Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Locomotion: Singapore's Best Pop Music Ride

The boys in the original line-up (above in 2005) consisted of Jerry Murad, Bert Choo, Kelly Tan, Tony Goh, Band Manager, Francis Leong, Hansolo and lady singer cum guitarist, Vivian Bacinillo.

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I have always been mesmerized by the red jackets this band wears (image) so when I found out 70's recording artiste Irene Yap has a brother in the band I contacted her.

Charlie Yap is a kind gentleman who, like a few friends, sends me WhatsApp posters and videos. Although he plays bass, I never realised he is the present band leader of this popular local group that is currently active in our clubs. When I asked him if he could tell me about his band, he willingly obliged. 

As usual we met at my favourite rendezvous. Charlie tells his story straight, cuts no corners and from how he describes his management style, runs it with integrity and precision.

He is a sound man, both in the work he does and the person that he is. Charlie is technically an acoustics professional. 

Thank you, Charlie, for the article and photographs too. 
Although Locomotion was formed in 2005, the individual members are an experienced lot as most of them have been in the Singapore and, for some members, the Asian music scene for many years. Most of them have been playing or singing since the 1970's and earlier.

Locomotion in 2007: L/R - Jerry Murad, Kelly Tan, Bert Choo, Vivian Bacillino, Hansolo, Charlie Yap (joined as bassist) and Tony Goh.

The five or seven-piece band started out as a group of enthusiasts jamming together because of their passion for music.  As the months went by and with their quality control performance, positive attitude and work ethics, the news spread and everyone wanted to dance to their music.

As their engagements increased and they started getting invitations to perform at corporate parties, birthdays and anniversaries, the group became serious and began to perform in venues all over.

With their wide repertoire and professionalism, Locomotion gained its reputation as a reliable band and chugged its way to the hearts of members of private and corporate clubs like, The American Club, Singapore Swimming Club, Tanglin Club and other private community clubs.* 

They even received requests to play for the Peranakan Museum, Emily of Emerald Hill, an event organised by our National Heritage Board. These musically experienced gentlemen and lady would usually hold two key positions in the band:
L/R (2017) - Bert Choo, Ngo Chi Phong, Charlie Yap, Vivian Bacillino, Jerry Murad, Aloysius and Kelly Tan.

(1) Charlie Yap - Leader and Bassist
(2) Vivian Bacinillo - Lead Vocalist and Rhythm Guitarist
(3) Kelly Tan - Vocalist and Guitarist
(4) Ngo Chi Phuong - Vocalist and Keyboardist
(5) Aloysius Soh- Lead guitarist and Vocalist
(6) Bert Choo - Drummer
(7) Jerry Murad - Vocalist, Saxophonist and Flutist.

As their reputation for delivering quality dance music grew, they hit the high tracks and began performing at international hotels like the Holiday Inn Parkview and the Copthorne Orchid Hotel.* 
L/R (2017) - Aloysius Soh, Bert Choo, Kelly Tan, Vivian Bacinillo, Charlie Yap and Ngo Chi Phuong.

Locomotion is truly in demand, an energetic band that is keeping patrons dancing, singing and grooving wherever they performed. Requests for a particular song or a favourite tune has never been turned down. 

The repertoire they have is wide; they have been known to play many long forgotten songs with calm, ease and dexterity and could easily provide music that covers golden oldies from the 50's onward. And there are not many dance bands around in Singapore. Shadows bands, we have but dance bands; it's a rarity here.

Latin, Bossa Nova, Country, Calypso, Rhumba, Cha Cha, Bachata, Samba, Tango, Hawaiian, Merengue, Waltz, Jive, Foxtrot, Rock n Roll, Twist, A-go-go or Line Dancing; name it and Locomotion will deliver. 

"What about Pachanga, Charlie? Play that too?" I asked jokingly.

"No problem," said Charlie.

One of the best musical train rides in Singapore; go on board Locomotion."

Video below:

*Clubs, Hotels and Venues Locomotion have performed at:

Tanah Merah Country Club, Singapore Island Country Club, Singapore Recreation Club, Raffles Town Club, The Eurasian Club, NUSS Graduate Club, Serangoon Garden Country Club and Changi Beach Club.  

Inter-Continental Hotel, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Swissotel, Goodwood Park Hotel, Grand Mercure Roxy, Hotel Royal Queen Hotel,  Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Shangri-la Hotel, Pan Pacific Hotel and Marina Sands Bay.

