Friday, 23 October 2015

RITA CHAO (凌雲) "WOOLY BULLY - 我不能沒有你" (1966)



Rita Chao, best known to her Mandarin-speaking fans as 凌雲 (…Ling Yun, Ling Ying or Seow Mei-Mei, depending on the source of information you'd prefer to rely on…), was born in Singapore, probably sometimes in 1949 or early 1950; she grew up there, where she received her education.

Anyway, according to some reports, her family originated from the city of Hangzhou (杭州), which is located in the Zhejiang Province (浙江省) in Eastern China, not so far from Shanghai (上海).

Rita, the youngest of six children with three brothers and two sisters, started singing at the tender age of 8 and was already working as a singer and actress at 14. At school she was not very interested in her academic studies, instead she excelled with performance arts: singing and acting.

Luckily enough, she was born in a family of artists: her grandmother, Zhao Yongchun (趙永春), was a known Chinese Opera singer, and her mother Jing Yu Xian (荊玉仙) was a Chinese Opera singer too. Growing up in this environment allowed her to be familiar with life in the entertainment business, and helped to mentor her future career.

Her parents and relatives saw her potential as an artist quite soon, and decided to pull Rita out of school to follow the Opera troupe on their performances. Rita was given chances to perform Chinese Opera on stage and her performances were very good.

It is unclear when and where Rita embraced Pop music... However, at the end of 1965 - when she was just 15 - while touring Malaysia with her former group, she joined a band called Super XX.

In the meantime Zhao Yongchun, determined to turn her beloved granddaughter into a star, increased her vocal training, became her manager and successfully arranged for her to perform in various nightclubs in Singapore.

Rita was discovered on the local entertainment scene by Su Yin (舒雲), a.k.a. Henry Foo, a Singaporean singer, songwriter and lyricist, who at the time was also the A&R manager for the Chinese section at Columbia / EMI.

In 1966 she was signed by the label and released her very first 7" EP. On this record, she was paired with the top guitar band from Singapore, The Quests. The EP sold over 50.000 copies, and for Rita it was instant stardom.

During those days Rita met Sakura Teng (櫻花). As the story goes, Sakura was already a star singing at various Cabarets throughout South East Asia. On one occasion before going on stage, Sakura and Rita were backstage talking; they instantly clicked and started singing together. Sakura thought they had a very distinctive sound and that night she decided to add a segment to the show in which they would sing a duet. Obviously, they received a stunning reaction from the public and decided to join forces...

Well, probably that is just the romantic version of the story...: since both singers were doing quite well, it is an easy guess that EMI felt that pairing them would give both their careers a boost. In 1967 Rita and Sakura began performing as a double act and constantly toured Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, building a fan base at each port of call.



In 1966 Rita was signed by Columbia / EMI and released her very first 7" EP. On this record, she was paired with the top guitar band from Singapore, The Quests, and it was instant stardom.

During her heyday Rita Chao recorded many great Mandarin covers of popular English songs and she was part of the pioneers who launched the Rock Movement in Singapore. Along with Sakura, they were both known as 'A Go-Go Queens of the Sixties"; in those days, they used to perform at the now defunct New World Amusement Park and they both lived in Jalan Besar.

Rita's career lasted about ten years. In 1975, when her last solo album was released, she declared in an interview that she was about to make a movie in Hong Kong and that she was tired of singing all the time... In 1980-81 she briefly returned on the scene releasing two albums with Sakura, just before disappearing completely.

For more than three decades there has been no news about her in the media, only during recent years unconfirmed information appeared on the Internet that she may have been suffering from a psychiatric illness that required long-term treatment.

In early February 2015 the news about her death spreaded: Rita's 90-years-old mother confirmed that the former singer passed away in July 2014; she has been suffering from colon cancer for about three years when she died at the Singapore General Hospital surrounded by her mother, brothers and sisters. Her ashes were scattered at sea after a short wake and funeral attended by family and friends. The family did not inform show business friends as they wanted the past to be forgotten...

Most of the information included in this post was translated by our best friend Brian (...thank you!!!) from a rare article found in the May 19, 1970 edition of "Hong Kong TV Magazine" available in this post on the great macaenese5354 blog.

I am also in debt with Joseph C. Pereira, whose books "Apache Over Singapore" and "Beyond the Tea Dance" are a constant and invaluable source of information and inspiration, thanks!!!


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

01. 我不能沒有你 (Wooly Bully) (2:04)
02. 好風采 (Pretty Flamingo) (2:30)
03. 小姑娘 (Let True Love Begin) (3:05)
04. 愛是我、愛是你 (Love Is Me, Love Is You) (1:46)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in October 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the complete original artwork.

Please have a look at the comments section for the download link.



