Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Local Pop Songs For Singapore's 50th Anniversary

              The brand new Singapore National Stadium @ Kallang

Singapore's most iconic songs will be featured in a mega-concert next year (2015) at the new National Stadium to celebrate the country's 50th Anniversary. According to a newspaper report, Sing50 will feature local artistes singing 50 songs in various genre and the four official languages.
Below is a personal list of local pops in English that have been composed by our own musicians. The idea is to reminisce with the older generation songs they grew up with and to introduce to the younger generation melodies that resonate so much with the history of this island.
     Sausolito - Western Union Band (1970s) - MrRainbow

Perhaps some of them may not be appropriate for such a celebration but these were top songs that had charted the hit parade in Singapore 60s, 70s and 80s. There are 9 songs altogether but this posting is just a suggestion to start the ball rolling. The list is not in any particular order. 

Image from: Zazzle Invitations
The 60s
Shanty - The Quests
Selina - The Dukes
It's All Over - Naomi and the Boys
You're The Boy - Shirley Nair and The Silver Strings
My Lonely Heart - The Thunderbirds
Do It Right - The Trailers

(2 instrumentals, 2 lady singers, 2 male singers).
The 70s
Sausolito - Western Union Band
Singapore Cowboy - Matthew and The Mandarins
The 80s 
Within You Will Remain - Tokyo Square 
 Within You'll Remain - Tokyo Square (1980s) - scorpiossnakes

I am not familiar with songs beyond the 80s.  You can start your own list and if your favourite song has been left out, include it.

Read what others say. Click comments below.

You Tube videos.

Image Google: (by Zazzle Invitations).
These specially selected songs represent the milestones in the music scene in Singapore and they represent the journey of the average Singaporean. - See more at:
SSingaSingapore's most iconic songs will come to the fore in a mega-concert at the National Stadium on Aug 7 next year. - See more at:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On 'The Vintage Showcase' With Brian Richmond

You can keep the good times rolling and 60s music spinning by listening in to The Vintage Showcase on Gold 90.5FM, aired every Sunday from 8 in the morning to 12 noon where experienced, versatile and popular disc jockey Brian Richmond holds the reins. 

Some of the features incorporated in the programme will include Brian's Top 20 and Singapore Trivia where listeners interact with the host. There is also a special request segment where a listener will share his memories which go with a special song.
With Gold 90.5FM DJs Brian Richmond and Vernetta Lopez.
Other music capsules will include, Singapore Snapshots, Moments In Singapore History and Reminiscing With.  The last one has special guests each week to share a specific memory of their past.  Brian had telephoned me two weeks ago inviting me to participate in this segment of his pop radio broadcast. 

Sound Engineer Wayne
He was a gentleman all the way, waiting for me at the reception desk at Caldecott Hill where a hundred and one busy celebrity folks go about their business. His was the usual, casual hello with a firm handshake. Then, "You still remind me of Goh Chok Tong." Ayoh!

Before we started the recording he introduced me to Wayne, the sound engineer, who dabbles with the technicalities of the programme. 

The actual session didn't last too long so afterwards it was a short tour of Media Corp @ Caldecott Hill and meeting well-known DJs Vanetta Lopez (Gold Breakfast Show) and Denise Tan (Lunchtime Jukebox), both hosts on the same station.  Great folks they are and these two ladies are as pretty in person as their voices are on air.

I won't explain what the segment on his showcase is all about but if you have been a regular listener you are probably familiar with it.  If you aren't, then all the more why you should wake up a bit early on Sunday and listen in.
With DJ Denise Tan.

Thank you Brian for holding the microphone, Wayne for making my recorded voice sound better, Vernetta for taking the pics and Denise for the picture pose.

On the way out, I couldn't find my car in the designated maze and got the help of a Media Corp security guard.  Lucky. All these people, really well-tuned... 

"Gold ninety point five fm. Classic hits all day." Don't forget. Sunday mornings!

Reminiscing With Andy is every Sunday, starting from 9th November 2014 for 5 weeks.

