Filed under: Thailand
By now, most of you should know Suang Santi…
In the last few years, he has appeared on a few Thai compilations – most notable being Finders Keepers‘ Thai? Dai! The Heavier Sound of The Lukthung Underground, where his name was transliterated as “Sroeng Santi”. The Black Sabbath inspired “Kuen Kuen Lueng Lueng” on that compilation is worth the price of admission alone. You also get “Dub Fai Kui Gun” and “Nam Mun Pang” – both of which had appeared on two of ZudRangMa‘s compilations – which are quite heavy as well. But this track is a bit different…
Whereas Suang Santi’s backing band – “The Suang Santi Band” – borrowed the opening riff from “Iron Man” on “Kuen Kuen Lueng Lueng”, here the intro is sampled directly from Ennio Morricone. The soundtrack music from Sergio Leone‘s “Man with No Name Trilogy” was quite popular throughout Asia, and was released in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. A vast majority of those records were not properly licensed, and some were even credited to Clint Eastwood instead of Ennio Morricone. The soundtrack was also covered by a number of bands, including Hong Kong’s Man Chau Po Orchestra and Singapore’s The Stylers, to name a few.
According to Monrakplengthai, Suang Santi had originally started out as a boxer before getting into the music business. He pioneered a crossover style of luk thung and heavy funk rock which few others attempted, and won success not only with his own recordings but songs he penned for others. Unfortunately, Suang Santi was killed in a car accident in 1982 while on tour at the age of 37.
The first couple verses of the song basically describe the hero, who is compared to Charles Bronson (“Once Upon A Time in The West“), Alain Delon (“Zorro“) and “Ringo” (“A Pistol for Ringo“). As the song continues, Suang asks: “Where does this mystery man come from, does anyone know?” Then you hear the gruff, accented voice ordering laap, khao nieow and lao khao (typical Isaan food and drink), and Suang remarking upon it. That this man is obviously from Isaan is what listeners are meant to take away. Isaan, the northeast part of the country, is often viewed as Thailand’s “Wild West“, and cowboy culture has a notable following there. Bangkok people often derive amusement from Isaan stereotypes.
This song has a “Part Two” that was included on Suang Santi last album 1 2 3 Duan Song Thaeo.
Much thanks to Peter Doolan for the information and translation.
Catalog number MN 146 on ตรากระต่ายคู่ (Tra Kratai Kkhu) or Pair of Rabbits Brand of Thailand. No release date listed.
Filed under: Thailand
♬ Pee Lok
It’s funny. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few random words in various languages that I see over and over. A good example is ‘bintang’, which is Indonesian for ‘star’ – as well as the name of a brewery in Indonesia. ‘Ngozi‘ is Igbo for ‘blessing’ and ‘hob’ is Arabic for ‘love’. But ‘pee’ is the Thai word for ‘ghost‘. And there are a lot of songs from Thailand about ‘pee’…
The title of this song translates as “Ghost Haunting”, and I figured it was a good way to start off October. I have not been able to find any information on Tuangchai Boonparaksa, other than the song “Mahn Kao Lah” – or “What Fun” – on Subliminal Sounds‘ Thai Beat A Go-Go Vol. 2 compilation. If you have any further information, please get in touch or leave a comment.
Thanks to Peter Doolan from the always amazing Monrakplenthai for the translation.
Catalog number ST-182 on Star Records of Thailand. No release date listed.
Filed under: Thailand
Thailand… I was pretty sure that all of the music that I thought I would have be interested in had pretty much been covered by the time Subliminal Sounds had issued their third Thai Beat A Go Go disc. I picked up some Johnny Guitar, Pocket Music / Son of P.M. and Sodsai Chaengkij records, and I figured I was done.
The first clue that I was wrong, was Sublime Frequencies‘ second volume of their Molam: Thai Country Groove From Isan compilation. They had also released the first volume of their Thai Pop series around that time as well. Not too long after, I happen to stumble on Peter Doolan’s Monrakplengthai site. Not too much longer, as Angela Sawyer was writing her guest post on Luk Thung, ZudRangMa started their Thai Funk series… By then, it was crystal clear that I had only scratched the surface.
The music of Thailand is reflected its geographic position at the crossroads of China, India, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia, as well as the country’s long history of trade with The West. Though Thailand was never colonized by colonial powers, pop music was imported from America and Europe, and pressed on local labels. This had a direct influence the indigenous music. Thailand is one of a handful of few countries where the electric guitar was integrated not only into the local popular music of the day, but regional forms of music – like Luk Thung and Molam – as well.
Suphap Daoduangden (สุภาพ ดาวดวงเด่น) was, and as far as I can tell, still is from the town of Selaphum in Roi-Et Province. She started singing Molam at the age of 15, and this may be her first album. But beyond that, I can not tell you anything more.
