Friday, August 26, 2016

Vinyl Record Sleeve Art From Singapore

Some Sleeves Speak

Vinyl is back with a vengeance and I'm glad I kept my lot, especially the local ones because they have become a rarity these days. While some enthusiasts are buying used vinyl, others are buying newly pressed ones.  In 2014 alone more than one million new vinyl has been sold worldwide and up till now, if website figures are correct, up to four million vinyl have left the record racks. 

A young man who bought a vinyl record was asked the reason why he didn't buy the album on-line. His reply was simple, "The art work on the cover is worth it all..." 

Record covers are works of art and if you love the 60's, their prints are emboldened either on large 12 inch LP canvases or on 7 inch EP squares but broad enough to be framed and hung on the apartment or house walls.  

The record covers below, with drawings of our local stars, are commonly found, even a few years ago, but are hard to come by today.  All the figures are hand drawn by artistes unknown but must definitely have been our own local Singaporeans. For this posting I could only credit one artist that I have acknowledged under a sketch. Very sad.
                                                 Image 3
The blog images published on this posting are not very clear, coming from the home printer and computer but close enough for you to guess who the singers or bands are.  So, just for fun, especially those who are new to local 60's music celebrities, try to guess who the groups or singers are.

This particular piece (image 3) was done in black and green,  with strong lines featuring the singer's hair, shoes and semi-solid guitar. In the background are smaller drawings of the same person with different guitar poses.  The lines are a clear  where the black colours meet and sufficient to create the atmosphere needed. 

A top gun from Malaysia, this singer was a school teacher from Johore Bahru. Great voice, with personality plus, he used to woo the young ladies with his, Woman In My Life, one of his top hits. The photographer and designer is Freddy Ang. It is an EMI Studio Recording.

                                           Image: 4           
This next one (image 4) is more a caricature of the group and the drawing features the detailed faces of each member, holding his own musical instrument. The lead singer is sitting on a diamond, symbolic of the group. Hard to tell if they are Asians or otherwise but definitely a neat piece that could be hung on the wall.

They did not cut too many vinyl records but first recorded in Singapore in 1965. The boys became local celebrities when they appeared on television and became known on radio and Rediffusion.  They have appeared down under in Australia. Apparently the singer's compositions (sitting in the middle) were well known in the Far East. From Philips, the caricaturist is not credited.
                                                     Image: 5
A personal favourite (image: 5), it looks like a water colour painting. But it is a subtle piece and uncommon for a local record cover. Colours are relaxing to the eye and of pastel shades. The singers are recognizable.

Yes, this group became well known first with one group name and then hit the high notes with another when they were in Europe for many years. The above image shows the four on a record sleeve and they covered a Beatles number and a Bee Gees top hit.  The vinyl is a pirated version from King Record and there is no credit given as to who the artist was.
                                                     Image: 6
Is this a charcoal sketch (image: 6)? Looks like it. Dark, bold and strongly engraved, the drawing explains the two songs recorded. Yesterday's Sorrows (black colour) and Four Corners of My Life (four heads forming the corners). A strong piece indeed and with very bold lines.

This band started in the 60's but went straight on to the 70's stronger than ever. They wrote their own songs. A well-known group, they had cut quite a number of original hits. Produced by Life Records, this Libra vinyl should have had the artist credited. 
                                                    Image: 7
The original cover (image 7) shows the sheen on the singer's batik shirt, a beautiful purplish blue. It is well drawn and the facial features are identical to the person himself. The belt looks natural and typical of the 60's. White pants go well with the batik. Very local styling. I like the jacket that looks like leather, carelessly hung on his shoulder. 

Second prize winner of RTS Talentime 1968, this gentleman was known as The Man From Bukom. Voice, smooth as Johnny Mathis, he captured everyone's heart with his rendition of Born Free and became a regular on radio, Rediffusion and on television. He could be heard singing even during the Malay programmes in Singapore and Malaysia since he is bi-lingual. Again, the artist was not credited but it was an EMI Recording.
                                                Image: 8
This particular record sleeve art piece (image 8) is so famous anyone familiar with Singapore music will know who the group is. Possibly drawn for this internationally famed company, the colours and textured patterns take us back to the 1970's. 

Different coloured jeans prominently featured proves what the company is trying to project and sell. The focus is obvious. It's a beautiful commercial print and I wish I had a larger copy of this picture.

The group is the same one that was written about earlier on this posting. Can you guess which one?
So there you are folks, beautiful pieces of sketched memory for you, drawn from unknown artists of the 60's and 70's and now masterpieces (for me that is). 

You might know who the singers and bands are, but do you know who had drawn the art pieces?

If know the artists or if you are one of them please write in. I'd love to meet you. 

This posting is similar to one done on 23/06/2011 but with a different emphasis.
   Frankie Cheah, Western Union Band, Ray Johnson n Diamond Four, Surfers,                                             Sugiman Jahuri, WUB.

Images: A Private Collection, Google.
You Tube Video: sarinafanclub09
                     Frankie Cheah and Sugiman Jahuri EMI Muzikarama


Dora O'Callaghan (You Tube) said...

He is BRILLIANT. He was my HEART THROB before I LEFT for UK for Nursing. I was only 17. But I did sing with my Dad's band for a Function and Frankie Cheah was a GUEST ARTISTE. I met him PERSONALLY. What a BRILLIANT HUMBLE GENIUS man, being a MATHS TEACHER and a CELEBRITY SINGER. Lucky his STUDENTS !

chakap chakap said...