Images: A Personal Collection.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Memory Trail: Pen Pals From Foreign Lands

                          Elvis Presley: Return To Sender - Video by RPCchannel.

Pen pals or pen friends are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via the post and was a practice way before the age of the Internet.

I gave a letter to the postman,
He put it his sack. 
Bright and early next morning, 
He brought my letter back.

Elvis Presley's 1962 hit, Return To Sender, with its unique postal theme reminded me of  those years when, as a teen, I used to write to people in foreign lands. You waited a whole month before you received a reply.  Then if you're lucky and when you get one, it was an envelope all thick, with 10 pages of light-blue paper inside and a photograph of the writer tucked neatly between the sheets.

The envelope itself was bursting at its seams.  You felt the tension as you gingerly opened the envelope, feeling for the photograph and reading revelations of your new pal from this far-off land. 

"Gosh, what a pretty girl!" you exclaimed, looking at the photograph sent.

On the other hand, if you were unlucky, and like Elvis Presley (above) you got your letter back stamped with the phrase, Return To Sender on the envelope. And that was a big let-down for a teen.

Writing to strangers was the rage in Singapore in the 60s especially when popular magazines like Movie News, Her World and local newspapers like the Radio Weekly had pages with a Pen Pals Column listing names of  people, both males and females with their full addresses in print. The fun part was these requests for pals came from all over the world. And the Internet wasn't even born yet!

I had never published my own name under a pen-pal's column but I knew it was a thrill to have it on the pages where you stated the full significance of your identity, with age included, together with your home address and country with an extension describing your hobbies and preferences.

The hobbies were always about the same, i.e. stamp, coin and record collecting, sports indulgences like badminton or table-tennis and the inevitable, listening to music.  Some of these individuals had requests for a personal photograph or postcards of your home country.

But it was so much fun as we used ordinary white paper with lines, a fountain pen (we didn't have ball-pens in the 1960s) to write our "missive" to this stranger in a strange land far away. Our instruments of writing, so to speak, also included dark-blue ink and it came from a bottle (called Quink I think).

Red ink was a no no but there were instances when pen pals wrote in green but it had nothing to do with greening the earth.  As a rule of thumb black-ink was never ever used but Charlie Brown didn't think so.

Then there was the final ritual of putting the sheets of paper into the envelope, the glueing of the flap and the final lickin' and stickin' of the stamp on the top right hand corner (emphasised) of the envelope.

A run to the nearest post-box sealed the deal and you waited anxiously for the next 30 days for a reply. 

Did you have pen-pals?  Come on, tell us.

You Tube Video.

Songwriters: Scott, Fitzgerald / Obika, Lemar Return To Sender lyrics © EMI Music Publishing.

Images from Google.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Will Talk And Singapore Will Listen: Robbie Williams

               Robbie Williams/Nicole Kidman - Somethin' Stupid.

Songs I Love

Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams were in Singapore's newspapers recently. The actress' father passed away on the island and the pop male singer had a concert during the Formula One Race at Marina Bay last Saturday. Such a coincidence.

At the beginning of this century I was introduced to Robbie Williams when I first heard his duet with Nicole Kidman singing, Somethin' Stupid. I love this particular recording but not the older one by Frank and Nancy Sinatra.  I  didn't think the lyrics were suited for a father and daughter dialogue and found their version corny.
Again, the Sinatras' cover was pale compared to the one above (personal choice) recorded in 2001. I was struck by their interpretation  and on-screen chemistry (on video) of this cute classic composed in 1967.  But strangely, although it was a hit for Williams I forgot all about him after the song.

When I toured China's provinces in the mid-2000s I managed to buy a few inexpensive CDs there. They were supposed to be originals with authentic brand markings (unless you scrutinised the labels). The price was the give-away as the albums cost two Singapore dollars each.  I didn't test the five copies I bought and took them home.

Sexed Up

Surprise, surprise! Three of them were blanks and except for pretty pictures of the singers with printed title tracks there was no music *(so always buy originals or choose individually on-line), but one album which I specially bought had Robbie Williams' Sexed Up cover with 30 of his songs in it.  Luckily it played and I realised I had not given Mr. Williams a chance. I must admit that he's a fantastic singer. 
        Actual footage - Williams', I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen.

