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"


  1. I would absolutely love to see that picture!

    1. Carol, i have asked Ghaz if this photo ("My aunt managed to take a photo of myself as a young boy looking at the spinning vinyl") exists.... hopefully he will provide it for us! :D