Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Reason For This Season: From A Believer

When Carols Became A Beacon:

Hey Andy, 

Your posting on 'trees' comes timely to help me keep my word to think about a Christmas write. I think of: 

                Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, 
               Of all the trees so lovely (2x)
               Each year you bring to  me delight
               Meaning in the Christmas night
               Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, 

               Of all the trees so lovely.

              Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, 

              With faithful leaves  unchanging (2x)
              Your boughs are green in summer's glow
              And do not fade in winter's snow
              Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree
              With faithful leaves unchanging.


Boney M's version sets the mood for the season.  This group sings my favourite carols: Joy To The World; The First Noel; The Little Drummer Boy, with such soul that they truly lift up one's spirit.
For a believer, the reason for this season is the Lord Jesus Christ. As a child in a mission school, I learnt to sing, Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so; What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear....  The lyrics didn't leave much impression on me then... just enjoyed the tuneful melody.

It is only these last 27 years that I look back and realise it is truly an Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a child like me...And to think that this was written by an ex-slave trader.

Well, Andy, Christmas is round the corner,  Feliz Navidad (Boney M)
Here's to a blessed 2015 to you and your family.  Keep the blog going.

A special Christmas posting from CYLin.

Images: Google.

                  Boney M - Feliz Navidad - Video: The Jack Earth.
Feliz Navidad is written in 1970 by the Puerto Rican singer/songwriter Jose Feliciano.

December 2014 - January 2015. 

Promoting Trees On Jan's T.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Platters: "But Only God Can Make A Tree."

Early one morning, about two weeks ago, I saw a very old tree being trimmed along a road that I pass frequently. I have fallen in love with this tree and so have my grandchildren because whenever we walked by it we would feel and touch the rough, scarred surface of its enormous trunk. 

Strangely, the tree seemed to react to our touch as some tiny pieces of bark and green moss would stick on our hands.  A tree whose hungry mouth is prest, / Against the earth's sweet flowing breast.
                                                  This trunk feels to our touch.

When we asked the gardeners who were trimming it what had happened they explained that a thunderstorm which occurred a few days earlier had ripped part of it and, like a surgical knife, removed a large giant arm off.  This black stump lay quiet and still on the ground today.  A tree that looks at God all day, / And lifts her leafy arms to pray. 

Singapore is exceptional because this tiny little island, in ratio to its land mass, has more than enough trees everywhere; many were specially planted by its citizens. 

And November is a month for trees because that's when our first PM consciously reminded every Singaporean to plant trees, lots of it, during this month. 

                           Promoting Trees On Jan's T.
At the same time the month is also one where damp devastation takes place so when the monsoon blows and cries and sings its songs of woe, trees come down, forced by the destructive nature of the weather.  This wicked clime worsens in December and January.   

Upon whose bosom snow has lain, 
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

The beautiful growth is a heritage lychee tree that doesn't fruit under Singapore's condition.

Songs I Love:

Trees is a song by The Platters. It was recorded in 1961 and based on a poem written by Alfred Joyce Kilmer in 1913 and set to music by Oscar Rasbach in 1922.  This particular composition comes with 7 other songs by the group with Only You as one of 1001 songs you must hear before you die.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair
Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree
(I think that I shall never see...)

Above is the large arm that was amputated by lightning.  Below is the aftermath
There are many songs about trees or lyrics that have the particular word in them. Here is a short list of 20:

Annie's Song - John Denver
Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean
Cottonwood Tree - Marty Robbins
Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree - Andrews Sisters
Draggin' The Line - Tommy James/The Shondells

Dream A Little Dream Of Me - Louis Armstrong
Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
Lemon Tree - Trini Lopez/Peter, Paul and Mary
Lemon Tree - Fool's Garden (1995)
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - The Beatles

No More Walks In The Woods - Eagles
Norwegian Wood - The Beatles
Oh, What A Beautiful Morning - Ray Charles
Rockin Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
The Happiest Christmas Tree - Nat King Cole

The Lumberjack Song - Monty Python
Tie A Yellow Ribbon...  - Tony Orlando/Dawn
Trees - The Platters
What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley
You and Me - Moody Blues

It is a heritage lychee tree.
This posting is specially for the 3 Jays, whose love for trees and most of nature takes them to the Botanical Gardens nearly every week.

Images and article: A Personal Collection.
You Tube 'Trees' by The Platters - Video from: Mr. Tripeo47.
Poem by Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1913)/ Music by Oscar Rasbach (1922). 
Book: Tony Visconti and Robert Dimery, 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die.  (The Fifties Page 67). 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Hong Kong Pop 60s: Irene Ryder (黎愛蓮) Part 2

The Hong Kong protests are still on. Will it ever end? We turn the clock a bit and remember the island's pop music hey-day.

