Tuesday 23 July 2019


«The dynamic genius of Dick Hyman, who has found unbelievably resourceful ways of using the organ to express the pulsing drama, the fun and the soaring beauty of today's vivid, new music, goes to work on the explosive themes inspired by the lurid adventures of the whole contemporary coterie of espionage agents: not only 007, the Man from U.N.C.L.E., Honey West, the Liquidator and their familiar colleagues but eyebrow raising surprises such as Agent Double-O-Soul.

Breathtaking, dazzling, sinuous and sensuous...
...bursting with driving rhythms...
...sparkling with humor that is sometimes sly, sometimes wildly exhilarating.

That's the inimitable Dick Hyman formula as this master of the modern organ combines the miraculous resources of this amazing instrument with a brilliant group of guitarists and percussionists to lure more excitement from these themes than anyone suspected was in them.

[from the back sleeve notes of "The Man From O.R.G.A.N."]

Richard "Dick" Hyman (born March 8, 1927, New York City) is an American Jazz pianist/keyboardist and composer, best known for his versatility with Jazz piano styles. Over a 50-year career, he has functioned as a pianist, organist, arranger, music director, and, increasingly, as a composer. His versatility in all of these areas has resulted in well over 100 albums recorded under his own name and many more in support of other artists. [1]

Hyman's career is pretty intimidating in its achievements and scope. He has scored, arranged and/or performend for Broadway, movies, television and live radio, and he's recorded in every format, from 78s to CD-ROMs. He's got a whole gamut of music genres covered, from Jazz and Blues to Classical to Pop and Electronic Psychedelia. Hyman is exceptionally renowned as a professional musician, and was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995. His articulate and wry anecdotes, commentary on the business, and techniques of making music have been published along with sheet music in a series of books. [2]

Beginning in the mid-1950s he started recording with his own name for MGM. His cover of "Moritat", on harpsichord with his trio, sold over a million copies in 1956 and was the most successful recording of the tune until Bobby Darin did it as "Mack the Knife". He was the musical director of The Arthur Godfrey Show from 1958 to 1961. He was an early staple of Enoch Light's Command label, for which he recorded light classical, swinging harpsichord, funky organ, and "now sound" combo albums. He also demonstrated his continuing interest in new keyboard instruments, releasing two of the earliest Moog albums. Hyman has stayed in demand as much as any musician around, working for TV, scoring film soundtracks for Woody Allen, and, more recently, as a Jazz pianist and organist. [3]

After taking care of Dick Hyman's Electronic / Experimental triptych consisting of the 1963 masterpiece "Moon Gas" - credited to him and Mary Mayo, and covered both in mono and stereo - and the two supercool and fresh - still fifty years later! -1969 Electronic Pop / Moog seminal albums "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" and "The Age of Electronicus" (...available respectively, here and here...), it's now time to deepen our exploration of the large Hyman catalogue by dealing with The Great TV and Movie Spy Themes as offered on the gorgeous "The Man From O.R.G.A.N.". So, put on your shades, hat and raincoat and let the journey begin!


[1] from Wikipedia

[2] from the introduction to an interview with Dick Hyman conducted by Michael David Toth, published on Cool and Strange Music!, issue #7, 1997

[3] from Space Age Pop Music

"The Man From O.R.G.A.N." outer gatefold reconstruction (with sticker on front)

"The Man From O.R.G.A.N." inner gatefold reconstruction

The following liner notes, written by an unknown author, are included in the inner gatefold of "The Man From O.R.G.A.N.". They describe the evolution of both the characters and the music that Spy Movies underwent through since the early days of the genre, and delve into the tricks Hyman adopted to achieve some of the particular sounds featured on the album, which were performed on two different models of Lowrey organs.

«The indestructible James Bond and the other fictional espionage agents who have come along in his glamorous wake have inspired a set of television and movie themes which pick up where the earlier private eye themes of the Dragnet and Peter Gunn vintage left off. Just as Bond, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Honey West (to pick three quite different types) represent a more fantastically larger than life breed of agent than such relatively earthbound operatives as Gunn or the laconic sergeant of Dragnet, the music that goes with today's agents has far greater scope and range than the earlier private eye themes did. No longer is it enough to be sombre or menacing or broadly mysterious. Today's themes can also be tongue-in-cheek or completely dominating, exotic or explosive, gentle to the ear or blindingly intense.

"The Man From O.R.G.A.N.", original inner sleeve shows Command goodies...

