Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Returning to Malaysia and Singapore

Hello Friends and Pop Yeh Yeh fans!

I'm excited to announce that I'm leaving tomorrow to return to Singapore and Malaysia for nearly three weeks to continue my research on Malay Pop music of the 60s and early 70s!!

It has been four long years since my last visit, and there's so much I want to accomplish during this trip.  I can only hope that everything will work out as well as it did last time around (my last trip was a huge success).

While I'm there, I hope to find lots of good information about the golden era of Malay pop to share with all of you.

Please keep a close eye on this blog for the next couple of weeks and you'll be able to follow my travels.

Each day I will post updates here about the people I meet and places I visit.

terima kasih banyak banyak (thanks very much)

Jumpa Lagi!  (see you soon)


Monday, July 21, 2014

Songs of Hari Raya Aidilfitri - another excellent post by guest blogger Ghaz

Dear Carl,

Unlike their Christian, Chinese and Hindu friends, the Malay Muslims in Malaysia and Singapore had no specific anthem for their Hari Raya (or Eid celebrations) until the mid-1950s, when composers and songwriters began working for it either for recordings or for the films produced by Shaw Brothers and Cathay Keris.  Another significant characteristic found those days is that there had been no specific compilation albums of Eid songs being made until the early 1970s, where prior to the decade, the Eid songs were included into an individual singer’s record.

In 1953 release by Shaw Brothers’ Malay Film Production titled Siapa Salah (Who’s At Fault), a song called Manusia Miskin Kaya (The Rich & Poor Human) was included. 

It was composed by P. Ramlee and sung by Asiah, The Nightingale of Malaya. The song relates to a poor person’s comparison on his/her Aidilfitri celebration with that of his/her rich neighbours. Another Eidulfitri song was also found in another film by Shaw called Doktor (Doctor).

Meanwhile, Asiah and her husband Ismail Mukassim had also recorded a duet song called Aidilfitri, composed by Zubir Said, who also wrote the national anthem of Singapore, Majulah Singapura. In early 1970s, with the permission by Zubir himself, this song was re-written with new lyrics by Yusnor Ef, to be re-recorded by Sanisah Huri. In 1974, Indra Shahrir, the son of both Asiah and Ismail, recorded an Eid song specially for children, and the song appeared in Studio Merdeka’s first colour film called Rahsia Hatiku (My Heart’s Secret) produced in the same year.

In 1955, a full-fledged Eidulfitri-themed film was produced by Cathay Keris called Selamat Hari Raya. A song of the same title was composed by Ahmad Jaafar, to be sung and recorded by Saloma. It has since become an official anthem for the joyous celebration and played until today. In 1973, the song was re-recorded by Saloma with a small edition to the lyrics.

Besides composing Eid songs for other singers, P. Ramlee had also composed, written, sung and recorded the same for himself. Suara Takbir (The Voice of a Takbeer) and Dendang Perantau (A Traveller’s Song) were two of his famous Eid songs in the 1950s. 

The latter was re-recorded in the following decade with different musical arrangements. In 1969, Ramlee composed another Selamat Hari Raya with completely different tune, to be recorded by Ahmad Jais in his EP called Azizah, with accompaniment of Orkes Dendang Perindu led by Ramlee’s pupil, Kassim Masdor. 

In 1960s, many singers recorded their own new Eid songs. Among them include M. Rahmat & The Teruna (Fitri Bahgia/ A Happy Fitri).... 

...and S. Jibeng & Sri Arjuna (Musafir Di Aidilfitri/A Traveller in Aidilfitri).

 Nevertheless, Jibeng’s rendition remained popular till the present day, as it suits him, reflecting his own life as a poor blind boy during his childhood days, before moving into stardom. 

Beginning early 1970s onwards, recording companies in both sides of the Causeway had begun producing Eid songs, after realizing the potential of such albums in the entertainment industry. Among the companies involved in this project were EMI, MMI, Senada and Philips. Nevertheless, EMI’s first Eid compilation released in 1973 is the most sought after, as those Eid songs by veterans such as P. Ramlee, Saloma, Ahmad Jais, Fazidah Joned, Rafeah Buang, Sanisah Huri and Junainah were listed in it. The EMI’s Eid compilation has since been re-printed every year, with new or current artistes’ rendition being recorded to add more variety to the list of songs.

Ghaz, KL

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An inspiring letter from a life long Pop Yeh Yeh fan in Singapore

I meant to post this message almost a year ago, but it fell through the cracks somehow. 

Then, I was going through some older email messages looking for people I wanted to contact when I visit Singapore and Malaysia again this August, and I found this message from Iskandar in Singapore. 

