Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The MELTONES as related by Ronald Ho

Original Meltones 1966: L to R: Ronald, David, Jimmy, Richard, Malcolm.
Meltones at house function 1968 and at SIA CLUB 2018.

For a band to get together again and 50 years later with the same boys is truly remarkable. This group has not changed members so when I asked Ronald if he could do a short write-up he agreed. Ronald sings as his famous brother Raymond (Crescendos) does. Thanks for taking time off  to write your 60's music adventure my friend.

My brother Raymond was original Crescendos. My siblings are all musically oriented, play guitars, sing but never went professional except for Raymond. My other brother Rennie back in the 70s also sang with some groups for many years but stopped after he started work with a Japanese company, Ataka. I, with Jimmy Appudurai, Richard Ang, David Lim and Malcolm Alphonso started the Meltones in 1963.

 We continued playing as a group till the 70s and performed at many gigs... Ocean Park Hotel, New Penangway, high teas, functions, and RAF Changi. We were part of the Push Push Show Tour back in 1966 or so with the Quests and performed at JB, Muar, Melaka, KL, Ipoh and Penang. But Meltones never played professionally or regularly. We each had our various careers. Except Jimmy who went on to play professionally.

 But in 2013, Meltones came back together again and started playing again at various functions. In 2015, we performed at the Esplanade Open Air theatre. In 2016, we performed at the Esplanade Recital Hall to 3 sell out shows, and again in 2017. And in 2018, we performed at the Esplanade main concert Hall. Jimmy flew in from England in all instances to perform with us.

 At our 2nd recital Hall show, I brought in the Crescendos,  as guest artistes. But just Raymond and John performed. Again, at the final main concert hall show in 2018, I brought in the Crescendos as guest artistes. 

In 2019, Meltones performed at Pek Kio Community Hall as invited by Jerry Fernández. And at National Library as part of Arts Festival. New Meltones is still alive but without Jimmy who is stuck in England.

 Our members are Richard Ang (lead guitar), David Lim (bass guitar), Kelly Tan (rhythm guitar and vocals), Hansen Beng (drums), and myself Ronald Ho (vocal singer and spokesman for the group). We play songs from the 60s and 70s and cover a huge span of music.

 Article and Images: Copyrights Reserved.
YouTube Video: Foo Jong Fook.
 Written by Ronald Ho. 

Jimmy Appudurai writes: 

This is so cool, I remember the pictures but not seen them for a while... brilliant... love playing with them, so much fun. Never ever talk about money. 

Even coming Singapore to play. They will use their payments for my airfare plus they provide me meals as well... amazing guys.  If the payments do not cover the airfare, in two cases both Ronald and Malcolm will subsidize the extra; they never want me to lose out. 

There is that loyalty thing ingrained in my classmates; they are so special. One of those bands that made no records and all totally around still today. They are all from the same class at St. Patrick's School in Katong. And they are Catholics except me. 

Thanks Andy for your wonderful blog xxxx.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

A Happy National Day 2020 To All Singaporeans: 10 Years Ago Today

I remember 10 years ago exactly when the Silver Strings and myself, with other bands performed at the Esplanade open-air concert by the sea. It was fun and music for the whole night. 

But now it's different.

It's still Covid Time, so do be careful when you are socializing and being with family and friends. Remember your rules: distance yourself, wear your mask and wash your hands most times. Otherwise you may get into trouble both with the law and with yourself.

Meantime enjoy your 55th National Day with its pomp and pageantry during these challenging times.

Happy National Day to all.

Images: Google Mix Bag; Esplanade 2010 National Day Programme;
Flower Arrangement by RTSL.
Video: A Personal Collection taken at Farrer Market Car Park Side.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

It Warms The Cockles & Mussels Of Our Hearts

Jamus Lim's now famous English saying (which many of us learnt during our school days) has brought some memories to surface. One of them is James Kwok who sent me the video Cockles and Mussels, a song from way back Brit times in Singapore schools. It was one of many tunes we had to learn during the  colonial days. These were songs that were totally British, Irish, Scottish or Welsh using words and terms we could not understand but had to remember. It was fun.

As school boys and girls, "It warms the cockles of our hearts..." is a phrase many would be familiar with. Now the children have grown up and have become Seniors today. 

But let's read what James has to say:

Back in primary school in the 1950s we had music class when we learnt to sing British songs such as Molly Malone and Sing a Song of Six Pence a Packet Full of Rye. I didn't know what's Six pence or rye, but just sang along, after my negative experience with the British national anthem. 

Early in the year we were taught to sing. God Save the Queen. I remember asking music teacher Miss Lee what's happened to the queen and I was given an angry stare and told to behave myself and to shut up. Things were different then, that's Pr 1, 1954. 

The famous Molly Malone with Cockles and Mussels, one of many songs we had to learn as a child during British colonial times in Singapore. Sung by Ruby Murray above.

Then came self government and Majulah Singapura and in secondary  school we had the Victoria School song plus other Singapore songs with subtle nation-building themes composed by  Pak Zubir Said and others who inspired us with their works. 