Best Female Vocalist:

Her song Cry Me a River won her the honour of The Best Female Vocalist and with the release of her first and second album, Irene and Solitaire, she again gained the same honour. The winnings went on for five years.  

Irene had also appeared in two movies, Tiger vs. Dragon (1972) and Rage of the Wind (1973) both directed by well established director Wu Si Yuen.   However her career came to a stand still when she had a near fatal accident in 1979.  

2 Decades:
There was a lapse of nearly two decades when Irene was not much in the limelight but in 1997 and by popular demand after recording four duets with her good friend Joe Junior, Irene returned to the recording studio to do her own album, The Legend.  

When she regained her self-confidence she decided to perform live again and although it had been quite an absence she managed five successful concerts in Hong Kong with him. 

For her repertoire, Ms Ryder usually performed golden oldies.  It was a highlight of her shows. The songs  would include Frankie, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, To Sir with Love, The End of the World, Kiss Me Honey Honey, Stupid Cupid, Seven Lonely Days, Kowloon Hong Kong and other hits.

During her peak, Irene had recorded many covers of top songs from the 1960s and 1970s.  There are also compilations of her songs released in the 1990s and 2003.

Her Long Plays:
Irene Ryder – EMI Regal - SREG-9603 - (1971)
Irene Ryder – EMI Regal - SREG-9611 - (1973)
Irene Ryder - Solitaire  –   EMI Columbia S-3ESX-220 - (1974)
The Best Of Irene Ryder – EMI Columbia S-33ESX-225 - (1975)
             Irene Ryder - First of May - Video: shatinterry.

Irene Ryder attending HT Long's Concert in HK.
 Images/Video: Google, Uncle Ray 101CD Box and You Tube (Shatinterry).

Information: from Shatinterry (You Tube), Wikipedia and Websites.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Irene Ryder (黎愛蓮) Ryding Hong Kong Pops 60s Part 1

            *Irene n Robert - Baby Baby - Video: zoundcracker.

Hong Kong Protests:

Hopefully the two-month long pro-democracy street protests in Hong Kong will be resolved soon because the island has brought back pleasant memories of Tsim Sha Tsui's shopping district and the hunting around for old records.  Here's one HK pop artiste I used to listen to in between the Indonesian groups and Singapore ones.

Dedication to Her Songs:

What impressed me about this particular lady after listening to her both on vinyl records and CDs was her dedication to the numbers she sang. Whether it was an appeal about Nobody's Child or a teenage angst where she found, Lipstick On (Your) Collar, she delivered them with sincerity and feel.  

Eurasian Good Looks:

Those years, some Asian artistes simply made covers of western hit songs to sell and she was one of many singers. But with her youth, Eurasian good looks and singing grace she was different and stood out among the crowd, as she was able to charm her record buyers and her audiences with these assets.

English Diction:

Irene Ryder or Li Ai Lian (黎愛蓮), a Eurasian born in Hong Kong in 1949, had an English father and Chinese mother.  She was able to interpret her songs and her English diction was above par, perhaps better than some Asian lady singers in the 60s and 70s.


In 1966 she acquired the unofficial title of A-Go-Go-Queen from a dance talent contest where she earned her fame. After the contest, Irene and her dance partner were invited to perform in Singapore and Malaysia and promote the dance craze, doing seven to eight shows daily.

Vic Cristobel:

With this exposure she was approached by music arranger and producer, Vic Cristobal of EMI Records who started her singing career in 1967.  The first single she pressed was a cover of Lulu's, To Sir With Love. She became the top singer in the territory three months after her song was released.

Bruce Lee's Brother:

Among the other singles that she recorded was a duet with Robert Lee, a former member of Hong Kong's beat band The Thunderbirds. and the younger brother of martial arts star Bruce Lee. 

Osaka Exposition 1970:

The single was called *Baby Baby (video above) and it was this recording in 1968 that established her fame as a singer.   She was the only female singer chosen to represent Hong Kong at the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka Japan.  

Bruce Lee
Part 2 Next Week:

(Read Part 2 next week when she had to end her singing career but...  An amazing story indeed.)

Images/Video: Google, Uncle Ray 101CD Box and You Tube (Shatinterry).

Information: from Shatinterry (You Tube), Wikipedia and Websites.

Hong Kong Latest News Flash: December, 2014:
From the TV footages seen, the police in Hong Kong have become more aggressive. The student-led group are doing likewise as they tried to storm government headquarters, abandoning their peaceful protest ideology.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Happy Birthday! Blog Marches Into 6th Year.

My Secretary

This blog is into its 6th year today and I couldn't have managed it without your constant support. 

So to all my regular readers, contributors and friends from Singapore and all over the world, thanks very much. 

If you have stories to tell or comments to make about our local music scene and its overseas influence please write in. 

