Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Andy's Rockabilly Hit List: Roy Orbison, Hollies, Joan Jett, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry

Joan Jett with Chuck Berry and Roy Orbison (above)

A Personal Choice Of 5 Top Rock And Roll Songs

It is not surprising that some of my choice of rock and roll songs are not top hits and some of them may not be standard fare with our Singapore listeners. The artistes themselves are famous but are the songs as popular as the artistes who performed them?

These songs are truly hot, ones that most fans are aware of. Well, I may be wrong.  So here they are ladies and gentlemen, five songs that provide the rockabilly that many listeners can connect with, powerhouse voices, imaginative guitar intros, the best rolling bass that you can hear and riffs that are superfluous. 

The performance on stage is electrifying especially with Elvis and Chuck Berry if you watch the YouTube videos and the accompaniment is out of this world. Classic rock and roll that will live forever.

This write-up itself cannot survive on its own in the pages of a book. It can only be alive on a blog. With YouTube.
1. Heartbreak Radio: Roy Orbison

A near unknown Orbison number, I asked at least 10 people and only 3 of them know this song, and these are musicians. Again, it's a personal choice but truly one of the best rock songs I've heard. 

Pretty Woman has been so commercialised even before the movie. Heartbreak Radio shows an original Orbison with his guts exposed. You haven't seen what's behind the sunglasses until you hear this one.

The album was released after his death in 1988 and Heartbreak Radio is on side one, track two. King of Hearts came out in 1992 on Long Play too. Another favourite of mine, Crying, is in this compilation.
2. Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress: The Hollies.

This song is from 1972 and performed by British rock group The Hollies. Released originally on an album in the UK, it was put out as a single and sold nearly 4 million copies in the US and the world. 

Like CCR music, it's supposed to be swamp rock style,  leaning more towards 60's rock than 50's rhythm and blues. The introduction with its heavy drum and bass sounds depict the sensuality of this long cool woman with her mysterious black dress, 5'9 and beautiful tall. Like Hollies songs, smooth, suave.
3. I Hate Myself For Loving You: Joan Jett and The Blackhearts

She is the over average hard rocker, still around with 36 million viewers on YouTube with this particular song. An old fan, I forgot about Joan Jett when I went into middle-of-the-road stuff. 

Local singer Wendi Koh, during our Rolling Good Times episode together with the Silver Strings at MediaCorp, sang this song. I realised I had missed out on JJ and started listening again.

A track from, Up Your Alley album, I Hate Myself For Loving You, was created in 1988. It's been one of the best rock songs sung by a lady. At Billboard Hot, it was #8. To me, it's #1. Best. Mick Taylor, former Rolling Stones guitarist played the guitar solo.

Fangs bared; she's the best and the only rock and roll lady on my list.
4. Polk Salad Annie: Elvis Presley

Although it's 1969 original by Tony Joe White, this song never came across to me as a hit until Elvis sang it live in his concerts. And no one could beat Elvis when he used his ten megaton energy to let loose another swamp rock performance that only The King could create. 

Las Vegas was the above venue to introduce Annie. The Pelvis was at his best. Slim, powered with civic sensuality and eager to please, this video says it all. Audience members Elvis shook hands with mentioned that he was shivering and wet after the performance.

Suspicious Minds made its debut in Vegas but Polk Salad Annie was the ultimate to any Presley number. It's my choice anyway.  I thought only Elvis picked it up from the swampland of Louisiana, the success of this song I mean. He recorded it and the only version I love. There are other covers too including one Tom Jones but Elvis was the one rough and tough enough with Annie.
5. Rock and Roll Music: Chuck Berry

I've included this song because I thought Chuck Berry deserves a mention on this list. No African American singer and they were the ones who introduced us to this genre of music.

Covered by a long list of pop stars, Rock and Roll Music still belongs to Mr Berry. It is a 1957 recorded hit and the oldest on my list. One of the most popular compositions by Berry, it has been sung by so many from Billy Haley to Beatles, Beach Boys and Bryan Adams. 

