I had the chance to buy this LP more than twenty years ago in the bargains section of a small second-hand records shop. This is one of the many records in my life that I compulsively purchased just because I was attracted by the cover. I'm so glad that I did it, judging a record by its cover sometimes is quite a rewarding experience!
Being written in Chinese charachters, a language that unfortunately I'm not familiar with, the only information I could get reading the cover was that the LP is entitled "China Night", it was "Made in Hong Kong" - released by New Wave Record Co. with catalogue number NWLP 5 - and it promised some kind of "guitar-based" stereo music to be played at 33 RPM.
The cover is made of thin cardboard and is laminated both on the front and the back, the vinyl is protected by a transparent plastic rounded sleeve. Without further clues, in that pre-Internet era, I guessed that the album was released in the late 60s / early 70s; after my first listen I was more inclined to place it more firmly sometimes in the 60s.
But enough with my memories, what about the music? The album offers 14 tracks of top-notch Exotica / Lounge instrumental magic that I could listen to forever and ever without getting tired of it.
I guess that if someone had traced the original masters and re-released this album on CD at the peak of the great Incredibly Strange Music / Space Age Pop / Cocktail Music - or whatever you want to call it - revival in the mid 90s, this would have turned into a memorable release, at least in my opinion.
So, the pre-Internet era is over, and what have I discovered in my search for information about this beautiful vinyl release, more than twenty years since the day I purchased it, while preparing this post? Well, not much as I would have liked to, I must admit... Chinese logograms are still a barrier and the only information - written in English - that I was able to find is this post on the precious Radiodiffusion Internasionaal music blog.
The album is credited to The New Wave Orchestra, according to the source mentioned above they "were apparently a creation of their record label" and "were most likely comprised of studio musicians".
Althought I wasn't able to discover the exact year when "China Night" has been published, other releases by the same label bearing a later catalogue number - which are proven to have been published in 1969 - clearly place this album sometimes earlier in the late 60s, probably around 1967-68.
Thanks to OCR technology I was able to import the original texts and tried to obtain an English translation using some on-line tools. I guess that the results are not perfect - to say the least - but they give more than a rough idea about the song titles.
By the way, I would be really grateful if someone could help me with this release: I need a correct translation of the songs titles; translation of the brief backsleeve notes and the logograms on the front cover would also be much appreciated. If you can help and share your knowledge please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you so much!
"China Night" contains the following tracks:
01. 中國之夜 [China Night] (2:34)
02. 黃葉舞秋風 [Dance of the Autumn Yellow Leaves] (2:15)
03. 賣糖歌 [Candy Seller Song] (3:44)
04. 苦酒滿杯 [Bitter Tasting Wine] (2:33)
05. 何日君再來 [What Day Does Mr. Li Returns?] (2:37)
06. 花月盟 [Flower Month Pledge] (2:38)
07. 月光小夜曲 [Moonlight Serenade] (2:34)
08. 大傻瓜與小丫頭 [The Little Girl and the Big Fool] (2:48)
09. 意難忘 [Unforgettable Italy] (2:46)
10. 蔓莉 [Man Li] (2:54)
11. 午夜香吻 [Midnight Kiss] (3:12)
12. 蘇州夜曲 [Suzhou Nocturne] (3:16)
13. 阿蘭娜 [A Lanna] (2:53)
14. 綠島小夜曲 [Green Island Serenade] (2:45)
All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in October/November 2011 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files, both formats include completely restored PDF artwork. Please have a look at the comments for the download links.
The album opens with the title track. "China Night" seems to be a well-known song dating back to the late 30s, you can find more information about it and listen to what probably is the first recorded version here; many other different versions of the song are available on YouTube.
Being a "guitar music" album, that is obviously the main instrument on offer here. Most solos are performed on electric guitar; I'm not sure about it but probably the guitarist name is written somewhere on the cover. The organist work is worth a mention too since it offers very nice backgrounds and counterpoints.
The rhythm section goes straight to the point and works for the cause of keeping everything in motion but in a relaxed way. Drums are clean and crispy, basslines are simple and precise, a few percussions are also a welcome addition on certain tracks since they enhance the lounge side of things.
I am certainly no expert on the subject, but all the music on "China Night" seems to be based on Oriental Scales; well, not quite surprisingly I hear you say... ehm, right!
Traditional instruments are also part of the arrangements: chinese violins sometimes are layered under the guitar to emphasize certain passages, mallets instruments are scattered here and there for good, while woodwinds colour the more sad or languishing moments with their tones. Other strings instruments have also probably been used on these recordings.
Technically speaking the album works quite fine. A few effects are used, mostly reverb on some organ parts, but everything is kept down to Earth, so to speak. All instruments are well-panned so that they never clash against each other and the result is always very clean.
I enjoy this album as a whole and, as I wrote earlier, I could never get tired of it. Having said that, my favourite track is #06 (花月盟): it takes me on a journey far away each time I play it.
The following videoclip is made from images of many front and back covers of LPs that are part of the New Wave Record Co. catalogue. Most of them seem to be quite interesting, and needless to say that the music in the soundtrack is a real killer, to say the least!
A few more information about "China Night" and the New Wave Record Co. catalogue is available here:
In the next months I will post more Hong Kong/Taiwan/Singapore/etc. Pop/Instrumental records released in the late-60s / mid-70s. As usual, I would like to provide information about these releases and their authors.
Unfortunately the Internet doesn't offer much information - written in English - about these artists and this is the reason why I need help: if you can translate from Chinese to English please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you so much!
It's been difficult to obtain these vinyls, some are not in the best conditions and I'm currently working hard to properly master them. It seems that these artists and their music are poorly known in the West, of course it's a real pity because they made stunning releases: I'd like to share them with you with a proper presentation, hope that someone will be able to help.