         Rock Happy Birthday Song - Video: Chaine de fenicnarfabc

Since 22nd November, 2008:
Blog Postings: 1425.
Published Comments: 4994.
Readers: 829,800.

Images: Google and Wendy from La Salle Institute.
Video: You Tube Caine de fenicnarfabc.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Singapore 60s A Musical Revue: It's On Tonight! @ La Salle Institute! LIVE!

The revue focuses on  local Singapore  pop songs from the 60s, enacted  by a cast of girls and boys in glittering, colorful costumes, nostalgic music and vibrant dances. Can you beat that? Local 60s melodies are finally recognised by our youth.

Performed within the confines of a little theatre, the cabaret act was at its best. The stage was constructed just a little above floor level and greeted the audience seated within a nightclub surrounding. 

        The Crescendos/Susan Lim - Mr Twister/Frankie - eosyeo

The players consisted of a very energetic cast of enthusiastic La Salle students who are currently doing their graduate degree programme.  The revue was what I've always dreamed of when I started this blog i.e. an appreciation of Singapore's golden age of music.

Cast and crew worked hard to give you a treat like no other! Even though all 3 shows are sold out, you can still try your luck at the door! There will be food and alcohol! Come and join us as we bring back the 60s!

Fun Fact Of The Day from Musical's FB:

"For only 2 years (1964 - 1965), Andy Lim fronted Singapore guitar group and recording artistes, The Silver Strings."  We are excited to have him attend the musical!
                            CONGRATULATIONS SINGAPORE 60s! 
                                Thank You for all your support!

Silver Strings leader Audie Ng, present lead guitarist Rickie Chng, rhythm guitarist for a coming short film Lawrence Lim and I had a tremendously exciting afternoon watching the musical.

"Can I come again this evening?" I asked.
"Sorry Andy," came the answer. "Not even standing room!"
Please have another round of shows. 
"These singers and musicians were creating an extraordinary local pop industry.  Yet today, many are not celebrated as the legends and trailblazers that they truly are. May their legacy live on, not only for this current generation but for many more to come (Caleb Goh, Revue Director.)"

These boys and girls sang: You're The Boy, My Boy Lollipop, Lover's Concerto, The Boy Next Door, Bengawan Solo, Aaja Aaja, Boom Boom, Mr Twister and many more.
Cast of La Salle's: Singapore 60s A Musical Revue 
with Andy, Audie, Lawrence and Rickie.

My dream that this blog could influence some change and let our youth in on the 60s. Thank you Caleb.

Images from FB and information have been taken from the Musical's Programme pages distributed to patrons. Copyrights Reserved: La Salle Institute. 

You Tube Video: The Crescendos/Susan Lim - Mr Twister/Frankie -  eosyeo.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jimmy PresLee: Singapore's Elvis Tribute Artiste: (新加坡猫王)

Kat King On The Prowl Within Our Midst:

We met within the confines of a Burger King restaurant. Looking as cool as the Cat himself, Jimmy PresLee resplendently dressed in a black Elvis shirt, waited for 2 hours because he completed an earlier appointment way before time.
"Good afternoon, Mr Lim." We shook hands as he introduced himself politely and addressing me using the same salutation throughout. Jimmy reminds me of Elvis who used to call people he met either, Sir or M'am.


I told him I had always been a fan of The Pelvis but had never met an ETA, especially a Singapore one. As far as I can remember singers who performed on stage singing Elvis numbers were known as Elvis Presley impersonators or simply, Singapore's Elvis or Malaysia's Elvis. 

And there were many of them these past 50 years, from the original Johnny Aroozoo and Wilson David in Singapore, to Rocky Teoh and H.T. Long in Malaysia.

"You have the stature, you have the looks and definitely the charisma of The King. I have watched your video on FB and I think you have impressed me as an Elvis tribute artiste. I hope to see and hear you perform live soon."           
Nighthawks and Purple Hearts:

"Why did you decide to be an Elvis tribute artiste?" I asked. According to Jimmy (67), he had never been on stage singing any number, let alone Elvis ones. He had only been following Singapore pop bands through the years and listening to songs from the west.

But it was 4 years ago in 2009 that he and his wife Judy (61) decided to join the Singapore Elvis And Country Group (SEACG) for weekly karaoke singing at Thomson CC. They struck a high note and eventually joined  the Nighthawks singing weekly with a live band at Tanglin CC. 
One year later feeling more confident about his singing, Jimmy assembled his own live band called Purple Hearts and performed his first gig at Bishan North CC.  He wore his first Elvis customised jumpsuit and Jimmy PresLee, Elvis tribute artiste (ETA) was born. 