Disclaimer: This article does not promote the band but showcases how Singapore seniors make themselves useful in an ever-changing and challenging music environment.
 Andy Young with Charlie Yap, band leader, Locomotion. Singapore.

Images and Article: A Personal Collection. Copyrights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Top Twitter Followers With 'Andy Singapore Music'

This blog has nearly 2,000 postings, survived up to nearly 9,000 comments and has been around for 9 years.

It is neither sponsored nor advertorial. My passion feeds it and friends who read it and friends who write it, keep it alive.

Twitter statistics for my blog dated 20 October 2017:
My Tweets earned 2,614 impressions over the last 28 days.

Some popular Tweeters below, whose followers run into millions, also read my blog. 

Thank you all:

The above are only some followers. You can check the others out from my Twitter account under 'Andy Singapore Music'.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

China's National Anthem: (中国国歌) Banned

I have asked this friend, a Historian, to tell me why he loves the national anthem of China. He explains that it is only the music, lyrics and vitality of the song that he appreciates.

As a child, he used to live in the central area of Singapore and would be listening to it every day, five days a week. You know how a melody affects the listener when it is played repeatedly. It just sticks in the mind. He knows it as Qilai (起来) or 'rise up'. This story goes back to 1945.

              Anthem of China - 中国国歌 - Video: balancedaustralia

"Here's my story of my first encounter with what became China's National Anthem. It was the end of the Japanese Occupation in Singapore. I was barely five when the Chinese school on a hill above my attap and timber house would end the day with the Qi Lai song blaring from a loudspeaker. 

Not long after, the song was no more: it was banned by the British colonial government. But it lingered on in my memory over many years. 

Today thanks to the internet I can sing the whole song as a tribute to a people who have risen to great heights of achievement from the depths of imperialism, disunity and poverty."

Qilai! Buyuan zuo nuli de ren men, 
Ba women de xuerou zhucheng women xin de chang cheng. 

Zhonghua Minzu dao liao zui weixian de shihou, 
Meigeren beipo zhe fachu zuihou de housheng. 
Qilai! Qilai! Qilai!
Women wanzhong yixin, 
Mao zhe diren de paohuo, 
Mao zhe diren de paohuo, 
Qianjin! Qianjin! Qianjin! Jin! 

Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves; 
With our very flesh and blood 
Let us build our new Great Wall! 
The peoples of China are in the most critical time, 
Everybody with one mind, 
Brave the enemy's gunfire, 
March on! 
Brave the enemy's gun must roar his defiance. 

Arise! Arise! Arise! Millions of hearts ire, 
March on! 
March on! 
March on, on! 

Lyrics © Original Writer and Publisher 


Images: Google.
YouTube Video from balancedaustralia.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Lee Yee (李逸): Malaysian Hearthrob Not Forgotten (唱首情歌给谁听?)

A schoolmate, well-versed in Mandarin, introduced me to a pop star when I was looking for a Chinese male singer to feature.  I have not featured one for many months. 

I am not too familiar with the golden years of 70's pop Chinese music in Singapore, so when he told me about a singer he was knowledgeable about I decided to buy one of this singer's vinyl (image below) and listen to the songs recorded. I must say I am impressed and thank Kin Kow for the information provided. 

Lee Yee (李逸) Jin Biao, was a household name in the early 1970's.  His feminine good looks attracted a lot of attention when he was performing during his hey-day in the region.

In the 60's and 70's the public was looking to Hong Kong and Taiwan for Chinese songs because audiences here felt that Singapore singers were not up to par, so when Lee, who came from Malaysia, appeared on the scene he became a phenomenon. 

He had charisma and a powerfully beautiful voice so Lee who had a contract with Life Records, a well-established vinyl company, became one of the most popular Chinese singers during that period. He became well known to the youth and aunties who loved him. 

He drew crowds and even toured with super diva Teresa Teng as a team when they performed in Malaysian towns.  The tours were successful and news spread that he could compete with the best from Hong Kong and Taiwan. They even compared him to Liu Wen Zheng.
For Whom Do I Sing This Love Song (唱首情歌给谁听?) was the number that made him famous and his rise to fame was meteoric after the sale of this particular single. The Malaysian-born Chinese made it such a hit that the pop music Chinese community all over the world associated him with this song.

