Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe

The Impossible
December 18, 2010, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Singapore

Jingle Bells

Here Come Santa Claus

A good friend of mine gives me a lot of grief for posting Christmas music on the site. Besides the fact that he does not care for Christmas music, he says that he think people from “countries outside the US have no idea how Americans celebrate Christmas. They tend to not realize Christmas music is for shoppers at malls.” And for the most part, I have to agree with him there.

At the same time, I find it very odd that musicians from countries where Christianity is not the majority would choose to record these songs. Then again, if you look in the news as of late, you’ll see that the ‘most expensive Christmas tree ever‘ is in Adu Dhabi and that people are starting to celebrate Christmas in China… The religion of Consumerism – and it’s soundtrack – is the gift that keeps on giving.

I have not been able to find anything about The Impossible – who are not to be confused with The Impossibles of Thailand. If you have any information about the band, please get in touch or leave a comment.

Catalog number SMR 111 on Sima Records of Singapore. No further information available.

Dorothy & The Vampires
October 30, 2010, 1:14 pm
Filed under: Singapore


Back in October of 2007, I posted a single by The Vampires of Singapore. I did not have any information back then, but I have since been contacted by one of the members of the band. Her name is Connie Fong. We did a little e-mail interview back in July of last year.

Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Which instrument did you play?

Connie Fong I played the guitar.

RI Do you remember when the band first got together?

CF 1964/5 when we met as music students under Harry Martinez (Harry also formed several boys band those days).

RI Do you recall how the band decided to call themselves The Vampires?

CF There was another all-girl band named ‘Angels’ at that time, and we cheekily decided to be different

RI I know that the band recorded two singles, the one that I have posted on my site and the one on Philips that is by Dorothy & The Vampires. Did the band record any other singles?

CF No, those were the only two recordings we did.

RI Is there any reason that the second single was credited as Dorothy & The Vampires versus just The Vampires?

CF No reason I believe, as everything were arranged by our mentor and manager, Harry Martinez. The other single recorded by Philips was all instrumental with all the titles composed by Harry, therefore Dorothy was not featured in that single.

RI When did the band decided to break up?

CF There was no breaking up, we are still friends except that we grew tired going for our regular band practices and after playing together for five years.

RI Did you play in any other bands? Did they release any recordings?

CF No.

RI I am guessing from your e-mail address that you are back in Singapore now, right?

CF Yes.

RI Have you stayed in touch with any of the other members? If so, do you know if they stayed in Singapore, or moved away?

CF Yes, they are all in Singapore except Dorothy Sin, I don¹t know her where about, have lost touch with her.

Catalog number 43802 QE on Philips. No release date listed.

The Brothers Hawk
August 2, 2009, 5:47 am
Filed under: Singapore

Let’s Do The Funky

This week’s guest post is by the illustrious Dustin Drase. Dustin is the mastermind behind PlusTapes. The label has released a very diverse roster of artists – from the French pop of Anna St. Clair and Peruvian psych of Los Holy’s, to the lo-fi thrash noise of the Chicago Thrash Ensemble and seaworthy folk-rock of Death Ships, as well as legendary Asian garage bands like Dara Puspita and The Travellers. Dustin saved the day by swooping in to fill a last minute cancellation for this month’s guest post. Also, Dustin decided to post the entire album – a first here at Radiodiffusion Internasionaal – and I was in no the mood to argue.

The Brothers Hawk were an Asian, mostly instrumental, band that played and recorded throughout Singapore and Malaysia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Brothers peddled in the popular “Hala Hala” or “A Go Go” styles much like other contemporaries of their time, The Travellers or The Stylers. Like these bands, the Brothers also served as the backing band for popular vocalists, in their case on three records with Wong Shaiu Chuen.

Let’s Do The Funky, on the Tatex Records label was curiously distributed by the similarly named Tatet Records Trading Co. throughout Malaysia, and Victory Records in Singapore. As is the case with many 60s and 70s records from Singapore, the covers are more exciting than the actual music. There are a number of sites around the net that post covers of records from the 60s Singapore scene, but David Greenfield’s ever growing collection is perhaps the most impressive.

The Hala Hala / A Go Go style (sometimes also referred to as Off Beat Cha Cha) takes traditional Chinese surf-style twang and mixes elements of Rumba, Foxtrot, and Quick Step rhythms. The music was made to be fairly breezy “Teen Dance Music”, and is nowhere near as heavy on the funk or psychedelic as Indonesian and other Malaysian music of its time.

I first came to the music of Singapore through the Girls in the Garage: Oriental Special compilation, which shows an admittedly slanted view of the Singapore music scene. Whereas much of the music on that compilation was meant to show Westerners the silly, broken-English side of Singapore, the Brothers Hawk seem to sidestep that pitfall and actually can sing in English as evidenced by the cowboy ballad “One Way Wind”, and the ultra groovy “Co-Co”.