It has been included in the list of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll but not in the 1001 Songs Before You Die List but it wasn't. Enjoy the songs if you haven't done so. 
Again, this is a personal choice. 😊
Do you have your own list? Please tell me. 

Elvis Presley and The Hollies (below)

Google Images and YouTube Videos.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Peggy Tann Story Part 2 By Henri Gann

Part 2 of The Peggy Tann Story by Henri Gann appears below. It is the last part and I wish to thank my good friend again for taking much trouble to research, write and produce it. If you have photographs and recordings of Peggy Tan to spare please write to me on the Comment page. Andy.

Picture 5

The ads in the local Straits Times would often read " Dance to the HH Tan's Orchestra and hear Peggy sing ". They would be performing at the El Amigo Nightclub, the Ocean Park Hotel, the Mandarin Hotel or the Cockpit Hotel

Many times they would find themselves playing at fashion shows alongside with Joan Booty Modeling Agency. In one instance, they went all the way to the Federal Hotel in Kuala Lumpur just to play at the Press Queen Beauty Pageant.

Occasionally, Peggy and her father would travel to perform in the clubs of Hong Kong. In 1959, they were invited by John Calvert to play with his troupe on his Around The World Tour. That was a major event as reported in the Straits Times by reporter Emma Baptista

However, during the interview for the show, Peggy surprised her fans when she said that she would prefer a "quiet life " away from the limelight of show business. (Straits Times Feb 6, 1959). By that time, Peggy had decided that playing for dances at the clubs and hotels were to be her forte rather than touring and playing at fashion shows.

Picture 6 

In later years, Peggy named her band the Prince's Trio or Quartet. In a very short period, she was the resident group at the Prince's Tea Room and the Jennifer's French Restaurant; both at the Cockpit Hotel. 

Years later, Peggy would eventually accomplish resident group status at the Shangri-La Hotel; thus fulfilling her dream of being a professional musician in a luxury 5-star hotel.

The Recording Artist

Peggy released a total of 5 albums/records in her career. Her first attempt at recording was on local music with a good folklore story. She recorded the famous Bengawan Soloan Indonesian/ Malaysian song made popular after the 2nd World War; and the ever popular Soochow Serenade, a romantic poetic melody from a popular 1942 post-war movie "Suzhou Night" sung by the late Chinese-born Japanese Singer and Actress Yoshiko Yamaguchi (Wikipedia). On subsequent recordings, she selected classical jazz pieces, movie themes, and popular hits. (see list below)

Her favorite musicians were the legendary pianist Oscar Peterson and the great organist Jimmy Smith. The jazz and pop singers she liked were Nancy Wilson, Vic Damone, Peggy Lee and Johnny Mathis. Peggy played many of the themes from the movies and that was a good reminder of the great era days of movie classics.
Picture 7

Filipino producer Gene O'Campo and recording engineer KK Wong both worked with Peggy on her "Love" with Life album. They were very impressed by her flexibility, versatility, and tenacity in her pursuit of perfection during the recording sessions.
Peggy had left us a legacy of beautiful dance tunes and lyrics for her memory. A talented musician, she was just too shy for fame. 

As she stated on the cover of one of her LPs "I live to communicate with my audience, and if this succeeds, I feel so much better.

For her, that communication with her audience was dancing to her music. That was her passion and her satisfaction was the enthusiastic fans.

Read Part 1: Connect below:

This posting is an original article by Henry Gan and is Copyrights Reserved. 

Images: from Henri Tann, Google.
Picture 8
    " Au Revoir Peggy! "
My little boat is like a note
Bouncing merrily along
Hear it splashing up a song

Here's my Spotify Playlist on the Music of Peggy:

( copy and paste )
And some YouTube link to her music selection:

   1.  If Ever I Would Leave You -  B.Adair

   2.  I Will Wait For You - Lisa Lovbrand
   3.  Something Stupid ( Frank and  
           Nancy Sinatra )

Picture 9

    4.  Unchained Melody ( Nora Jones )
     5.  Hati Yang Luka ( Betharia Sonata )
  • this article was inspired by a sad note from Melvyn Tan in Andy's blog regarding his aunt Peggy Tann ... " my dearest aunt passed away at 7:55 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016, and had left us with a treasure trove of her music and sweet memories of her soul. "
  • Peggy was a good friend of my uncle when I was a kid and I had heard stories about her from my brother to whom my uncle had confided in.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Peggy Tann Story Part One: By Henri Gann

Henri Gann trusted me when he decided to let me in on these stories about our pop music stars from the 50's onwards. I respect his wishes and remind readers that his publishings have been copyrighted. 
I must thank him again for the time and effort he took to research Ms Peggy Tann.

