Filed under: Indonesia
Dangdut. Besides be a really fun word to say, it is a music that is byproduct of the cultural collisions of Malay, Arabic, Hindustani, and Western sounds that could only happen in Indonesia. Having emerged in the early Seventies, dangdut has continued to grow in popularity to this day, even spreading to parts of Malaysia and the southern Philippines.
Oma Irama was born December 11, 1946, in Tasikmalaya, West Java. During the height of his stardom in the 1970s, he became the self-proclaimed Raja Dangdut (King of Dangdut) with his group Soneta. He was known by Oma Irama before he made a pilgrimage to Mecca and became a haji. He later took the name Rhoma Irama, which is a shorten version of “Raden Haji Oma Irama” (Raden is an aristocracy title for Javanese and Sundanese cultures).
Irama’s career began in the late 1960s when he recorded solo records and with the group Orkes Melayu Purnama. He sang duets on several record albums with Indonesian female vocal stars such as Inneke Kusumawati, Ellya Khadam, Vivi Sumanti, and the later to be crowned ‘Queen of Dangdut’ – Elvy Sukaesih. Once Oma broke from recording with the Purnama Group, he eventually formed Orkes Melayu Soneta – the first so-called Dangdut group. In fact, Oma established the term “Dangdut” with a song by the same name. Rhoma was also known for adding rock to the music and political content – much of it Islamic – to the lyrics, earning him the ire of President Suharto. Once Soneta was established in the early 70’s, Oma changed his name to Rhoma and went on a decade long run of successful hit records and films – all of which starred Rhoma playing himself while performing all of his hits.
As for Rita… There is no information available.
Catalog number IMR-90056 on P. T. Yukawi Corp. of Bogor, Indonesia. No release date listed.
Filed under: Indonesia
Ernie Djohan was born on April 6th in Indonesia. She was the daughter of M. Djohan Bakhaharudin, and spent much of her youth in Den Haag, the Netherlands and Singapore. In 1962, she began her singing career for Radio Talentime in Singapore in 1962. That same year, she won the All Singapore’s School Talentime and recorded her first record for Philips Recording Company. In 1966, she became the first Indonesian artist to go Platinum with the song “Teluk Bayur” and starred in her first film Belaian Kasih.
Catalog number PMT/MEP/51/67 on The P. M. T. Organisation of Malaysia. No release date listed.
Filed under: Indonesia
Kroncong (also seen spelled: Keroncong, Kerontjong, Kronchong, Krontjong) is the name of a ukulele-type instrument and an Indonesian musical style that typically makes use of the kroncong, a flute, and a female singer. The small kroncong guitar itself is related to the Portuguese cavaquinho, as is the Hawaiian ukulele. The roots of Kroncong music can be traced to Portuguese Fado, having originated in the communities of freed Portuguese slaves in the 16th in Batavia – now known as Jakarta, Indonesia.
During the 1960s, Pop Keroncong emerged in an attempt to modernize the genre by adding electric guitars, keyboards and drums. The most popular singers of that time were Hetty Koes Endang and Mus Mulyadi. Meanwhile, backing bands like The Steps and Band 4 Nada – who were already recording Instrumentalia albums – started making instrumental Kroncong records.
Eka Sapta formed as an instrumental backing band in 1963. From the beginning, they were influenced by The Shadows and The Ventures. Their first album was released the following year, baking up a number of singers, including Lilis Suryani and Elly Kasim. The band became one of the most sought after backing bands, recording albums with Inneke Kusumawati, Sitompul Bersaudara and others. Their last record was released in 1975.
While the band had many members over the years – there are nine people credited as being in the band on this album – two of which were guitarists Jopie Item and Entang. Jopie Item was in Trio Bintang and may or may not have been in Band 4 Nada. Entang had a solo career, backing up the Pattie Bersaudara, as well as others.
The band supposedly reformed in 2007. Other than a lone article, I have not been able to find any other evidence to support that fact.
Catalog number CLP 17003 on Canary Records of Indonesia, released 1970.
Filed under: Indonesia
Indonesia is a very diverse country. Just about every one of the 17,508 islands has its own cultural and artistic history that are the result of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century, when the Srivijaya Kingdom traded with China and India. Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished, until Muslim traders brought Islam to the region.
The first Europeans arrived in Indonesia in 1512, when Portuguese traders sought to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves and cubeb pepper in Maluku. Dutch and British traders soon followed. In 1602, the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy of the Dutch East India Company in 1800, the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalized colony.
