Thursday, January 19, 2017

Penang Malaya 60's Hotel Time For A Beer?

Here's a narrative from good UK friend Allan Thompson. It's been a while since he's written. Another one that he wrote before Christmas 2016 is still in storage but it'll be out soon. 

He's concerned that his story today could be taboo and lewd. I'm no judge of what this blog's contributors write but this particular one describes a very active Penang, Malaya, in the 1960's.

Little hotel, older than Hell
Cold and as dark as a mine
Blanket so thin, I lie there and grin
Buy me a little bottle of wine

From the time they landed on this island, North of Malaya, up to the day they left by trishaw, Allan and his friends had contributed much to its economy.

Allan Thompson's Letter

Dear Andy,  

Firstly, let me wish you and your family a Happy New Year.  I wonder if you remember the Billy Fury song, Phone Call from his classic early album, The Sound of Fury?   Just a thought.  

Is the subject of Singapore brothels and hip 1960's bars in Penang a taboo subject?  I don't really mean the nitty-gritty, hands-on aspect, but rather the outsider-looking-in point of view.  Here is an example of Penang from the late 1960's. 
                    The Fireballs - Bottle of Wine - Ace Records Ltd

I was on a detachment from Singapore to Butterworth in Malaysia, and we used to go across on the yellow ferry to Penang for recreation.  We found that most of the popular bars were actually hotels, but not normal hotels by any means.  

In fact, if anyone innocent had asked to book in for a night or two, the proprietor would have had to move one of the waitresses/bar-girls out to share with one of the other girls.  This was because each girl had her own room and the hotel was a cover for a brothel.  

We used to go there after normal licensing hours for a beer and a chat with the girls who were very pleasant and generally well educated.  I was amused to find that in one such establishment, all the girls used the same name for business purposes, Suzie Sayang!*   Very clever.  A couple of the hotels employed Thai girls who were very pretty and uninhibited.

There were also smaller bars and one of these was close to the ferry terminal and had a juke-box with a good selection of records.  The one which was played most often was White Room by Cream, closely followed by Bottle of Wine by The Fireballs.  Perhaps this was because the aforementioned hotel rooms were painted white, and wine had the same effect as Tiger or Anchor beer.   

I remember being in this particular bar with some friends  one afternoon when two young men with long hair came in and looked around the room shiftily.  

One of the girls who had been chatting to me touched my arm and whispered: "Very bad men."  

I looked at her quizzically and she explained: "They want boys, not girls.  Very bad."  
It turned out that the two men were actually French merchant seamen but whether their preferences were as the girl had suggested or not, I didn't find out because, after another glance around the bar, they left.  

"Chacun a son gout,"** as they say in France (with accents where necessary).  

I hope you don't find this contribution too lewd for your blog. It does contain a couple of musical references, after all - doesn't it?!

Good Wishes, 
Allan Thompson.

Suzie Sayang.*
French, which means: Everyone has their taste.**
I stood a watching all night long
I stood a watching all night long
I stood a watching till you went away
You were a girl of many charms
Oh how I loved you in my arms
I never thought that you would ever go
Cause I love you so...

Images: Google.
Songs: Suzie Darling - Robin Luke
           A Bottle of Wine - The Fireballs.😊

Monday, January 16, 2017

Donald Trump Presidential Inauguration Many Artistes


Sam Moore
The Rockettes
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Jackie Evancho
Toby Keith
John Voight
3 Doors Down
Lee Greenwood
The Piano Guys

Will Be Performing 
on 20.01.2017


It is not  a surprise that a number of pop singers may not want to perform at Donald Trump's Inauguration as the 45th President of the U.S. but it is shocking that there are so many artistes who refused the offer.