This posting is a National Day 2017 gift from Henri Gann to the people of Singapore.

Remembering Peggy (Part 1)

"Peggy Tann could very well be Singapore's next great singing star. She had several necessary qualities to reach stardom. A style and identity, talent and showmanship and a desire to be a big name artist."
... popular Hong Kong Radio DJ Tony Orchez (1962).

Pictures 1
She was a singer, jazz pianist and organist and a fashion icon in Singapore 60s. She had excellent taste in clothes, food and music ( Tony Orchez '62 ). She was elegant, classy and beautiful; the type of girl you would see in the fashion magazine like Her World or today's Vogue. 

Music, Dance Halls, Hotel Lounges and Jazz Music in Singapore 60's

Jazz music was popular in Singapore 60's. At that time, it would not be uncommon to hear the music from a 3 or 4 piece jazz band echoing from the hotel lobby. I can recollect the deep distinctive notes from the double-double bass, the sweeping brush strokes of the snare drums, the sexy expressive sound of a saxophone and a smooth voice of a singer-pianist whenever I walked past the Adelphi Hotel or the Raffles Hotel. This was the jazz music of Peggy and the HH Tann Orchestra.
Peggy and HH Tann Orchestra

Peggy Tann was an all round musician. She was not only a singer but could also play the piano and the organ which is an instrument few can master because of its difficult bass pedals. She had her music training in classical piano and her vocal coaching at the school.

Peggy was inspired by her father HH Tan who was himself a talented musician. He was a saxophonist and a band leader with his own orchestra. It was an unusual career for him considering that most of the professional musicians of his time in Singapore were either Eurasians or from the Philippines. 

He was also a very modest man who shunned publicity (Straits Times Jan 28, 1972). He gave Peggy a head start by focusing her early appearances only in exclusive places. 

Pictures 2
In Singapore 60's, it was very difficult for a young musician to gain entry into the business. In the report " Musical Practice of Jazz in Singapore " of the National Archives, it was mentioned that within the musicians' group, there were those who played for the 5-star hotels and others that played for the amusement parks cabarets: New World, Great World and Happy or Gay World

Classical Training:

The main difference between these two types of musicians was the ability to read notes. The Trekkers members had the opportunity to meet professional musicians such as Charles Lazaroo, Winston Filmer, Sam Gan and Louis Soliano when we had our short stint playing at Radio and Television Singapura and at Rediffusion

We were also fortunate to have met the up and coming musicians like Philip Chin and his Blue Combo and the Key Notes when we were at the Great World Cabaret Battle of the Bands contest. 

Peggy's ability to read music from her classical piano training together with the guidance from her musician father put her at an advantage over many of the amateurs and she gained professional musician status in a very short time. She was still in her teens when she achieved professional status.

Tough Tenure:

In the same article, ballroom dancing was also reported as a popular form of entertainment. It was said that while the VIPs and expatriates would go to the 5-star RafflesAdelphi and Cockpit Hotels, the locals and off duty military personnel would often patronise the Dance Halls or Cabarets of the Amusement Parks

It was at the El Amigo Nightclub of the New World Amusement Park where Peggy had her early start in show business like many that came after her. The club was at Kitchener Road located in a historical part of old Singapore and named after the British Earl Kitchener from World War 1

It was also in the Jalan Besar area, formerly a very rough area part of town. Still, it was here that Peggy first learned about jazz while playing as a duet with her dad.  The tough tenure at the club gave her the equivalence of the experience that legendary jazz artistes from the New Orleans Preservation Hall of America would have gone through.

