Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tribute to J Kamisah from guest blogger Ghaz

My dear friends,
Last week (Nov 20, 2012), pop-yeh-yeh music lovers were shocked by the news on the death of J. Kamisah, from a series of chronic illnesses, including heart failure. She was 64.
Born in Singapore in 1948 as Mica Awi, Kamisah started in the entertainment circuit as an extra in the film Jiran Sekampong (A Neighbour In The Same Village) in 1966. Later on, she teamed up with the lates Salim I. and Jaafar Ahmad to record a split EP with The Wisma on TNA Records. (TNA = Tang Nan Ah).
Among her favourite hits of mine include Rayuanku (My Appeal - see photo below), Jelingan Manja (The Lovingly Stare), Irama Desa Seberang (The Rhythm of A Neighbouring Village) and Bingkisan Hati Setia (A Gift From A Faithful Heart). 
When the pop-yeh-yeh craze was over, Kamisah recorded with The Commandos (on Panda Records) and The Wanderers (on MMI) in the early 1970s. Over the decades, she displayed incredible variety in her singing style, where she recorded two duet songs with A. Razak, featuring cover versions from the current Hindi film hits, as well as joining a singing choir called Suara Perindu, which consists of herself, Sanisah Huri, Hasnah Haron and Hamidah Zainal. 
The revival of pop-yeh-yeh music in 1985 was an advantage for Kamisah where she appeared with her colleagues on a 60s focused TV show which aired on Radio & Television of Malaysia (RTM), besides re-recording her hits of the past in her own comeback album.
Nevertheless, unlike the rest of her colleagues who continued to remain active, she completely retired from singing, and was largely forgotten by the crowd. She was last seen in the printed media during the funeral procession of another pop-yeh-yeh artist, the late A. Ramlie, in 2001.
May J. Kamisah rest in peace - Al Fatihah.
Ghaz, KL

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

J Kamisah passed away today

J Kamisah, who sang for many years with Pop Yeh Yeh group The Wisma, passed away today..... Rest in Peace J. Kamisah, Al-Fatihah..

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Boyanese community and their contributions to the Malay entertainment scene

my friend Ghaz in KL who is a frequent guest blogger here sends us a new post - this time dealing with the musical contributions of Boyanese artists during the Pop Yeh Yeh era.

Coincidentally, another friend of mine living in France, Erwin, who manages a blog dedicated to Kassim Selamat and the Swallows, is currently working on a film about the Boyanese diaspora in Singapore, and another project dealing with the legendary Boyanese group "the Swallows".  I know they will both be incredible documentaries when they are finally released.

Ghaz writes:

In Sembawang district at northern Singapore, there was a Malay settlement called Kampong Tengah. My late grandpa used to live in the neighbourhood between 1963 and 1986, while my dad and his siblings were raised as young kids till each of them grew up and got married. Just beside their home, there lived a big family who spoke a peculiar Malay dialect, which somewhat sounds a little bit funny. Even so, the family was so close to my dad's till one of their in-laws married my youngest uncle. Later on, I eventually learned that the whole family were Boyanese. (In Malay and Indonesian, it is spelt as "Bawean".)

The Boyanese community originated from Bawean island off Indonesian coast. They migrated to Singapore and Malaysia in search for a better living. In the earlier days, they used to work as fishermen and various types of labour-intensive jobs, but as time goes by, they also entered into other economic professions. Although small in number, the community is very organized, and in Singapore and Malaysia, they set up their own clan associations. 

One of their unique features is thier excellent talent in arts and music. It is undeniable that many of the popular Malay singers, musicians and actors of the past were Boyanese.

One of them that I could remember and my favourite too was Jasni (1918- 1986). Born and raised in Singapore, he began his singing career as recording artist in 1938. Besides, he also perfomed onstage in entertainment parks and cabaret, among those include Happy World and Great World, both of which were owned by the filmmaker giant, Shaw Brothers. Jasni himself wrote and composed most of his songs. 

 During World War II, he married Buntat Ahmad, who was later became a female film superstar in the early 1950s by the name of Neng Yatimah, the Malay film "Bintang Air Mata" (Star Of Tears). In 1943, they daughter Rosnah was born, and she also acted in films mostly produced by Shaws' rival, Cathay Keris - using her stage name Roseyatimah. The stage names of the mother-and-daughter duo were created and given by non other that that legendary P. Ramlee. Jasni was indeed a true friend of P. Ramlee when, after learning about a plot to injure Ramlee's face, he went straight away to warn the latter's foes against their action.