I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen

I enjoy his songs like I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen, the big hit Feel, the intoxicating Rock DJ, Come Undone and a few others on the album but what attracted me most was the evergreens he recorded which included, Beyond The Sea and Straighten Up and Fly Right, the first, a Bobby Darin hit, and the second a Nat Cole classic.

He had recorded other standards and some are on his album, Swings Both Ways.  The songs Dream a Little Dream of Me, Putting On the Ritz, Little Green Apples  were beautifully rendered as he sang duet with some of  the biggest names in today's pop world like, Lily Allen, Michael Bublé, Kelly Clarkson, Olly Murs and Rufus Wainwright.

            You Tube Video: Williams singing: Paul Anka's My Way

My Way

Selling nearly 80 million copies internationally Williams covers were just as popular.  Some of them that I love would include: I Started a Joke, It was a Very Good Year, Sixteen Tons, It's De-lovely, The Lady is a Tramp, Me and My Shadow, Mack the Knife, Muñequita Linda (Te Quiero, Dijiste) and That's Amore.

Then there was the song about the street performer and tap dancer Mr. Bojangles, One for my Baby, Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone, That Old Black Magic, Things, We Are The Champions, Ain't That A Kick In The Head, Well Did You Evah? and My Way (below). 

There are about 60 of these songs, spiced, mixed, tossed in the recording kitchen and presented most deliciously by Master Chef Williams.
Actual footage Williams with Gene Kelly's Singing In the Rain.

Singing In The Rain

During the concert at the Formula 1 Meet @ Marina Bay Sands last Saturday Robbie Williams was literally, Singing In The Rain and the heavy September showers drenched both the singer and crowd but not their spirit. 

The man did not disappoint. He sang classic pops like, New York, New York, Hit The Road Jack, We Will Rock You, I Love Rock n Roll, Proud Mary and the dessert  of the evening, Elvis Presley's hit from King Creole, Trouble.
                 Actual footage Williams with Elvis Presley's Trouble.

This is a 60s music blog but you can understand why I wrote about Robbie Williams.  "I'm singing in the rain /Just singing in the rain/ What a glorious feelin'/Why does September /Seem sunny as spring?"

Like my son remarked when I asked for his comment on the show, "A true professional indeed. He gave his all."

(There are tons of articles on Robbie Williams but this is the only posting that lists his 60s music numbers :-) 

*Careful of buying so-called cheap CDs in certain countries. Check Comment page below. 

 Robbie Williams Channel. Copy and Paste:

Images: You Tube and Google. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Singapore Boy's Passion For Model Sports Cars

Young J's Collection

     Ronnie n The Daytonas - 'Little GTO' - Video: A2Grapevine.

A 2014 Singapore Grand Prix F1 Night Race Marina Bay Posting:

"Little GTO, you're really lookin' fine
Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389
Listen to her tachin' up now, listen to her whine
C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO..."

The collection above is only one third of what he has.  With many more miniature vehicles, highways, car parks and buildings from Tomica, Hot Wheels, Realtoy, Fast Lane and Siku, this boy has quite a lot in his playroom.  Whenever he gets news from a current catalogue about the latest model he would run off to the nearest toy-shop to get one.

Highway Connections
Together with the toy cars in his four-year collection, he has as many in his memory.  Young J. can rattle off the makes and models of cars by just looking at the particular model for a second or two.  
Hennessy Venom GT
He names a Maserati, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin easily but is only interested in the fastest ones and quickly recognises a Koenigsegg Agera R, Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport or Zenvo ST1 and others in similar category. Because of this special interest, I have inherited his beautiful array of buses, vans, trucks and police/fire-fighting vehicles.

Young J's Photos Of Real Cars And Toy Ones. Know which?
He plays cars, reads cars, talks cars, surfs cars, carries cars, photographs cars, bathes color-changing cars and even eats and sleeps with them. He has these tiny vehicles everywhere in his home and ours. The only time he doesn't have one around him is when he's at school. Carrying a little car in his pocket has been disallowed.