Thanks to Peter Doolan for the information and translation.
Release by Orient Records Ltd. Partnership of Thailand. No catalog number or release date listed.
Filed under: Thailand
When trying to pick a song for the week of Halloween, I noticed that a whole lot of songs from Thailand had to word “Pee” in the title… Come to find out, “Pee” means “Ghost” in Thai. So, I decided to ask Peter Doolan from the awesome Monrakplengthai to do a guest post for this week. Besides being an endless fount of information of Thai music, Peter is pretty knowledgeable of neighboring Burma / Myanmar and Laos, too.
It’s merging of local folk influences and Western pop structures, Pleng Luk Thung, Thai “Country Music“, epitomized the musical lives of many rural Thais throughout the latter half of the Twentieth Century, and continues to be a major force in the popular music of Thailand today.
One singer, Suraphon Sombatcharoen of Suphanburi province, carried this genre into the mainstream and took the position of the (more or less) undisputed “King of Luk Thung”. In his time, he built up an entire collective of musicians, dancers, singers and songwriters; many of the biggest stars of subsequent generations got their start in his group. Suraphon was more than a bandleader, he was something of a father figure to those in his group, many of whom he “adopted” at a very young age, and who basically grew up on the road in his ensemble.
At the height of his fame, Suraphon was gunned down on stage during a show in Nakhon Pathom. The reason for his murder is unknown; some suspect a rival singer (of which there were many) or a jealous lover (of which, apparently, there were also many). After his death, his protégés jockeyed to fill the void, and initially Kangwanphrai Lukphet was the best bet (most likely because of the similarity between he and Suraphon’s voices).
The song presented here proved something of a rallying cry for Suraphon’s disciples; titled “Pleading with Father’s Ghost”, it bemoans the star singer’s violent and untimely death, and calls upon his spirit, asking the ghost to bless his new band and bestow upon it the same fame and talent which Suraphon’s possessed. It features a wonderfully ethereal electric organ-laced introduction, a fiddle-driven folk groove, and of course, Kangwanphrai’s plaintive, tremulous pleas.
Catalog number BKL-703 on Crown Records (แผ่นเสียง “ตรามงกุฎ”) of Thailand. No release date listed.
Filed under: Thailand
The guest post for this week is by Angela Sawyer. If I weren’t spending all my money on the records you see here, I’d be buying up all kinds of great stuff from her Weirdo Records site. Angela is also the person behind the truly bizarre Cantonese Opera blog – Fish Stalls in the Pearl River Delta. When I asked a few folks if they wanted to write for my site, Angela had hers to me lickety split.
Although the post-it which came with this record identifies it as String Band music, Suriya Fapathum was in fact a rather obscure Luk Thung singer. Even if you’re quite familiar with the Thai language (which I’m not), information about this record is extremely scant.
Luk Thung arose after the end of WWII, blending together folk songs, classical music and folk dances, and echoing the emotional concerns of rural Thais. Luk Thung is often compared to the country music of the USA, and Suphanburi is the genre’s Nashville. Early stars include king and queen Suraphon Sombatjalern and Pongsri Woranuch. It’s usually molasses slow, and the focus is meant to be on the singer as he or she stretches vowel sounds like taffy.
As the Vietnam war sped up the urbanization and modernization of Thailand, hordes of people began to move to cities, especially Bangkok. This process both fostered and hampered Luk Thung: creating access to up to date music equipment and distribution, creating a populace with some money who missed the countryside, but also eroding the very community life the songs reflected. During the 60s and 70s the style blended over and over again with Mo Lam and Thai pop. Influences started popping up from the rest of Southeast Asia, as well as American pop like Gene Autry and Hank Williams, and even such far flung stuff as Xavier Cugat. By the 1980s Luk Thung sported an entire techno-ish subgenre meant specifically for danceclubs, and by 2000 ‘real’ 50s Luk Thung began enjoying a wave of retro hep.
Although there are some slow funk burners on this lp, I chose these two songs for their unusual use of sound effects. In one, the singer imitates a monkey, and in the other the sound of gunshots is heard. I’m especially fond of the ‘ptchoo ptchoo’ mouth sounds the singer makes, presumably to beef up the gunfire. Such gunfire would have been heard by folks in rural Thailand due to the increased involvement in the Vietnam War and growing US military presence that military dictator Thanom Kittikachorn allowed in his campaign against communist guerillas during the 1960s. The corruption of this government eventually resulted in a growing peasant’s movement, and then the October 14, 1973 student democracy uprising.
Much thanks to Peter Doolan of Monrak Pleng Thai for tranlisteration help. All helpful ideas were his, and all mistakes mine.
Catalog number T 148 on ห้างแผ่นเสียง ทองกำ จัดจำหน่าย (Haang Phaen Siiang Thaawng Gam Jat Jam Naay – which means something like ‘Grab the Golden Sound and Arrange to Distribute it’) of Thailand. No release date listed.
