Saturday, 27 May 2017


It's with great excitement and renovated interest that, after a long break, I return to feature an instrumental Hong Kong album on this blog. I promise it won't take so long next time...

So, today here we have another nice LP by The Apollo (太陽神樂隊), released at the end of the '60s by New Wave Record Co. (新風), whose complete title is "Hong Kong Fascination - Apollo 12 Guitar Music (美麗的香港)".

As with most of the label's output, the exact release date for this album catalogued as NWLP 12 is not written anywhere on the cover. Anyway, other releases bearing a later catalogue number are proven to have been published in 1969, so I guess that this LP was released around the same time or slightly earlier.

Recently I discovered that some of the albums released in Hong Kong by New Wave Record Co. (新風) were also released by well-known Malaysian label Life Records (麗風) with the same covers, but with different catalogue numbers. This strengthened my theory that New Wave was probably a Life sublabel or that, at least, they licensed selected albums for the Hong Kong market... Well, that was until I discovered that New Wave also released albums originally produced by Fung Hang Records Co. - another renowned Hong Kong label - with slightly-adjusted covers...

At this point I'm quite confused about the nature and role of New Wave, and the only other option that comes to mind is that sometimes it acted as a budget label, but I have no proof about it... I'm still hoping that some reader of this blog can shed some light on the subject, thank you!

The Apollo (太陽神樂隊) were 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 headquarters, so this comes as no surprise...

Their own 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, "Hong Kong Fascination" mainly features the electric guitar as solo instrument but, as usual in the Far-East instrumental albums of this period, the organ plays an important role in the arrangements, aptly providing accompaniment and counterpoint. On this release we can also hear a few traditional Chinese instruments, mostly mallet and assorted percussions, flutes, etc. A couple of tracks also include brief saxophone solos.

For the English translation of the song titles I used on-line tools. The results are not perfect - to say the least - but they give more than a rough idea.

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!

"Hong Kong Fascination - Apollo 12 Guitar Music" (美麗的香港) contains the following tracks:

01. 今天不回家 [Not Coming Home Today] (2:45)
02. 新桃花江 [The Return of the Peach Blossom River] (2:56)
03. 美麗的香港 [Beautiful Hong Kong] (2:16)
04. 萍水相逢 [Chance Meeting of Strangers] (3:03)
05. 上山崗 [On the Hillock] (2:19)
06. 淚的小花 [Flower of Tears] (2:49)
07. 像霧又像花 [Like Fog and Like a Flower] (2:29)
08. 戀愛的季節 [The Season of Love] (2:20)
09. 姑娘十八一朵花 [A Girl at 18 Is Like a Flower] (2:43)
10. 天上人間 [Heaven On Earth] (2:34)
11. 痴情恨 [Beloved Unfaithful] (3:43)
12. 你幾時回家 [When Will You Come Home?] (2:08)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in April/May 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

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

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

Originating from the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, the original version of "今天不回家" (Not Coming Home Today) was a huge success for 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong) in 1969. Later on the song was also covered by other popular singers like 櫻花 (Sakura, available here) and 张露 (Chang Loo, available here).

I am not sure if "新桃花江" (The Return of the Peach Blossom River) is a traditional piece or an original track, anyway it was successfully recorded in 1968 by 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, available here) and 凌雲 / 櫻花 (Rita Chao and Sakura, available here).

The title track, "美麗的香港" (Beautiful Hong Kong), is also one of the best cuts on the album. I was inclined to think that this was an instrumental rendition of the same song recorded by 潘迪華 (Rebecca Pan) in 1969, but I can't notice much resemblance... Do you?

"萍水相逢"(Chance Meeting of Strangers) is a song originally performed in 1960 by 吳鶯音 (Wu Yingyin), one of the Seven Great Singing Stars. Through the years the song has been covered many times, you can listen to the original version here.

I wasn't able to discover the exact origin of "上山崗" (On the Hillock)... It seems that during the late '60s this song was recorded by many singers - among them 吳剛 (Wu Kang) - and also by a few bands as an instrumental piece, including The Stylers (...available here...) and The Saints (

Between 1969 and 1970 "淚的小花" (Flower of Tears) was recorded by so many artists, and I really couldn't find out who is the very first performer... I suppose that the originator could be 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here) or 陳芬蘭 (Chen Fern Lan, here) - but who knows... Even The Quests recorded their own instrumental version in 1970.

At the end of the '60s, "像霧又像花"(Like Fog and Like a Flower) was another huge hit for 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong), you can listen to the original version here. The song was later covered by many other singers, including a young 徐小鳳 (Paula Tsui), available here, and 黃鸝 (Wong Li), available here.