From the 1950's through to the 1980's, the 12" LP record and the 45 rpm record became the major formats for the distribution of popular music. The LP format remains in use for occasional new releases, though other formats have largely supplanted it. The size of the typical cardboard LP sleeve cover is 12.375 in (31.43 cm) square.

The talents of many photographers and illustrators from both inside and outside of the music industry have been used to produce a vast array of memorable LP/CD covers.

As one would expect, a number of artists and bands feature members who are, in their own right, accomplished illustrators, designers and photographers and whose talents are exhibited in the artwork they produced for their own recordings.

Besides the practicalities of identifying specific records, album covers serve the purpose of advertising the musical contents on the LP, through the use of graphic design, photography, and/or illustration.

Album art is still considered a vital part of the listening experience to many, and despite the less-tangible nature of digital images, there are still many collectors trading cover art and music.

Summarized from Wikipedia

chubbyjali (You tube) said...

I have with me a 1968 EP by The Surfers with the song Hooray For Hazel.

SPYeo said...

Always marvelled and depreciated by your comprehensive knowledge of the music world of the 20th Century. How did you do that?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Not world or comprhensive knowledge sir but local stuff and info from my own experience, vinyl that I have and the Internet (info at our feet).

I try to sieve the truths from the untruths since cyberspace can be full of unnecessary floaters.

Thanks for visiting.

Joey Koh said...

Thanks to you for the effort and blogging.

Zann Ahmed (you tube) said...

I used to stay in the same blk with him at Commonwealth Drive...

(written 6 years ago and referring to SUGIMAN JAHURI)

Alan Damiens (You tube) said...

A long time ago when I was still young I was in a lift going up to a place called SPARKS which was a popular entertainment venue and Mr . Chris Vadham enter the lift on the way up to same location. Having known who he was I was just so happy to have had to privilege to see him and ride in the same lift with the man. Then when i started my music career I was again bless not only to meet him again but to share the stage with this wonderful man. I will never forget you Mr. Chris Vadham. No one has ever been able to cause such a sensation and I don't think anyone ever will. Thank you for letting me into your presence while you were still around and share time with you. Always with love and respect for you till we jam again in the great stage in the sky.

(from you tube edited)


On Sun, Dec 5, 2010 at 11:12 AM, Nick wrote:

Nick has left a new comment on your post "Ray Johnson, Diamond Four, Frank Thompson":

Hello Andy!
Just Googled this, my dad is Ray Johnson & he was shocked, not to mention surprised to see this.

He & his shipmates formed the Diamond Five, or Ray Johnson & The Diamond Four when they were on HMS Euryalus, on first commission in 1964-66.

Do you know of any other copies of the EP that are in existence?

For your information, should you not already know,the other members of the band were Ellis Parkinson (Parky) (deceased) with the shades( bass guitar), Freddy Mills (drummer) & Alex (Dolly) Gray (rhythm guitar) & obviously Frank Thompson, lead guitarist.

Kind regards

Nick & Ray Johnson.

Lily (Meisner) said...

Hi Andy, I've been reading a bunch of your posts and really love your blog!! I'm a 25-year old from New York and just discovered the Singapore music scene from the '60s. I'm working on a research project and would love to talk to you / interview you - what is your email address? Mine is

thank you!

Lily Meisner said...

Hi Andy, I've been reading a bunch of your posts and really love your blog!! I'm a 25-year old from New York and just discovered the Singapore music scene from the '60s. I'm working on a research project and would love to talk to you / interview you - what is your email address?

thank you!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Lily,
Thanks for the mail. I appreciate your interest in Sing 60's music and am always willing to help anyone keen to research the period.

Could you write to me on the same page with your questions, ideas and the scope of your project? I shall not publish them. If I could help you or otherwise I shall reply using your email address. And that's a promise.


Brenda said...

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your article on album art of Singapore 1960s bands; I love your take on how the Libra album art is a charcoal sketch and how the watercolour painting album art in image 5 is uncommon as typical albums are more vibrantly coloured, especially when mid-1960s art and music is informed by psychedelia genre!

As an local history undergraduate who is currently researching on this topic, may if I know if I could contact you further and privately to learn more about this subject?

Thank you and I look forward to your reply!


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Brenda,
Thanks for the visit and cheerful comment; they are encouraging but I am not an artist. My ideas about the cover pieces stem from the heart and I didn't learn them from anywhere.

If you write again, leave your email address in your note, I shall not publish it but will reply privately. We can discuss the matter afterwards and will try my best to help.


BRENDA said...

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your response! I understand your article reflects your own analysis on album art, and its ending call to the artists involved (such as Mr Freddy Ang from EMI studio recordings) in creating album art is really exciting to read...

As I am in the process of scoping and documenting what is available, I am interested to find out about your take on the social context...

Thank you very much for your help and willingness to discuss this matter; I am looking forward to your reply!


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Brenda,

I have replied to your above mail (edited) and will try to help in whatever way I can.

BRENDA said...

I would love to meet and interview you to learn more and recover the music scene in Singapore during the 1960's. I understand that album sleeves are a niche topic, nevertheless, the historical context you are familiar with is very helpful to me to remap how the production of local music and the socio-cultural atmosphere of that time.

Thank you for being willing to take a look at my questions, please take your time I understand that you are busy with your personal engagements!

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