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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Joseph Pereira, expert on Singapore 60s pop, teams up with Philips to release "100 Greatest Singapore 60s - The Definitive Collection"

This is really an incredible box set! It's a miracle that Mr Pereira was even able to make it happen given the usual pessimism of big labels to re-release their 60s material.. luckily Philips knew that they had not only a huge archive to pull from, but also, a resident expert in Singapore to make the selections....(Unfortunately, I dont know where you can BUY IT unless you live in Singapore or, like me, have an incredible connection with the creator of this box set - if you leave a comment expressing your interest, maybe they'll get it distributed here someday!) Ive been lucky enough to make contact with Mr Pereira over the past couple of years in my own hunt for information about music from Singapore and Malaysia, and he's been such a generous and knowledgable person to correspond with. Mr Pereira wrote an excellent book on this subject a few years back called "Legends of the Golden Venus" - a book telling the history of the Singapore Pop scene in the 60s. I bought two copies of this book and I know there are other copies floating around in cyberspace so if you can find it, get it! (might be able to order it here) Reading his book, you will know the REAL story of how these excellent Singapore pop artists started and rose to regional and (thanks to his latest triumphant project: "100 Greatest Singapore 60s - The Definitive Collection ") global popularity. 100 songs, 5 cds --- all classic pop from the golden era in Singapore.

below, read some words from Mr Pereira describing this project (thanks to "SINGAPORE 60's POP MUSIC HALL OF FAME" blog for the shared info!) :

"The onset of the Sixties saw Singapore well poised to ride the waves of international pop trends. It had been a scant six years since the first wave of Rock and Roll hit our shores. To the elders it had seemed like the end of civilisation as they knew it. This was youth culture. At once mysterious and alluring. The elders had no part it. The music was for the most part unintelligible but it conveyed its message to the young. Soon a few of the brave were venturing forth creating what they heard on records. Singers, duos and trios abounded. Only a few bands such as The Stompers and Esquires formed before the Sixties loomed.

It was a Cliff Richard and The Shadows concert in Singapore held in November 1961 that opened the floodgates. Suddenly light bulbs popped in more than a few budding Singaporean musicians. The blueprint for a band. Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Fronted by a singer. Suddenly bands were forming all over the island and clamoring for gigs wherever they could get it. The entrepreneurs, owners of restaurants and night clubs sensed an economic opportunity. If they could offer venues for the bands to play in that would bring in the punters. They were not slow to follow it through. Venues mushroomed round the island and then tea dances were held over the weekends. To be young in the Sixties was to be spoiled for choice. Shows almost every night and bands and singers by the dozens.

It would not be long before the recording companies would come sniffing. They were skeptical initially. Yes there is a lot of excitement but would it sell. Into the fray entered Philips. They signed Ruby Wah and released an EP which contained Jazz and mainstream oriented material. Respectable sales but no real indicator. Then they decided to take a chance on a vocal quartet fronted by the irrepressible Susan Lim. This was the Crescendos. Their first two releases sold upwards of 25,000 units and hit number one in both Singapore and Malaysia. At that time, Malaysia and Singapore was considered one market and it was not uncommon for a single to be released simultaneously in Singapore and Malaysia and followed by a long haul tour the length and breadth of Malaysia.

Suddenly the gates were swung wide open. Philips decided to go whole hog. Their talent scouts checked out venues and shows all over the island beginning 1964. There was a joke then that the depth of talent in Singapore was so deep that semi finalists of the Radio and Television talentime of that year were being signed. The artistes that you hear on this collection shows that diversity. Philips signed a wider range of talent than other labels. They were not afraid to take a chance on bands playing Rhythm and Blues such as The Cyclones, Bryan Neale, those playing the new fangled Soul such as Denni Wilson and The Commancheros and even emerging psychedelic which peeps out via Clansmen and Stevie Lorraine.