Here is the list gathered from newspapers, magazines and the internet of artistes from the 1960's onward who will probably not appear:

Adam Lambert - 2000's
Andrea Bocelli - 1990's

Beyonce - 1990's
Bruce Springsteen - 1960's

Celine Dion - 1980's
Charlotte Church - 1990's
Cher - 1960's

David Foster - 1970's
Dixie Chicks - 1980's (Pix 3)

Elton John - 1960's
Garth Brooks - 1980's

Jennifer Lopez - 1980's (Pix 4)
Jon Bon Jovi - 1970's

Kiss - 1970's
Lady Gaga - 2000's

Marie Osmond - 1970's
Mortley Crue - 1980's

Paul Anka - 1960's
Rick Astley - 1980's (Pix 5)
Radio City Rockettes - 1920's (Pix 2)

75% of the singers and groups are from the 60's - 80's, experienced, very popular and crowd gatherers but the uncertainty is in. They might not appear and some confirmed they will not.

Let's listen to one comment, at least, from somebody who was here in Singapore just two years ago.
     Rick Astley: with Silver Strings members: John Cher n Audie Ng

"Let's see how big the cheque is," he was quoted as saying and with much honesty that is in the gentleman. Rick-rollin' expert Rick Astley added that an American President's inauguration wasn't the right place for a British artiste to be.

Another big name, Paul Anka, who had been asked by Mr Trump personally, could not re-schedule himself for the big night because of personal commitment but it would have been wonderful to hear Anka sing, My Way during the ceremony.

There are some other artistes who will not be appearing but I am not familiar with them. Knowing Mr Donald J. Trump, he may have a few trump cards up his sleeves, so let's wait and see. There are still four days more. He may come up with his Four Aces.
Hmm, just wondering if Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, James Brown, David Bowie and Debbie Reynolds, etc. had been around, would they?

What about you? Would you, as a band or a solo singer and musician, perform for Donald Trump? Why not? Why isn't everyone giving him a chance? After all it's just entertainment for the night. You are not endorsing his political gymnastics.

All information have been taken from the Internet and I cannot be responsible if schedules and artistes' appearance are changed from time to time. Please do not depend on this posting for the evening's inauguration programme.

Images and gif: Google.
You Tube: 1) My Way Paul Anka, 
               2) Marie Osmond. Top Stories Today (12 Jan 2017).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Barack Obama Outgoing POTUS' Music: 50's-70's

It's interesting that social media plays such an important role in many people's lives today. From Blogs to FacebookTwitter to Google Plus (and these are only the very basic ), social media users have escalated up to 2.6 billion around the world since 2010.

So again, to make this story short and sweet, I am jumping into this posting to write about the P.O.T.U.S. Barack Obama's music choices. And he has a few more days before he retires from the Oval office. Historical event indeed.

Without social media nobody would bother what songs he loves and doesn't but in this new generation where information is easily available, music lovers would want to know what his song choices are and listen to them.
And his favourites are all on the internet, open to anyone. Great choices for the avid listener because Obama is not only known as a jazz lover but balances his choice with songs from the past and present, i.e. from Billie Holiday to Beyonce, from Sinatra to Springsteen.

He has a long list of favourites, longer than most other presidents, and it's good because in this way he makes himself known to many people and connects with them well.

But it's not so in little Singapore. I may be wrong here but our guys in charge hardly know their popular music. Or they're just hiding the fact. It's a pity because they're missing a whole lot of people they could touch base with. 
Music Makers (l-r): Sunny, John, Mike, Soo Khoon, Andy, Rickie, Joe, Paul.
 The only cool dude I know who does is Tan Soo Khoon (above in pink), a singer and guitarist who can perform many songs and connect with his audience. He can sing the whole night with his semi-solid guitar. I watched him a couple of times and he can gyrate and rock Elvis' numbers including All Shook Up, Jailhouse Rock and evergreens like Your Cheating Heart and The Young Ones.

