Here's a post dedicated to my personal "very best" of Hong Kong singer Pancy Lau (劉鳳屏); I created this compilation as an introduction to her beautiful world.
This first part gathers together 25 tracks culled from singles and albums released during 1968-70. A second part focused on more recent recordings will be posted at a later date.
According to the information I was able to find on the Internet, all songs are sung in Mandarin. A few more details about some of them is available below.
Pancy Lau, who is also known as the Sweet Diva, grew up around cabarets and music clubs. She frequently traveled around Asia in places like Taiwan and Malaysia to perform at various venues. Her years of experience have helped to build her strong vocal foundation. Pancy Lau possesses a naturally sweet and beautiful voice, which is pleasant and moving to hear. Her music and success has touched fans from all around the world. The following biography is mostly based on this original feature that our friend Brian was kind enough to translate for us, THANK YOU!
Pancy Lau (Lau Fung Ping, 劉鳳屏 or 刘鳳屏, also referred to as Liu Feng Ping) was born sometimes in the late 40s / early 50s in a family of musicians; her father Lau Bak Lok (劉伯樂) - also known as Tin Ngai (天涯) - was a well-known Cantonese Opera Star. He was her very first music teacher, and guided her through the entertainment world.
Her career started when she was around 8 or 9 years old singing Cantonese Opera. As a teenager she transitioned to singing songs she enjoyed: Pop music. During the early 60s she participated two times in the Sing Tao Daily Singing Competition in Hong Kong with no significant results.
Pancy Lau, circa 1968
During these days, she learned the importance of enunciation when singing Mandarin pop songs: without proper enunciation, songs lose their beauty and meaning. Her passion for music fueled her drive to succeed. Realizing that her Mandarin wasn't great, she took this opportunity to improve herself and spent six months studying with teacher Lui Jing Jing (呂晶晶) from Shanghai. In 1965 at the 6th Annual Sing Tao Daily Competition, she won first place singing Lee Heung Lan's (李香蘭) song "Three Years" (三年).
Upon winning the competition, Pancy's parents suggested that she start working at the Golden Crown Night Club (金冠). It was here that she became a star taking the stage as their principal singing artist. Pancy quickly gained popularity: originally performing only one show a night at 8:00pm, she was soon booked for four shows a night due to high demand, from 8:00pm to 12:30am. Though it was a lot of hard work, she felt a sense of satisfaction, which made all of her prior hardships worth it.
Television Broadcasts Limited (電視廣播有限公司), commonly known as TVB, commenced broadcasting in Hong Kong on 19 November 1967. Pancy Lau was one of the first musical artists who participated in the popular show "歡樂今宵" (Enjoy Yourself Tonight), which was the longest running variety show in Hong Kong's television history. Other famous artist from this show included Betty Chung (鍾玲玲), Stella Chee (奚秀藺), Sandra Lang (仙杜拉) - one half of The Chopsticks duo along with Amina (阿美娜) - and Sylvia Lai (森森).
At this time Pancy was so popular that she was booked seven days a week. She was singing at the night club on Saturdays and the cabaret on Sundays which ran both afternoon and night shows. She was doing 13+ shows per week. At this point she was at the peak of her career.
Pancy Lau, circa 1970
In 1968 Fung Hang Records released her debut album entitled "My Heart Is Beating - 我的心蹦蹦跳". This was her only release to feature an English translation of the title on the cover. The album was the first in a long series of recordings that continued for more than fifteen years.
Following two EPs entitled "水長流" ("Water Flows Long") and "山前山後百花开" ("When the Flowers Bloom On Mount Qian Shan"), Pancy Lau's second album was finally published in late 1969. "快回頭望一望" ("Quickly Turn Around and Look") contained twelve songs, including the eight tracks already released on her previous EPs.
The record was a huge success with no less than four editions published - and sometimes also bootlegged - by different labels in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. At the time, a lot of popular music was coming from being featured on television or were theme songs from television drama series. The album, however, did not need any push from the media to become an instant hit, as it contained enough fresh material to estabilish itself as a modern classic.
1970-71 were probably the most successful years for Pancy Lau, with many other EPs and LPs released on Fung Hang Records (風行) and New Wave Record Co. (新風). However, at the peak of her career, stress began to take its tall, too many commitments and accumulated fatigue took over. Furthermore, after the release of her fourth album, Pancy had come down with Tracheitis and Goiter. Tracheitis is an acute upper respiratory infection while Goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. Fearing surgery would ruin her voice, she turned to medicine. She lost her voice regardless and was forced to take a six months break to control the illness and recover.
