Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sungei Road Flea Mart Singapore Walk Right Back

It's been one year now since Sungei Road Flea Market closed. That was July 2017. People from all over the world, especially record (vinyl) lovers, come to the area to buy Singles, EP's, LP's, CD's, antique stuff, old books, photographs and other odds and ends to take home as souvenirs. Prized stuff to many but rubbish to others, this place is no more (3rd July 2018).

I want you to tell me, Why you walked out on me, I'm so lonesome every day...

Last Year's News:

Sungei Road or Thieves Market will soon be gone, literally taken off the streets and its area transformed for urban rejuvenation. People from all over the world have visited this place since the 1930's to buy nostalgia. One is VINYL. There were many such makeshift stalls in this central area in Singapore selling records, but today you need to hunt the two or three makeshifts that might have them.

By the middle of this year, Robinson Petang will be no more. Like so many of the 60's international and local pop musicians who are gone, Sungei Road will pass away in mid-2017. Extensions are unlikely so it's R.I.P. to Singapore's only Flea Market (15 February 2017).
Walk Right Back With The Everlys - 20 Golden Hits
The article below was written in 2013.


In the early 60's, they transformed the bluegrass sound of their Kentucky (USA) boyhood into a richly harmonised form of rock n roll and this close harmony vocal influenced many singers from the West.  Similarly, in the East, Indonesian/Dutch duos like The Blue Diamonds, Singapore's Cyclones and Malaysia's Mike and Herb followed their unique style.

The above vinyl record is one of those rare finds I walked away with for only $2.00.  On the internet, it's about $20.00 or so and that's without shipping cost.  Not a collectable but with twenty songs in the pocket and all genuine recordings by the Everly Brothers.  What more could I ask for? 

Sungei Road Yesterday. Called Robinson Petang.
It's a 1975 mint conditioned Warner Brothers recording distributed by WEA Records Ltd.  I love the artwork by Mick Brownfield on the cover and overall album sleeve design by Graves Aslett Associates. 

Some tracks are re-recorded versions of their Cadence hits, the result of a nostalgic recording session held in Nashville, Tennessee in 1962.  If you're an Everly Brothers fan there's even a Chart Position for US/UK/Year for the 20 songs.  

The Blues Diamonds inspirationally Everlys.
I bought this particular record two years ago when #Sungei Road was still wide enough to accommodate the sellers and make-shift stalls in the area but now with the building of the MRT, the place has shrunk to nearly half its size.  Or even less than that? 

The Brothers inspired a generation of musicians from the Beatles to Simon and Garfunkel.  Dressed in snazzy outfits and sporting pompadours, they offered instant appeal to teenagers who easily identified with their songs about dating parents and high school. 
Everly Brothers - 'Walk Right Back' from petermfh59. Thank you.

In 1960, Phil and Don Everly sold eight million copies of their worldwide hit Cathy's Clown.  Between 1957 and 1965 they notched-up a collective total of over 35 million singles and albums.  Many of their biggest hits were penned by Boudleaux Bryant and wife Felice. 

For this particular album, the tracks were cut in Nashville under Chet Atkins who had worked with Elvis Presley.  They include most of their hits with others like Love Hurts, Love Is Strange, How Can I Meet Her, Temptation, Don't Blame Me, So Sad, No One Can Make My Sunshine Smile, The Ferris Wheel, The Price of Love and Muskrat.  On July 14th 1973, they announced their last concert appearance together each preferring to follow a solo career.
Phil Everly, half of Grammy-winning duo The Everly Brothers, passed away in January 2014, aged 74.

I want you to know that/ Since you walked out on me/ Nothing seems to be the same way... 

#In case you're a tourist who's never been to Singapore, Sungei Road used to be called Thieves' Market or Robinson Petang (evening Robinson's Department Store). Not any more but lots of second-hand goods and if you're lucky you can find some vinyl records.
Images: Google.


HT said...

That's right, I always loved listening to their songs, especially "Bye-Bye-Love", which I used to do (duet) with my cousin; whenever he visits us, and we "literally bring the house down" (ha-ha).

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks H. You bring the house down too with your witty stories and anecdotes - a contributing factor for this blog.

goodgollymissmolly said...

Sungei Road or, rightly described, is the poor man's Robinsons. No more now since the number of stalls have diminished to an insignificant number. Gone are the days when locals crowd the lanes to buy second hand goods. There were many stalls selling records then, as many as ten to twelve places. Now if you can find two or three, be glad.


Phil Everly, along with his brother Don, was among the inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 1986 inaugural class, and in 2001 they were inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Matt Rayner said...

Oh my. Phil has left us.
RIP fella. Thanks for all the years I've been listening to you.

Anonymous said...

'Gone, Gone, Gone' is an album by The Everly Brothers, originally released in 1964. Now one brother is really gone!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I guess I am more a 40s/50s music person rather than a 60s/70s one. The pop stars would have included, Elvis, Pat Boone, Guy Mitchell, Frankie Laine, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Gale Storm and so many others. Of course The Everly Brothers would be a group included. Then there were The Ames Brothers, Four Aces, Brothers Four, etc.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

This post has been re-painted and polished.