Dick Hyman's explorations of the musical possibilities of the Lowrey organ, - explorations which have constantly added to the world's knowledge of what this unique new instrument is capable of (documented in his series of Command albums) - have made him familiar with the ways in which this organ can supply an inimitable sense of excitement for all kinds of music. Most particularly, he knows more about how to use it to create the tension and exhilaration that are an inherent part of so much of the music that gets people out on a dance floor these days. That very contemporary sound can be heard all through his unusual interpretations of these spy themes. But, since Hyman is a highly imaginative musician, every one of these pieces has unique, personal touches that come not only from his own musical creativity - the use of unexpected styles and tempos, for instance - but they carry an undercurrent of humor that is particularly appropriate in view of the element of fantasy inherent in the incredible activities of these agents. One of the advances that Dick Hyman makes in his development of the Lowrey organ in this collection comes through his use of a second organ, the Lowrey Theater Model, on two selections - on his integration of "The Third Man Theme" with the "Danger" theme and on "The Cat". Some aspects of the Lowrey Theater Model cannot be transferred to a recording. In design, it is a miniature version of those huge consoles that once rose out of the lower depths of movie palaces. The various tabs used for selecting special sound effects light up in multi-colored hues when they are put to use, just like those movie palace organs did. This, of course, you cannot see on a record. The aspect of the Lowrey Theater Model that can be heard on a disc is that, like those mighty movie theater monsters, it can simulate a wide array of sounds that are not available on the usual contemporary electronic organ. There is a marimba tremolo, the sound of wood blocks, of bongos - all of which Hyman uses for fascinating effects on these selections. On his regular Lowrey organ, Hyman ranges from a cathedral sound to the plaintive cry of the Nashville sound. He builds his arrangements on styles as varied as the Bossa nova, a 5/4 beat and an overwhelmingly hard-driving twist. Working with him is a three-man guitar section made up of Tony Mottola, Al Casamenti and Bucky Pizzarelli, a three-man percussion section - Osie Johnson, Bobby Rosengarden and Phil Kraus - and a one-man bass section, Bob Haggart.»

...and more goodies on the back!

"The Man From O.R.G.A.N." contains the following tracks:

01. The Liquidator (2:38)
02. The Third Man Theme & 'Danger' Theme (3:33)
03. The Man From O.R.G.A.N. (2:19)
04. Theme For 'Honey West' (2:28)
05. Theme From 'I Spy' (2:16)
06. A Man Alone (3:21)
07. Thunderball (2:44)
08. Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2:23)
09. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2:32)
10. The Cat (2:43)
11. Theme From 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold' (2:56)
12. Agent Double-O-Soul (2:52)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in May 2019 and are available in FLAC lossless format along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download links.

Dick Hyman, circa 1965-1966

Here's the complete credits and personnel list of the album:

Dick Hyman: Lowrey organ, Lowrey Theatre organ
Bob Haggart: bass
Tony Mottola, Al Casamenti and Bucky Pizzarelli: guitars
James "Osie" Johnson, Bobby Rosengarden and Phil Kraus: drums and percussion
Tony Mottola: piano on "Agent Double-0 Soul"

Arranged by Dick Hyman.

Associate producers: Robert Byrne and Julie Klages

Recording chief: Fred Christie

Stereo Mastering: George Piros

Monoaural mastering: John Johnson

Front cover drawing: Charles E. Murphy

Coming about halfway in the long series of albums that Dick Hyman released on the label, "The Man From O.R.G.A.N." was published by Command Records sometime around February 1966 with catalogue number RS 891 SD. The album was also made available as a reel-to-reel tape with catalogue number RS 4T 891.

All the Internet sources that offer information about this LP seem to place it in 1965, but I don't believe this is correct, even thought such date is printed on both the front cover and the back sleeve of the album...: the film "Thunderball" - whose theme is included on the album - was premiered in the U.S. no earlier than 21 December 1965 and the first adverts for "The Man From O.R.G.A.N." started appearing on Billboard in the first months on 1966... The 'Command New Direction / New Sound 66' ad that you can see below was published on the 4 March 1966 issue, so I would say that February 1966 is probably the most accurate release date.

As in the best Command tradition, the LP comes in a sturdy gatefold sleeve that offers plenty of information about the recordings. Some copies of the album - including mine - boast an oval red sticker with track titles affixed to the front cover. The artwork in uncredited in the liner notes, but the front cover lower right corner is unmistakeably signed Charles E. Murphy, who at the time was Command's Art Director.

Half of the tracks on "The Man From O.R.G.A.N." were also released as a 7" EP which featured the same title and cover. Oddly enough, for the German market the album was completely repackaged and had its original title changed to "Organ Tricks" thus omitting any reference to the theme that inspired it...

The following track-by-track commentary is a slightly edited version of the original liner notes included in the inner gatefold of the album.

Side 1 opens with "The Liquidator", a big, bright, driving theme for the film of the same name, written by Lalo Schifrin. On this number, Dick Hyman uses a rising, ringing sound in the introduction that is one of the basic musical techniques devised for background on radio mystery dramas. Notice the vast freedom with which he swings out on his organ as the piece builds in intensity and how his use of breaks under the organ serves to increase that intensity to a degree of almost unbearable exultation.