Between 1952 and 1955, Jasni became more active in recording, by singing many songs from the films acted by Ramlee, due to a crisis between Ramlee himself and the recording company who refused to provide the musical arrangements that he requested.  Nevertheless, Jasni managed to carve his own popularity by recording more songs. The last songs that he recorded were recorded in 1966 with the accompaniment of a Boyanese band called The Cliffters, Singapore's "Rolling Stones". 

The Cliffters consist of Bajuree brothers - Rickieno, Marstino, Jack and Alistini. They recorded under Ngee Fat's labels Chap Piring and Playboy. Besides Rickieno and Jasni, the band also recorded with M. Wari and June Abdullah under the same label, before moving to TNA Records. Later on, The Cliffters disbanded when Alistini and Wari recorded with The Fabian Boys and another singer named Norfizah. Alistini's songs "O Alek" and "Terona Taoa" were the first Boyanese songs to be recorded in Singapore throughout the history. 

Next on the list was Jaffar O. (1944 - 2010) [O = Ohjar]. Born in Bukit Timah, Singapore from a Boyanese-Madhurese parentage, he opted out of school at 14 to work as an office attendant. He recorded only two EPs with The Click IV on Olympic label, but his songs like "Punggok Rindukan Bulan" (The Owl Misses The Moon), "Merindu Kaseh" (Missing My Lover), "Kehampaanku" (My Disappointment), "Kasih Terpisah" (A Love Torn Apart) and "Undanglah Aku" (Invite Me) became instant hit. In his first EP, Jaffar also recorded a Boyanese number titled "Gagena Paraben". Throughout his life, he married four times, the last with Mahani Mohamad, a singer from the early 1970s.

The most celebrated Boyanese singer ever exist in the Malay entertainment circuit was Kassim Slamat. Born in 1931 in Sembawang district itself by the name of Kassim Rahmat, he began singing in wedding feasts in 1959 with Pemuda Ria party. He was given the name Kassim Slamat following the leading character of the same name in P. Ramlee's 1962 famous film "Ibu Mertuaku" (My Mother-In-Law). In 1966, he made his debut album with The Swallows, where his signature tune "Nga Lompak A-Go-Go" hit the country by storm. His unique approach by singing in Boyanese had made it appealing to the crowd. Another Boyanese song which managed to enter West Germany's top chart  (NOTE: this has been claimed many times- however, my friend Erwin is looking for hard evidence of this for his film about the Swallows - if anyone reading this has a chart clipping or magazine article that proves this, please leave a comment here! )  was "La A Obe", being recorded together with "Angkok Angkok Bilis" on an SP in 1967. His other famous songs in Boyanese include "La Karebna", "La Ngomber", "Lek Paju Molle", "Mak Itty Mak Illa" and "Sa Kilang Paki Kanchana". Due to popularity of "La A Obe", it was re-recorded in 1974 as a duet song by Ismail Haron and Anita Sarawak, but in different lyrics. Until today, "La A Obe" has been regarded as the Boyanese anthem. These Boyanese songs were written by The Swallows' drummer, Affendi Abdul Rahman, while the lyrics were provided by Kassim's brother, Yusoff Rahmat, who was also one of the band's guitarists. Both Kassim Slamat and The Swallows ended their career in 1969, in protest against record piracy.

The Swallows themselves had a hard time to be made recognized an accepted in the entertainment circuit, although they had been playing current English instrumentals in birthday parties since 1964. (The band decided to perform instrumentals partly because all its members could not speak, write and even sing in English.) In 1965, they appeared in the film "Sayang Si Buta" (The Love of The Blind" accompanying Ahmad Daud for his song "Si Manis Tujuh Belas" (Sweet Seventeen), and in another film called "Pusaka Pontianak" (The Vampire's Fortune) where they provided the musical back-up. In the same year too, they accompanied M. Bakri for the song "Malaysia Baru" (A New Malaysia). Only after Kassim Slamat came into the picture, the band started to gain its popularity. 
Besides Kassim Slamat, The Swallows also backed up Kartina Dahari and Rafeah Buang for one EP each. 

Boyanese songs disappeared from the public ears after the mid-1970s onwards as the community itself has been assimiliating into the Malay culture as time goes by. Nevertheless, the revival of the pop-yeh-yeh music in 1985 made the songs re-appeared in the market, at least in re-recorded version. The latest new Boyanese song recorded was in 1992 by Jeffridin in his new album "Mas Mona"; and the song was "Akabina".