Back in my Pr 1 days, a song  which I loved to sing and was considered harmless is now judged by some to be politically incorrect, even racist, so its title has been altered to BAA BAA SHEEP SHEEP.  Things are different now, this being 2020.

Colonial Vocabulary Or Nouns Unlearnt:

Written by: James Kwok.

Images: A Google Mix Bag.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Racism & Mother Earth's Sickness Revealed In Song Lyrics

Looking at the headlines today and the catastrophic, problematic racial events happening recently in a certain country, it's wise to reflect on some of the lyrics from past music compositions on this topic. Many song lyrics are revealing and unearth truths about the country's past.

There is also the wanton destruction of Mother Earth and despite warnings from those who love this world of ours, they have been left unheeded. Even with the deadly threat of Covid, the shameful thrashing of Earth continues. We have some blue skies these few months (the post before this one) but nothing else has improved earth's morbid climatic conditions.

First things first.

It isn't a sudden phenomenon but a terrible tale that has glued itself in the books of time for a long, long while. History aside, cause I'm no historian, let's just take a peek at extracts of a few songs that have peaked the charts through the years and remembered even today. First, Michael Jackson's :

Black Or White
Michael Jackson (1991)

For gangs, clubs, and nations
Causing grief in human relations
It's a turf war on a global scale
I'd rather hear both sides of the tale

See, it's not about races
Just places, faces
Where your blood comes from
Is where your space is
I've seen the bright get duller
I'm not going to spend my life being a color

Don't tell me you agree with me
When I saw you kicking dirt in my eye
It don't matter if you're black or white...

Black or White: Michael Jackson, obviously aware of what he's trying to explain. Check out his screams...

Now back to our planet being unwell.  It's a stark reminder again, a beautiful song called:

Colors of the Wind
Alan Menken, Stephen Laurence Schwartz (1995)
Sung by lovely Vanessa Williams.

You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew, you never knew 
From the movie: Pocahontas.

Racism, like climate change, has deep roots in many countries. Song lyrics from the US tell tales of woe. Here's a very popular one, about being together by McCartney and Wonder.

Did anyone bother to replay?
Ebony and Ivory
Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder (1982)

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don't we?

We all know that people are the same wherever you go
There is good and bad in ev'ryone
We learn to live, when we learn to give
Each other what we need to survive, together alive

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord why don't we?
Black and White
Colors of the Wind
Ebony and Ivory
Everything Is Beautiful

Kung Fu Fighting
Gimme Hope Joanna
Half Breed
Walk A Mile In My Shoes

Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud
Brown Sugar
Living for the City
A Change Is Gonna Come

Tear Apart Hate
Black and White
It's Not Easy Being Green
Birmingham Sunday

These songs listed are only a fraction of those with similar themes. Disharmony with intent is worse than Covid  that will not only destroy humankind but Mother Earth as well.

Bullying a minority race and bullying the planet - headlines today.

It's not easy being green...
People tend to pass you over
Cause you're not standing out
Like splashy sparkles in the water...
(Joe Raposo, Jim Hanson, Muppet Show)

Listen to the songs listed and focus on  the lyrics.

Colours Of The Wind Vanessa Williams.
On animism and Mother Earth.

Hari Raya Haji 2020

The Quests: Mustafa.

The Four Lads: Istanbul Was Constantinople.

This song selection was taken from JT CHEN's SMS,
 a special Hari Raya Haji treat.

Do be careful with Covid; social distancing, mask and hand-washing.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Weather Forecast Singapore: Blue Skies All Day Long: Climate Change?

Since the pandemic and lock down in many cities around the world, the reduction in air-pollution has caused the skies to be brighter, bluer and the bursts of wooly, white clouds converge to form what my grand child used to call, strange white monsters all over the sky. And these creatures in the skies are more prominent and huge.

In fact with so much time on hand, I have created more posters and one with lyrics of Blue Skies, a favourite of mine. It is a 1926 song, yes way before any of us were born but loved after World War 2 and it has been covered by many singers and orchestras those years. It came from a musical by Rogers and Hart. If there had been YouTube in the 1920's this song could have hit a hundred million views.
Blue Skies by Doris Day. Thanks to the contributor of this video, ILoveOldies.

Images: A mish-mash of illustrations from here and there. 
Video:    From YouTube and Doris Day.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Elvis, Beatles, M. Jackson: Mask, Wash Hands, Come Together? Mother Earth Retaliates!

A long time ago, MJ wore a mask, the Beatles self distanced and Elvis believed in the clean hands habit. You may ask why. Here's a theory.

Michael Jackson, The Beatles and Elvis Presley apparently were well aware of the Corona Virus pandemic years before it happened?

The pictures show the Beatles practise self-distancing measures when walking, during their Abbey Road recordings; Elvis was always keeping his hands clean, metaphorically and literally, as his song explains. In fact Jackson predicted that there would be a major outbreak of a virus he thought would occur from way back in the early nineties. 

Jackson had reasons for the mask. He was always worried about getting sick and concerned for both himself and his fans, their crowding him during his appearances, etc. 