Filed under: Thailand
Occasionally I will come across a record that produces more questions than it answers. This album definitely falls into that category…
I often wonder who was the intended listener? Who was it that ‘They’ – ‘They’ being the record company or musician or the powers that be – thought would want to buy this record? Was it intended for tourists or the local populous? Was it even available in Thailand, or was it only released somewhere else, in another country? Who knows?
The real puzzle is that one side of the cover is entirely in Thai, while the other side is in English with Chinese subtitles. There were only two phrases that were on the front that are not on the back: สงวนลิขสิทธิ์ , which translates to “copyright reserved” and วงดนตรี มาริเนอร์, which – to the best of my knowledge – translates to “Orchestra Maaríner”.
I have not been able to find any information available about Orchestra Maaríner – if indeed that is the correct name. When I got this record, I did not know what to call it. So, I opened up the Unicode character pallet, and tried to recreate the Thai text – with full knowledge that it was probably wrong. When I did not hear back from the person who usually translates Thai for me, I figured I would just try and see what the Thai to English translator had to say with the words I had pieced together. And it worked! Well, at least three of the four words that I tried to translate. I am still not too sure about that “Maaríner” bit… The record was most likely recorded by studio musicians and manufactured in Singapore. If you any information about this record, please contact me.
Catalog number LST-121 on Mervels Records, although the other side of the cover says Lily Records Company. No other information available.
Since this posting, I have been contacted by Peter Doolan, who curates the blog Monrakplengthai. Here’s what he had to say:
… The song you posted (and the title of the album) is “สาวบ้านแต้” (Sao Ban Tae). It was a very popular Ramwong, or rural folk-style dance which, if I’m not mistaken, is from a 1968 film of the same name. It was originally sung by เลิศ ประสมทรัพย์ (Loet Prasomtarap) and ศรีสุดา รัชตวรรณ (Sisuda Rattawan), two prominent singers of the famed Suntarapon big band. Needless to say, this is not the original, and your hypothesis seems likely to be very close to the mark! The arrangement sounds not-very-Thai (particularly the flute and string), although there is what sounds like a khim (Thai hammered dulcimer) in the background. Overall, this seems to be one of the many “Melodies of _____” sort of instrumental records floating around in that era (Rene Paulo springs to mind…). Very nice band though… Oh! and if you hadn’t figured out, มาริเนอร์ is the Thai transliteration of the English word ‘mariner’. I’ve never heard of this orchestra! You can listen to the original here.”
Filed under: Thailand
Anyone who picked up the first volume of Subliminal Sound’s Thai Beat A Go Go compilation, was most likely amazed at the wild and crazy sounds coming out of their speakers. The first track entitled “Kratae” by Johnny Guitar is truly unlike anything Western ears had heard before.
Just one problem… That song is not “Kratae”, and the artist who recorded it was not Johnny Guitar. The song is “Klong Yao”, and it was recorded by Payong Mukda, also known as Pocket Music and later known as The Son of P. M.
The music of Payong Mukda, as well as Noparatana Tipayaosot (a. k. a. Johnny Guitar), was known as “Shadow Music”. The term was in reference to the British instrumental band The Shadows, who were quite popular throughout all of Asia. Recordings of this music were often billed as “Thai Modernized Music“, taking classic Thai compositions and mxing in elements of surf guitar, a-go-go music and other styles to create an entirely new form of music. Sublime Frequencies “Shadow Music of Thailand” compilation features tunes by P.M. Pocket Music, The Son of P.M., P.M.7, Johnny Guitar and Jupiter.
In 1991, Payong Mukda was honored with the National Artist award which is presented by the Office of the National Culture Commission in Ministry of Culture of Thailand. Here is a brief biography from their website:
Lieutenant Commander Payong Mukda was born in Ratchburi Province. He was an artist who composed more than one thousand country songs, popular songs, and modern-songs as well as influencing a number of new singers. He was awarded Golden Record Awards for his musical compositions for three years in a row. Apart from writing music and lyrics, he was also a singer who sang humorous songs and owned a band called Pocket Music. Regarded as a pillar of musical circles, he was invited to perform for the general public at the Or. Sor. Station, Chitrlada Palace. He was also one of the founders of a number of associations such as the Musicians Association of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King. He was a musician who could portray the messages in his music, and he liked to offer consultation and guidance to music lovers. Besides this, his songs were beautifully crafted, both in terms of language and meaning, with valuable ethical and moral messages closely intertwined. As such, he was considered a role model for people who fought through life with perseverance as well as being a master of the Thai music industry.
Catalog number S. T. 021 on Satit Tra Khon Khu Records of Bangkok, Thailand. No release date given.