 It was so sincere and heartfelt that I asked Iskandar if I could publish his message here and he agreed:  

Hi DjCarlito

I am so glad to see your quests on creating awareness for the Singapore & Malaysia Pop Yeh Yeh. Your blog is very impressive with tons of useful information on Singapore60s and the legendary artists you have met. Well, I am actually kind of jealous cause a person like you whom came from far far away, travelled all the way to Singapore and Malaysia, and given the chance to meet Pop Yeh Yeh Artists.

I am actually a Pop Yeh Yeh fans too. Although I am only 30years old, the love for pop yeh yeh songs is in me since I was a small kid. It started when my parents brought me to see a big concert at Sentosa musical fountain back in 1980s. I can remember vividly that everyone get up from their seats and dance to most of the pop yeh yeh beats. Well as a kid that time, we definitely join the fun and dance together. Especially when A.Rahman Hassan sang his song “Tak Mengapa” , my brother, cousins and I followed the crowd singing the back up singing.. we go “parap.. parap..”

But the most memorable moment I can never forget was when the concert ended and all the crowd rushed to the jetty to wait for ferry to bring us across back to mainland. At that time, Sentosa still has no bridge linking across. My dad was holding my hand in the queue. Suddenly, the queue got a little bit misaligned. I get out from the queue and witnessed the late S.Jibeng joining the queue. 

The late S. Jibeng, a very popular blind singer, born in 1942 Jaafar bin Sidiq - passed away on Feb 7, 2006

The crowd has given way to him accompanied with his manager if I am not wrong. At that time, suddenly i felt my heart beat very fast and never stop looking at him, wearing his dark glasses. My dad saw me looking at him for quite some time. He bend down and told me you go and run to him, and give him this, and “Salam”(kiss his hands) him.  My dad gave me dollar note (if I can remember its $10) on my hand. Without any hesitation, I ran to S.Jibeng. The crowd at the jetty looked at me running through. I immediately grab his hand, kiss his hand and gave him the dollar note. He never even rejected it but instead grab my hand very tight and ask me “siapa”(who?). His manager just said Its a kid. He let go of my hand, use the same hand to brush my head many times and say thank you “adik”(young boy). He just said to me to study hard and be a good boy. Then I ran back to my father.

From that moment onwards, I fell in love with Pop Yeh Yeh. Listened all Pop Yeh Yeh songs, remembered the lyrics and bought CDs.  Born in the 1980s, many of my fellow friends laughed at me before. They said there is an 60s old man soul trapped in me. Well I do not care [what they say], Pop Yeh Yeh has been my favourite genre.

When S.Jibeng, A.Ramlie, J.Kamisah, Orkid Abdullah, Hasnah Haron, Azizah Abdullah, M.Sharif, and many of them passed away, I can tell you the truth that I cried badly because I really dream to meet each and every one of them one day to at least snap photos together. My friends really thought I am too fanatic and possessed with Pop Yeh Yeh. The latest news on Ahmad Jais passed away, that was really a mark of my life that I told myself I cannot just do nothing. I need to atleast make a tribute for all of them. So I have planned a tribute musical drama / documentary and I am still tidying up my scripts and storyboard. I will try to push this to be featured on TV or in DVD format. If there are restrictions, I would probably just share through the social media to create the awareness. I have even google and I am glad to find you on the internet. What frustrates me is there is not much information circulated through the internet by our own Malay community on Pop Yeh Yeh. But what impressed me is you, yes you, you did a very comprehensive story and tribute to these legends. Indirectly you have even inspired me not to stop and carry on with my plans. I really wish I can meet these left over legends and also document them for the Singapore and Malaysia community.

I even travelled up to Malaysia to some village to do some research after I discovered that some of the states in Malaysia villages do practice Pop Yeh Yeh bands for weddings and events. Pop Yeh Yeh Bands are still active in Malaysia and there are number of competitions held to even at a corporate level. But the awareness is still not strong as they are not documented and they are given a very rare chance to be featured on TV. Sad to say, as a Singaporean, here I could easily say the Pop Yeh Yeh bands has already extinct. We do not even hear them in weddings anymore.

Sorry for the informal and long email brother. I just wish that if we can collaborate to come out with something. I have my plans to really do a tribute malay story / musical. I will have this story with English subtitles so that we can even share miles and miles across borders.  So if given the chance can I promote you and your blog in my production reel? Dont worry I will do it so until I got the green light from you. And if you happen to come again to Singapore, I really want to meet and we can try collaborating a project together.  

Keep in touch bro.