Well, let's start this short review by saying that each track on Rita Chao's second EP is a winner in its own right, there's absolutely no fillers in this release. The Quests deliver solid backing and everything in these four covers is just P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

Side 1 opens with "我不能沒有你 (Wooly Bully)", a cover of a popular song originally recorded by novelty Rock'n'Roll band Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs in 1965. Wikipedia offers much more information about the song here, and you can listen to the original version courtesy of YouTube. Another clip that shows the band performing a playback on TV is also available here.

"好風采 (Pretty Flamingo)", as Wikipedia recite «is a song written by Mark Barkan, which became a hit in 1966 when Manfred Mann's recording of it was released as a single. The single reached number one in the UK Singles Chart and it was a minor hit in the United States where it spent eight weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart, peaking at number 29.» The original version is available here for your listening pleasure.



Side B opens with "小姑娘 (Let True Love Begin)". While the "atmosphere" of the other three covers on the EP is rather faithful to the original, this rendition of a 1961 number by legendary pianist and singer Nat King Cole is clearly marked with Rock'n'Roll elements which are not present in the original. This song was written by Mark Barkan (once again), along with Sandy Baron and George Eddy. Another interesting version recorded by The Crests in the early '60s is linked here for comparison.

The EP ends with the short and lively "愛是我、愛是你 (Love Is Me, Love Is You)". The original song was written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, and was first recorded by Connie Francis in 1965; you can listen to her version here. Trent released her own version in 1966.


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered EP, enjoy!










More information about Rita Chao is available here:

http://www.discogs.com/artist/385494-Rita-Chao

https://rateyourmusic.com/artist/rita_chao

https://rateyourmusic.com/artist/rita_chao_and_sakura

http://blog.roodo.com/macaenese5354/archives/25610568.html

http://blog.roodo.com/macaenese5354/archives/25707290.html

https://questing.wordpress.com/category/rita-chao-%E5%87%8C%E9%9B%B2/

https://questing.wordpress.com/category/sakura-rita-duet-%E6%AB%BB%E8%8A%B1-%E6%B7%A9%E9%9B%B2/

http://illfolks.blogspot.com/2014/04/rita-chao-chaod-mary-proud-mary-in.html

http://mocamborainbow.blogspot.com/2008/07/rita-chao.html

http://www.tofu-magazine.net/newVersion/pages/gogo.html

http://www.smartshanghai.com/articles/nightlife/music-tuesday-far-out-east-2

http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/rita-chao-pop-go-go-for-william-dad.html

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

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dk_gilbert/sets/72157625310673913

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/rita.chao.html

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/rita.lp.html

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/sakura.rita.chao.html

http://women.asiaone.com/women/people/agogo-princess-rita-chao-died-6-months-ago

http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/a-go-go-queen-rita-chao-dies-of-colon-cancer

http://www.lollipop.sg/content/partner-shocked-news-agogo-princess-rita-chao-died-6-months-ago



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, 10 October 2015

SAKURA (櫻花) - A COLLECTION OF PICTURES

Here's a collection of pictures of Malaysian singer Sakura (櫻花). A few pictures were sourced from the Internet; most of the others comes from my own records collection and are made available here for the first time.

This post is a work-in-progress, I will add more pictures and other memorabilia at a later date.

[last update: 13.03.2016]


Sakura, circa 1966-67



Sakura, as she appears on the front cover of the "我愛牛郞 - Cowboy Sweetheart" single, 1967



Sakura, as she appears on the front cover of her second EP, 1966



Sakura and The Quests in session, 1966



Sakura as she appears on the front cover of her debut EP, 1966



Sakura as she appears on the back cover of her debut EP, 1966



Sakura and Rita Chao as they appear in the inner gatefold of Rita's debut EP, 1966



Rita Chao and Sakura as they appear in the inner gatefold of Sakura's debut EP, 1966



Sakura and Rita Chao as they appear in the inner gatefold of Sakura's debut EP, 1966



Rita Chao and Sakura as they appear in the inner gatefold of Rita's debut EP, 1966


More information about Sakura is available here:

http://www.discogs.com/artist/385495-Sakura-2

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/%E6%AB%BB%E8%8A%B1

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/rita_chao_and_sakura

http://questing.wordpress.com/2006/12/01/sakura-teng/

https://questing.wordpress.com/category/sakura-rita-duet-%E6%AB%BB%E8%8A%B1-%E6%B7%A9%E9%9B%B2/

http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/sakura-teng-yodel-lady-who.html

http://mocamborainbow.blogspot.com/2008/07/sakura-teng.html

http://modcentric.blogspot.com/2007/06/sakura-pint-sized-livewire.html

http://modcentric.blogspot.com/2007/03/sakura-quests-go-boom.html

http://waxidermy.com/sakura-teng-st/

http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2007/10/365-days-295---.html

http://www.thestar.com.my/Story/?file=%2F2005%2F3%2F1%2Ffeatures%2F10258953&sec=features

http://news.asiaone.com/news/showbiz/sakura-teng-says-goodbye

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/886328

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dk_gilbert/sets/72157625436183960/detail/

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

http://marc-antoine-panda.over-blog.com/article-32061166.html

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/sakura.html

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/sakura.rita.chao.html

All my posts dedicated to Sakura 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.

