw it happened said he died in her arms shortly afterwards. The incident could have resulted in her confused state of mind.
Terraced homes in Singapore. A familiar scene in the 1960's
She was a very friendly person and most people who knew her treated her well, including me.

For a while in the mid-70's, after I had a family, we lived with my brother-in-law in the same area. He owned a Lawry organ and an upright Yamaha piano. One afternoon while all of us were at home and my brother-in-law was tinkling on his piano, we heard a lady's voice calling out loudly at the gate. It was this lady.

She asked if she could come in and join the fun. Mind you she spoke good English. When he invited her in, he asked if she could play any one of the two instruments available.
Liberace plays 'Chopsticks' YouTube Video from pianoplaylist.

"Yes," she replied without hesitation and proceeded straight towards the piano. And when she started to hit those ivories, we all went, "Oh my goodness!" 

She was all at ease on the keyboard as her fingers flew, playing in the style of Winifred Atwell.  All the popular piano tunes of the day came to her mind. And by heart too!

A few of the songs that she played included, My Tormented Heart (Toselli Serenade), Chopsticks and other piano hits by Atwell and Liberace. There were many more numbers that were played that afternoon. 
But I can't recall all at the moment. Her solo performance went on for more than an hour and our home was filled with her selection of melodies.

After that, she left just as abruptly as when she came in but thanked us gratefully. Even our neighbours, who had gathered to watch her performance, were mesmerized and dumbfounded by her talent. 

No one knew she could play so well. I still remember her in her sarong kebaya. She could have been in her late 40's or early 50's.
Winifred Atwell (1914-1983) n Liberace (1919-1987)
Sadly, a few years later we heard she had passed on. We have never heard or seen any lady play the piano like she did, ever. 

I hope this story keeps her memory alive. My family and I will remember her always. 

Thank you, Andy.

Copyright Article by Michael Bangar.
The images and gif are for illustrations only.
Images: Google.
My Tormented Heart: Winifred Atwell.

        (Try to play this song as you read Mike Bangar's story...)

My tormented heart
Cries out I still love you
Though I know you're gone
Your love lives on
To haunt my memory.
(1st verse).

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween In Singapore With Theme Songs

Passages in blue are, especially for Singapore readers.

Halloween is a festival with a huge following in the United States of America. It is just as huge in Singapore today, with the population celebrating it in certain places on the Red Dot, especially where there are Caucasians and younger Singaporeans.  The youth would probably have been influenced by western upbringing, overseas stints and studies in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

There is a community near the IRAS at Thomson Road where some families celebrate the occasion annually. They gather from all over the area which includes: the Gentle Road area, the Goldhill area and the Chancery lanes. The image below (taken from Google) shows a celebation @ Clarke Quay. 
Since Halloween is the theme, songs from the Fearful Fifties, the Scary Sixties, Screaming Seventies and a few Evil Eighties are listed below. The words in the titles matter, so here they are, taken from the dusty, underground vaults of yore.

The lyrics spell blood, gore and grime. They may not be traditional, scary songs, but they can loosely fit into the Halloween theme by title, by music or by lyrics. So if you're lookin' for trouble, you came to the right place.
"I see the bad moon risin'/I see trouble on the way/I see earthquakes and lightnin'/I see bad times today/I hear the hurricanes a-blowin'/I know the end is comin' soon/I hear the rivers overflowin'/I hear the voice of rage and ruin... (Bad Moon Risin' by John Fogerty.)"

While browsing through local vinyl the nearest I could get for a popular Singapore song was one by The Jumping Jewels with Johnny Lion doing the vocals. It's Marty Robbin's, Devil Woman but Lion stole the show because his version sold so many.
The list is a revised version of a previous posting and Halloween related songs from the 80's have been added:

Bad Blood - 1975 - Neil Sedaka.
Bad Moon Rising - 1969 - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Black Magic Woman - 1968 - Fleetwood Mac/ Santana
Dark Lady - 1974 - Cher
Daughter Of Darkness - 1970 - Tom Jones

Devil Gate Drive - 1974 - Suzi Quatro
Devil In A Sleeping Bag - 1973 - Willie Nelson
Devil In Disguise - 1963 - Elvis Presley
Devil Or Angel - 1960 - Bobby Vee
Devil With A Blue Dress On - 1966 - Mitch Ryder/Detroit Wheels
Devil Woman - 1962 - Johnny Lion n Jumping Jewels
Devil Woman - 1976 - Cliff Richard
Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead - 1967 - Fifth Estate
Evil Hearted You - 1965 – The Yardbirds
Evil On Your Mind - 1966 - Jan Howard