Iskandar K
from Singapore

Sep 2013

Monday, June 2, 2014

Guest Blogger Ghaz writes about the birth of Malaysian and Singaporean TELEVISION

In the blog post below,  "menarigogo" readers' favorite Guest Blogger "Ghaz" shares some incredible facts and history with us about TV and RADIO in Malaysian and Singapore:

"Dear Carl,

Before I begin, congratulations for the release of your Pop Yeh Yeh compilation album. Hopefully, it sells well in your country and the territories where it is distributed.

While writing this "e-essay", I'm listening to one of the 6 CDs containing songs by A. Ramlie, recorded between 1966 and 1978 with many bands and orchestras throughout the decades. There are altogether 108 songs, including his duets with his ex-wife Maria Bachok and Sanisah Huri. I'm lucky to buy it as the CD store only has this copy for sale.

In February 1963, Singapore (as a self-governed British Colony then) launched its own TV broadcast. At that time, a television set used to be a luxury item to an average household, and very few families owned it. Those who lived in Johor and Malacca were very lucky to be among the earliest group of Malayans (provinces under the Malay peninsular) to enjoy watching TV then, as the transmission could reach up to these provinces. For the rest in the country, they could only enjoy the entertainment (songs/music, dramas and news) from the faithful Radio Malaya.

After the formation of Malaysia (with Singapore as one of its provinces) in September the same year, the TV broadcast was extended nationwide. This time, music lovers would not only listen to their favourite artistes singing but could also see them performing live on their TV screens.

In Singapore television alone, there were lots of entertainment programmes featuring local talents. Ahmad Jais was the first Malay singer to appear on TV, through a programme called Dondang Sayang and became the programes's resident artist between 1963 and 1971. Others on the lists include Dendang Ria and Kalong Senandong, both produced in 1963. The TV Singapura also had a programme of similar concept to the BBC's Top Of The Pops, which was named Pop Inn. The theme of the programme, which originally titled "Watch Your Step", was later recorded by The Quests in their second SP with a new title called "Pop Inn Theme" in 1965. Another pop show which was popular those days was Istana Pesta (The Palace of Fiesta), the one used to be co-hosted by Rafeah Buang and M. Bakri in 1968.

A 1967 EP sleeve showing M. Bakri singing live on the TV programme "Istana Pesta"

(above photo courtesy of popok.net)

Besides these programmes, TV Singapura also published a talentime contest called "Juara Bintang RTS". One of the prominent champion was Datuk Sharifah Aini, who then managed to secure a recording contract in 1970, after winning the contest a year earlier.

I have to stop now as I have to go to sleep. I'll continue in my next "e-essay". Meanwhile, I leave you here with some TV clips of the 1960s and 1970s from both RTS and TV Malaysia, including Saloma's final TV appearance in Singapore for your viewing pleasure.


Here's an excellent clip about Radio Singapura 

Diary of a Nation - TV Singapura (1963 - 1988)

A 1968 TV Singapura newsreel on The Tidbits

Comedians Ya Fong and Wang Sa on a 1975 programme in TV Singapura (10th National Day Celebration)

Rita Chao singing "Butterfly" in Mandarin for TV Singapura in 1973

P. Ramlee in an RTM drama called "Intan" (Diamond) produced in 1970

RTM Bakat TV 1972 contest with P. Ramlee as one of the judges

Saloma's final appearance on TV Singapura in 1981 before her death two years later

50th Anniversary Celebration of TV Malaysia (1963 - 2013)

Champions of "Bintang RTM" (1976 - 1983)

The funeral service for P. Ramlee following his death on 29 May 1973


After the end of the golden days of the Malay film industry in Singapore in 1973, many of the talents - technicians, musicians, songwriters and even the actors and actresses from the film studios themselves were given numerous chances to appear on TV stations in both sides of the Causeway, or at least to contribute their expertise to the TV shows and dramas according to their respective areas.

In TV Singapura (later on renamed as RTS), singers were taken into many entertainment shows like Istana Pesta, Pestarama, & Hiboran Minggu Ini, while actors and actresses drama slots like Sandiwara. For example, Ahmad Jaafar, who used to lead the orchestra for the making of film soundtracks, became the head of RTS Orchestra until his retirement in 1982. Some of the Cathay Keris stars also took part in the making of a TV series called Keluarga Pak Awang (Pak Awang's Family). 

Here's the opening to the TV program called Kalong Senandong.  