For whom am I singing this love song?
Where can I find a soul mate?
There is so much passion deep inside me
I cannot finish singing or talk about it.

Everything went well as his fan base grew. It was quite a feat those days for an unknown Malaysian singer to hit the headlines and make it big. The competition was keen indeed.  
During the early 70's, although there were other talented Chinese singers both in Singapore and Malaysia, his songs stood out because he was able to interpret them in his own special way. So even if the song had been covered by other singers, his own version would always stand out.

He sang with a wail in his voice like a tormented, passionate lover. He would usually sing out a verse from the song lyrics during the introduction.  If Tomorrow Comes was an example. Lee was known for his sad and sorrowful songs that aroused the listener's sympathy. Girls were known to have cried listening to him sing.
              In Memory of Lee Yee: Video produced by Life Records. 

But as the saying goes, when one least expects it, tragedy strikes. And it did. One morning the local newspapers announced that Lee Yee was killed in an accident. It happened on 27 July 1980.  Born in Penang in 1952, he was only 28 when he died. It was such a shock to many fans.

There was disbelief and many cried openly when they found out it was true. Here was a rising young star with a stable and bright future. It was an untimely death as fate had its own plan. Worse, Lee Yee left behind his wife - also a Life Record artiste - and a daughter.

Despite the years, many fans still remember him today because his emotional rendition of Chinese sentimental popular songs was indeed unique. 

Comment anyone?
                        Crowds thronged the streets during his funeral

Images: Google.
Information from Mr Chan Kin Kow and articles by: irisesinthesun YouTube.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Children's Day: Remembering 'Nobody's Child'


Usually, Singapore celebrates Children's Day on First October but from 2011 onwards it will be on the first Friday every October. So for this year, it's on the 5th. Just as we honour the children, we must also remember the impoverished and homeless ones around the world.

1969 hit Nobody's Child by British singer *Karen Young (image 4) highlighted the plight of a blind and unwanted child in an orphanage. The song originally written by Cy Coben and Mel Foree was first recorded by Hank Snow in 1949 and had been covered by artistes that included George Sheridan and three of the Beatles.

Another group called The Traveling Wilburys that had Bob Dylan as a member recorded the song for a benefit (image 2). Asian artistes included Agnes Chan and Irene Ryder, both from Hong Kong on Life Record and Pon EMI Regal. 

Singapore has two versions, one on a Philips Product Long Play by 60s stars, Heather and The Thunderbirds (image 2, details below**) and the other by Lisa Lim and The Stylers on Amigo Records (image 1).
Nobody's Child: Cy Coben and Mel Foree.

(Refrain) I'm nobody's child I'm nobody's child /Just like a flower I'm growing wild/No mommy's kisses and no daddy's smile/Nobody wants me I'm nobody's child...

As I was slowly passing an orphan's home one day/I stopped there for a moment just to watch the children play/Alone a boy was standing and when I asked him why/He turned with eyes that could not see and he began to cry...

Some people come for children and take them for their own/But they all seem to pass me by and leave me all alone/I know they'd like to take me but when they see I'm blind/They always take some other child and I'm left behind...

No mother's arms to hold me or soothe me when I cry/Sometimes it gets so lonely here I wish that I could die/I'll walk the streets of heaven where all the blind can see/And just like the other kids there'd be a home for me...

**PSY 112 275 Philips: Heather - Harvey and The Thunderbirds, 'Birthday'. Side One: I'll Never Fall In Love Again, Birthday, Nobody's Child, Early In The Morning, Special Delivery, The Ballad of John and Yoko. Side Two: Wonderful World, Tracy, With A Little Help from My Friends, Train, Romeo And Juliet, Time Is Tight. To read about The Thunderbirds click

Labels below.

Image 1, 2: Andy Lim Collection.

Image 3, 4: Google.

*There is an added Karen Young biography and connection on the Comment page. She had passed on in 1991. Click Comments below.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Strip Club 1984: Prince, George Michael, Tina Turner

There is no intention to degrade strip clubs or the ladies who work at these places. Stripping is, after all, a job and for many people, the act is an art. The story below is just an experience I had as an adult. 

George Orwell's Year 1984.

The only strip queen I heard or read about in Singapore was locally famous Rose Chan (last image below) who was a hit in the 1960's. But I had never even seen her live on stage. And the only strip joint I had ever visited in my life was during the first year of my studies abroad.