The utmost effort in preserving the Boyanese identity in foreign lands is done by the said community in Singapore, through Persatuan Bawean Singapura, where the association continuously organizes many activities with the purpose of getting the people of the community together. It is a close-knit community and have affiliation with their counterparts in Indonesia's Bawean Island.

Ghaz, KL

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

a really great singer has left us... rest in peace Anis Es

I was told yesterday that encik Anis Es passed away recently... rest in peace Anis Es.... al fatihah

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


All biographical info in this post was quoted directly from From Blitz2000 

(more great information about the great Tan Sri P Ramlee can be found here : http://www.p-ramlee.com/)


Salmah binti Ismail or better known as Saloma (22 January 1935 - 25 April 1983) was a Malaysian film actress and singer. She was the third wife of the film actor, director, singer and songwriter Tan Sri P.Ramlee. 

Salmah was born on 22 January 1935 at Pasir Panjang Singapore.  Coming from a family with artistic leanings (both her sisters Mimi Loma and Mariani were famous actresses on their own right), she displayed [acting] talents of her own as a singer at weddings and family events at 13.

As she became more well-known in Singapore she joined the Panca Sitara Group, a band of musicians under the leadership of P. Ramlee. Around this time she also sang with the Kalung Senandung Group at Radio Singapura and entertained acting offers in musical films of the era, usually playing P.Ramlee's love interest and/or the village ingenué.

Legend has it that her stage name was coined by Run Run Shaw of Shaw Bros when the film  Saloma which starred Rita Hayworth hit the box office. Other opinions favored the story that the name was given to her by her future husband P. Ramlee. They were married in 1961 and were widely regarded as the first true power couple  of the Malaysian film industry.  

Apart from her artistry, Saloma was also famous as a screen beauty: her hourglass figure, magnificent hairdos and iconic kebaya dresses were copied by young ladies of the 60's.

Saloma's voice is best described by the Malay adage lemak merdu (literally meaning fat-melodious), a term connotating a sensuous honey-thick flow of sound with a lot of overtones. Although capable of perfectly executed high notes, usually her songs employed her middle voice, which was a creamy mezzo-soprano  capable of transcending such genres as jazz, cha-cha, pop, and traditional Malay folk. 

The beauty of her voice was such that P. Ramlee once remarked he could not envision his songs sung by singers any other than Saloma. Their creative partnership in film and music was still unmatched in Malaysia today. Her contributions to Malaysian art was such that she was credited as Biduanita in the credits of her films, the term being equivalent to Italian prima donna assoluta. This was cemented by her awards Ahli Mangku Negara (1975) and Biduanita Negara (1979) respectively. Saloma was considered predecessor to such singers as Sharifah Aini and Rafeah Buang in terms of vocal type, repertoire and in setting a very high standard for Malaysian female vocalists.

Saloma survived P. Ramlee by a decade and continued singing in television programs and film soundtrack until the 80's.

Saloma died on 25 April 1983 at Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya Selangor Malaysia  from liver failure associated with jaundice. She was buried at Jalan Ampang Muslim Cementery Kuala Lumpur next to the grave of her husband, P.Ramlee .

 In 2003, in honour of her contributions to the Malaysian entertainment industry, the Saloma Bistro  was set up in Jalan Ampang Kuala Lumpur.

Saloma's solo works frequently features in the soundtracks of her film. Her voice was also sometimes used in dubbing, for example the female part ofTaman Firdausi from Nasib Do Re Mi.
  • Mengapa Dirindu
  • Kain Songket
  • Bunga Tanjung
  • Hilang Terang Timbul Gelap
  • Perwira
  • Tiru Macam Saya
  • Inang Baru
  • Bila Larut Malam
  • Keroncong Singapura
  • Tiga Abdul
  • Aci Aci Buka Pintu
  • Lagu Anak Rantau
  • Bila Hati Telah Retak
  • Tari Silat Melayu
  • Bossanova
  • Selamat Hari Raya
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Kelohan
She also frequently partners P. Ramlee in memorable duets such as:
  • Gelora
  • Malam Ku Bermimpi
  • Burung Pungguk
  • Di Mana Suara Burung Kenari
  • Hancur Badan di Kandung Badan
  • Joget Malaysia
  • Rukun Islam
  • Sri Bulan
  • Jikalau Ku tahu
  • Bahagia
  • Saat yang Bahagia
  • Dalam Air Terbayang Wajah
  • Sedangkan Lidah Lagi Tergigit
  • Seniman Bujang Lapok
  • Ragam P. Ramlee
  • Sabaruddin Tukang Kasut
  • Bila Hati Telah Retak
  • Si Tanggang
  • Ahmad Albab
  • and many more.... 