Soo Khoon was a former MP (Member of Parliament) and held the Speaker of the House position for many seasons. He knows many music makers out there and invites them to his home to jam at his well-equipped studio.
Now back to the US and President Obama who has a Day playlist and a Night one on Spotify, 39 songs altogether. I am limiting his list to only music from the 50's, 60's and 70's:

1 Ain't Too Proud To Beg - The Temptations
2 Live It Up - The Isley Brothers
3 Tombstone Blues - Bob Dylan
4 Too Much Trouble In The World - Bob Marley; Wailers
5 Wang Dang Doodle - Howling Wolf
6 Another Star - Stevie Wonder
7 Hot Fun In The Summertime - Sly n Family Stone
8 Gimme Shelter - Rolling Stones
9 Rock Steady - Aretha Franklin

1 Moondance - Van Morrison
2 How Can You Mend a Broken Heart - Al Green
3 The Best Is Yet To Come - Frank Sinatra, Count Basie
4 You Don't Know Me - Ray Charles
5 Help Me - Jonie Mitchell
6 I've Got Dreams To Remember - Otis Redding
7 Suzanne - Leonard Cohen
8 The Very Thought of You - Billie Holiday
9 Flamenco Sketches

He's got his Summer playlist, his Campaign playlist, his Workout playlist and a host of others.

To sum up, here's what I gathered from the sites. His favourite 60's song is, What's Going On by Marvin Gaye but likes Stevie Wonder overall. He has 30 Dylan songs on his iPod and appreciates Springsteen, Grateful Dead, Earth Wind and Fire, Elton John and Rolling Stones.
He's much into jazz as mentioned earlier and digs John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker. Also Howling Wolf, Sheryl Crow and Yo Yo Ma.

Do you have a playlist of your own. Write in when you can because good friend from California Henri Gann (Trekkers) has one too.

Obama Hit List from The Telegraph Culture/Music:
Images: Google. 
Mr Obama with Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

When Phones Were In Booths, Not Pockets: Part 1

So here's the big deal now. We used to walk to make our phone call. Now we walk with our phone call.

Fun Time, Quiz Time
As the world progresses technologically, I don't know if it does in an emotionally matured way, many things around us become obsolete. Here's my take:

Not too long ago when telephone booths were in vogue and when people had no phones in their pockets, let alone video clips, photographs or the latest news items, these special structures usually found at street corners, were the only way you could get or relay an urgent message, if you were on the go.

In London, England and surrounding counties, these booths were red in colour. When I first saw them in London in the 70's I thought they look like big *ang pows or red packets.

But there were other ones of different colours, shapes and sizes. And these booths were very popular some years ago.

In later years, when phones became portable, they had other uses for the telephone booths e.g. as mini-libraries, tiny street bars, etc. and props as shown in these pictures. Here are some booths with their music superstars. Can you guess who the stars are?
Here are some great songs where telephones are mentioned in the lyrics.The artistes in the images have no connection with the song titles:

Chantilly Lace - Big Bopper (1958)
Beachwood 45789 - The Marvellettes (1962)
634-5789 Soulsville USA - Wilson Pickett (1964)

Party Line - The Kinks (1966)
Happy Together - Turtles (1967)
Syvia's Mother - Dr Hook and The Medicine Show (1972)
That's Not The Way It Feels - Jim Croce (1972)

Long Distance Operator - Bob Dylan (1975)
Telephone Line - ELO (1976)
Hanging On The Telephone - The Nerves (1976)

Love On The Telephone - Foreigner (1979)
Call Me - Blondie (1980)
I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder (1981)

Here's an American version of phone booths from Bob Dylan's perspective.

There are thousands in the phone booth
Thousands at the gate
There are thousands in the phone booth
Thousands at the gate
Everybody wants to make a long distance call
But you know, they're just gonna have to wait

Just a phone call to a girl-friend but tone stems anger, unhappiness. Dylan's songs spell other meanings. But the venue was a phone booth.
You Tube Video: Off The Hook  from Rolling Stones
Video by creekmorebanks' channel 

This picture above with five gentlemen in phone booths can only be answered  by Singaporean readers. Name this group and where these booths were?
This last image by American comic book artist, Michael Allred is a little tougher. So clues coming right out. They are British Rock music stars of the 60's and 70's. You can find JH, The W., BJ, MJ, MF in her Girl on a Motorcycle leathers. Then comes DB (Ziggy Stardust). Anyone else?