All of these different cultures – both native and foreign – collided to produce an endless variety of amazing music. Much of it has been documented and recorded, but not all of it. Research by Indonesian and international scholars is still ongoing.
One of these variations was known as Instrumentalia, which was also popular in Malaysia and Singapore. Band 4 Nada, or “4 Tones Band”, were one of the first and more popular Instrumentalia bands in Indonesia. They took the instrumental rock sounds of The Shadows and The Ventures, and mixed it with other indigenous types of music, to create a new sound quite unlike anything else. Band 4 Nada were occasionally the backing band for singers such as Ernie Djohan, Lilis Suryani, Pattie Bersaudara and Titiek Sandhora. The main guy was A. Riyanto, who later went on to form The Favorite’s Group. Apparently, Jopie Item – of Trio Bintang – was a member at some point during the history of the band. Also, this album contains covers of several Koes Plus songs.
Catalog number SKL. 003 on Sakura Records of Indonesia Manufactured by Republic Manufacturing Co. Ltd (Remaco). No release date listed.
Filed under: Indonesia
Trio Bintang were from Indonesia.
The Republic of Indonesia, is a nation in Southeast Asia. Comprising of 17,508 islands, it is the world’s largest archipelagic state. It is also one of fourteen nations that the Equator runs through. With a population of almost two and a quarter million people, it is the world’s fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation, although officially it is not an Islamic state.
During the early 1960s, President Sukarno was under pressure from the pro-communist organization Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat to ban rock’n’roll. Local groups rock groups were often thrown in jail. Due to this fact, one of Indonesia’s first rock bands, Koes Bersaudara had a hit with a song called “I’m In Jail”, which was also included on their first album.
The only information that I have been able to find about Trio Bintang, is that their guitarist was Jopie Reinhard Item. He apparently had also performed with Lilis Suryani, Elly Kasim, Titiek Puspa, Ernie Djohan – to name a few. He now plays instrumental jazz. And apparently, Trio Bintang performed for a reunion show in 1999 for the Wisma Anak-Anak Harapan orphanage in Untal-Untal Dalung on the island of Bali.
Catalog number BT-102 on Bintang records. No other information available.
Filed under: Indonesia
Rachmat Kartolo & Brimoresta were from Indonesia.
During the early 1960s, President Sukarno was under pressure from the pro-communist organization Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat to ban rock’n’roll. Local groups rock groups were often thrown in jail. In fact, one of Indonesia’s first rock bands, Koes Bersaudara had a hit with a song called “I’m In Jail”, which was also included on their first album.
After the Sukarno was removed from power, Western music did manage to infiltrate Indonesian radio. But, ‘tear-jerkers’, such as Rachmat Kartolo’s “Patah Hati” (Broken Hearted) were banned since they were seen as ‘weakening’ the revolution. Under the New Order, control of the arts and the media by the government has been inconsistent, but generally Indonesia has enjoyed a vibrant music scene.
Rachmat Kartolo was more well know for his acting career, staring in first film Terpesona in 1966, and he was still acting as of 1989. There is a long article about him here… But it’s in Indonesian. Other than that, I have not been able to find anything about Rachmat Kartolo or his backing band Brimoresta. If you have any information, please contact me.
Catalog number EPLN 10 on Irama of Indonesia. No other information available.
Filed under: Indonesia
Dara Puspita (Flower Girls) was Indonesia’s most successful girl band of the 1960s. While there were many popular female vocalists in Indonesia at that time, they nearly all relied on the services of a backing band. Dara Puspita was one of the few girl groups who actually played all their own music as well. Comprising Susi Nander (the drummer, who was featured on the cover of this single), Titiek Hamzah, and sisters Titiek A.R., and Lies A.R., they formed in 1964, after being inspired by ‘The Beatles‘ sound. With all of them still in their late teens, they initially faced parental objections, but soon won them over. Apparently, when on stage, these girls had the habit of jumping up and down while shouting, such that their lyrics were often inaudible.
Because their style was referred to as “A Go-Go” or “Twist” it was considerably unusual then, they hit the top seat and became pop icons among young people in the blink of an eye at that time. In 1966, they had performed in Bangkok before they made their debut in Indonesia, and you can listen to some works based on their memories of Bangkok in their first and second albums.
Dara Puspita started on a journey to perform in Europe immediately after they released their 4th album. They kept touring in many countries such as Iran in the Middle East, West Germany, Turkey, Hungary and other countries for 1 year and 3 months. Until they came back to Indonesia in October, 1969, they performed 250 concerts held in 70 cities total.