 Related source : Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Anis Es recovering after illness

I recently read online somewhere that legendary Pop Yeh Yeh singer Anis Es has been ill lately.
I was worried to see a photo of him in the hospital on respirator, but apparently he has been discharged from the hospital more recently.

Saying prayers for his speedy recovery.

Here is a song from an EP he recorded with Orkes P.I.B. - "Cincin Suasa" (Copper Ring)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guest Blogger Ghaz reminisces about turntables and Western music he heard as a kid growing up in Malaysia

May 2012 - Ghaz writes:

"Hi Carl, 
Like yourself, I've been travelling out of KL for the past two weeks to Kemaman (in the coastal east-coast province of Terengganu, the home-state of Adnan Othman) and Port Dickson (in Negeri Sembilan province) . Next week, I'm going to leave for Sungai Petani (in the northern Kedah province), before going to Port Dickson again.

Looking at the picture of you listening to the records, I remember that my parents used to have their own Toshiba turntable in their early years of marriage in the mid-1970s.

 My aunt managed to take a photo of myself as a young boy looking at the spinning vinyl; I remember very well that it was a Cliff Richard’s LP issued jointly by EMI-Columbia. 

In 2001, I bought the same LP from an antique shop in KL and learned that the title was Cliff’s Hit Album. It motivated me to buy my own a 1960 4-speed JVC Nivico portable turntable worth 300 ringgit (about 100 US dollars today).

random YouTube video of a 1960 JVC Nivico portable: 

 Unfortunately, the JVC turntable could no longer be used as the stylus was completely worn out and the motor was not functioning properly. It was impossible for me to repair it as the spare parts were not available, so I disposed of it.

My mom was amazed at how I managed to get the Cliff Richard LP, as her own copy was long gone; even her Toshiba turntable was completely damaged due to mishandling by the transport company who carried it along using its truck along our journey back to KL from JB in 1985, following my dad’s transferring back to our hometown.

My mother is an ardent fan of Cliff herself, and she also used to love to play another record by him, which was a 1968 EP containing songs such as I Love You Forever Today, Mr. Nice, Marianne and Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon.

Besides Cliff’s records, we used to have a few more records, which I could still recall the artists and their song titles as follows:
(a) Neil Sedaka - Little Devil, Oh Carol, Run Samson Run, One Way Ticket
(b) Engelbert Humperdinck - Sweetheart, Woman In My Life, Put Your Hand In My Hand
(c) The Hollies - He Ain’t Heavy … He’s My Brother
(d) Tom Jones - You
(e) Lynn Anderson - Rose Garden, Hello Darling
(f) Tommy Roe - Dizzy
(g) The Bee Gees - How Can You Mend My Broken Heart, Country Woman
My parents also bought two compilation LPs, each containing about 20 current English songs from the 70s and early 80s. I have forgotten the song lists, but among the singers featured include Conway Twitty, Glenn Campbell, The Stylistics, Dusty Springfield and K.C. & The Sunshine Band.
There were only two Malay records in our collection then. One was a soundtrack album from the 1976 film called Hapuslah Airmatamu (Wipe Away Your Tears) ....

.....and Nasheed (Islamic spiritual) songs sung by an all-ladies group called Al-Mizan (The Scale) : 

During one of my visits to my grandpa’s kampong (village) in northern Singapore in 1984, I discovered a collection of EPs belonging to my dad and his brothers left idle inside my late grandpa’s chicken hut. To my surprise, there were lots of collections of a mixture of Malay, Hindi and English hits being kept there. I believe that my grandparents put them there as the turntable at their home had been no longer playable. When the whole village was demolished two years later, only the speakers were managed to be brought to my uncle’s apartment.
It is very sad that both the turntables and the records were completely damaged. Nevertheless, the nostalgia of seeing or having them during my childhood days has never fade till today. In fact, it triggered my interest towards both local and international music of the past, which finally brings both of us together.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia"

Guest Blogger, Ghaz, discusses popular dancers and dance groups of the late 50s and early 60s

Ghaz writes: 

"In general, the dancers usually dance in rhythm with A-Go-Go beat.

Actually, I don't have enough details on the dancers. For the list of dance groups, I suggest that you refer to the opening credit of the film A-Go-Go 67 as their names appeared on the footage.

But I do aware that The Young Lovers comes with both the band and the dancers.