All celebrating on Carnaby Street, with an obtrusive, larger than life, telephone booth. It's 2017 now so these artistes look younger in the picture.

Good luck and have fun.

Singapore Phone Booths:

Having booths in Singapore will be useless. The weather's too hot. Singapore coin phones long ago were open-air ones.
*An ang pow is a red packet with money inside given away during Chinese New Year.

Images: Google (telephone booths).

Saturday, January 07, 2017

House Of Rising Sun, Endless Love 不了情 Says Hair Stylist

Ah Kim In Action: Video by Chris David
Here's the final Part 2 about Ah Kim's Journey and his love for 60's music:

Between 1984 - 2000 Ah Kim had 3 small saloons all located in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia and it was only in the year 2000 that he managed to buy a small property of his own which housed both a saloon and a hair-styling school.

Before he started on this 'Long and Winding Road' he had 3 simple dreams.
1. To own a nice house 
2. To drive a beautiful car 
3. To learn how to swim. 

Believe it or not, he failed in the simplest of all 3 dreams. It was only after his return to Singapore in 2102 that he managed to stand on water.

Today Ah Kim spends much his time innovating  and creating different hair styles for international hair shows. In his own words, "I am not a commercial hair stylist; I am a fashion hair stylist."

He was the finalist for the Alternative Hair Award in 2014 and 2016 in London and was one of the 16 finalists to be selected out of 900 hairdressers in the world. Ah Kim was the only Singaporean to be in the finals and for the record, the only Singaporean in the finals in the last 30 years. 

Hopefully at this renowned event Singaporeans will stand up with pride that among the world's best in coiffure and in this tiny Red Dot City we call Singapore we have in our midst a non-celebrated, giant.  

Cheers to Ah Kim and we wish him all the best for his next show in Singapore and the next big hair fashion competition in London in 2017.

Andy Lim with Ah Kim:

During Andy's interview with Ah Kim, he was kind enough to provide the former with a copy of his book, AHKIM (image) where beautiful and creatively coiffured hair styles of his work were presented in vivid images. 

Besides the glossy photographs, the publication has insights about Ah Kim from his teachers, friends and experts in the industry and a foreword from retired newsman Yeo Toon Joo, Peter.

When asked about his free time, he said he loved listening to Rediffusion in the 1960's. Here's a paragraph from his book where his Gan Eng Seng School classmate, Raymond Chong reminisced:

Our friendship continued to grow throughout our working life. Together with our friends in Chinatown, we used to visit the cinemas and spend time at cafes. Those were the usual activities of youth then. We also listened to Rediffusion and radio programmes, together making requests and dedicating songs to each other. 
  His Publication: AHKIM Copyright 2012. Designer: Eranga Tennekoon.

Urged on about his love for 60's music Ah Kim  revealed his love for the Beatles, The Animals, Simon and Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones with their hits: I Want to Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day's Night, House of the Rising Sun, The Sound of Silence and As Tears Go By.

His favourite singers are Marianne Faithful, Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley. He loves local singers like Huang Qing Yuan, Sakura and his favourite Rita Chao. The Chinese songs are *Endless Love, Wine and Coffee, Flowing Water, Manli, Night and Fog and Peach Blossom River. 

*(不了情, 美酒加咖啡, 水長流, 曼莉, 黃清元, 尤雅, 潘秀瓊).

When he visited a nightclub during his early years and they were rare, he would go with his friends to the Golden Million Club at Peninsula Hotel in Singapore. His friends would usually treat him for the evening. Ah Kim remembers and would return the treat when he had the opportunity in later years. 

He appreciates the vitality and style of Vidal Sassoon and the mini-skirt when it was in fashion, loved the short Bob Cut and Classic Bob hair style, together with the unique Asymmetrical and the Geometric hair cut. 

        Andy Lim (Blogger), Ah Kim and Larry Lai (60's DJ).

During the interview with Andy he revealed he would love to meet Larry Lai, Rediffusion 60's DJ. 

Andy told him, "Surely," arranged a meeting and above is a snap of the three.

