|Zhou Xuan's first album Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女|
Continuing with the same theme, here's another revelation on Chinese record covers. Chow Hsuan or Zhou Xuan (周璇) was one of the top seven-star singers in China from the 30s to the 50s and many of her songs are still favourites and being played even today.
I have a collection of six Zhou Xuan records. That's about sixty songs altogether and includes titles like A Mahjong Game, Choosing A Wife, Little Bridal Chamber and the famous Wandering Songstress (天涯歌女).
These albums had been compiled many years after the original recordings and would not be in their respective order of production. Except for some slight scratching and hissing sound, they play well on the turn-table. But this posting is neither about her nor her songs.
This personal collection of vinyl discs are 33rpm Long Plays but come in a 10-inch and not 12-inch format. Talk of outsourcing, this collection has many countries to its origin. Although Zhou Xuan was from China, the record was issued by The Gramophone Company Ltd of Hayes, Middlesex, England. The collection was recorded in Hong Kong but produced in India (like many of Cliff Richard's records).
|Her third album.|
Now here's the surprise. The unique drawings on the record covers had been painted by two Singapore artists; the earlier ones by Ms Nah QH and the later ones by Mr Tan KC. The first image above is described on the back sleeve and shows a "reproduction of a Chinese village scene of some *thirty years ago (probably 50 years ago today). It depicts the Wandering Songstress on her travels from village to village, inn to inn, eating-house to eating-house earning her living by song."
|Back Cover of Fourth Album|
I guess the art form like the brush strokes, colours and Chinese characters reveal the artistry of paintings done those years. But honestly, I am no art critic and the illustrations are as modern today and look good enough to be hung on the wall. But the bonus about this collection is the English translation of the Chinese titles as it helps non-Chinese readers to understand the theme of each melody (image 3). Wish they would do that today.
So there you are, the lady's from China, her songs were recorded in Hong Kong, the cover pictures were done in Singapore, the records pressed in India and the whole package controlled, produced and issued by England. If you are complaining about outsourcing today just remember that it's been practised a long, long time ago.
You can read more about Zhou Xuan by clicking her name under Labels below.
Article/Images: Original/Own collection.