Are Charming Bird (迷人小鳥) and Enter The Dragon (龍爭虎鬥) stars Connie Chan Po Chu (陳寶珠), Betty Chung (鍾玲玲) and other singers' vinyl records depleting?
The local Chinese vinyl records seen below and on this blog are collected by enthusiasts from many countries who sometimes come to Singapore and other S. E. Asian cities to buy them. The group includes Caucasians, mainland Chinese, Hong Kong islanders, Malaysians, Japanese and other nationalities.
The practice has been going on for years. I am uncertain if our locals are aware of it but some buyers are not hoarding them because they can sell them for a higher price but because they appreciate the unique pop culture where English songs are translated and sung in Chinese and of Chinese singers rendering English songs. Such vinyls have depleted due to these collectors.
This personal selection has four artistes including two big stars and a band with a very unique name.
There are thousands of these vinyls on sale from the 1960's. They are mostly covers of English hit parade songs. The one above is by Grace Chi. Simple and sweet she looks like the girl next door. She must have been a star in her own right given that her records sold well.
There is no information about her so if you are able to tell more, please write in. The EP (Extended Play) has a Po-Lo label and the singer renders them with a strong Chinese accent. Could this be a reason why some Caucasians buy these vinyls? The four songs are The Kingston Trio's 500 Miles, Jimmy Rodgers' Bimbombey, the singalong, You Are My Sunshine and one called, It Happened Last Night. She is accompanied by the David Soo Wah Poh Quintet.
Judith Ho sings an Elvis hit in Chinese on this Polar Bear Brand EP titled, Summer Kisses, Winter Tears. The other three songs are Stupid Cupid, Lipstick On Your Collar and Shakin' All Over. Two were Connie Francis hits and the other by Johnny Kidd, all sung in Chinese (Mandarin).
Ms Ho has a reasonably strong voice, but, as explained the record suits dancers rather than listeners. No comparison with Connie Francis. But buyers could be the same patrons who would have heard the songs in Chinese in cabarets doing the a-go-go at the Happy World and Great World amusement parks in Singapore. Again there is no information about Ms Ho.
The EP was chosen more for the unique name of the band rather than for its songs. It isn't Shadows' music but on the turntable the melodies heard had the usual Chinese-guitar-band sound and acceptable by record buyers then.
THE VANTOMITES play four instrumentals with a definitive oriental flavour called, Easy To Remember You, Met You In My Dream, Chase and Because Of You. All the songs are unfamiliar and could be original compositions but like the usual bands during the 60's, create the atmosphere for lively jiving fun. And for $3 a piece. The synopsis on the back sleeve cover describes the history of the group, their dreams, aspirations and musical ventures.
Recorded in 1967, this vinyl was a cash-in for its producers with songs from a very early screen musical with three titles, The Charming Bird, The Charming Little Bird or The Young Lovers. The subject could be a reference to the singer Ms Connie Chan Pao Chu (陳寶珠) or the plane sketch behind her. It was the period from 1967 to 1969 when airbuses were the talk of the aviation industry and the public excited with flying in larger planes.
A Flight Stewardess was called an Air Hostess then. No coincidence here as the song titles are: Air Hostess, Thousand Miles Flying, Twin Birds and Spring Dream. The songs are in Cantonese and sung by a super star who is both an actress and a singer. This lady has made dozens of movies from 1958 to 1972 and like *Taylor Swift today, has put many boys and girls in a swoon just by hearing her name. She did 31 movies in 1967 alone.
This EP has pretty, sexy and talented Betty Chung (鍾玲玲), another Hong Kong singer and actress in the limelight. She became popular in the mid sixties, with her recordings of English covers and Chinese songs from 1966 to 1977. Unlike some Asian singers, Ms Chung speaks in impeccable English without the hint of an accent.
In this recording she sings, Bell A-Go-Go, Sugar Town, Puppet On A String and Summer Wine in Mandarin. With her clear voice, perfect pitch and pronunciation, Ms Chung has gone a long way into her career. She had a part as Mei Ling in Bruce Lee's mega-hit Enter The Dragon in 1973 (image).
Both vinyls 4 and 5 were produced by Pathe/EMI records, a quality and best selling brand name those times. The recordings are excellent. And Vinyls 1 and 2. Who are these ladies? Still unknown today but with sweet voices, these ladies will remain a mystery. The Vantomites too. Are the members still around?
It is a pity indeed that thousands of these records have been whisked away by buyers from everywhere, knowledgeable of the fact that they are treasures from our South East Asian countries. And what do our sellers get from the exchange? Money. What a waste.
I have gone round record shops and must verify that these EPs are hard to get today. There are still shops selling them but not at the price sold three years ago. This category of records include our local hits by our Singapore pop bands and singers.
*Taylor Swift: Top best selling singer of all times with 40 million albums sold and 130 million single downloads current.
This article is a personal opinion/observation.
You Tube Videos:
1) 500 Miles by The CoverHeaven.
2) Sugar Town by Francisco Raquiza.