At Wisma Atria
During weekend evenings we take him to Ion or the area around Scotts Road, where, to his heart's content, he takes a photograph or a video of the sports cars that roam the streets. He uses a digital camera that his father gave him.  A hobby has now become a passion for this youthful enthusiast.
A Child's Paradise
The current September 2014 display of Lamborghini's masterpieces at Wisma Atria was a gigantic draw for him so we went and he had a whale of a time taking pictures of the different models showcased for the general public.  
His Racing Spirit
Later this week a trip to the Formula One race at the Marina Bay area would be a special treat for him. We have been advised to get ear-plugs for the occasion. 

F1 Security Tags With Bar Codes Erased
So come Friday he would probably have a great afternoon watching Formula Ones (not his interest actually) speeding straits and maneuvering bends at Stamford Road. I'd be around to lug his water-bottle and umbrellas.
                               Heavy vehicles and security cars.

But young J. still has one wish. That he will be able to ride in one of his favourite hot-rods these few weeks.  Any offers?
Images: A Personal Collection. 
Video: YouTube.
Song: Ronnie n The Daytonas - 'Little GTO' - 1964. It's considered to be the first muscle car.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Chen Huishi: Pop Singer MC: A Singapore Success Story

Huishi’s songs have garnered fans from all over the world, including non-Chinese-speaking nationalities from France and India, proving that music truly transcends. She covers popular tunes spanning from the late 60s till today – in English, Mandarin and common local dialects Cantonese and Hokkien.

Huishi’s career in music entertainment took off at the age of 17 when she became an Assistant Producer for Mr Lee Shih Song (李偲菘)and Mr Lee Wei Song (李伟菘).  On top of her production work, Huishi is an active performing artiste for corporate and grassroots events and dedicates time to perform at various charities too. 

You name it and Huishi's done it. She has sung and hosted at road shows for commercial banks, Singapore Community Clubs, dinner/dance gatherings, private clubs, baby shows, Chinese festivals, charity events and a pioneer generation get-together.

Adding to her portfolio she participated and won the 2008 Duo Dynamic Talent Competition organized by Singapore Press Holdings and UFM100.3 and has released 2 albums to date.  

She accomplished her biggest achievement in 2013 when she held her first concert at the Kallang Theater on the 5th of May 2013 and donated 50% of the proceeds to a charitable organization to help buy and distribute 3,000 bags of rice, noodles, biscuits and other essentials to the 3000 helpless elderly who stay alone in one  room flats. A further $5.00 will be donated to the cause with every purchase of her new oldies album 《从心出发 Talk of versatility, she is without doubt one of our most promising young stars on our island today.

When I wrote to Huishi recently to find out what her favourite evergreens were, she mentioned a few like,  "Yesterday Once More, Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough, Oh Carol, Rhythm of the Rain, The Young Ones, Eternal Flames and Seven Lonely Days."  I am surprised that she is even familiar with goldies from the 50s.

"What about your personal likes and dislikes if you wish to discuss them?" I asked.

"I love Taiwan! Love cats... dogs..., the colours pink, white, red and green.  I love singing... and now I'm trying to improve my English and also improve on my skill in singing and hosting.  I hope to be able to sing from different genres and in different languages."

"Anything else that you might want to tell readers about yourself?" No. Hardly one to talk about herself she did not fill in most of the blanks on the email questionnaire.  

Looking at her workspace and audiences one could tell Huishi is well-accepted in, what former PM Goh Chok Tong called, "the heartlands".  She is a true-blue Singaporean and able to gel with the local public. Isn't it time then to provide her more blue skies so she can soar through the air and spaceship to stardom?

Having met Huisi some years back when she was in her teens I know her to be a bright lass and one with quiet confidence. Mostly shy and unassuming, the spark within her ignited when she found her niche as an entertainer and made her what she is on stage today.  Perseverance is the key to her present success.  Congratulations Huishi. All the best for a fruitful career in show business!
Copy/Paste Huishi's videos to view You Tube Links:

Images: Chen Huishi.
Videos: You Tube. 