Meanwhile, the Malay film industry in earlier days use to have professional choreographers. One of them that I came across in the film was Edith Castillo. The Castillos family members were also film actors, among them include Don Castillo (active in 1930s) and a child star named Tony Castillo (between 1956 and 1958).

Then came the actress Normadiah (her pre-Islamic name was Edith Sumampauw) who was also good at dancing and used to create the dancing steps for the movies, particularly those based on ancient Malay epic themes.

In the early 1970s, another actress, Saadiah, also had her own dancing troupe called Saadiah's Dancers, which featured, among others, her own nephew, another child-star named Bat Latiff [1953 - 2006].

When Bat grew older, he set up his own dancing troup called Bat Latiff's Dancers. He also had another troup specially for children called Anak-Anak Belalang, named after his character Belalang which he played as in P. Ramlee's film Nujum Pak Belalang in 1959. (Of course Ramlee acted as Belalangs father named Pak Belalang ... hehehe!)

A little trivia - Anita Sarawak and her elder half-sister Murni (from the same mother, actress Siput Sarawak) also used to be A-Go-Go dancers, too, either on films or on stage.

Siput (her actual name is Ramlah Dollah, daughter of veteran actor Dollah Sarawak) also used to dance in opera troup circa 1930s till late 1940s, just before the Shaw Brothers' studio in Singapore's Jalan Ampas be reorganized after the World War 2, where she was later admited into film arena in 1947. She got her stage name Siput (Snail) after an opera troop called Siput Kuyong based in Sarawak during her childhood days."

Thanks again to Ghaz for sharing this rare and valuable information!! 

here is some pre-a go go dancing called Joget.... 

Joget "Go To Hell" - filmed at SB Jalan Ampas Studios Singapore featuring Normadia and Omar Suwita

Guest blogger, Ghaz, writes about the 70s Indonesian musical "invasion" in Malaysia and Singapore

April 2012, Ghaz writes: 

"While remembering one of Ed Sullivan Show's episodes in 1964 featuring The Beatles and later on, the British Invasion on American pop music, it triggered me to write on the similar phenomenon here in the Malay archipelago.

As observed, Indonesia, Malaysia and the 14% Malay population of Singapore share similarities in terms of language and cultural background. Some of the main ethnics in Indonesia like the Javanese, Minagkabaus, Mandailings, Achenese, Banjarese, Boyanese, Kamparese and Bataks could be found in many parts of its neighbouring countries.

Many of the Malay entertainers in music and films those days originated from Indonesian territories; only a small number of them were purely Malayan (States of Malay Peninsular excluding Sabah and Sarawak) and Singaporeans. Even the legendary P. Ramlee himself , although born in Malaysian island of Penang, is a son of an Achenese aristocratic family who migrated to the island in 1920s. Other recording artists and songwriters since the 1930s till the early 1960s came from Indonesia in search of better opportunities in Singapore, the then leading hub of recording industry in the Southeast Asian region. The same applies to actors and actresses, who eventually carved their own stardom in two giant studios - Shaw Brothers' Malay Film Production and Cathay Keris.

Those Indonesian singers who made it to the top in 1940s and 1950s include Momo Latif, Rubiah, Tarminah, Ta'seah, Ribut Rawit, M. Yatim a.k.a. Maroeti, Ahmad C.B. (C.B. = Chass Bara) - as well as their accompanying composers like Ahmad Jaafar, Zubir Said, Yusoff B. (B = Blugok), Saiful Bahri and Wandly Yazit. Meanwhile, actors and actresses like Daeng Harris, Daeng Idris, Mustarjo, Aziz Sattar, Noormadiah, S. Kadarisman, Osman Gumanti, Siti Tanjong Perak and Maria Menado were among those who were admitted into the studios soon after the demise of stage operas (or Bangsawan as the Malays call it) at the end of World War II.

Together with their local colleagues from Malaya and Singapore, they formed a very established and comprehensive entertainment industry, with their songs and films being made popular in the these territories, thanks to the loose immigration control of post-independence Indonesian Government led by President Soekarno and the British colonial masters in Malaya and Singapore.

Nevertheless, the joy in entertainment was later disrupted by political difference between Sukarno's administration and the post-independence Malayan Government led by Tunku Abdul Rahman, in particular, on the proposed establishment of a new country called Malaysia (which Singapore was also admitted, together with Sabah and Sarawak which were neighbours to Indonesia's Kalimantan region on the same Borneo Island), and partly, on the move by Indonesia to protect its own entertainment industry.