Pancy Lau, circa 1977
Pancy Lau released many more albums during the 70s and early 80s, mostly on Life Records (麗風) and Fung Hang Records (風行), but also on other smaller labels. Since the mid-70s Pancy switched from Mandarin Pop to the more popular Cantonese Pop and in 1974 she had another hit with "紅燭淚" (Red Candle Tears), a theme song from a successful TV series.
During the years she continued to have a loyal following and to perform in many television shows, but was never able to match the huge success - and the magic - of her early releases.
In 1988 Pancy got married and moved with her husband to Canada; she stopped singing in public and making records to become an appreciated singing teacher in Vancouver, where she still lives today.
In 2006 she was featured in an episode of the popular TVB show 友緣相聚 (Where Are They Now?) conducted by iconic TV personality 沈殿霞 (Lydia Sum a.k.a. Fei-Fei / 肥肥); since then she has enjoyed a comeback performing a few concerts for the joy of old and new fans.
Pancy Lau, late 70s / early 80s
"The Very Best of Pancy Lau Volume 1 [1968-70]" contains the following songs:
01. 莫負青春 (2:20)
02. 我的心蹦蹦跳 (2:08)
03. 阿里郎 (1:44)
04. 紅睡蓮 (2:22)
05. 誰能替我傳心意 (2:36)
06. 我的心裡有個他 (2:09)
07. 姑娘的心意 (2:00)
08. 一吻定情 (2:33)
09. 我還是永遠愛著你 (2:47)
10. 山前山後百花開 (2:15)
11. 黃葉舞秋風 (2:10)
12. 難忘負情的你 (2:46)
13. 快回頭望一望 (2:53)
14. 採檳榔 (2:57)
15. 銀花飛 (2:46)
16. 夢的祈禱 (2:02)
17. 戀愛的季節 (1:50)
18. 寂靜的夜 (2:25)
19. 淚的衣裳 (2:15)
20. 磁性的迷惑 (2:30)
21. 讓我慢慢告訴你 (2:38)
22. 你幾時回家 (1:44)
23. 討厭的電話鈴 (2:14)
24. 月光小夜曲 (3:20)
All tracks were remastered from the original vinyls and CDs in September and October 2012, and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files, both formats include complete printable artwork as PDF files. Please have a look at the comments for the download links.
Pancy Lau's debut album "我的心蹦蹦跳 - My Heart Is Beating", FHLP 1001, 1968
Here's a few information about the songs included on this "best of". The translations of the song titles are approximate in most cases, but anyway... I would like to thank duriandave from Soft Film 軟性電影 for his kind and precious help with the most difficult titles.
01. "莫負青春" (Don't Turn Your Back on Youth) is a song from the movie with the same title; it was originally performed in 1947 by singer / actress 周璇 (Zhou Xuan), one of China's seven great singing stars. You can listen and watch the original version here.
02. "我的心蹦蹦跳" (My Heart Is Beating) is the title track from FHLP 1001 (...see Pancy Lau discography here); it was also performed by 江鷺 (Kong Lo) and 鍾玲玲 (Betty Chung), I'm not sure about who was the original performer... Anyway, Kong Lo's version is available here.
03. "阿里郎" (Arirang) is one of the most famous Korean traditional folk songs. In its original form it has been sung for more than 600 years: who would even think about it listening to the swinging version presented here? There's plenty of versions available on YouTube.
04. "紅睡蓮" (Red Water Lilies) was originally a Japanese song recorded by 李香蘭 (Shirley Yamaguchi) in 1940 (available here). Mandarin versions were later recorded by 美黛 (Mei Dai), 張露 (Chang Loo) and many others.
05. "誰能替我傳心意" (Who Can Replace the Object of My Affection) was also recorded by 陳依齡 (Irene Chan, her version is available here) and 张小英 (Chang Siao Ying, here).
06. "我的心裡有個他" (There is Somebody in My Heart) was adapted from a Japanese song recorded by 翁倩玉 (Judy Ongg, available here) in 1967. This version appeared on Pancy Lau's first EP in 1968 and is one her earliest recordings. The song was also recorded by 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng).
Pancy Lau's second - and most successful - album "快回頭望一望", FHLP 608, 1969
07. "姑娘的心意" (In the Heart of a Girl) is another adaptation of a song imported from Japan. The original was popularized by 美空ひばり (Misora Hibari, available here - the song begins at about 2:00); the Mandarin version was also successfully performed by 張露 (Chang Loo).
08. "一吻定情" (One Kiss To Mark Our Love) is my favourite Pancy Lau song for sure: the arrangement is simply marvellous, probably the grooviest Far-East track I happened to listen ever! The original version was, once again, a Japanese song recorded by singer / actor 橋 幸夫 (Yukio Hashi, available here) in 1964. 黃菱 (Wong Ling) performed the original Mandarin version, that you can listen here, in 1967.