Evil Ways - 1970 - Santana
Evil Woman - 1976 - Electric Light Orchestra
Frightened City - 1961 - Shadows
Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding - 1973 - Elton John
Ghost Busters - 1983 - Ray Parker Jr
Ghost Riders In The Sky – 1979 - Johnny Cash
Hell's Bells - 1980 - AC/DC 
Halloween Theme - 1978 - John Carpenter

Love Potion Number Nine - 1965 - The Searchers
Little Devil - 1961 - Neil Sedaka
Poison Ivy - 1959 - The Coasters
Race With The Devil - 1968 - Gene Vincent
Season Of The Witch - 1966 - Donovan
Spooky -1968 - Classic Four
Superstition - 1973 - Stevie Wonder
Sympathy For The Devil - 1968 - Rolling Stones

That Old Black Magic - 1958 - Louis Prima and Keely Smith
The Devil Went Down To Georgia - 1979 - Charlie Danie's Band
Thriller - 1982 - Michael Jackson
Voodoo Child - 1970 - Jimi Hendrix Experience
Witch Doctor - 1958 - David Seville
Witchcraft - 1963 - Elvis Presley/Frank Sinatra
Witchy Woman - 1972 - Eagles

On the same theme, the Halloween movie was made with a $300 thousand budget but the movie was a hit with a $70 million success at the box office. Now that's a huge profit. 

The reason was partly due to the movie theme song performed by musically untrained John Carpenter himself. It's a piano melody without a symphonic soundtrack. Just listen to it above.


Information from the Net.
Images by Google.
YouTube Halloween Video.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Halloween True Stories From East and West

Can you truly say they don't exist? If you believe in the Good Spirit shouldn't you recognise the bad spirits too and be warier of them?  Are these nocturnal creatures that shun the sun real? 

You need to look at history, culture, religion and the music or songs that come with these so-called controversial beings that are not supposed to be in existence.

By clicking the connections below, I have gathered the best stories and song postings from this blog with one theme only: unseen creatures that surround us most of the time.

You can take these stories literally, symbolically or with a pinch of Singapore salt.

But make sure you to go to bed with someone tonight. You never can tell...

Happy Halloween, Hungry Ghost Month, Kalong-Weh-Weh or whatever.

Don't be afraid. Click or Touch:👹


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Locomotion: Singapore's Best Pop Music Ride

The boys in the original line-up (above in 2005) consisted of Jerry Murad, Bert Choo, Kelly Tan, Tony Goh, Band Manager, Francis Leong, Hansolo and lady singer cum guitarist, Vivian Bacinillo.

Near 2,900 readers since
posting on 18/10/2017

I have always been mesmerized by the red jackets this band wears (image) so when I found out 70's recording artiste Irene Yap has a brother in the band I contacted her.

Charlie Yap is a kind gentleman who, like a few friends, sends me WhatsApp posters and videos. Although he plays bass, I never realised he is the present band leader of this popular local group that is currently active in our clubs. When I asked him if he could tell me about his band, he willingly obliged. 

As usual, we met at my favourite rendezvous. Charlie tells his story straight, cuts no corners and from how he describes his management style, runs it with integrity and precision.

He is a sound man, both in the work he does and the person that he is. Charlie is technically an acoustics professional. 

Thank you, Charlie, for the article and photographs too. 
Although Locomotion was formed in 2005, the individual members are an experienced lot as most of them have been in the Singapore and, for some members, the Asian music scene for many years. Most of them have been playing or singing since the 1970's and earlier.

Locomotion in 2007: L/R - Jerry Murad, Kelly Tan, Bert Choo, Vivian Bacillino, Hansolo, Charlie Yap (joined as bassist) and Tony Goh.

The five or seven-piece band started out as a group of enthusiasts jamming together because of their passion for music.  As the months went by and with their quality control performance, positive attitude and work ethics, the news spread and everyone wanted to dance to their music.

As their engagements increased and they started getting invitations to perform at corporate parties, birthdays and anniversaries, the group became serious and began to perform in venues all over.

With their wide repertoire and professionalism, Locomotion gained its reputation as a reliable band and chugged its way to the hearts of members of private and corporate clubs like, The American Club, Singapore Swimming Club, Tanglin Club and other private community clubs.* 

They even received requests to play for the Peranakan Museum, Emily of Emerald Hill, an event organised by our National Heritage Board. These musically experienced gentlemen and the lady would usually hold two key positions in the band:
L/R (2017) - Bert Choo, Ngo Chi Phong, Charlie Yap, Vivian Bacillino, Jerry Murad, Aloysius and Kelly Tan.

(1) Charlie Yap - Leader and Bassist
(2) Vivian Bacinillo - Lead Vocalist and Rhythm Guitarist
(3) Kelly Tan - Vocalist and Guitarist
(4) Ngo Chi Phuong - Vocalist and Keyboardist
(5) Aloysius Soh- Lead guitarist and Vocalist
(6) Bert Choo - Drummer
(7) Jerry Murad - Vocalist, Saxophonist and Flutist.

