Saturday, 28 September 2013

THE APOLLO "APOLLO 10" (太陽神樂隊 "我在你左右", 1969)



Here comes another nice instrumental album from Hong Kong! "Apollo 10" (or "我在你左右", which can probably be translated as "I'm By Your Side") was released at the end of the '60s by New Wave Record Co. (新風).

As with most of the label's output, the exact release date for this LP catalogued as NWLP 10 is not written anywhere on the cover. Anyway, other releases by the same label bearing a later catalogue number are proven to have been published in 1969; moreover the album contains a few songs popularized by the movie "负心的人" (Jilted, or Heartless Person) which was a huge success in Hong Kong during the same year. So, proof is enough for me to easily guess that "Apollo 10" was released in 1969 too.

This LP is credited to The Apollo (太陽神樂隊), an Hong Kong prolific studio band that reached a cult status in the region during the late 60s / early 70s. Their name has probably been borrowed from the Teisco / Kawai manufactured Apollo model guitar from that time period.

They recorded a lot of instrumental albums, a few of them for New Wave Record Co. (新風) and most of them for Life Records (麗風); they were also featured as a backing band on countless releases by popular singers like Teresa Teng (鄧麗君), Pancy Lau (劉鳳屏), Frances Yip (葉麗儀), Stella Chee (奚秀蘭), etc. It should be noted that in the early days of the label, they were the only available band at Life Records headquarters, so this comes as no surprise...

Their instrumental records, often arranged by band leader Oscar Young (楊道火), a key-figure in the Hong Kong / Singapore music scene of the late 60s / early 70, usually feature a prominent guitar sound that has spawned a lot of imitators.



Labeled as a guitar music album on the cover, "Apollo 10" (我在你左右) mainly features the electric guitar as solo instrument but, as usual in the Far-East instrumental albums of this period, the organ plays another important role in the arrangements, providing accompaniment and counterpoints that are often panned to the far sides of the mix to reach for that early days massive stereo effect.

Thanks to OCR technology I was able to import the original texts and tried to obtain an English translation using on-line tools. 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. 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!


"Apollo 10" (我在你左右) contains the following tracks:

01. 會情郎 [Beau] (2:22)
02. 我在你左右 [I'm By Your Side] (1:52)
03. 男人的眼淚 [Men's Tears] (2:43)
04. 他還是永在我心上 [You Will Remain In My Heart Forever] (2:37)
05. 養鴨人家 [Beautiful Duckling] (2:04)
06. 淡水河邊 [Tamsui River Edge] (2:46)
07. 負心的人 [Ungrateful People] (2:32)
08. 幾度花落時 [When the Flowers Fall] (1:40)
09. 母子淚 [Mother and Son] (3:00)
10. 關達拉美拉 [Guantanamera] (3:15)
11. 提起愛情煩惱多 [Love Brought More Troubles] (2:25)
12. 往日的舊夢 [Unforgettable Dreams] (2:23)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in September 2013 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.





Here's what I discovered searching information about the music included on this release:

The original version of "會情郎" (Beau) was popularized by Chinese singer and dubbing artist 静婷 (Tsin Ting). According to Wikipedia, she is best known as the Marni Nixon of Hong Kong cinema: she dubbed many of Shaw Brothers' Huangmei Opera movies from the 1950s to the 1960s. Here's her version of the song.

The music of "我在你左右" (I'm By Your Side) originates from a Korean song entitled "샌프란시스코" (San Francisco) performed by singer 백설희 (Baek Seol Hui) in the '50s. The song had a great success in Hong Kong in 1969 when it was used in "负心的人" (Jilted, or Ungrateful People), a popular movie which launched 汤兰花 (Tang Lan Hua) career. Here's her version of the song and another version performed by 美黛 (Mei Dai).

"男人的眼淚" (Men's Tears) was originally performed by 黄清元 (Wong Ching Yian), who is nothing less than a living legend in the Singapore and Malaysia music scene.

"他還是永在我心上" (You Will Remain In My Heart Forever) is another song taken from the movie "负心的人" (Jilted, or Heartless Person); it is performed by 汤兰花 (Tang Lan Hua) in the tear-jerking finale sequence.

I guess that "養鴨人家" (Beautiful Duckling) could be the theme song from the 1965 popular movie of the same name starring 唐寶雲 (Tang Pao-Yun); I'm not completely sure about that, though... And I also guess that "淡水河邊" (Tamsui River Edge) is a Taiwanese song inspired by the river located in the Tamsui District in New Taipei, which is popular as a site for viewing the sun setting into the Taiwan Strait.

