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