Thursday, June 23, 2011

Singapore 60s Vinyl Covers Are Works Of Art: Pt 1

Glasses, large collar, scarf, bell-bots.
The 3 vinyl cover images above are taken from my record collection of Singapore, Malaysia and SE Asian 60s and 70s pop music stars and they fill my drawers to the brim. What amazes me is the illustrative work done by some of our graphic designers who had taken time and trouble to draw these pieces of art.

The images shown are only samplings of the hundreds of local record covers that have hand-drawn portraits. Frankie Cheah, The Quests and Sugiman Jahuri are some of the musicians who have credibility in the 60s to attract record buyers with their own rendition of imported western music.

The first vinyl cover shows Johore (Malaysia) teacher Cheah's hit single Woman In My Life (image 1: S-CHK 1074), with Denver on the flip. Produced and marketed by EMI/Columbia, the music was arranged and produced by Reggie Verghese/Kassim Masdor.

The photography and illustrations were by Freddy Ang. The white bold lettering with light green background announces the stylishly drawn image of the singer and guitar who appear in black and white.

Psychedelia a-la Singapura
As hippie music invaded SE Asia, a new release in March 1968 by EMI had The Quests instrumentalizing 4 Asian songs (image 2: ECHK 587) with new psychedelic sounds*. The cover shows the usual flower-power design significant during that period of pop music.

Psychedelia was rearing its head, and as the EP sleeve shows, only the ladies in Singapore could have long hair, not the guys. This time 4 colours were used, a dull greyish blue and black contrasting the yellow flowers and white faces. The illustrator of this intricately designed cover was not named. Pity. The songs in the Quests EP are The Indian Maid, Return Of Spring, Sayonara and Why Go To The Temple.

In 1968 when the man from Bukom Island (Singapore) took second prize in the Radio Television Singapore Talentime, he recorded four sentimental songs. Sugiman Jahuri became an overnight sensation and a sketch of the man appears on the cover of EMI record (image 3: ECHK 593).

Sugiman in purple batek. No kampong Bukom boy here!
The detailed yet simply crafted portrait of Sugiman with his suede-coloured spring jacket, purple batik top, white pants and loose belt echo his easy going singing style and fashion of the day. Again the original illustrator is unknown but the design and photography was by Unigraphic Studios. Songs on EP: Look At You, It's Not For Me To Say, You Make My Life Worthwhile, Born Free.

So, even before the advent of Lucas Films and Walt Disney Films in Singapore today, we had our stable of talented illustrators who have done justice with their creativity.

Images from iPhone4: EMI Records (SE Asia Limited).

Original article/record collection: Andy Lim.

*Thanks to Jap Chong, well-known music personality and Quests rhythm guitarist, who personally explained to me the use of the fuzz-box on this recording.


Anonymous said...

28th Jul 2011. 'Singapore Vinyl Cover Art'
Posted by 'noelbynature' under Lifestyle, art.(0) Comment • (357) Reads • Permalink

From his massive record collection, Andy showcases some of the cover art featuring local artists from the 1960s.

Remember, this was from the 1960s when photoshop and other computer-aided design hadn’t existed - covers like these had to be first produced by hand.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

'noelbynature' explains this posting by comparing old age graphic design methods with today's state of the art IT miracle.

Anonymous said...

Posted by: 'av malzemeleri'
Posted on: September 20th, 2011

Cheeky contribution by Andy who shares alluring album art in his post.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you sir. Love your sense of humour because I thought it was a serious piece of posting. Ha, ha!

Please visit again.

(Comment taken from

Vishal said...

Hi, I'd like to use the image of Sugiman on a website. Are you okay with that?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

It's not mine Visual. For a personal blog, should be OK. But I am not sure, honestly.

Thanks for visit.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Vishal. Sorry. Auto-correct by computer.