"負心的人" (Heartless Person) is the theme song from the movie of the same name discussed above. The original version was performed by 汤兰花 (Tang Lan Hua, available here); other versions were later performed, among others, by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, here) and 劉鳳屏 (Pancy Lau).

"幾度花落時" (Whispering To Ask Several Times, in lack of a better translation...) was performed by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here) in 1969 on her successful "今天不回家" (Don't Go Home Today) album.

The original version of "母子淚"(Mother and Son) was performed in 1969, once again, by 汤兰花 (Tang Lan Hua, available here); I wouldn't be surprised if also this song was taken from the soundtrack of  "負心的人" (Ungrateful People), but I'm not sure about it.

...and now for something completely different, here comes no less than a version of "Guantanamera" (...translated into "關達拉美拉"...) complete with chorus... Well, this argues in favour of how popular on a global level was this song at the end of the '60s.

"提起愛情煩惱多" (Love Brought More Troubles) was popularized by 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, available here) in 1968; the song was also performed later by other singers, including 張慧 (Cheung Wai, here).

"往日的舊夢" (Unforgettable Dreams) was originally performed by 美黛 (Mei Dai) sometimes in the '60s, you can listen to it here.


Here's some of my favourite tracks taken from "Apollo 10", please enjoy "會情郎", "我在你左右", "他還是永在我心上" and "負心的人"!










If you enjoyed this post, I'd like to remind you that I already dedicated to the New Wave Record Co. (新風) a few entries, here's the direct links for NWLP 5, NWLP 6, NWLP 8 and NWLP 9.

A few more information about The Apollo (太陽神樂隊) and the New Wave Record Co. (新風) catalogue is available here:

http://blog.roodo.com/muzikland/archives/2512021.html

http://www.discogs.com/artist/1638765-Apollo-The-2

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/%E5%A4%AA%E9%99%BD%E7%A5%9E%E6%A8%82%E9%9A%8A

http://www.freewebs.com/ritachao/apollothe.htm

http://progressive.homestead.com/HONGKONG.html

http://bbs.qianlong.com/thread-1350672-1-1.html

http://www.radiodiffusion.net/extra/Apollo_Guitar_Ad.jpg

http://rateyourmusic.com/label/new_wave_record_co_

http://radiodiffusion.wordpress.com/category/hong-kong/

http://www.vinylparadise.com/LPCollec/company/fh_life/fh_lp005.htm

http://www.vinylparadise.com/8music/1/music1b2.htm



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.

Friday, 13 September 2013

DICK JENSEN AT THE OCEANIA EMPIRE ROOM (AUGUST 1973)

"The Oceania floating restaurant is moored at Pier 6 in Honolulu Harbor along palm-lined Ala Moana Boulevard, minutes from Waikiki, adiacent to vibrant donwtown Honolulu. Built in Hong Kong, the Oceania is 280 feet overall, has a 60 foot beam and draws 16 feet. She boasts a crew of 225 and can accomodate some 2,000 persons at a single sitting. Chinese artworks and carvings aboard are worth nearly one million dollars."

The Oceania, was brought with great fanfare to Honolulu Harbor in 1972 and remained in business for nearly two decades, I could not find out what happened to her...


The Oceania floating restaurant in the early '70s

One of the things that I am most pleased about this blog is the contribution of visitors who decide to get in touch and offer some kind of help.

In particular, with regard to Dick Jensen, I often receive messages from people who have had the good fortune to know him or to see him performing one of his shows. The enthusiasm of these fans is simply touching and it's great to learn that he is so well remembered.

The following images were sent to me by Carol Mitchell, who was lucky enough to attend a Dick Jensen performance at The Oceania back in August 1973 during her trip to Hawaii.

She kindly offered some details about the picture that appears on the 1982 brochure I posted here, and then she sent me scans of the pictures she took during the show and the accompaining drink menu... Thank you Carol for sharing your precious souvenirs with us!


The Oceania Empire Room drink menu - front (1973)


The Oceania Empire Room drink menu - back (1973)


Dick Jensen performing at The Oceania Empire Room, August 1973


Dick Jensen performing at The Oceania Empire Room, August 1973


A collage by Carol Mitchell that includes the Dick Jensen picture featured on The Oceania floating restaurant 1973 brochure


More information about Dick Jensen is available here:

http://archives.starbulletin.com/2006/06/22/news/story02.html

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/22/il/FP606220304.html

http://www.oahuislandnews.com/May05/Home.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Jensen

I'm currently compiling a Dick Jensen biography, the first part of this work-in-progress covers the period 1942-1972 and is available here.