It's in the newspapers today. Our famous flea market at Sungei Road will be closed for good by 10 July 2017.

This placed used to sell lots of antique paraphernalia from Singapore. The karong-guni (rag and bone) man used to gather goods from discarded items that households don't need and take them to the sellers of such goods at Sungei Road.

Like they say, One man's rubbish, another man's treasure.

I used to buy vinyl from Sungei Road from 50 cents to 2 Singapore dollars each. Now quite a lot of them cost a hundred times more.

Good buy Sungei Road, good bye.

Anonymous said...

Hello Andy,

I know this has been on the cards for a long time, but I'm sad to hear the day is now so near. I only went there a few times, but it was always rewarding. Is there no plan for another venue?



ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Steve,

In Singapore, we learn the rules. The only reason: "It's a small island. We have no space."

Sad to see the area gone. The buzz there is tremendous. Nostalgia too. I spoke to a couple of chaps at the place and they told me they had met the highest authority... No other venue.

Like our local EP's that's disappeared from the shops, Sungei Road will too.

Thanks for writing.


Previous articles have reported that "opportunistic traders" are attracted to the site because of its rent-free and city location. The authorities have had to conduct checks on the sale of prohibited goods regularly.

Residents have also complained about the market location. One grouse is about traders who store goods in their void decks.

Singapore Heritage Society president Chua Ai Lin said it is a pity alternative solutions were not found. It is a good example of a functioning community and economic system and a facet of Singapore's rich and diverse urban life.

It is the only free hawking zone in Singapore and losing sense of an organically formed flea market. A whole community dispersed and no longer congregating as second-hand sellers.

FL said...

Hi, Andy, Sungei Road flea market is"'going, going, gone" soon in mid 2017, and after that it will be just a living memory. I frequented this place often in late 60s & early 70s and the whole area then was bustling with human traffic and "noises", but what remains now is a just pale shadow of its heyday. Anyway, I remember 2 icons at Sungei Road flea market that were gone much earlier i.e. the Singapore Ice Work, and the Sungei Road pushcart laksa (serving with a bowl & a spoon). I tasted it during my visits for about 30cents a bowl then, I think ! Perhaps, after the "thief" market is gone forever, the government can put up an information signboard to remind the future generation of this great bustling place in line with the Beatles song lyrics IN MY PLACE.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi FL,

Thanks for your latest Comment. I have just come home from Sungei Road (18/2/2017). The roadside stalls are enclosed within the roads that are patterned like the letter F, only about three small lanes left to accommodate these poor peddlers of second hand goods.

I managed to buy a few Zhang Xiao Ying records for about $5 each. Expensive now because they used to cost $2 a few years ago. No bargaining because they are in reasonably excellent condition.

A Frenchman I spoke to was looking for the same records. He came all the way from Paris and told me the flea markets in Paris and surroundings are still surviving and shook his head about the plight of our local peddlers.

JimLim35 said...

I'm from JB.In the early part of 2000's I really scouted Sungai Road almost every weekend for vinyls. I can now say that it was a wonderful time for I have a great collection of vinyls collected from the various vendors there. My favourite is a guy name George who always give a good discount if the purchase is large. I will always remember Sungai Road as it was and sad that the day is coming soon when it will just be a memory ...a good one no least.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Jim,
Thanks for writing in. Many people from overseas visit Sungei Road: the US, UK, Europe and Japan, etc.

Glad you come too from JB. Welcome always, to Singapore.

Yes, I always buy from George. He's got good records but needs cleaning. No one else has his collection.

I understand that the Sungei Road peddlers have suggested two places to the authorities as their new venue. Let's hope for the best.

chakap chakap said...

As a resident of the Housing Board flats beside the Sungei Road flea market, I have felt only relief after it was announced that the market would be shut down for good on July 10

Many stall-holders leave their "goods" all around the estate, placed in trolleys taken from the nearby supermarket and parked everywhere, from the void decks of HDB flats to bushes and the hawker centre.

The Thieves Market has ruined the aesthetics of the estate by making the area look messy, dodgy and filthy.

Grimy old men have become the gate keepers to my home. Before I enter the lift lobby, I am careful, in fear of seeing a man relieve himself.

Article has been edited.



Today's 'Robinson petang' is so different from its earlier time. I remember there were semi permanent stalls such as illegal lock-up shops on both sides of the road. If you lost anything, you could probably find it there.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,
I am coming to Singapore next week, sorry to hear this market has closed, are there any alternative venues selling vinyl & second hand items, other than the regular vinyl record shops?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Gary,
There are many so the best bet is to look up Google and connect to VINYL SHOPS. There is quite a number all over Singapore.

I am not part of these organisations but just helping out since I have been a customer. Make sure you know what you are buying. There's no guarantee you'll get a bargain because at Sungei Road the prices are different. It also depends on what you are looking for.

Check the shops near Peninsula Plaza, Arab Street, Beach Road, Alexandra Village and Holland Village.

Good Luck.