Friday, 9 October 2015

[repost] SAKURA (櫻花) "提醒你 - LIKE I DO" (1966)

I created this post in September 2014 to present a bootleg version of Sakura's debut EP. In the meantime I was able to purchase a copy of the official release on Columbia, so I decided to update the original post with new scans and info.

The inner gatefold contains a short piece about Sakura which is now included towards the bottom of this post courtesy of our best friend Brian, who translated it in English for all of us Western fans of the glorious Singapore 60s, thank you!




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.


"提醒你 - Like I Do" inner gatefold contains lyrics, a short piece about Sakura and two Sakura / Rita Chao pictures

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.


"提醒你 - Like I Do" back cover


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

01. 提醒你 (Like I Do) (2:17)
02. 可愛的春天 (My Bonnie) (2:58)
03. 知心話 (Sad Movie) (3:26)
04. 心事無從說起 (Listen People) (2:32)

All tracks were remastered in September 2014 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 debut EP was originally released sometimes in late 1966 by Columbia / EMI in Singapore with catalogue number ECHK 557. The record is housed in a gatefold sleeve which is quite similar to the one used for Rita Chao's debut EP (...available here...) making them a sort of 'twin releases'.

The band credited on the labels as the Sounds Anonymous is no less than the mighty The Quests, a legendary Singaporean group which was very active during the mid-late '60s, both as a backing band - most notably for Sakura and Rita Chao - and as performers with their own hits and TV show.

Side A opens with "Like I Do", a song written by Richard Manning based on a segment from "La danza delle ore" by Amilcare Ponchielli. This tune was first released and brought to success by Nancy Sinatra in the U.S. during early 1962 (available here) and by Maureen Evans in the U.K. (here).

The song is followed by "My Bonnie", a traditional Scottish folk song which was also recorded by Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers - an alias for The Beatles! - in 1961 (...original version is available here).

On Side B we find "Sad Movie", a cover of "Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)" written by John D. Loudermilk and originally performerd by Sue Thompson (available here) in 1961.

The EP ends with an effective cover of "Listen People" by English Beat band Herman's Hermits which was a U.S. hit in April 1966 (available here).



The following is a translation of the short piece about Sakura included on the inner gatefold:

«This is the year of Cherry Blossoms (Sakura). Or you can say that when cherry blossoms bloom they are bold, bright, and brings music and dancing. People are always enticed by the excitement and joy which Sakura's music brings. A music that people of all ages adore.

Sakura's music is beautiful in every way. She has strong enunciation skills and her appearance is very natural. Sakura brings a lot of emotion to her songs as well.

Sakura's has a very sweet look and innocent smile which attracts her fans. How could such a young lady not be loved and admired!

Sakura Teng grew up in Southern Malaysia where she received her education in Chinese and English. During her years in school, she won many singing competitions as well as many public speaking awards. She is a very open and happy person. EMI has asked Sakura to record "Reminding You" and four other pop hits. These song are awaiting to satisfy the ears of fans. Definitely a release not to be missed. It will leave you with unforgettable joy for years to come.
»


Sakura, circa 1966-67


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered EP, enjoy: "提醒你 (Like I Do)" and "知心話 (Sad Movie)"!






More information about Sakura is available here:

http://www.discogs.com/artist/385495-Sakura-2

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/%E6%AB%BB%E8%8A%B1

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/rita_chao_and_sakura

http://questing.wordpress.com/2006/12/01/sakura-teng/

https://questing.wordpress.com/category/sakura-rita-duet-%E6%AB%BB%E8%8A%B1-%E6%B7%A9%E9%9B%B2/

http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/sakura-teng-yodel-lady-who.html

http://mocamborainbow.blogspot.com/2008/07/sakura-teng.html

http://modcentric.blogspot.com/2007/06/sakura-pint-sized-livewire.html

http://modcentric.blogspot.com/2007/03/sakura-quests-go-boom.html

http://waxidermy.com/sakura-teng-st/

http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2007/10/365-days-295---.html

http://www.thestar.com.my/Story/?file=%2F2005%2F3%2F1%2Ffeatures%2F10258953&sec=features

http://news.asiaone.com/news/showbiz/sakura-teng-says-goodbye

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/886328

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dk_gilbert/sets/72157625436183960/detail/

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

http://marc-antoine-panda.over-blog.com/article-32061166.html

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/sakura.html

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/sakura.rita.chao.html



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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...