Wish hard enough but work harder and dreams will morph into reality. All the best Ah Kim in your unending journey. You've made it, but there's more...

Click below to read Part 1.
Images and Article:
A Private Collection; Book AHKIM and Art of Hair Inter Coiffure.
Copyrights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Long n Winding Road International Hair Stylist Ah Kim P 1

Part One:

Laurence Lim, a former teacher and a member of the 60's band The Trebles writes about his primary school student who has achieved stardom in the international arena of fashion hairstyling. 

As music lovers we are familiar with the tune and lyrics of this Beatles classic, The Long and Winding Road. But today on this blog we will portray a little known celebrity named Ah Kim Anthony Tan  whose Long and Winding Road to stardom and world acclamation will bring some to tears.

Ah Kim is a four time winner in the internationally recognized Avant Garde Hair Fashion Show held annually in Australia and Europe. His latest win being at an Avant Garde Hair Fashion Competition held in Australia in October, 2016.
                                     Ah Kim (left) and Laurence Lim

After having won so many awards in such highly prestigious events, little wonder why Ah Kim is still relatively unknown in this part of the world, especially Singapore? 

He came from a humble home. He lived in a crowded house with his parents and siblings in Havelock Road, a rather undeveloped part of Singapore in the early 60's and 70's. He studied at Park Road School, right in the heart of Chinatown. 

It was in this school that I had the privilege to be his form teacher. Our education system during the 60's and 70's was such that besides the class having its own form teacher there were others who would teach different subjects.

Ah Kim was not an outstanding student academically. He was polite and well mannered. But he had a fair share of scoldings too. But boys are boys as we adults always perceive. As mentioned he was not academically inclined and he had to repeat his Primary 6 PSLE examination.

He made it on his second try and got promoted to secondary level. But due to some financial setbacks and not being able to buy school text books, he was disadvantaged academically. He had to wait weeks to borrow text books, which at that time was a feature in our education system.

All these setbacks contributed to Ah Kim's perception that education was not the only avenue for someone to survive and to succeed in life. So he took the easier way out and quit school after completing Secondary Three.

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here
Let me know the way...

Having no direction in life, with no money and any form of financial assistance from anyone, he took up a job in a hotel with a meager salary of S$90 per month.

"That was good enough," Ah Kim said. While working at the then Mandarin Hotel he met many guests who were  mainly foreigners. It was at this hotel that he befriended a kind Indonesian soul who asked him what he really wanted to do in life after noticing  that he was not  enjoying his work. He  told this gentleman named Mr Yap, an Indonesian, that he actually would like to pursue a course in hairstyling.

As luck had it, Mr Yap agreed to sponsor and also provide him with a monthly allowance to take up a hair styling course at the well known Vidal Sassoon in London.

Vidal Sassoon, London, England.

Ah Kim spent a year in London and returned to Singapore in 1979. Upon his return he worked in four different saloons to gain  working experience as well as some pocket money. Upon his return he personally he felt that he was still not good enough and graded himself 5 out of 10. 

After managing to save some money Ah Kim decided to venture further to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming, The Best Among The Best. But there was no way that he could  fulfill his dream if he had  continued to live and work in Singapore.

In 1983 with a return air ticket and with only $50/ in his wallet Ah Kim flew off to Australia. There he met a Lebanese by the name of Victor who had a small saloon in Sydney.  Upon knowing that Ah Kim is a hair stylist he offered Ah Kim a job in his saloon. 

Their friendship remains intact  to this day. Ah Kim stayed and worked in Australia from 1983 and became an  Australian PR in 1986 which was a prerequisite, according to Australian immigration laws for anyone wanting to live and set up businesses. 

Part 2 continues when he meets Andy and reveals his invitingly glamorous publication, a book of his creations and people who honour him. 

The circle is complete when he talks to Andy about his love for Singapore 60's music.

Click to watch:

Images from Book, Google and A Private Collection.
Article by Laurence Lim - Copyrights Reserved.



The Long And Winding Road lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC