Friday, 27 February 2015


Ying Hua, best known by her stage name of Sakura Teng, was born in Muar, state of Johor, Malaysia, in May 1948. She grew up there, where she received her education in Chinese and English, but has always been mistaken for a Singaporean as she had been living in the republic until the mid '80s.

During her years in school, Sakura won many singing competitions as well as many public speaking awards. Despite being a top student, and having decided to become a singer, at the tender age of sixteen she quit school and moved to Singapore. Her music career began in 1965, when she was just seventeen, at the now defunct New World, an amusement park located in the central area of Singapore.

On her path to fame, Sakura was lucky enough to meet Su Yin (舒雲), a.k.a. Henry Foo, a Singaporean singer, songwriter and lyricist, who was also the A&R manager for the Chinese section at Columbia / EMI. He immediately recognized her potential, and in 1966 she was signed by the label. Her first 7" EP was an instant hit: it sold 25,000 copies and became the first in a very long series of successful releases which lasted until the early '80s.

Interestingly, her stage name is actually a literal translation of her Chinese name, which means 'cherry blossom' in Mandarin. Apparently she was given the nickname when she started singing Japanese numbers in Chinese during her early stage performances.

Sakura recorded many fabulous Mandarin covers of popular English songs and she was part of the pioneers who launched the Rock Movement in Singapore. Along with Rita Chao, with whom she joined forces on many recordings during the late '60s, they were both known as 'A Go-Go Queens of the Sixties'.

Sakura and Rita began performing as a double act in 1967, as both singers were doing well and EMI felt that pairing them would give both their careers a boost. Together they toured Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, building a fan base at each port of call. On stage, Chao usually played the part of the impish naif, while Sakura was the more mature half of the duo. They split up in the mid '70s but are still fondly remembered.

During her heyday in the '60s and '70s, Sakura cut more than fifty records and she also came to be known as the 'Yodelling Singer' for her vocal 'trademark'. She still is one of the most popular female Mandarin singers, and during her career she also recorded songs in many other languages including English, Japanese, Cantonese and Malay.

In 1985 Sakura relocated to the U.S.; since then she has quit recording but she kept on performing live until 2013, when she definitively retired at the age of 65.

Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. 牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes) (2:53)
02. 我沒有人愛 (Nobody's Child) (2:24)
03. 做一對小夫妻 (I Need You) (3:09)
04. 要說就說 (Kopi Su Su) (2:00)

All tracks were remastered in February 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.

Sakura's second EP was originally released sometimes in late 1966 by Columbia / EMI in Singapore with catalogue number ECHK 562. The EP was also available with an alternate cover, you can see it here.

The backing band is not credited anywhere on the cover or labels of this release, but since the same recordings were later spreaded across Sakura's first two albums, from the information and pictures included on them we know that they're no less than the mighty The Quests, a legendary Singaporean group which was very active during the mid-late '60s, both as a backing unit - most notably for Sakura and Rita Chao - and as performers with their own hits and TV show.

Side A opens with a Mandarin version of "I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes", a famous song written and originally performed by American Country singer-songwriter Hank Williams. This is Sakura's first published song that feature her trademark yodelling; you can listen to the original version by clicking here.

"Nobody's Child" is a song written by Cy Coben and Mel Foree. It was first recorded by Canadian Country singer Hank Snow in 1949 (...available here) and soon became a standard in this genre; among others, it was covered by The Beatles early during their career (here) and The Traveling Wilburys (here).

I am afraid that I can't tell you much about "I Need You", the first song on Side A... Its simple title doesn't help, and the only related result I could find is this hilarious clip on YouTube; it seems that the song is the same... In his book "Beyond the Tea Dance", Joseph C. Pereira asserts that this is a cover of a Beatles track written by George Harrison... Maybe he's right, but I can't find any similarity at all between these two songs: anyone can help about this?

The EP ends with "Kopi Su Su" (Coffee and Milk), a song originally performed by Dutch Indo singer Sandra Reemer in 1962; here's a link to her version.

Sakura and The Quests in session, 1966

The following clips offer a preview of the remastered EP, enjoy "牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes)" and "做一對小夫妻 (I Need You)"!

...and, as a bonus, here's Sakura performing a live rendition of "I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes" with English lyrics in 1994, enjoy!

More information about Sakura 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.

Saturday, 14 February 2015


«Among all the experiments that are taking place in modern music, maybe the Miami-based French duo of Phil Lasry and Franck Lasry is the one that has most impressed the medias. Featuring voices that position them out of the ordinary, we believe that it is well worth listening to this LP carefully, because it has much to contribute to the current world of musical innovations.»

[Translated from the original Spanish press-release of "Ambo Quaerens"]

Front cover features a picture of Philippe G. Lasry a.k.a. Phil Dufix...

Well, I've been delaying this post for a while trying to find some information about Ambo Quaerens and their self-titled album, but it looks like this time I will be forced to keep it short because I almost didn't find any: no pictures except those of the album cover, not a single video on YouTube - well, that was until I uploaded four songs last week - and, what's worse than anything else, not even a three-lines biography, N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

If you've visited this blog in the past, I am sure that you've noticed how I like to provide detailed information about each release that I take care of, and not being able to do so this time makes me a little bit sad... OK, let me dry my tears and begin...

...back cover offers the usual track titles and brief notes...

As indicated in the brief liner-notes on the back cover, the album was "written, composed, conducted and produced by Phil & Franck G. Lasry for Miami Trans Music". The Ambo Quaerens page on was quite helpful to trace a sort of family tree of the two Frenchmen (...brothers? Cousins? Homonymous?) which were members of the band.

