SINGAPORE 60's: ANDY'S POP MUSIC INFLUENCE: ON THE MUSIC N MEMORY TRAIL IS MY OWN BLOG N ROLL PROJECT. NOSTALGIA IS PERSONAL HISTORY N PICTURES TELL STORIES. POP MUSIC NOT PILLS. ANDY YOUNG. (November, 2008). IT'S DONE WITH MUCH TIME AND LOVE.


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Monday, April 25, 2016

US Troops From Vietnam Plays Motown On Jukebox




It has been a while since Allan Thompson wrote his tales of intrigue and suspense. Below is another, more thrilling than ever, as he takes us on his own trip down memory lane to investigate the juke-box joints in *decadent Singapore. We're back in the 60's now as we join him hunting down military establishments with his ang-moh kakis.

It is an exciting trip and what you're about to read is true. Thanks again Allan. 
Dear Andy,  

I seem to recall that juke boxes were not permitted in bars of other public places in Singapore during the 1960's.  I was told at the time that this was because of protection rackets over the supply of the machines and records.  (This was part of the plot of the Jayne Mansfield film, The Girl Can't Help It).  

Maybe you have *more information on this?  However, military establishments were allowed to have juke boxes, and I know they were installed in the NAAFI, the Chalet Club, and the Malcolm Club at RAF Changi.  

The Chalet Club also had a Scopitone film juke box which cost 50 cents for each play, which was more expensive than the normal record juke box.  There was also a delay between songs because the films apparently had to rewind after each number.  

The favourite selections on the Chalet Club machine were Robot by The Tornados, who were filmed in woodland wearing cheaply made helmets and dancing with girls while miming to the record;  Francoise Hardy on a swingboat, miming to one of her songs while her skirt blew up every time the swingboat swung;  and I've Got The World On A String which featured voluptuous bikini-clad American girls dancing on a beach while the lucky cameraman took some interesting and provocative overhead cleavage shots! 
Because of the juke box ban, many Singapore bars played music on record-players, tape recorders or the radio.  I remember one occasion when some friends and I went into a bar near Raffles Place and were met with the sound of loud Motown music on the record-player while six tall black American sailors in their white uniforms danced in a line in the middle of the room in the style of the Four Tops (image below).  

It was an unforgettable sight.  In those days many American servicemen used to visit Singapore while on leave from Vietnam, that terrible, pointless war which devastated that beautiful country and maimed and killed so many innocent people.   
If only the United States had let 'Uncle' Ho Chi Min run the country for the benefit of the Vietnamese people instead of flexing their muscles and causing so much destruction.  I think it says a lot for the dignity of the Vietnamese that they are so forgiving of those who oppressed them for so many years.  There ends my sermon for today!

Good wishes, 
Allan. 

NB:

(1) On 8th June, 1959, the newly elected PAP government launched a campaign against yellow culture (Chinese: huangse wenhua = decadent behaviour). Although there were attempts to eradicate it earlier, the campaign was a sustained and extensive enterprise, easing only in the 1980's. 

Spear-headed by the Culture Ministry, the authorities launched a nationwide clamp-down on Western culture seen as promoting anti-social life. So pornographic publications and films, strip shows, jukebox dens, pin-table saloons, rock music as well as long hair on men were banned. It promoted instead healthy cultural activities that focused on forging a common Malayan culture. 

From: HistorySG, an online resource guide.
                  'I've Got The World On A String' - A Scopitone Film Juke-Box

(2) Scopitone was a 1960's type of jukebox featuring a 16 mm film component. Scopitone films were a forerunner of modern music videos. The first Scopitones were made in France. 

*written tongue-in-cheek.
Images and Videos from Google and You Tube.

Kick-start words:
Vietnam War, Rest and Recreation, US soldiers, army

12 comments:

Wikiepedia said...

The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan who helped to define the city's Motown sound of the 1960's. The group's repertoire has included soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes.

Founded as The Four Aims, they remained together for over four decades, having gone from 1953 until 1997 without a change in personnel.

The Four Tops were among a number of groups, including The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, and The Supremes, who established the Motown Sound around the world during the 1960's.

They were notable for having a baritone, as their lead singer, whereas most male/mixed vocal groups of the time were fronted by a tenor.

After scoring their first #1 hit, "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" in June 1965, the Four Tops began a long series of successful hit singles. Among the first wave of these hits were the Top 10, "It's the Same Old Song", "Something About You", "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)", and "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever".

Four Tops records often represented the epitome of the Motown Sound: simple distinctive melodies and rhymes, call-and-response lyrics, and the musical contributions of a studio band.

Wikiepedia 2 said...

The Vietnam War lasted from 1955 to 1975. It was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the USSR, China and North Korea, while South Vietnam was supported by the United States, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. This conflict between communist and capitalist countries was part of the Cold War.

The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), was a South Vietnamese communist force helped by the North. It fought a guerrilla war against the anti-communist forces in the South. The People's Army of Vietnam (also known as the North Vietnamese Army) engaged in a more conventional war, at times putting large forces to battle.

NEXT AVENUE said...

TOP TEN VIETNAMESE WAR SONGS

1 GREEN GREEN GRASS OF HOME - PORTER WAGGONER
2 CHAINS OF FOOLS - ARETHA FRANKLIN
3 THE LETTER - THE BOX TOPS
4 SITTING ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY - OTIS REDDING
5 FORTUNATE SON -CCR
6 PURPLE HAZE - JIMMI HENDRIX
7 DETROIT CITY - BOBBY BARE
8 LEAVING ON A JET PLANE - PETER PAUL MARY
9 I FEEL LIKE I'M FIXING TO DIE RAG - COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH
10 WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE - THE ANIMALS

NEXT AVENUE said...

Many of the men and women we interviewed for 'We Gotta Get Out of This Place' had never talked about their Vietnam war experience, even with their spouses and family members. But we found they could talk about a song — 'These Boots Are Made for Walkin’', 'My Girl', 'And When I Die', 'Ring of Fire' and scores of others. And the talking helped heal some of the wounds left from the war.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Apparently not many people know what a scopitone is and having spoken to David Row (Singaporean collector) who is an expert with musical gadgets like jukeboxes, gramophone players and the earliest invention of a sound machine, he was honest enough to say that he is not familiar with it.

Thanks to Allan Thompson, the 1960's RAF sleuth, who has revealed to us what this gadget is.

JANE DICK MANITOBA CANADA said...

Very interesting. :-) Had no idea they made music videos back in those days
Best

TAN SER KIONG (TWEETER) said...

Your Tweet got liked!

ROBERT SURIYA (LEAD 'NAOMI AND THE BOYS') said...

I used to play one - But couldn't afford to own one. They were a great source of music those days.

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Henri Gann said...

Hey Andy !
Have been busy but still enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work !
Henry

Allan Thompson said...

Dear Andy, This is a belated comment and refers to "The Letter" by The Box Tops. That song, as you rightly mentioned in your list, had connections with the Vietnam War. If you look on YouTube you will find a version of the song by my good friend, Monty Zoomer, with appropriate visuals, which refers to the Indonesian Confrontation (Konfrontasi) of Malaysia/Singapore during the 1960s.
Good wishes, Allan.

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