Saturday, 2 May 2015

Musical echoes from Penang's past

So there I was, having just removed this accompanying compact disc from the back of the book, Just For The Love Of It, which chronicles the growth and development of popular music in Penang from the 1930s till the 1960s, and fed it into my CD player. Pretty soon, the most awesome local music from the past years began filling my living room.

Not only was the next 75 minutes a trip down memory lane, it was also a discovery of much of the local music that I wasn't even aware of.

It sure made me feel a bit embarrassed. Some friends do look up to me as a somewhat knowledgeable source of information on the foreign pop and rock music scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but sadly what happened in my own backyard had certainly passed me by.

But that aside, I must say again that I enjoyed the music on this compact disc immensely, from the very first track, Tanah Pusaka, composed by Ahmad Merican and performed in 1964 by the Ger van Leeuwen Orchestra in the Netherlands right until the final song, Please Don't Talk About Me, which included a short ukulele solo from Clive Scott.

In between these two opening and closing tracks, there are 22 other songs composed or performed by notable Penangites such as Ahmad Nawab, Ahmad Daud, P Ramlee, Zainal Alam, David Ng, Jimmy Boyle, Rubia Lubis, Frankie Cheah, Colleen Reed, Ooi Eow Jin and Bryan Jeremiah.

Let me list down the songs on this compact disc (and while my personal favourites are highlighted in red, it doesn't mean that I don't like the rest of the selection - I do like them too):

  • Tanah Pusaka
  • Keindahan Bintang Malam - composed by Ahmad Nawab and sung by Zaharah Agus
  • Kasakazan Do Bambazon - composed and performed by Peter Pragas, which became the signature tune for Radio Malaysia Sabah's Kadazan service
  • Senandong Malaysia - a bilingual kerongchong song performed by Ahmad Daud
  • Getaran Jiwa - composed and performed by P Ramlee for the film Antara Dua Darjat
  • Rose, Rose I Love You - performed by the inimitable Zainal Alam in four languages
  • Slamat Malam - composed by David Ng and performed by David Ng's The 4 Saints
  • Bengawan Solo - a popular Indonesian folk song played in a Country and Western style by Clive Scott
  • Chendering - composed and performed by Jimmy Boyle
  • Royal Hawaiian Hula - performed by Edwin Rajamoney and the Island Rhythmics
  • She Was Happy Till She Met You - performed by Rudy Baum 
  • Sungai Pahang - composed by Jimmy Boyle and sung by Rubia Lubis
  • Putera Puteri - Jimmy Boyle's most recognisable tune which was sung by Frankie Cheah
  • Just One Of Those Things - performed by Colleeen Reed and the Inn Jazz Quartet
  • Who Can I Turn To - performed by Fred Cheah
  • S'wonderful - performed by Ruby Rozells and the Jazzocrats
  • Am I Ready - played by Vince Chu and the Tyros
  • It's Impossible - sung by Raja Din Wan Mat and backed by the Ooi Eow Jin combo
  • Ping Quah - a Chinese song performed in English by Syed Agil and the Flamingoes
  • Siapa Bilang Aku Tak Sayang - performed by Teruna Ria
  • Thunderbolt Twist - played by the Thunderbolts
  • Dendang Pontianak - sung by Ahmad Daud and backed by the Swallows, from the movie Pusaka Pontianak
  • There's A Love Knot In My Lariat - sung by Bryan Jeremiah at the first Bakat TV finals
  • Please Don't Talk About Me

And so, my final words about this compact disc: if you are curious about Penang's - and indeed, Malaysia's - rich musical heritage, this compact disc just about covers a lot of ground already. This collection of popular local music is a gem not to be missed and it is only available if the book, Just For The Love Of It, is purchased. The CD is not available anywhere else, certainly not in the music stores. Go grab it now and you won't regret it.

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