                                                     On You Tube

Sunday, September 07, 2014

"Me 64? Way Past That Actually! Add Another 10."

                                When I'm Sixty Four 64 (The Beatles)
                   A Cappella Barbershop Quartet Video: Julien Neel
                                 with Dan, Sonny Julien, Dieter
              Thanks very much to the Quartet for this lovely version.


Beatles Ages Today:    

George Harrison: 71
Paul McCartney: 72
John Lennon: 74
Ringo Starr: 74

This is a picture drawn in the early 1970′s depicting what the artist from the Hunter Davies Authorized Biography thought they would look like today.

Illustration from Website:

Video From You Tube: 
February 14th, 2013.
For Larry Lai.               

News Flash:
Beatles Anniversary?
It was September 7, 1964 and more than 10,000 young people stormed Toronto International Airport to get their first glimpse of The Beatles.    

Monday, September 01, 2014

Learning Rachmaninov's Music With My Grandson


A Teacher's Day 2014 Posting.
Inspired by my grandson and Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2014 activities.

It isn't easy for an 8 year old to watch a live orchestra play *Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 unless the child has had some classical music background or enjoyed a concert previously.  But there was an audience of children with enthusiastic families who watched our Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) perform at the Republic Polytechnic at Woodlands on Thursday evening at 7.30pm at the institution's Cultural Centre Theatre. My grandson was one of them.

We travelled 40 minutes in dense after-office traffic to reach the concert in record time, just two minutes before Lan Shui (right), the conductor for the evening's concert, walked up to his podium to conduct Rachmaninov's work.  

The SSO On Campus: Pre-Tour Concerts Programme, which was given out at the lobby, helped me to understand in simple terms what the piece was all about.  

For my grandson, I was just glad that he agreed to attend the concert and watch the wonderful musicians performing on stage.  It was his second time listening to a symphony orchestra (read other posting on Jason Lai).

He nearly lasted the full hour and as he showed signs of tiredness about 10 minutes before the end (he came direct from school and a long afternoon) I told him to pay attention for just a little bit more but an encore performance surprised us and we were treated to one in the form of a short March which kept everyone enthralled to the end.  The applause was deafening.

It was well worth the trip.  And, as usual, the audience triumphed as much as the musicians who, with their magnanimity and dedication, were on stage to perform so magnificently.

"Would you like to come again son," I asked him.

"Not tonight," he said sleepily but from his cheeky grin I knew he enjoyed every moment.   At 10pm we had chicken rice in Thompson Road because we didn't have dinner earlier.  

Once again, thank you Lan Shui and the SSO for making our outing such a precious one. And thanks to little J. for agreeing to come at the last minute...

The SSO leaves for London to perform at the Royal Albert Hall on 2nd September, 2014.

A Happy Teacher's Day everyone.

(This posting is dedicated to Ms Chong Y.L. who feels that the date for T.D. should have never been changed.  I agree.)

*A Programme Note about the piece, written by Ruth Rodrigues, can be read by clicking Comments below.
                 Venue: Republic Polytechnic Cultural Centre Theatre @ Woodlands:

The 1,000-Seat Theatre:

Modelled after the famous Kirishima International Concert Hall in Kagoshima, Japan, the auditorium boasts an acoustic design worthy of international music performance. 

A highlight of this auditorium is its ability to turn into a full fledged concert hall capable of full scale musicals in just 45 minutes.

Image 1, 2: SSO Website.
Image 4: Google. 
Image 5:
Information on theatre:


News Flash:
Dazzling Reviews for SSO in London (2nd September, 2014).

Two British newspapers the Guardian and Telegraph gave four out of five stars for SSO's recent outing at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They played the same piece, Rachmaninov's Symphony No 2, with other ones.

It was done in conjunction with the 120th BBC *Proms.  Some members of the audience were even waving the Singapore flag, proud and excited during the orchestra's (98 members) performance led by Shui Lan.

*The Proms is prestigious, done for 8 weeks per year and organised since 1927 by the BBC.