09. "我還是永遠愛著你" (I Will Still Love You Forever) is an old Taiwanese folk love song which during the years has been performed by many famous female singers including 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here, the song begins at about 3:00), 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, available here), 湯蘭花 (Tang Lang Hwa, here) and 陳芬蘭 (Chen Fen Lan, here).
10. The sweet "山前山後百花开" (When the Flowers Bloom On Mount Qian Shan) is another one of the early Pancy Lau recordings committed to vinyl in 1969. The original version was recorded in 1962 by 劉韻 (Liu Yun, available here). The song was also later covered by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here) and 奚秀兰 (Stella Chee, here).
11. "黃葉舞秋風" (Dance of the Autumn Yellow Leaves) features a sort of bonna-nova arrangement. This song was performed by 周璇 (Zhou Xuan) in 1947 in the movie "長相思" (An All-consuming Love) starring herself, the original version is available here.
This is supposed to be Pancy Lau's third album "劉鳳屏之歌", NWLP 2021, 1970...
12. "難忘負情的你" (Your Unforgettable Love) is taken from Pancy Lau's fourth album (...FHLP 635, see her discography here...), I wasn't able to find any relevant information about it...
13. "快回頭望一望" (Quickly Turn Around and Look) is the title track from Pancy Lau's 1970 second album (...FHLP 608...) and his one of her signature songs. During the years it has been covered many times and has become a karaoke classic.
14. "採檳榔" (Picking Betel Nuts) is a popular Taiwan song, it was performed by many female singers, including Zhou Xuan (周璇, available here) and 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng), an '80s live version is available here) who remembered about this being the very first song her mother taught her to sing as a child.
15."銀花飛" (Silver Flower) is another old Chinese classic popularized by Zhou Xuan (周璇), the original version is available here.
16. During 1969/70 "夢的祈禱" (A Prayer For You) was also performed by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here) and 林竹君 (Lena Lim, here).
17. "戀愛的季節" (The Season of Love) is the Mandarin version of another famous late '60s Japanese song. Among others, it was performed by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here), 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, here) and 謝雷 (Xie Lei). Once again, Pancy Lau's version benefits of a supergroovy arrangement on her own version!
18. "寂靜的夜" (The Silence of the Night) is a Mandarin version of the Japanese classic "ウナ・セラ・ディ東京 - Una sera di Tokyo" (One Night in Tokyo), which was initially performed in 1963 by vocal duo ザ・ピーナッツ (The Peanuts) with the title "東京たそがれ」" (Tokyo Twilight). When touring Japan in1964, famous Italian singer Milva recorded her own version adding the 'Una sera di Tokyo' line to the refrain. The song became successfull and The Peanuts re-recorded it with the new title and lyrics.
... and this is probably her fourth album "難忘負情的你", FHLP 635, also released in 1970.
19. "淚的衣裳" (Dress of Tears) is another Mandarin version of a Japanese song originally recorded by 翁倩玉 (Judy Ongg, available here) in 1969. This was also part of the repertoire of the usual suspects: 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here), 謝雷 (Xie Lei, here), 林竹君 (Lena Lim, here) and many more...
20. "磁性的迷惑" (Magnetic Seduction) was previously performed by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here) in a 1969 movie whose title eludes me...
21. "讓我慢慢告訴你" (I Will Tell You) was included on Pancy Lau's third album for Fung Hang Records (...FHLP 635...). This song was also performed by 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng), available here), 龙飘飘 (Long Piau Piau, here) and 尤雅 (Yu Ya).
22. I don't have any information about "你幾時回家" (When Will You Come Home?); I was only able to discover that this song was covered by 周玲寶 (Chow Ling Po) and 太陽神樂隊 (The Apollo)... By the way, did I mention that The Apollo is the backing band on many of the tracks featured on this collection?
23. "討厭的電話鈴" (An Annoying Telephone Call) is an original composition that appears as the closing number on Pancy's debut album. Yes, that telephone bell is really irritating!
24. The sweet "月光小夜曲" (Moonlight Serenade) derives from a Japanese song originally recorded by 渡辺はま子 (Hamako Watanabe) in 1941. The Mandarin version was popularized in the early '60s by 紫薇 (Zu Wei, available here); it was also performed by 陳芬蘭 (Chen Fen Lan, here) and many others..
Pancy Lau, circa 2008
The following videoclips are taken from episode #19 of TVB show 友緣相聚 (Where Are They Now?), enjoy!
More information about Pancy Lau is available here:
I'm currently trying to compile a Pancy Lau exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.
All my posts dedicated to Pancy Lau on this blog are 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.