"戀愛的季節" (The Season of Love) is the Mandarin version of a famous late '60s Japanese song. Among others, it was performed - once again - by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong), 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, available here), 孔蘭薰 (Kong Lan Xun, here), and 劉鳳屏 (Pancy Lau, here).

"姑娘十八一朵花"(A Girl at 18 Is Like a Flower) is a 1966 movie starring 陳寶珠 (Connie Chan), 呂奇 (Lui Kei) and 薛家燕 (Nancy Sit). The original theme song was covered, among others, by 刘韵 (Yun Liu, available here) and 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, here),

The original version of "天上人間" (Heaven On Earth), was probably recorded first by actress and singer 李麗華 (Li Li-Hua) sometimes during the '40s / '50s; here's a link to her performance. The song resurfaced during the late '60s, and both Maurice Patton & The Melodians and 楊小萍 (Yang Xiao Ping) recorded their versions in 1968.

I really have no idea about who performed the original version of "痴情恨" (Beloved Unfaithful), but in the late '60s and early '70s many of the usual suspects recorded it, among them we remember 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here) and 黃鸝 (Wong Li, here).

The album closes with "你幾時回家" (When Will You Come Home?). I wasn't able to find much information about this song... I speculate that the original was performed by 劉鳳屏 (Pancy Lau, available here), but 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong) and 周玲寶 (Chow Ling Po) also recorded it around the same time...

Here's some of my favourite tracks taken from "Hong Kong Fascination", please enjoy "今天不回家", "美麗的香港", "萍水相逢", "上山崗", "戀愛的季節", "姑娘十八一朵花" and "你幾時回家"!

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.

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

I'm still struggling to find somebody who can help me with translations:

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!

Friday, 19 May 2017


Recently I took care about Vinnie Bell's debut single and album, both released in 1960. Before I proceed with his following solo releases, I think it's worth exploring a few singles released by other groups on which he guested during the previous years.

These records feature Bell's guitar mastery - sometimes also crediting him as a composer - and are important because they present the first recorded evidences of his tricks and effects.

The first post in this mini-series is dedicated to The Gallahads "Silently b/w Barracuda", a single released in 1958, which - as far as I know - is the earliest record featuring Vinnie Bell - credited as Vincent Gambella, his birth name - on guitar.

For a detailed biography of Vinnie Bell, I suggest that you read this other post of mine.

The Gallahads biography is available here on the great White Doo-wop Collector blog.

The Gallahads, circa 1956

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

01. Silently (2:11)
02. Barracuda (2:26)

Both tracks were remastered from vinyl in March 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

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

Produced by Lee Schapiro and featuring an orchestra conducted by Billy Mure, "Silently b/w Barracuda" was released by Vik, then a subsidiary of RCA, with catalogue number 4X-0332 sometimes during the summer of 1958. Unfortunately the copy in my possession is housed in a plain white sleeve, but at the time of release it was probably offered in a company sleeve similar to the one that I tried to faithfully reconstruct as the opening image of this post.

In France, the two songs were included on the first side of a four tracks EP entitled "Barracuda", released in 1959 by RCA with catalogue number 75.467. The tracks on the flipside, namely "Steady Man" and "Best Wishes", were both culled from this other single. It is interesting to note that the Bell-driven instrumental track "Barracuda" - which didn't feature any vocals from The Gallahads - was given more prominence than their Doo-wop numbers.

Side A features "Silently", a song composed by Dick Wolf and Billy Mure;this catalog of copyright entries returns a "26 June 1958" as registration date. The song was briefly reviewed in the August 9, 1958, issue of The Cash Box magazine: «The boys work vocally on this end as they present a shuffle beat ballad with Jack Vincent in the lead. Gal chorus accompanies the group's hushed vocal technique.»

Side B offers "Barracuda", which according to the same catalog mentioned above, was written by Marilyn Christina, Arlene Davis and Grace Brown and was copyrighted on "3 July 1958". The center label includes a "Featuring Vincent Gambella" credit but doesn't mention his instrument. The following short review is taken, once again, from The Cash Box magazine; it praises Bell's guitar work but wrongly assigns its merit to the group: «The Gallalads display their instrumental talents on an excellent cha cha item that could take off. Side has a number of fascinating instrumental gimmicks and a wonderful dance beat.»

Vinnie Bell in the early '60s

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

More information about The Gallahads and Vinnie Bell is available here:

If you have any other useful information about 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!

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