Read Part 2: Connect below:

Please make comments if you wish, especially if you are familiar with Peggy Tann and HH Tann.

Part Two would follow soon.

Happy National Day 2017 to all Singaporeans near and far.

Images and Collage: Henri Gann (right).
Copyrights Reserved (California, USA).

Friday, August 11, 2017

National Day Parade Songs Most Popular

Latest 11 August 2017

5 of the top most read articles for this week and month are about Singapore's National Day and the songs. Have you read them all?

    The titles are below and the connections are on the right bar of this blog                                                  under Most Popular:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Rockabilly Hit List: A Prelude

Andy's Rockabilly Hit List
Rockabilly Explained:

Coming soon to this site, my own hit list of the best 5 top rockabilly songs, their singers, and background.

You may know the artistes but not the melodies. One of the songs is an unknown altogether, another song brought Elvis home to Vegas and the third I forgot about until I heard it again at the Channel 5 recording of Rolling Good Times in 2015 sung by one local hot lady rocker when I appeared with The Silver Strings.

Check them out below:

Images: Google.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Memories: Home: By Ms CYLin

This National Day posting has been contributed by Ms CYLin. Thank you, Lin, once again for another nostalgic piece about our Little Red Dot. 
Fifty two years of nationhood.  That is middle-age by human standard.  Yet looking around me, the physical environment is forever rejuvenating with lots of 'nip and tucks', 'fillers', 'make overs'.  Unlike the human race, she is not allowed to age gracefully.  And as with ageing, memories fade.

My family of six used to rent a room in a huge atap roof bungalow in Paterson Hill. The kids of different races in that area came together in a big field for physical workouts -- climb trees; kick chaptek; fly kites; strike marbles; hop scotch; played police and thieves.  What is now at No.1 Paterson Hill?
My classmates and I would go to the National Library at Fort Canning/Penang Road.  We not only read or borrow books but also to extend the half day at school to enjoy one another's company.  I try to visualise the exact location of the building.  I see an underpass that allows vehicular traffic from Stamford Road to 'smoothly' flow through to Penang Road.

The National Theatre with its natural air-conditioning at River Valley Road was where local and foreign acts were staged.  The Singapore Girl Guides Association put up a concert in 1973 to raise funds to send some youth members to attend overseas events.  
It was in 1965 that my brother and some friends used this venue to raise funds to help a former classmate who broke his spine in a diving accident and became an invalid.  Today, all I see as a reminder of this beautiful building is a laughable structure of its facade nailed on a field at the junction of River Valley Road and Tank Road.

My present home of 44 years is in a public housing estate of some interesting design and labelled a heritage site.  Does this mean that I can remain here till my last breath?  Or as with many not only public but private property, it will have to give way to progress in a uniquely small spot.  I understand the constraint of size and accept grudgingly that most times things are done for the good of the majority.

I often feel and say that I'm of the lucky generation.  My migrant parents slogged to give me an education that saw me take up a profession that grants me fulfilment.  Today I'm enjoying my retirement years in ways that they were not able to.  I have good health.  

I use public transport to go to all parts of the island and reminisce... I have reasonable wealth to live comfortably by no one else's but my own standard.  I feel safe and secure in the knowledge that my family, friends, and neighbours in the vicinity are there for me in my hours of need as I am for them.
It's natural to yearn for the good old times.  With age, memories become less sharp and comparison between the past and present are less distinct.  This national day as with all the previous ones I thank God for blessing Singapore and pray that He continually does so.  I on my part will live 'one day at a time, for tomorrow may not be mine.'


To read other postings by Ms CYLin, click her name under Labels below.

Image: Google.
You Tube Video: Kit Chan sings Home composed by Dick Lee.

Glen Campbell, Goodbye: A Tribute From Andy

Glen Campbell: 1936 - 2017 (81 Years)
A Tribute From Andy

I remember Glen Campbell because he was my wife's favourite singer. She was always singing, Annie's Song and others like Wichita Lineman and Galveston. Witchita Lineman is one of the 1001 Songs You Must Listen To Before You Die by Robert Dimery. 

