Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Just For The Love Of It

If there is one thing in my life that I regret not learning, it must be the playing of a musical instrument. Any musical instrument, be it the guitar, piano or violin. I missed all those opportunities in my youth.

But one good thing was that I had a radiogram in the house. Throughout my primary and secondary school years, this radiogram was my constant companion in the afternoons and evenings when I was back from school. So I'm not unfamiliar with music. My love for music has followed me through the years and it has remained unabated.

Therefore, when I learnt last week that there was going to be a launch of a book detailing a bit of history of the music of Penang, I was very much intrigued. I must get my hands on this book, I told myself. And got it I did, and I must declare that everyone with any musical interest will love this book.

Just For The Love Of It is termed as Penang's very own music book and there are very good reasons why this is so. From cover to cover, through all 22 pages of it, this book is a huge gold mine of information. Flipping through the pages of this book certainly brought to light the musical heritage of Penang from the 1930s till the mid-1960s. And of course, the musical journey doesn't stop here. It will continue. That's how rich Penang's contribution to the local music scene.

The book begins with a whole list of acknowledgements spreading over two pages and one can't help but start getting excited over the names that are mentioned here. People like Ahmad Nawab, Ooi Eow Jin, Richard Hoon, Alfred Ho, Bryan Jeremiah, Colleen Read, James Boyle, and many others. A veritable list of music personalities that can claim to have Penang as their past or still present home.

It is difficult to give a proper review of this book seeing that every page holds a wealth of interesting information but let me just go through the Contents page.

The book starts with a chapter on Penang's diversity of people and traditions; it tells the story of the Penang Wireless Society; the book continues by describing the development of Penang's popular music during the Second World War and that was perhaps the only bleak piece of news in this book.

After the war, musical development continued afresh with all sorts of dance clubs established in big name hotels and other venues like the amusement parks. Then there was the coming of Radio Malaya and Rediffusion, music in the cinemas, the growing popularity of vinyl records, the launch of RAAF radio in Butterworth, introduction of cheap transister radios in the 1960s and the coming of television.

Interspersed among all these information are write-ups on Penang's music personalities and bands of the 1950s and 1960s. Familiar names (to me, anyway) like P Ramlee, Jimmy Boyle, Ahmad Merican, Joe Rozells, David Ng, Albert Yeoh, Zainal Alam, Ahmad Nawab, Ooi Eow Jin Ahmad Daud and the Rajamoneys. More familiar names like The Mysterians, Richard Hoon Trio, Alfred Ho, Basir Ahmad, Bryan Jeremiah, Kathleen Rodrigues and Rubia Lubis.

Plus, at the very end of it all, a free compact disc in the book with more than 70 minutes of pure music treasure by Penang's music talents. Here is the list of the tracks on this CD: Tanah Pusaka, Keindahan Bintang Malam, Kasakazan Do Bambazon, Senandung Malaysia, Getaran Jiwa, Rose Rose I Love You, Slamat Malam, Bengawan Solo, Chendering, Royal Hawaiian Hula, She Was Happy Till She Met You, Sungai Pahang, Putera Puteri, Just One Of Those Things, Who Can I Turn To, Swonderful, Am I Ready, It's Impossible, Ping Quah, Siapa Bilang Aku Tak Sayang, Thunderbolt Twist, Dendang Pontianak, There's A Love Knot In My Lariat, Please Don't Talk About Me.

More about the music on this CD later.

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