At that time, a strict regulation on film distribution was enacted in which for each Malayan/Singaporean film entered into Indonesia per year, it must be reciprocated by at least three Indonesian films to be distributed to Malaya/Singapore. An effort was made to adapt to such ruling by producing films through joint-ventures among film-makers in both countries but still, only two films were known to be done - Korban Fitnah (1959) and Bayangan Di-Waktu Fajar (1963). Eventually, Malayan/Singaporean films were totally banned from being distributed to Indonesia, thus making it hard for the Malay film industry in Singapore to survive.

Meanwhile, through the Crush Malaysia campaign, many of the Indonesian songs with anti-Malaysian sentiment were composed and recorded, thus leading to a further rift between both the governments and people of the two countries.

The moment of anguish was cleared at last with the declaration of an end to the confrontation in 1966 between Malaysia (this time, without Singapore who became a republic of its own a year earlier) and Indonesia, from which the co-operation between Malaysian/Singaporean and Indonesian entertainment industry players were resumed. Beginning 1966 onwards, Malay music listeners began to enjoy once again the the product of joint collaboration of composers, songwriters and singers from the three countries, which still previals up to the present day. 


Between 1966 and mid-1970s, lots of Indonesian musicians, composers, songwriters, singers and film stars played their parts towards the popularity of Malay songs. They met in Singapore and later on in Kuala Lumpur to record Malay songs and to act in Malay films.

In 1966, Alina Rahman made an EP with Indonesian band The Rollies providing the musical back-up. All the songs from this EP were composed by the band's drummer, Iwan Krishnawan. A year later, M. Osman and another Indonesian singer/actor Rima Melati cut an EP together where they sang a few songs in duet. Ernie Djohan made two EPs with a Malaysian band called The Bees 5 in 1968 under a Malaysian recording company called Penerbitan PMT.

Meanwhile, Malay music lovers in Malaysia and Singapore began to appreciate more Indonesian artist, such as Lilis Suryani, Tetty Kadi, Alfian and Tiar Ramon in their collection of EPs at home.

In 1970, another band called Clique Fantastique made their first EP under EMI Singapore, besides accompanying other singers under the same label such as Sanisah Huri, Sarena Hashim and M. Fadzil. The band recorded their fourth and the last EP in 1972, before returning to their homeland to continue with their career there. Meanwhile, another Indonesian band, The Commandos, also created their own success in Singapore under Panda Records, making their own instrumental albums besides accompanying A. Ramlie, Maria Bachok, Ahmad Din, D. Swatinah, J. Kamisah and Salim I.

The joint-venture between Indonesian and Malaysian/Singaporean artistic players were also active during this period. In 1971, the Indonesian film "Dunia Belum Kiamat" (It's Not The End Of The World) became a hit in Malaysia and Singapore, thus making the songs from the soundtrack recorded by husband-and-wife duo Muchsin and Titiek Sandhora very popular in both countries. Two years later, another box-office film from Indonesia, "Akhir Sebuah Impian" (The End Of A Dream) (1973) featuring singers Broery Marantika and Emilia Contessa, became another success, from which Panda Records management in Singapore were inspired to issue a drama LP with songs and dialogues called "Menangis Sesudah Ketawa" (Cry After Laughter) in the same year.

During this period too, many Indonesian bands began their invasion into the Malaysian/Singaporean music scene, such as Favourite Group (whom were featured in Akhir Sebuah Impian), D'Lloyd, Koes Plus and Bimbo. Their albums, distributed by Life Records of both Malaysian and Singaporean branches, became best sellers in both countries.

In 1975, the Malaysian branch of Shaw Brothers who took over KL-based Studio Merdeka 11 years earlier tried their luck following such success to produce a joint-venture film with an Indonesian film company called "Semalam Di Malaysia" (A Night In Malaysia) featuring Norzie Nani and an Indonesian singing trio, Bimbo. The song bearing the same title became an instant hit till it was re-recorded by singers from both countries till the present day.

Another remarkable performance was in 1976 where a Sabahan millionaire, Deddy M. Borhan under his own company, Sabah Film Production, made a film which made it to the top in box-office as well as in the music industry. "Hapuslah Airmatamu" (Wipe Away Your Tears), which starred Broery Marantika and Christine Hakim from Indonesia and Sharifah Aini and Latiff Ibrahim, had made a huge impact in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. The soundtrack featuring songs sung by Broery and Sharifah Aini, all of which composed by Datuk Ahmad Nawab are still available till today, and was re-issued by EMI following the death of Broery himself in 2001, which again became a best-selling album.