Also, 500 Miles and A Place In The Sun were easy songs to relate to. I was not attracted to Campbell and his songs at first but began to appreciate him with such lyrics:
                                You Tube Video by Mark Moscatello
Like a bird on a tree
I keep waiting to be free
Moving on, just moving on...

I first heard the Engelbert Humperdinck version but with Campbell's style, typically rustic, an open air feel and with that country lilt, I thought it was movin' enough. 
Annie's Song too (from John Denver actually) was another one that attracted me. Again the words, with poetic nuances, made me listen:

You fill up my senses like a night in the forest
Like a mountain in springtime, like a walk in the rain
There was a multiplicity of meaning here and taking me away from:

Well, there's one for the money, 
Two for the show
Three to get ready,
Now go cat go... (Elvis Presley)

Glen Campbell was already well established when I first learnt about him and by the late 60's when I met my future missus, we always had a comfortable discussion about this session guitarist and country singer. 
It was an appropriate and polite chatting point during the coffee hours at Wonderland Milk Bar above DBS Bank at East Coast Road, just next to the Roxy Cinema. Or was it somewhere else?

I learnt what a Linesman was, never knowing that they existed since we don't have them in Singapore. Or do we? The other two hits were Try A Little Kindness and It's Only Make Believe. There was Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights.

One of Campbell's biggest hits, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, according to Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra is, "the greatest torch song ever written."
This singer, with his rugged smile, went on to become one of the best-known country singers internationally. He sang and recorded nearly 900 songs on his 70 albums and sold 45 million of them during his career.
Rest In Peace Mr Glen Campbell. Your songs, like your name, will live for a long long time.

And she'll cry, just to think, I'd really leave her
Though time and time I've tried to tell her so
She just didn't know I would really go.
Wonderland Milk Bar or coffee house above DBS Bank @ East Coast Road beside the Roxy Cinema, a rendezvous for chit chats and food.

Images: Google.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Mick Jagger, Donald Trump? 'Gotta Get A Grip'

Sixties music strong man and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger isn't happy with what's going on in the world today. He just turned 74 on 23 July, about 10 days ago, and has written a new song called England Lost, where he discussed Brexit. 
But what attracted me to the newspaper report in the Straits Times this morning, is not the Brexit song but another one that's supposed to be about Mr Donald Trump. 

The second solo track titled Gotta Get A Grip is a dance tune. He added that he was more inspired by the United States.  The song is being seen as a comment on POTUS.
So here's Mick with his lyrics, which, according to the same newspaper, dump poor Mr Trump:
"Gotta get a grip/Beat it with a stick/Gotta get a grip/She goin' for the hit," as the song begins.
"The world is upside down/Everybody lunatics and clowns/No one speaks the truth/And madhouse runs the town," it goes on.
"Immigrants are pouring in/ Refugees under your skin/Keep 'em under, keep 'em out/Intellectual, shut your mouth/Beat 'em with a stick," it adds. 
From the lyrics provided, they don't sound like an attack on Mr Trump. More like a general statement about the situation in the world today.
"The message, I suppose, is despite all those things that are happening, you've got to get on with your own life, be yourself and attempt to create your own destiny," Jagger said.
Philosophical. More like, "I can't get no, satisfaction..." again.
Come on give Mr Trump a break, and Mick Jagger his song. No names mentioned, so how is it about The Donald?

It's more about the guys at the top. Many of the guys at the top. No specifics.

Everybody's stuffing their pockets
Everybody's on the take
The news is all fake...

The other track. England Lost has the 4th verse referring to Singapore:

Had a girl in Lisbon, a girl in Rome
Now I'll have to stay at home
So lock the shallows, bolt the doors
Nothing's gonna be like Singapore
Don't know what's home...

Comment anyone?
                 "Lunatics and clowns, Mad house runs the town."

You Tube connection: Gotta Get A Grip
Extracts are from AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, SPH Website: Lifestyle The Straits Times Press and MailOnline (Edited).
                   "The news is all fake, Immigrants are pouring in."
Images: Google.