However pop still ruled the roost and artistes such as Naomi and The Boys, Shirley Nair and The Silver Strings, The Thunderbirds, Wilson David, Sonny Bala and The Moonglows, The Dukes with their various singers, Henry Suriya, Veronica Young and Heather provided plenty of releases in that direction. The releases became a flood in 1965 and fans were delirious knowing that each week would bring new releases from Philips. They did not disappoint and soon enough by 1966 had the largest roster of artistes in Singapore. They also entered the Malay and Mandarin market when they realised that Pop Yeh Yeh and Mandarin Pops had their own following.

For a four year period from 1965 to 1968 Philips had a major presence in the Singapore music scene and made names like Naomi Suriya, Shirley Nair, Heather, Thunderbirds, Cyclones, Alan Lyford household names not only in Singapore but also in Malaysia and even in Brunei where some of these acts did shows. This five cd box set of Philips Sixties depicts a time in Singapore's pop music history when the universal fever for pop also reverberated here and the breadth of styles and music played here reflects that diversity. Perhaps a feat never to be repeated.

By Joseph.C.Pereira, Author of "Legends of the Golden Venus"


At 9:24 AM, Blogger Scouserone said...

Hi, I'm Tony founder member of THE "DEE-TEES," and the drummer.Just found your site, and I remember the Golden Venus very well. In fact we played there a few times on a Sunday afternoon. On the basais of that we got a recording contract with Phillips
I know Joseph well and am in contact with him even today.
I wish you well.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger DJ Carlito said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger DJ Carlito said...

WOW.. great to meet you Tony!! thats so cool that you found my blog.. Id love to hear more about those days.. its nice to be in contact with people such as yourself and of course Joseph Pereira.. I would love to visit Singapore someday - i know it has changed so much since then... but i hear there are still some places to go to hear the old yeh yeh sounds - take care and keep in touch.. thanks for the comment! now im gonna go listen to your songs w the Dee Tees from the box set!

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Scouserone said...

Hi Carlito,
Thanx for your reply. Those days were something else. Sadly two of our original line up have died but we keep in touchwith family. Joseph tells me they might try and re-release our EP as a CD. Worth a laugh(I mean look!!Take care mi amigo!!

At 10:52 AM, Blogger DJ Carlito said...

Greetings Tony,
wow, it must seem like just yesterday... how time flies when you're having fun playing rock n roll eh? Im so glad you're still in touch with some of the members and their families.. Im also glad that Mr Pereira is working so hard to revive this music for us younger generations... you know, the Dee Tees tracks were automatically some of my favorites on the collection.. I look forward to hearing more of your music on future releases... THANKS FOR WRITING! its an honor..
take care,
aka Carl : )

At 5:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tony and DJ Carl,

This is Joseph Pereira writing from Singapore. Adding to the Dee Tees discussion there is a clip on the internet which shows the Dee Tees performing on board a British Navy vessel probably off the coast of Singapore playing Let The Good Times Roll. This is a rare clip of a Sixties band. Perhaps Tony you could tell us the correct link..

At 10:50 AM, Blogger June Goh said...

Hi all,

This is June Goh. My dad was Sonny Goh. he was a musician and he used to play and manage some of the bands back then such as the Black Dog Bone and the Thunderbirds. As me and my twin sister were only 9yrs old when he passed there's barely much we know about him except through our mother Jenny and some memories of him jamming with his bands in his studio. it's nice to read about music during the 60's and 70's and find out more about the bands that my dad used to play with and the music he loved.
I'm still trying to get a hold of some vinlys from those bands for my own collection.
Keep up the writing, it's been great reading.

Best regards
June goh

At 11:15 AM, Blogger DJ Carlito said...

Hello June, thanks so much for writing here, Your father must have been a pretty amazing musician.. I myself lost my father, who was an artist, at a young age too.. so i know what its like -- .. anyway, Im very interested in this era of music in Singapore, and also Malaysia.. I have a copy of Mr Pereirra's book and Ive learned alot from it.. .I read some great things about Black Dog Bone in that book.. of course, the Thunderbirds are also included in the Phillips Box set -- i need to get vol. 2 now! I am currently planning a trip to Malaysia and Singapore this summer to research and do interviews of musicians who may still be alive today.. I hope we can keep in touch! take care and all the best to you!


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