The last two Malaysian film with Indonesian artists being featured during that decade were "Panglima Badul" (Badul The Warrior) (featuring comedian Benjamin S.) and "Pendekar" (The Warrior) (featuring Farouk Affero), but then the popularity of such approach began to fade.

During my childhood days where the revival of the pop-yeh-yeh craze in the mid-1980s, there was a live concert at KL's Stadium Merdeka combining many singers of the 60s from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia to perform. The man behind such effort was our Malaysian Fenderman, the late M. Shariff with his band, The Zurah II.

 The Malaysian entertainment industry tried very hard to enter the Indonesian market in the early 1980s, but only few players had managed to do so, as the latter's entertainment industry itself became very protective on its own players. Anita Sarawak began to cut a few album specially for the Indonesian market, so did her peers like Datuk Shiela Majid and later on, Datuk Siti Nurhaliza.

Still, the impact was not that strong until the new millenium, when the industry players from both sides began to appreciate each other's audience on the needs to enjoy some difference in creativity.

Throughout my observation, the Indonesian counterpart is more aggressive in making its industry players remain marketable in Singapore and Malaysia, as the end-product from there is regarded as the one made for the love for their country, compared to those in Malaysia who treat theirs as their own individual efforts, and to serve their individual needs, in the midst of stiff competition within the local market itself. Had they been united, they could be more succesful than what they had achieved today.

Ghaz, KL"

Adnan Othman compilation - Coming SOON!

I am pleased to announce that in addition to the current Pop Yeh Yeh compilation (Vol 1. - on Sublime Frequencies)  which is VERY near completion, I have been given permission by Adnan Othman himself to commence work on a compilation featuring the best tracks of his career.  This release will feature mastered tracks from his EPS and one LP, as well as in-depth liner notes and rare photos.  Watch this blog for more information!!!

Below: Bershukor - which translates to "gratitude/thanks to God"

Cikgu Yusnor Ef continues his work in promoting Malay culture and music.. a few recent clips

Having had the opportunity to meet Cikgu Yusnor Ef in 2010, I've been following his tremendous efforts to promote the history and culture of Malaysia and Singapore ever since.

 Cikgu Yusnor Ef is not only a historian and cultural advocate, but also a very prolific lyricist, and has written songs for many of the top artists from Singapore and Malaysia, including Sanisah Huri, Sharifah Aini, Ahmad Jais, A Ramlie and Rahimah Rahim.

 He has written some incredibly informative books in recent years, and also has been awarded many times for his work.

Recently, Cikgu Yusnor Ef asked me to record some interview clips about my own western opinion (and undeniable love) of Malay pop in the 60s.  I completed this video clip a week ago (with help from jlawrva) and sent it to him.. maybe it will end up on Singapore TV as well!  I will certainly post it here if it does!

Below, I am posting 3 videos that I found on Youtube today. The first one is in honor of his recent award, and the second two are from a mini-series which aired on TV1 (in Malay - no subtitles).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Malay-Indian Fusion: The Sangam Boys and Orkes Zindegi

Besides listening to Malay Pop from the 60s and 70s, I've also been a huge fan of Indian music over the years. And I think what might have drawn me in initially to Malay Pop was the fact that there were and still are so many cultural influences present in Malaysia... especially in the music (and food for that matter).

 As the Pop Yeh Yeh era sort of faded out near the early 70s, many groups changed their sound with emphasis on Indian and Indonesian influences.

But I understood none of these nuances and shifts in style until my friend Ghaz generously highlighted the different bands, singers, recording labels, and hit songs of the era. The history that I learned from people like Ghaz and Joe Pereira has helped me to recognize different trends that were happening in Malay Pop during the 60s, and on to the 70s.

 Some of the first Malay EPs I ever heard were by artists like Sanisah Huri, Zaleha Hamid, Sharifah Aini, and DJ Dave.

Coincidentally, what probably made these records so accessible to me at first was the fact that all of these artists were incorporating Indian instrumentation into their songs (I was already an avid listener of Bollywood film soundtracks when I first started checking out Malay Pop - and the cheapest EPs I could find were the 70s artists on bigger labels like EMI and LIFE records).  Pop Yeh Yeh gave me even more of a thrill when I started to get my hands on the older EPs, but I will always have a love for the artists I mentioned above too.

Yes, some of the production of the 70s sounded a bit overly produced, and the "edge" that Pop Yeh Yeh had was replaced with swirling string sections, tabla, and brass sections - but the subtle beauty in the songs of the 70s is a whole other world to be appreciated.  Especially the period coming out of Pop Yeh Yeh (1970-1975 maybe). These years are also coincidentally thought by many to be Bollywood's greatest years - so it makes sense that Malay musicians were turning to Indian music for inspiration.