So when I went to a Strip Club one evening with a group of university mates I was surprised by the act and what the show had to offer on stage. It was my first time at such a night spot. I cannot recall the name of the club but it could be Teasers (as most are called). And what a tease I had.

Quite an experience. We proceeded to the Club at about 7.30 pm. The first thought of going to a strip joint was exciting, my imaginings of seeing a half-dressed lady on stage and doing her thing. It was a bit of a walk to the place with the air crisp and night cold.

Two factors here unmentioned. One, that the Club was near the University and, two, that the place was Winnipeg, Manitoba.  It was one of my unique Canadian experiences in 1984. 

Song One:

As we walked in, the background music accompanying the lady on stage was familiar. I told myself, it's Prince again announcing his freak weather condition, Purple Rain.*

Purple, rain, purple rain,
Purple rain, purple rain,
Purple rain, purple rain,
I only want to see you bathing in the purple rain.

It had haunted me throughout my stay in Canada and was the number one hit that year.  This agony song was heard everywhere. Similarly, in the club, the refrain just went on and on. Not much of a crowd with mostly bored but tough-looking Winnipeg guys in lumberjack checked shirts and thick-soled protective shoes. Each had a can of beer in hand. 

And the act on stage? Our poor lady looked so tired and so unexciting that I wanted to leave my little glass of Bacardi Coke and quit the place. But I couldn't. I had three other friends with me, all native Canadians. 
And I told myself, first and last time at a strip club. She looked like she was dancing for an Osmond Family Concert. What the place needed was Tom Jones and Tina Turner performing, Hot Legs. 

(BTW, I'm not much into beer and homegrown Tiger Beer is a Chinese New Year treat. But light beer which is common in Canada...  Well, put it this way, I prefer my mix. Or just drink ice-water.)

It was near November and Winnipeg was its usual chilly self. Cold actually for a Singaporean. Into Autumn and coming to early Winterpeg. Luckily no purple rain outside. 
A week-night outing with no place to go. My first and last time in a strip joint. Luckily we left early at midnight! I was told the joint opened till four. Or 24 hours. Can't remember.

 Song Two:

As we walked out of the club, a new act came on stage and livened the atmosphere with another 1984 hit! The music played the alternative National Anthem for the year.   It was Wham's ever incessant pop that had also bugged me in Winnipeg called, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. 

The young man living above my apartment used it as a morning alarm to rouse him out of bed. It was so loud the whole neighbourhood could hear the call. But what irony:

It's cold out there
But we'll stay in bed
They can dance
We'll stay home instead.

Song Three:

Then there's this third number. I can still remember it was another 1984 hit by Tina Turner. Together with Wham's, they were released in May that year. 

This Singapore girl who lived on the other apartment block across from the campus had a way with this Turner pop-charter.  Whenever we visited her, this particular song was on. And she was crying on the phone, talking to mama. 

She kept telling mama she wanted to go home, that it was cold and she missed her Singapore cuisine, satay, rojak, chapati and char kway teow. But actually, she was star-struck by blue-eyes and blonde hair i.e. a Caucasian guy and couldn't tell mama the truth.  So What's Love Got To Do With It?  😍

Strange though that this track from Turner's Private Dancer album was never played that night in the strip club. I guess we left too early.

There you are folks, three songs that kept me going. Listening to songs can trigger the places you visited, the people you met and even the weather you faced.

What songs trigger your memory?

*Prince explains what the song means: "When there's blood in the sky, red and blue equals purple which pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love; letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain." The Same phrase appeared earlier in Top Ten Songs, 'Ventura Highway' (America:1972). 

Images: Google and a private collection.

Videos: will credit soon.
Ms Rose Chan who was well-known in the 60's period for her performances on the cabaret stage at the amusement parks in Singapore.

Song Four:

And here's the best song to remember. As good friend Tan Soo Khoon explains, it's The Stripper by David Rose and his Orchestra. Thank you SK.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Silver Strings, Neu Faces, Dukes, Beejays, Easy Beats, Revival Band

The SILVER STRINGS will entertain with a new repertoire of songs. 

JOHN CHER, famed drummer boy, blog writer, a Facebook friend with a million followers, will pound his drums that night.

MICHAEL BANGAR, who has written so many stories for this blog, will show his singing and rhythmic skills accompanied by his Fender Strats.