As their reputation for delivering quality dance music grew, they hit the high tracks and began performing at international hotels like the Holiday Inn Parkview and the Copthorne Orchid Hotel.* 
L/R (2017) - Aloysius Soh, Bert Choo, Kelly Tan, Vivian Bacinillo, Charlie Yap and Ngo Chi Phuong.

Locomotion is truly in demand, an energetic band that is keeping patrons dancing, singing and grooving wherever they performed. Requests for a particular song or a favourite tune has never been turned down. 

The repertoire they have is wide; they have been known to play many long forgotten songs with calm, ease and dexterity and could easily provide music that covers golden oldies from the 50's onward. And there are not many dance bands around in Singapore. Shadows bands, we have but dance bands; it's a rarity here.

Latin, Bossa Nova, Country, Calypso, Rhumba, Cha Cha, Bachata, Samba, Tango, Hawaiian, Merengue, Waltz, Jive, Foxtrot, Rock n Roll, Twist, A-go-go or Line Dancing; name it and Locomotion will deliver. 

"What about Pachanga, Charlie? Play that too?" I asked jokingly.

"No problem," said Charlie.

They're in black, they're in red, white and blue.

Definitely, no disruption when you board this train.  One of the best musical train rides in Singapore; hop on board Locomotion

Video below:

*Clubs, Hotels and Venues Locomotion have performed at:

Tanah Merah Country Club, Singapore Island Country Club, Singapore Recreation Club, Raffles Town Club, The Eurasian Club, NUSS Graduate Club, Serangoon Garden Country Club and Changi Beach Club.  

Inter-Continental Hotel, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Swissotel, Goodwood Park Hotel, Grand Mercure Roxy, Hotel Royal Queen Hotel,  Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Shangri-la Hotel, Pan Pacific Hotel and Marina Sands Bay.

Disclaimer: This article does not promote the band but showcases how Singapore seniors make themselves useful in an ever-changing and challenging music environment.
 Andy Young with Charlie Yap, bandleader, Locomotion. Singapore.

Images and Article: A Personal Collection. Copyrights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Top Twitter Followers With 'Andy Singapore Music'

This blog has nearly 2,000 postings, survived up to nearly 9,000 comments and has been around for 9 years.

It is neither sponsored nor advertorial. My passion feeds it and friends who read it and friends who write it, keep it alive.

Twitter statistics for my blog dated 20 October 2017:
My Tweets earned 2,614 impressions over the last 28 days.

Some popular Tweeters below, whose followers run into millions, also read my blog. 

Thank you all:

The above are only some followers. You can check the others out from my Twitter account under 'Andy Singapore Music'.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

China's National Anthem: (中国国歌) Banned

I have asked this friend, a Historian, to tell me why he loves the national anthem of China. He explains that it is only the music, lyrics and vitality of the song that he appreciates.

As a child, he used to live in the central area of Singapore and would be listening to it every day, five days a week. You know how a melody affects the listener when it is played repeatedly. It just sticks in the mind. He knows it as Qilai (起来) or 'rise up'. This story goes back to 1945.

              Anthem of China - 中国国歌 - Video: balancedaustralia

"Here's my story of my first encounter with what became China's National Anthem. It was the end of the Japanese Occupation in Singapore. I was barely five when the Chinese school on a hill above my attap and timber house would end the day with the Qi Lai song blaring from a loudspeaker. 

Not long after, the song was no more: it was banned by the British colonial government. But it lingered on in my memory over many years. 

Today thanks to the internet I can sing the whole song as a tribute to a people who have risen to great heights of achievement from the depths of imperialism, disunity and poverty."

Qilai! Buyuan zuo nuli de ren men, 
Ba women de xuerou zhucheng women xin de chang cheng. 

Zhonghua Minzu dao liao zui weixian de shihou, 
Meigeren beipo zhe fachu zuihou de housheng. 
Qilai! Qilai! Qilai!
Women wanzhong yixin, 
Mao zhe diren de paohuo, 
Mao zhe diren de paohuo, 
Qianjin! Qianjin! Qianjin! Jin! 

Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves; 
With our very flesh and blood 
Let us build our new Great Wall! 
The peoples of China are in the most critical time, 
Everybody with one mind, 
Brave the enemy's gunfire, 
March on! 
Brave the enemy's gun must roar his defiance. 

Arise! Arise! Arise! Millions of hearts ire, 
March on! 
March on! 
March on, on! 

Lyrics © Original Writer and Publisher 


Images: Google.
YouTube Video from balancedaustralia.