His genuine love for Mother nature had him recording, 'Heal the World' and 'Earth Song', powerfully presented on video-clips. Many fans love these two hits but how many heeded the message?

Treated carelessly and so wantonly, Nature hit back in retaliation with a force so great we see 14 million helplessly sick individuals (July 2020), suffering the consequences of Covid today. Currently more than half a million people are dead! And bodies are still falling.

Elvis' song was a warning by a father to his son about being tracked by bloodhounds and imprisoned because the father didn't "keep his hands cleaned". Today we know what "bloodhounds" mean. The virus comes after you and envelopes your insides if you washed your hands in muddy water. So don't "fall in with bad companions".  

"Come Together", an Abbey Road track gives the opposite advice. We shouldn't, should we, come together during these unseemly times? A song meant for a presidential campaign ended up so unique and different. But it became a hit and one of the first few songs I learnt a long time ago.

When you get cooped up too much at home, this blog post is what you finally try to get away with. 

Keep well guys.
Come Together: The Beatles. Thanks to the artist too for creating such imaginative and beautiful live caricatures of the four lads from England. I cannot imagine how it's done but I hope the creator will allow me to share it with my readers. 60 million views! Wow! 

[Copyrighted 2015 Calderstone Productions Limited (Universal Music Group/Apple Films Ltd.)]

Truly one of Elvis' most fantastic songs ever recorded. Not many of his fans know this song because when I asked around, there was silence. It's everything Elvis.

I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water: Elvis Presley.

One of his most prized video-clips ever recorded was 'The Earth Song'.
You can watch it full blast if you haven't but view it to the end. 
260 million views to date.

Thanks to the people who loaded these pictures and videos without whom this posting could never have been possible.  If copyrights have been infringed, please write in under Comments below  and pix/videos will be deleted.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Reynaldo Lachica RIP: A Tribute By Horace Wee

Photo: Copyrights reserved by Mun Chor Seng.

Condolences to the family of the late Mr Reynaldo Lachica.

Reynaldo Lachica, an affable man of Filipino heritage, a professional musician who played the Alto saxophone brilliantly. He doubled on clarinet, as this was a requirement for a saxophone player. Additionally he was a violinist. He spent a greater part of his professional music career as a member of the Singapore Radio & Television orchestra.

His ability to sight read any piece of music made him an invaluable asset in the at times, pressurised recording schedules in broadcasting. This also made him a “first call” musician when backing bands/ orchestras were required for international performers . Technically, he was on the alto saxophone as agile as a player like Paul Desmond from the Dave Brubeck Quarter. His tone however had more of a bite than Desmond’s sweetness and related more to a New York sound reminiscent of Cannonball Adderley. That said, he was capable of sweetness in tone when called upon. Like many players from the era of the late 50s and 60s, his background was jazz and his improvised solos reflected the influences of the bebop era exemplified by Charlie “Bird”Parker. Though I have heard him play in a Dixieland jazz format such was this man’s versatility.

His main side kick for his forays into modern jazz events was fellow orchestra member Olympio Galaura on trumpet. When these two played fronting a typical jazz quintet that comprised of a rhythm section with two front line horns, one couldn’t find a loose gap between their playing. They were so “tight” adjoined like Siamese twins. Early years found them playing at jazz cultural events and they were in regular attendance at Sunday jam sessions at the Golden Venus and subsequently in the 70s at the Jockey pub. An enthusiastic supporter for any jam session, he would play with anybody.

Like everyone, his life had it’s ups and downs . During rosy times, his social group comprised of himself, Olympio Galaura, Jose Daroya a pianist together with their wives. They went clubbing and everywhere together. Sadly the trio ended up all separated from their wives. Reynaldo had to care and bring up his four children. A boy Gerry, and the three girls Angeline, Nicole and Bridget. In recent times it was revealed that he was a good cook and could whip up many local delicacies. This has been imparted on his daughter Nicole, who’s a very good cook.

I’m unsure of the circumstances, but there was a period in his life that he became very religious almost to the extent of constantly carrying a bible. However as he got older things moderated.

In his years during retirement he played whatever music gigs would come his way with some show backing jobs and generally others with a varied lot of musicians.

As his physical health deteriorated possibly around 2008 or thereafter, he was eventually confined to a wheelchair and placed in an elderly home in Johore. His daughter Nicole decided it was a good idea if she brought him to live with her in Houston , Texas. Two years later he was back and word was that he was unhappy and missed all his local food. A happy note he related during his stay in Houston was that, people came on Sundays to church to hear his saxophone playing. It was gratifying as he commented that in Singapore no one bothered.
He was housed in an elderly home at Jalan Kayu in Singapore. I visited him a number of times and each time his condition deteriorated more. He passed away peacefully on the 14th of July 2020 at the age of 89 years old.

He is now playing saxophone solos with the angels and other great musicians there.

Rest In Peace Reynaldo.

Horace Wee
This article has been copyrighted
Sent from my iPad

Thanks to Horace for completing this tribute soonest.