RICKIE CHNG, the quiet lead guitarist, makes sure each interpretation on stage is perfect and doesn't leave anything to chance.
Andy, Audie, Nick, Michael, John, Rickie.

NICK STREVENS, the man who pounds his piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. Known as Singapore's LOBO, he sings and plays any song from any generation.

AUDIE NG, bandleader, an impresario, as he calls himself, has engaged Anita Sarawak and appeared on the same stage with The Rolling Stones once.

ANDY, this blogger, will be around too.

Other bands appearing include:

Your youthful DJ, Vocalist and Entrepreneur

This short write-up does not promote the show but describes me and my band members, the Silver Strings, with whom I am performing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Singapore 1966 Artistes In Kuching Sarawak Show


This newspaper advertisement was published by Sarawak Press, Kuching.

The Welcome Party

Kuching is a small town in Sarawak, Malaysia, so when a pop show that featured Singapore singers and bands made their way there, the population went wild. Nearly every young person in the area wanted to see them. 

According to Audie Ng who was the leader of the Silver Strings, everyone in the group was treated like international stars. They were all invited to the Governor's house for lunch, with reporters tailing them. After the interviews, they went to their hotel to unpack.

Audie remembered an incident when they heard a knocking at their hotel door. Thinking it was the housekeeper coming to check the room, one of the band boys sauntered to the door with a cold drink in his hand and casually opened it. The shock he experienced lasted to this day.
The Odeon and Capitol Cinemas in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia in the 1960's.

Imagine his surprise and embarrassment when a group of teenage girls rushed in screaming with autograph books in their hands. They refused to leave until every member of the entourage signed them. 

Apparently, some of the boys had to hide under the blankets because they were still in their briefs. It was a hilarious situation, one where the Silver Strings could remember forever.
The Talent Shows

The show featured Bryan Neale the bouncing boy from England, Judy Lee TV and radio nightingale, Catherine Chong top a-go-go dancer, Shirley Nair Singapore Singing Sexation (as advertised).  K.V. John was the compere for the evening and Robert Chua was the executive producer.

There were two top bands in attendance then, The Silver Strings and The Jets. The line-up then for both bands were Audie Ng, Merlin Lim, Danny Boy and Dickie Tan. I provided the tag-line, "the big beat band with the big bang beat" when I was with them for one and a half years.  Mike and Herb, Beatles of Malaysia, were the highlight of the show.  

The other band The Jets, had lead guitar Edward Tan, bassist Alan Poh, Harold on rhythm and Robert on drums. He was known as Singapore's dancing drummer. I remember they had one of the best instruments in the business, using solid Fender guitars on stage. Thomas Ang was their singer then. 

There were two shows each evening at 6.45 pm and another at 9.15 p.m. and staged at the Odeon Theatre in Kuching.

A Good Deed Not Forgotten

When the top Kuching pop band was invited to perform on stage, Audie Ng was shocked to see the lead guitarist carry an amplifier as small as a Rediffusion set with six batteries inside. Seeing it might not be able to amplify the guitar sound in the large cinema hall, Audie offered the group to use the Silver Strings Fender amplifiers. 

He remembered very well that they played the instrumental Tabu with pomp, polish, and pride. The band leader was ever grateful for the favor and kept in touch with Audie and the band. 

"Twenty-five years later he came to Singapore looking for the Silver Strings and repaid his favor by allowing me to service all his four nightclubs in Malaysia," explained Audie who provides bands for entertainment places.
            YouTube: Terry Snyder And The All Stars - Tabu. (1959).

The Show Producer

Robert Chua said: "In 1966, I produced and staged pop shows in Singapore and Malaysia and was the manager of The Jets. I wonder how many of my friends in Singapore remember these pop stars?

Can you imagine tickets were S$1, S$2 and S$3 (then S$1 was HK$2)? This was before I secured a job with Singapore television when they rejected me as they considered me too young."

Robert Chua was one of the youngest producers in S.E. Asia when he started.

"But when I got the job I worked about 7 months and produced more TV shows than any of their producers. After that, I resigned to join TVB and the rest is history!"

According to Mr. Chua, he was one of the youngest show producers in the 1960's. He was only 19.
Images from Mr. Robert Chua's Poster on Facebook; A Personal Collection and Google.

YouTube: Terry Snyder And The All Stars - Tabu. (1959).

This article is Copyrights Reserved.