Jumpsuits and Elvis Presley Alliance of Asia:

"These jumpsuits cost a bomb," he volunteered, "as they are customised and made to order and cost as much as S$3,000 each." If you checkout his FB, you would probably realise that he has many suits. 
Because of his various performances at CCs, private club functions and charity concerts he was posted on You Tube, and when they became known, Jimmy's Facebook friend base soon enlarged.  

As a result Elvis fans from all over the world wanted to add him on, including ETAS from many countries. Many of them became his personal friends.   

Within a few years he was invited to attend an Elvis Presley Alliance of Asia event in Hong Kong where he got to sing alongside 12 ETAS from Asia.  This was followed by an invitation to Manila to perform with 8 ETAS. 
Seeing how good these ETAS are, Jimmy thought it would be a treat for Elvis fans in Singapore to be able to watch a mega concert paying tribute to Elvis Presley,  the king of rock 'n roll.   
Family and Memorabilia:

So with his very supportive wife (who is cousin to Malaysia's Elvis, Rocky Teoh's wife Jacqueline) and 3 daughters, he became the show agent and organised this inaugural event out of passion and purpose to bring back exciting memories for the baby boomers and the pioneer generation. 
All they want is for the people who love Elvis and his music to come and watch the show. They promise it will be great entertainment.  
                   Jimmy with his wife and three pretty daughters.
I thanked Jimmy for taking time with me as we said our good-byes. He confided that because of his frequent trips he has been collecting Elvis Presley memorabilia from all over and now wants to give them away because he has too many."
"Sounds good. I might pick up on that offer." I told him. "Thanks again. I'll see you at the concert..."

Elvis Presley Tribute Artists at, Elvis Is In The Building Concert, on 21 August at  D' Marquee Downtown East Singapore.

These ETA shows are big overseas and such concerts happened all the time throughout the calendar year.  The gigs hot up when it was around Elvis' birthday in January or near his death anniversary in August. Whatever it is, to his fans, Elvis has never left the building.

When I wrote to Jimmy later in the day I mentioned I was glad to have met him and appreciated how he had given me a personal introduction to the special world of Elvis.

Images/Article: Jimmy PresLee Private Collection. 

The largest gathering of Elvis impersonators is 895, achieved by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort (USA) in Cherokee, North Carolina, USA, on 12 July 2014.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Mandarin And Cantonese Covers Of Beatles Songs


When Tunes Only Matter:

For once I shall leave 60s music bloggers not reading but listening. You know these familiar tunes so the lyrics don't matter.  You have added advantage if you know Mandarin or the Chinese dialects and scream, laugh or cry when you hear the words. 

These EP vinyls, 7-inch round, were the MP3s of yesterday. With a little turntable packed with a valve amp, teenagers could play it everywhere, together with the stack of records. Who cares about lyrics. They just a-go-go to whatever tune is on and sweat their hearts out.

This posting couldn't have been without uploads from You Tube by zoundcracker, lvlalaysiaboleh, PsychedelicGomper and p wong. Thank you all.

 Lara Tan n Trailers: Video: PsychedelicGomper

School girl Lara Tan loved singing at school and concerts and was provided with about 40 songs to select for her vinyl debut. Since Mandarin songs had a bigger fan base in South East Asia, Lara recorded covers of current English 60s songs and had them translated into Mandarin by a Ms Violet Chow. The above hit was one. To make the formula work she was backed by The Trailers, one of the most popular bands in Singapore then.

                                           蓓蕾 -  國語版 Video: zoundcracker  

Sexy Billy Tam looks good and sings just as well. Listen to her version of this very popular song but with a Latin touch.  Fiery cheongsam. Billy's Chinese version of western pops were always saleable. It was one of the group's first hits.

                           上官流雲 - 一心想玉人 Video: zoundcracker

The introduction is familiar and sounds hotly convincing but you don't really need a translator to understand the meaning. Good singer he is. Know his name? He sings in Cantonese. Watch out for the part where he goes, mmmmmmmmm... substituting the group's manic screams! That's a professor's music thesis in itself.

 Maggie Wong/Jungle Lynxs Video: lvlalaysiaboleh

Just as sensual, Maggie Wong, a cabaret star, sings this one.  The A-Go-Go dance was popular amongst the Chinese crowd in the 60s and Wong was known as the A-Go-Go Queen.  She has this Beatles band to accompany her.   BTW, what's the plural of lynx? Does it matter?

Chan Po Chu: Video by p wong
This video is a scene from a popular movie starring Chan Po Chu where three guitars and drums depict the typical stage scenario in the 1960s.
Compromised but nobody cares. They just love the music.

 In case you missed it, Videos 1,2 and 4 are in Mandarin; Videos 3 and 5 are in Cantonese.

This article and posting is original. 
Videos from You Tube. This posting is temporary so enjoy them while you may.