Filed under: Singapore
When the main island was colonized by the British East India Company in 1819, it contained a fishing village sparsely populated by indigenous Malays and Orang Lauts at the mouth of the Singapore River. The British used the position as a strategic trading outpost along the spice route. It became one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire and the site, in 1942, of what Winston Churchill called “Britain’s biggest defeat” at the hands of the Japanese. Occupied by the Japanese Empire during World War II, it reverted to British rule in 1945 and was later part of the merger which established Malasia in 1963. Less than two years later it left the federation and became an independent republic on August 9th, 1965. The new republic was admitted to the United Nations on September 21 that same year.
Although these songs are from their first single, The Stylers would eventually join the list of ‘Non-Stop Music’ bands like The Silverstones, Tony & The Polar Bear Five and The Travellers. I pestered Mack over at FarEastAudio to give me a brief history on the Non-Stop Music craze:
Non-stop instrumental dancing records go at least as for back as the 1950s orchestral work of Germany‘s James Last. Non-stop ballroom has had a lasting influence in East and Southeast Asia. (In the mid-1990s, I purchased a wonderful cassette in the Philippines called “Non-Stop Cha Cha Extravaganza,” for example.) However, it is the Asian version of the “A Go-Go” pop medley sound that has captured the imaginations of Western record collectors in recent years. Influenced by instrumental rock groups from the US and UK, the 60s teen scenes of Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore produced numerous dancing albums. These albums often retained the ballroom sensibility of listing the intended dance styles next to the track titles (A Go-Go, Blues, Fox Trot, Cha Cha, etc.), but relied on a rock line-up of bass, drums, guitar and organ. As for the songs performed, Western pop hits, regional pop hits and even traditional folk melodies were all fair game.
By the 1970s, surviving instrumental bands like The Stylers seem to have gotten more ambitious, incorporating into their albums film themes, sound effects, “hi-fi” production values, and musical elements of the emerging disco sound. By this point, non-stop instrumental albums were less a teen dance phenomenon than they were fodder for the high-end stereo equipment of Asian audiophiles.
In 2003, Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) commissioned a six-part series documentary for televison on the Singapore music scene from the 1960s to the present day, entitled Jammin’. If anyone knows how I could get a copy of that documentary (especially the first two episodes), I would greatly appreciate it.
Catalog number SE 1010 on Polar Bear Record of Singapore. No release date given.
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