Tuesday, 27 February 2018

SAKURA (櫻花) "SAKURA GOES BOOM BOOM WITH THE QUESTS" (1967)



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.


One side of the original inner sleeve shows many EMI Records goodies by local artists...

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.


...the other side shows only international artists, with the exception of The Quests and The Surfers

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.


Sakura and The Quests in session as they appear on the back cover of the album


"Sakura Goes Boom Boom With The Quests" includes the following tracks:

01. 檸檬樹 (Lemon Tree) (3:03)
02. 我愛牛郞 (I Love Cowboy) (2:57)
03. 我要輕輕地告訴你 (Aku Kechewa) (3:23)
04. 什麼道理 (Stupid Cupid) (2:52)
05. 牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes) (2:53)
06. 做一對小夫妻 (I Need You) (3:10)
07. 真友愛 (Michelle) (2:37)
08. 心事放不下 (Morning Town Ride) (2:33)
09. 歡樂今宵 (2:12)
10. 隔壁的姞埌 (Boom Boom) (3:33)
11. 可愛的春天 (My Bonnie) (3:00)
12. 提醒你 (Like I Do) (2:20)

All tracks were remastered in February 2018 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.



Preceded by three singles - all available here on Stereo Candies - Sakura's debut album was released sometime in early 1967 by Columbia / EMI in Singapore with catalogue number 33 ESX 602.

The front cover features a colourful and slightly psychedelic background drawing with dominant yellow and pink tones, with a superimposed picture of Sakura wearing a gold and black suit with impressively large sleeves... Of course I know the old proverb that says you can't judge a book by its cover, but even if I didn't know anything about this release I am sure I couldn't help but falling in love with it at first sight.

As the title clearly says, on this album Sakura is accompanied by The Quests, a legendary Singaporean group which was very active during the mid-late '60s, both as a backing unit - most notably for Sakura herself and Rita Chao - and as performers in their own right with a very long series of singles and four full-lenght albums.



Interestingly enough, the bottom part of the back cover includes a Max Factor ad: "Sakura also goes Bazaaz with Max Factor". I'm not sure about what 'bazaaz' means but I suppose it is used as a sort of magic word. A quick search led me to this page where I found an original Max Factor ad taken from a late '60s magazine - the one you can see above - which uses the same lettering chosen for the title of the album, as written on the front cover, and also features similar background drawings.

It never occurred to me that somehow the cover design of this album could be tied to a large international promotional campaign, but I easily guess that this is exactly what happened. This is another reason why I love doing these write-ups: there's always something else to be learned about a record, or more tiny details to discover, even after I had it in my shelves for years.

As a last note, according to Discogs the copy in my possession is not a first edition, it is a reprint made sometime after the EMI record factory in Singapore was established in June 1967. This second edition is easily identifiable from the black center labels, while the first has green labels which are also marked as "Made in Austrialia".



Side 1 opens with "檸檬樹 (Lemon Tree)", a Mandarin cover of a Folk tune written by Will Holt in the late '50s. The song has been recorded by many artists, including Peter, Paul and Mary (...available here...) and The Kingston Trio (...here). The most successful version was recorded by Trini Lopez in 1965.

"我愛牛郞 (I Love Cowboy)", entitled "我愛牛郞 (Cowboy Sweetheart)" on a previous EP, is a Mandarin cover of "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart", a Country and Western song written and first recorded in 1935 by Rubye Blevins, who performed as Patsy Montana. You can listen to the original version here.

"我要輕輕地告訴你 (Aku Kechewa)" is a slow number written by Syed Ahmad Vinton, who played drums with The Antartics. The song was originally recorded with Malay lyrics in 1966 by Eddie Ahmad, with accompaniment provided by The Antartics themselves. The version recorded by Sakura has Mandarin lyrics and halfway through the song it offers a great solo by The Quests' lead guitarist Reggie Verghese.

"什麼道理 (Stupid Cupid)" is one of the wildest pieces included on the album. The song was written by Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka, and became a hit for Connie Francis in 1958. Verghese adds tons of distortion to his guitar sound, turning the original number into one of Sakura's best covers. Here's the original version for your reference.


Another picture of Sakura and The Quests in session

"牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes)" is another Mandarin version of a famous song written and originally performed by American Country singer-songwriter Hank Williams; you can listen to the original version by clicking here. Back in 1966, this was Sakura's first published song to feature her trademark yodelling.

I am sorry but I can't tell you much about "做一對小夫妻 (I Need You)", the last track on the first side... 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?

Side B starts with "真友愛 (Michelle)", a cover of the classic Beatles tune... Do you really need a link to the original version of this song?!? C'mon...

"心事放不下 (Morning Town Ride)" was originally a lullaby written and performed by Malvina Reynolds in 1957. The song was further popularized by The Seekers, who recorded it for the first time in 1964 bringing it to the charts in late 1966. Here's a link to their version.


Sakura in session

"歡樂今宵" is supposed to be an original composition which should translate with "Happy Tonight", but I wasn't able to find any information about it, maybe someone out there can share some?

"隔壁的姞埌 (Boom Boom)" is a Mandarin cover of a song written by American Blues singer and guitarist John Lee Hooker, who recorded it in 1961. Musically, it is another wild piece that uses fuzz distortion in the same vein of "Stupid Cupid".

Approaching its end, the album includes two of the oldest recordings made by Sakura with The Quests that originally appeared on her debut EP back in 1966, where the accompanying band was mysteriously credited as Sounds Anonymous...

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

"提醒你 (Like I Do)"is 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 following clips offer a preview of the remastered album, enjoy "檸檬樹 (Lemon Tree)", "我愛牛郞 (I Love Cowboy)", "什麼道理 (Stupid Cupid)", "牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes)", "做一對小夫妻 (I Need You)", "隔壁的姞埌 (Boom Boom)", "可愛的春天 (My Bonnie)" and "提醒你 (Like I Do)"!


















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://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



As usual, 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!

4 comments:

  1. DOWNLOAD LINK

    http://www.mediafire.com/?vd2...

    If you download this file please consider leaving a comment, your feedback is important!

    Please let me know if the link is broken and I'll do my best to quickly fix it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great! Many thanx.........................

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, I love this!!!

    ReplyDelete

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