I'm also trying to compile a Dick Jensen exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.

Last but not least, I'm also trying to build a collection of Dick Jensen pictures and memorabilia, my work-in-progress is available here.

All my posts dedicated to Dick Jensen on this blog are available here.


If you have any useful information about Dick Jensen,or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Friday, 6 September 2013

THE SHEEP RECORDS STORY #11: THE MEN FROM S.P.E.C.T.R.E. "WITH THE FINGER ON THE TRIGGER" (1999)



Sheep Records was a Swiss underground label specialized in Garage-Rock, Surf, Lounge and other Rock'n'Roll oddities. Run by Christian Müller from Zürich, along with friends Andi Frick and Andreas Egi, it was active from 1996 to 2004 and published about 30 releases, mostly on 7" vinyl singles.



In october 2006, after about two years of hiatus, all the contents of the now defunct Sheep Records website were deleted from the Internet, and replaced with a blank page announcing that "Der Kebab ist gegessen" ("The kebab is eaten"), a last goodbye and a reference to the label's cataloguing system that included the prefix "kebab" for vinyl releases and "gigot" for CD releases.




"With the Finger On the Trigger" was the first album published by Sheep Records after a series of ten 7" singles and EPs; it was released on CD (...with catalogue number gigot011...) and as a 100 copies limited edition vinyl LP (kebab011) in June 1999. The contents of both versions are identical, here's the track list:

01. Tourney To Meta Luna VI (2:48)
02. The "India" Crowd (2:38)
03. Attack of the Nonfunky White Guys (2:39)
04. Fantastic Device (2:35)
05. Short Trigger (0:39)
06. Party at Largos House (2:34)
07. Secret Agent Man (2:25)
08. With the Finger On the Trigger (2:49)
09. Codename: Action Woman (2:47)
10. Kitchen Shaker (2:15)
11. Dr. Evil's Ray Transmitter (2:02)
12. At the Bikini (2:47)
13. Chase No. 2 (2:18)
14. Mindbender (3:33)

03.12.2014 Update: I discovered today that The Men From S.P.E.C.T.R.E. have opened a page on Bandcamp and are currently offering their albums for download, so I decided to remove the audio files related to this post. If you enjoy their music and want to listen to this album please support them!






"With the Finger On the Trigger" features 14 Hammond-driven, hip-shaking spy themes, here's the personnel/credits list as they appear on the back cover:

Guitar: Gerry Germann
Organ: Mario Janser
Drums: Stefan Saurer
Bass: Rolf Keller

Sitar: Pandit Shankarmann
Percussion: Marius Brun del Re

Recorded and mixed at the Spooky Sound Studio by S. Maeschi.

All tracks written by The Men From S.P.E.C.T.R.E. except "Secret Agent Man" written by Johnny Rivers.

Bandfoto by Luzia Broger.
Cover by Rolf Keller.



The Men From S.P.E.C.T.R.E. in their former four-members lineup, circa 1999-2000.

The Men from S.P.E.C.T.R.E. have released three albums, here's the group official biography as it appears on their own website:

The Men from S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (Winterthur, Switzerland) rush out of the speakers, straight through your living room, into your ears and move your pulse. The sound is fit for street races with perfectly tuned cars and at home in NASA promotional films. The rough edges and instrumental action sound echoes the space-rock-bands and soundtracks of the 70s. The catchy beat of Drums, Congas and Bass join the wild Hammond organ and fuzzy Guitar to mash-up the scenes.

"The Living Eye" is the third record of the S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s and released on American label Hammondbeat Records. "The Living Eye" is more indulgent, more psychedelic, and hits the beat harder than the previous records. The songs "Purple Pill People" and "Black Tank", along with earlier productions, have been released on internationally revered labels like Acid Jazz Records (UK).

The Men from S.P.E.C.T.R.E. have toured Italy, Spain, UK, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland. The Swiss quintet will be on stage with "The Living Eye" ...heading for lots of trouble.


This promotional card was included in my vinyl copy of "With the Finger On the Trigger".


Here's some highlights from the album courtesy of YouTube, please enjoy "The 'India' Crowd", "Fantastic Device", "Secret Agent Man" and "Dr. Evil's Ray Transmitter"!










More information about Sheep Records and The Men From S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is available here:

http://www.surfnroll.de/interviews/sheep/sheep.html

http://www.men-from-spectre.org

http://menfromspectre.bandcamp.com/

http://www.myspace.com/menfromspectre

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22men+from+s.p.e.c.t.r.e.%22


The Sheep Records story will continue in the next months. All your inputs are more than welcome, if you want to get in touch please write to stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

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