Many of the Singapore bands had recurring night club gigs and were tied to one specific recording studio. They would churn out a multitude of hits and cover songs, which were sometimes released repeatedly on differently packaged albums (see discography below for a good example of this). Let’s Do The Funky is labeled as The Sound of the Brothers Hawk Vol. 2, which leads one to believe there is a Vol. 1 out there somewhere, but I have yet to see evidence of this record existing.

Track Listing
1. Flying Machine
2. Bombay Duck
3. One Way Wind
4. My Lady
5. Co-Co
6. Funny, Funny
7. Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum
8. Where Are You? The Jilted
9. Forgive Me, Darling
10. Wonderful Life
11. To the Frontier
12. Only You
13. Nothing in My Life
14. The Fated Dream

*special thanks to the ongoing discography project by the folks from Scarce Sounds – reprinted by permission

TATEX (Singapore)

TATEX (Singapore)
TLP-1011 • The Brothers Hawk • Let’s Do the Funky – The Sound of The Brothers Hawk Vol. 2

PEAK RECORDS (Singapore/Malaysia)
BCLP-8004 • The Brothers Hawk • Popular Hits Party ‘70

HE-1975 • Wong Shiau Chuen + The Brothers Hawk

HAPPY RECORD COMPANY (H.R.C.) (Malaysia) – “Happy Record Electronic Enterprise Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia”
HE-1975 • Wong Shaiu Chuen + The Brothers Hawk
HE-1976 • Wong Shaiu Chuen + The Brothers Hawk
HE-1978 • Wong Shiau Chuen + The Brothers Hawk

PEAK RECORD (Singapore)
BC-7097 • Lin Zhen + The Brothers Hawk

ORIENTAL RECORD (Singapore) – “Oriental Record Co., Singapore”
Jia Jia + The Brothers Hawk

Catalog number TLP-1011on Tatex Records of Singapore. No release date listed.

The Travellers
December 28, 2008, 7:22 am
Filed under: Singapore

王小二拜年 / 賀新年

恭喜恭喜 / 迎春花

The Travellers were from Singapore. They were part of the Non-Stop Dancing Music scene that also produced The Stylers.

My first introduction to The Travellers was on the questionable compilation entitled “G. I. Funk” on the Payback Recordings label. The song was listed as “Slow Soul” (It was also included on the “Dusty Fingers Vol. 12” compilation, released by Strictly Breaks). Who ever transferred the song, did not bother to learn the real name of the song, instead only listing the track by it’s dance style. On the Non-Stop Dancing Music records, medleys of songs are group by their dance style, A Go-Go, Cha Cha, Bolero, Fox Trot, etc. But the title of the song is actually “Smiling Face, Flushing Heart”.

I have not been able to find hardly any information about the band. I do know that they, as well as The Stylers, would occasionally back singers like Chang Siao Ying on their recordings. But other than that, there is just a few sites with their records here and there.

In 2003, Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) commissioned a six-part series documentary for television 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.

If you any information about the band, please contact me.

Catalog number MEP-9048 on Victory Organisation of Singapore. No release date listed.

The Spiders
October 25, 2008, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Singapore

Evil Ways

The port of Singapore was, and still is, an active hub for international travelers and merchant marines, who bringing with them their favorite pop records from around the world. During the Vietnam conflict, American soldiers brought the sounds of rockabilly from the stateside while the British nationals in camp at RAF bases introduced the British Invasion bands. The area was fertile ground.

The Shadows played their first concert in Singapore in late 1961, which marked the beginning of the Beat group era with bands who were strictly instrumental. Most times, singers were only an addition to the band. After the arrival of The Beatles in 1963 gave birth to “Malay Pop Yeh-Yeh” – a term derived from the song “She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)” – and changed the emphasis from the instrumental band scene to self-contained units with singers and musicians

I have not been able to find any information about The Spiders. Of course, these are not The Spiders from Japan. And, as far as I know, this is the only record that they released.

As for Santana… They were apparently quite popular in South East Asia. Their Latin influenced rock with its use of cowbells and timbales, mixed right in with the Non-Stop Dancing / A Go-Go music that was popular in Singapore in the 1970s. Although Santana did not originally write this song (or “Black Magic Woman” – which is the very next track on this record) covers of their versions of these songs were common.

In 2003, Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) commissioned a six-part series documentary for television 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.

If you any information about the band, please contact me.

Catalog number JR 302 on Jubilee Records Trading Co. of Singapore. No release date listed.

The Stylers
June 24, 2008, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Singapore

Dragon Theme

Stupid Cupid

The Stylers were from Singapore.

Singapore is an island nation located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and is one of the few remaining city-states in the world and the smallest country in Southeast Asia.

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.

The Tropicano
June 24, 2008, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Singapore

Jingle Bells

Frosty The Snowman

I can’t tell you that much about The Tropicano, except that they were from Singapore. This is the only single that I have seen by them. If you have any information, please contact me.

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 NFEP – 5012 on Play Boy label, which belonged to the Ngee Fat Record Company of Singapore. No date listed.

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