Meanwhile, the Malaysian boradcasting agency (RTM) also did the same approach. For instance, Ahmad Daud, one of the leading actors in Shaw Brothers' Malay Film Production studio, was given the opportunity to host his own The Ahmad Daud Show. Using his talent as both an actor and singer, plus his experience as a part-time radio DJ and his superb English proficiency, the show went very well in the mid-1970s. The TV Malaysia also used to have its own drama slots, where mix of senior and new talents acted together in dramas under the slot Potret Budipekerti (The Portrait of Good Deeds) which was later renamed Drama Minggu Ini (This Week's Drama). in 1985, in line with the Malaysian Government's privatization policy, the slot Drama Minggu Ini was later given to private production houses to get their dramas or short TV films being aired on the only government channels, thus leading to the opening of a new slot called Drama Swasta (Private/Independent Drama) and further diversification of the country's entertainment industry.

Another element of TV broadcast which I enjoyed up to this day was the screening of popular American series. When I was a little kid, I had always enjoyed watching cartoons like The Flinstones, Road Runner, Tom & Jerry and Walt Disney characters, although these were aired only in black-and-white (before 1978, the beginning of colour transmission; Singapore had that in 1974). 

Not only that, drama series like Charlie's Angels were very popular -- and Farah Fawcett's hairdo became the in-thing among Malaysian ladies ...

 (Farah Fawcett is the one in the red shirt  ^ )

Other programs included Combat (many of the children in my neighbourhood would emulate the scenes, with their toy machine guns and the army cap, like those used by Vic Morrow and Rick Jason!) Man Of Atlantis (from which many of the rich families' children suddenly wanted to enroll into swimming classes ...), Little House Of The Prairie (particularly that pretty smile of Melissa Gilbert acting as Laura that I admired most ....!), Hawaii-Five-O (I love the music anthem by Mort Stevens), Daktari (I remember the naughty chimp and the cross-eyed lion), The Time Tunnel, The Fugitive (a very popular series in 1960s, in both black-n-white and colur versions), Starsky & Hutch (where many coupe owners in Malaysia started painting their cars red with white stripes!), CHIPs (Eric Estrada's police motorbike were admired so much by Malaysian police force ...) and Fantasy Island (the short character shouting "The Plane! The Plane!") became a hit and had an impact to TV viewers in my country back then. Not to be forgotten, that popular Donny & Marie Show, featuring performance by the duo and the rest of The Osmonds.

I remember so well my family's first black-n-white 1973 Hitachi transistor TV which is very small in size. 

Among the basic features include the thin but tall aerial and the channel knob which was too tight for our little tender hands to turn each time we wish to switch the channels. Nevertheless, we were happy enough to have it in our home as a complement to our Toshiba turntable, where we listened to the radio programmes which were broadcasted via AM transmission. (The Malaysian radio broadcast began to be aired fully in FM Stereo in 1992.) In 1982, my Dad eventually bought us a National Quintrix colour TV out of his sympathy towards us who were left behind from the rest of the children in the neighbourhood who enjoyed watching cartoons in full colour.

Until 1984, the TV transmission by RTM began at 5.00 p.m (on weekdays) and two hours earlier on Thursdays to Sundays. This explained why I turned to records as my source of entertainment each time I returned home from school. There was an special TV broadcast by our then "TV Pendidikan" (Educational TV), but I seldom watch it as the programmes were repeated too frequently, and so boring, too .... hehehehehe!

After my admission into a boarding school in 1987, my interest towards TV began to fade, as the school hostel only allowed us to watch TV on weekends for very limited hours. However, after getting married eight years ago, my interest towards watching TV has finally come back into picture, thanks to the influence from my wife - an ardent TV fan, and a consistent follower of Gossip Girl, NCIS and Desperate Housewives!

Ghaz, KL"

Many Thanks to Ghaz (photo above) for sharing this fascinating info with readers here!  

Here are a couple more very interesting articles about TV in Singapore:



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

POP YEH YEH - Psychedelic Rock from Singapore and Malaysia - 1964-1970

Here's a promo image I made for the limited edition Record Store Day VINYL 2LP release of  "POP YEH YEH - Psychedelic Rock from Singapore and Malaysia - 1964-1970 "

Malaysian Krontjong and Pop singer Kartina Dahari dies at 73

Kartina Dahari, legendary Krontjong singer, and Malaysian pop star died last week.

Kartina, also known as "Tina",  often performed with the group Dendang Perindu.

Here is an excellent tribute that was written in the Straits Times last year.

And here is a short article published this month.

Watch a clip of her performing with the late great Ahmad Jais here:

Here's a couple other famous songs she sang:

Farewell Aziz Sattar (died May 6th at the age of 89)


"Malaysia lost another film legend early on May 6th (May 5th here) - Aziz Sattar at the age of 89. He starred in many movies with P.Ramlee in the 'Bujang Lapok' series."

Here's a clip of Aziz singing and holding the saxophone in a beach scene. The song is 'Bila Mama Pakai Celana' (When Mama wears pants):

P.Ramlee also recorded this song (audio only)