Collin Johnson, who was an initial manager of the Beatles, just appeared in front of them in those days. At Collin’s request, they went to Britain at once and debuted with “Welcome To My House/I Believe In Love,” but it did not become a hit. 2nd EP “”Ba Da Ba Dum/Dream Stealer” did not become a hit, either. Drummer Susy Nander looks back at that time, saying “No one will be sure to buy the record of the unnamed female band like us”.
In concerts held in Britain, they mostly performed as an opening act for top groups such as Uriah Heep and Shocking Blue. They also toured to France, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands. They were very welcomed in the Netherlands. Everyone seems to have cried when they performed a song “Surabaja” from their first album. (It could be because Indonesia was a colony in the Netherlands for 360 years.) One single phonograph record put on the market in the Netherlands included an English version of “Sjurabaja” as A-side and “Cabaleuro” as B-side, which were the most popular at their concert.
Afterwards, they returned home to Indonesia, the triumphant return performance of the stadium class was done, and their popularity faced its peak. I still remember that in the concert, Titik Hamzah who was the bassist and the chairperson said honestly “We debuted in foreign countries, but we failed…” while talking about the story of life in foreign countries. When I heard her sincere comment toward her experience, I felt like assisting them more and more.
Later, Titik Hamzah told me that dissolution already seems to have come out in Dara Puspita before they returned to Indonesia even though it was made secret. Actually, the idea of dissolution was from her, Titik Hamzah, who was the most talented of the four. While the other 3 members said “Let’s continue because we are still popular,” Titik insisted “It is boring to keep playing songs by others. We should dissolve our band while we are popular.” Finally, as a result of the fact that the other 3 members couldn’t persuade Titik, dissolution was announced from their mouths on the final day of their triumphant return concert. Even though there had been a rumor of dissolution, the impact was still huge and all of the fans felt sad when we heard it…
After years, Titik A.R, the lead guitarist of the band, formed a reunion band with the original drummer Susy Nander, a new bassist Judith and a keybordist Dora Sahertian.(I believe they released an album with these members). Neither Titik Hamzah nor Lies A.R participated in this reunion because they had already married.
Titik Hamzah, who had never forgotten to sing, returned to the scene later. She released 2 albums with drummer Susy Nander until it dissolved. The sound of this newborn Dara Puspita by Titik and Susy was different from the original Dara Puspita. In these records, they tried to play various genres of music together. “There was no will to make hit-songs then. I just wanted to show my zeal to music.” said Titik Hamzah afterwords…
By the way, the original 4 albums of Dara Puspita were released only in record format not even in cassette format. There have been no re-issued versions so far. According to Titik Hamzah, once, the father of Titik A.R. and Lies A.R. tried to reissue them as cassettes, but it didn’t go well (Or Titik Hamzah refused) because there were a bunch of problems related to copyright. Therefore, it is very difficult to obtain Dara Puspita’s four original albums currently.
Catalog number BT-107 on Bintang records. No release date listed.
Filed under: Indonesia
Diah Iskander, and her backing band The Steps, were from Indonesia.
Under the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism, several kingdoms formed on the islands of Sumatra and Java from the 7th to 14th century. The arrival of Arabs trading in spices later brought Islam, which became the dominant religion in many parts of the archipelago after the collapse of Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms. When the Portuguese came in early 16th century, they found a multitude of small states, vulnerable to the Portuguese, and later other Europeans wanting to dominate the spice trade.
In the 17th century, the Dutch became the most powerful of the Europeans, ousting the Spanish and Portuguese (except for their colony of Portuguese Timor on the island of Timor). British occupied Benkulu (south of Sumatra) from 1685 to 1824 and built Fort Marlborough. The Dutch ruled Indonesia until the end of World War II.
Before 1965, pop music was banned from being broadcast on the state run Radio Republik Indonesia. The government had rejected Western culture, and specifically rock and roll. But after 1965, a new regime came into power, that embraced European and American music. Soon, The Beatles and Rolling Stones were became very popular, and as a result there were many groups forming in Indonesia.
I have not been able to fins any information about Diah Iskander, other than I have seen a couple of singles by her. The Steps recorded a half dozen or so albums, mostly instumental “Krontjong” music. I have only seen one other record that they recorded together, which was a single with all of the songs in English (also on Pop Records – catalog number 112300 PSE).
Catalog number PSY 112 221 on Pop Records of Indonesia. No release date listed.