But let me stop there and allow Ghaz to take over the post from here. In the following short essay, Ghaz focuses on two very important "trendsetting" groups who truly exemplified the fusion of styles I have mentioned above.....  

Ghaz writes:

At the end of last month, I was in Langkawi on an official assignment. After the meeting was over, I prepared myself to have a bath at the resort's seaside. While doing so, I turned on the Malaysian channel TV3 on which I saw that the 1964 Hindi film Sangam (Unity) was aired.

The movie made it at the box-office in Malaysia, including the province of Singapore as it was called then. I could still recall that my Dad told me how popular the film was, until he watched it five times in different cinemas! I remember that in one of the Malaysian general elections, Sangam was aired by the government channel RTM while waiting for the polling results were released one by one, in the wee hours of the morning. I was not surprised at all, as usually a classic Hindi film has a long duration reel play of an average of three hours .... hehehehehe!

Somehow, a Malay 60s band was formed as "The Sangam Boys", under the initiative of the singer, Halim Yatim. The band was led by A. Aziz Abdullah. I believe that the musicians were taking advantage of the popularity of Sangam, hence leading to the choice of such name. Halim Yatim and The Sangam Boys cut quite a handful of EPs. I love the songs by them, among the popular ones include Jandaku (My Ex-Wife), Jauh Pandangan (Far-Sighted), Gadis Pontian (The Girl From Pontian), Nasib Wanita (A Woman's Fate) and Saya Ta' Suka Awak Ta' Tahu (I Dislike You But You Don't Know).

The Sangam Boys then backed up other singers like S. Roha, R. Selamat, Kamariah Ahmad, S.H. Abdullah and Hussain Marican. Beginning with these singers, the band injected a new approach in their music style where they recorded current Hindi songs in Malay. Coincidently, by this time, it was the late 1960s and early 1970s - the trend of cover versions. This approach is indeed proven a success where their records sold well in both sides of the Causeway.

Eventually, the same approach was adopted by other emerging bands who tried their luck by jumping into the bandwagon. Next came another band called Orkes Zindegi. (Zindegi means Life in Hindi). Among the earliest singers include the Tayib Ridon (a.k.a Singapore's Mohd. Rafi), and late Sharifah Noor (a.k.a. Singapore's Lata Mangeshkar). My Dad used to have Sharifah Noor's 1970 EP with this band with the songs Salabat Laila and Di Mana Bahagia (Where Is The Happiness) recorded under Sea Lion Records. Orkes Zindegi then provided musical backups for Zaleha Hamid, Samsar Begum, Rajesh Khan and other singers performing similar genre. 

A few other bands listed include the late M. Shariff (Malaysian Fenderman) and his band The Zurah, who had played a significant role in reviving the pop-yeh-yeh craze, and Kamariah Ahmad with Orkes Brahmachari. Shariff himself had an opportunity to work with Hindi composers to cut an album in India.

Meanwhile, there were other group performing the same music, such as The Dosti Boys (featuring K. Jeeti and S. Rosli), Orkes Anjaana (featuring Mohamad and Jimmy Ekbar), but their popularity was minimal. 

An exciting fact  - Brahmachari and Dosti were also popular Hindi films which hit the charts in Malaysian and Singaporean box-office in the mid-1960s, too.

The salient feature of this kind of music is that it runs well not only to the pure Malays but also to the Jawi Peranakans (Malays with Indian Muslim or Arab blood). The music were played in social gatherings, most of the time on weddings. The Malay community accepts Hindi songs and films partly because Malay and Hindi share many words in their vocabulary, which originates from a mixture of Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian. 

(above: Shankar Jaikishan's "Andaz" Soundtrack which includes the song "Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana" - once covered by Zaleha Hamid in the 70s backed by Orkes Zindegi) 

Before the pop-yeh-yeh came into the picture, many Malay singers of the 1940s and 1950s such as R. Azmi and siblings duo Razak & Zainab Majid adopted the Hindi style into their renditions, thanks to the influence of Indian film expertise into the making of classic Malay movies where their songs were included in the soundtracks.

Although the Hindi-Malay bands no longer fit the present trend, the interest to Hindi films and songs has never ceased to grow. This is the uniqueness of the multicultural populations of both Malaysia and Singapore where everybody accepts each other as they are.

"1-Malaysia: People First, Performance Now!"

Ghaz, KL