It looks like Philippe Guttières-Lasry also used the Phil Dufix alias for "Heroes", a cult Disco LP released in 1980, the same year that the Italian edition of "Ambo Quaerens" was published. At first sight, the long-haired blond guy portrayed on the cover picture of "Heroes" seems to have little in common with the cover-star of "Ambo Quaerens", but if you carefully compare the two pictures then you'll start to notice they share some features.

...the outer right panel features a picture of Franck G. Lasry for good measure...

Phil was also responsible for Texico, the one-album Disco project that brought us, ehm, "Texico" in 1977... And just for the record, no matter how hard I try but I can't see him on the cover this time, no, no, no... To complete the "one-album project saga", in 1982 he also released "Nervios" under the Wox moniker; hope I will be able to dedicate a post to this album in the future.

Franck Guttières-Lasry, also known as Franck Val, was involved in the Wox project too, and according to Discogs he was also in charge of mastering / mixing a few releases during the early '80s. His picture was placed on the outer right panel of the lavish and elaborate triple gatefold sleeve of "Ambo Quaerens"; more about this subject a few lines below...

...and an Ambo Quarens logo graces the inner center panel of the triple gatefold sleeve.

"Ambo Quaerens" contains the following tracks:

01. Fugitive Rendez-vous (3:21)
02. Facility (5:10)
03. Stop Crying (3:00)
04. Can't Forget (5:24)
05. Risk (4:36)
06. I Wanna Trust (4:08)
07. How About (4:14)
08. Fairy Tail (3:09)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in February 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files. Both formats offer complete printable PDF artwork.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.

This is how the triple gatefold sleeve looks when open...

The first edition of "Ambo Quaerens" was released in Italy by WEA in 1980. As mentioned before, the album features an elaborate triple gatefold sleeve, or as someone would better explain, a gimmix cover: the front cover and the outer right panel are both cut in seven horizontal stripes, so that the faces of Phil and Franck can be combined together; here you can see an example. The artwork was created by famous French photographer and director Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

My copy of the album is a promo version of the Spanish edition that was released by Zafiro in 1981. The main difference between the two editions is the following: the front cover and the outer right panel are cut in two big horizontal slices only, and the "combined faces" effect is almost lost...

Side One opens with the reverberated piano notes of "Fugitive Rendez-vous", which is one of the strongest cuts of the album. Both Phil and Franck sing on this tune - and on some of the other tracks too - but unfortunately I don't know which of the two voices belongs to each of them and, believe me, I would be quite curious to learn who is the fragile falsetto.

Soon follows "Facility", another lovely and catchy tune that probably would have benefited from a promotional videoclip in those days of New Romanticism. In 1980 the song was released as a promo 12" single for Italian radio stations backed with "Risk" on the flipside, but was moved to Side B on the official 7" that was released the next year.

With "Stop Crying" we enter in a sort of "La Boum" territory (...does anyone here remember about it?) and I'm sure that this song wouldn't have looked bad in the movie or in a similar movie... This piece is sung by the falsetto voice alone, which it is stretched to its limits and way beyond... However I love this album, in my opinion this is its weakest point.

After this misstep, the synth textures, string machine and Disco hints of "Can't Forget" definitively brings quality back: if my ears did not deceive me, the sounds and the atmosphere of this piece resemble some of the tracks that Duran Duran will record and release just one or two years later... And by the way, the falsetto voice is absent on this song...

...and here we are, at last, on Side Two, ready for the piano chords that introduce "Risk", the band's opus and for sure the highest point on the album. When I listen to this tune, I really can't help myself to hum, sing and shout! How is it possibile that Ambo Quaerens almost didn't left a trace of their brief passage? And returning to what I wrote at the beginning of this post: why the lack of information about them? Phil and Franck, I truly hope that you're still out there and fine, I'd like to thank you for this beautiful song: it still sends shivers on my back 35 years after the first time I listened to it!!!

By the way, is there any mother tongue English / American visitor of this blog who would be so kind to decipher the lyrics of this song for me? I desperately tried, but most of my efforts were useless... It would be great if someone could help, THANKS!

OK, I recompose myself just to add that in 1981 the song was relased as a 7" single both in Spain (...with "How About" on the flipside) and in Italy (...with "Facility") where it was also used as the theme song for a sexy television show entitled "Playboy di sera" (Playboy By Night).

"I Wanna Trust" is the most Pop-Rock oriented song of the lot and it features a prominent guitar sound with many solos... A radio-friendly piece for the American market? Uhm... Not bad, but a little bit anonymous... "How About" brings back a Disco beat with additional percussions, falsetto singing and a catchy refrain; definitely the most danceable song on the album.

All good things come to an end, and this is no exception of course: "Fairy Tail" (...a wordplay or a mistake?) is an instrumental number, mainly for piano and strings, that - like a few other passages and solutions heard in some of the previous tracks - seems to betray a classical music education. Just a guess, who knows...

...and this is the inner view of the triple gatefold sleeve when open.

The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album: enjoy "Fugitive Rendez-vous", "Facility", the masterpiece "Risk" and "Can't Forget"!

A few more information about Ambo Quaerens is available here:

...not many links this time, uh? Well, as a bonus, here's the original press-release included in the Spanish edition of the album:

If you have any other useful information about Ambo Quaerens - especially corrections and improvements to this post - 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!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...