Hyman decided to combine "The Third Man Theme & 'Danger' Theme" not only because they seemed to go together in a very natural fashion, but because he had been impressed with the use made of montaging themes on The Defenders, a television series on which he has occasionally played. It was not until Hyman brought his arrangement into the recording studio that he learned from Tony Mottola, who plays guitar in Hyman's group and who wrote the "Danger Theme", that this was actually inspired by "The Third Man Theme". At the time Mottola wrote it, early in the Fifties, "The Third Man Theme" was at the height of its popularity. Yul Brynner, who produced Danger (this was before Brynner became famous as an actor and singer in The King and l) wanted a theme that was similar to The Third Man but he didn't want to use a zither, because that was the instrument in The Third Man, and he felt piano and organ were too usual. This led to the choice of a guitar and, when Mottola came up with the now familiar "Danger Theme", he became the guitarist on the long-running series. All through the changes in tempo in this arrangement by Hyman, Mottola is playing "Danger" on his guitar while Hyman, on organ, stays with "The Third Man". Hyman uses the Lowrey Theather Model organ here, creating the carousel effect with it and achieving the atmospheric fogginess during the shift in tempo through a discreet use of tremolo.

Written by Dick Hyman, "The Man From O.R.G.A.N." is the only original composition on the album. Hyman's keen ear for irony has led him to represent this fictional espionage agent in a Southern style. The Nashville sound seemed to him to be right for this piece primarily because it would catch the listener off guard by being the very opposite of what might be expected. Then, too, its brightness serves as an interesting contrast to the minor quality of most spy themes.

"Command New Direction New Sound '66", an advert published on the March 4, 1966 issue of Billboard

"Theme For 'Honey West'" follows. The feminine quality of Honey West, played by Anne Francis on television, is suggested by Hyman's treatment of her theme. Over an easy, bouncy introduction, the organ comes on in low, sinuous fashion, then suddenly rises to a lovely lyrical passage. The tinkling 'swoosh' that crops up several times toward the end is a Chinese bell tree, ministered to by Phil Kraus.

According to Hyman, "Theme From 'I Spy' is a bit of scored confusion - «sort of like Charles lves.» Although the 'I Spy' television series, in which Bill Cosby and Robert Culp are starred, usually uses Hong Kong as a locale, Hyman subtitled this arrangement 'A Tone Poem of a New York Traffic Jam' («My experience has been with New York traffic»", he explained). To supplement the confusion and clamor that Hyman and his group create instrumentally, simulating auto horns and a hubbub of nervous clamor, he added three girls to contribute some "oo-oo" accents to the melee. The other voices you hear are Tony MottolaMove over!») and Bob Haggart. Guitarist Al Casamenti churns a real ambulance siren and Phil Kraus caps the production by chiming out "Adeste Fidelis" and "The Bells of St. Mary" in keys that have no relation to anything else that's going on.

Closing Side 1, Hyman's bossa nova treatment of "A Man Alone" - from the film 'The Ipcress File' - is a distinct departure from the usual espionage themes... With Tony Mottola supplying an introductory bossa nova beat, underlined by the insistent rhythm of claves combined with a Chinese wood block, Hyman's organ moves into the melody in a richly romantic fashion. All through this piece, he makes very distinctive use of the warm, deep sounds of his organ, building an atmosphere that is broad and expansive over the usually miniaturizing effect of a bossa nova rhythm.

Side 2 starts with "Thunderball". The theme of the then most recent James Bond film roars out of Hyman's arrangement with a brilliant dramatic flair. The beat provided by guitars and percussion is intense and relentless, augmented by a beanbag ashtray held close to a microphone and tapped to create an effect somewhat like maracas. The galloping guitars are led by Al Casamenti who admitted that his right hand felt as though it was going to fall off before he got through three minutes of this driving pace. The high, piercing passages on the organ are played by the piccolo attachment - Hyman uses it to get something akin to the unworldly sound of an Ondioline.

"Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", also from Thunderball, takes note of the name by which James Bond, because of his most egregious activities, is known in some sections of Europe. Both the breathless voice and the response to it by triangle and tympani were directly suggested by the lyric. «There is a sibilance in the title that appealed to me», Hyman declared. The result is, he says, «a sort of singing song title.» The singer, incidentally, is Dick Hyman.

The German edition of the album was re-titled "Organ Tricks" and completely repackaged...

Hyman plays the theme from "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." in the same way that it was done on the air (at least, the way it was sometimes done - the television version occasionally changed a bit). It is played in 5/4 time - even the gun-shots are orchestrated in that tempo. Although 5/4 is an extremely difficult tempo to maintain on this tune because the melody does not fall into it naturally (and consequently it is more apt to be played in 4/4), Hyman has stayed with the original tempo because it gives the tune the nervous, syncopated feeling it must have to achieve its dramatic effect.

"The Cat", Lalo Schifrin's composition for a movie called "Joy House" can be listened to from a variety of angles. On the surface, it is a superb and lively bit of music for twisting. Just under the surface, though, you will find Dick Hyman's sense of humor at work. "The Cat" was a big hit for Jimmy Smith, the jazz organist who is noted for his hip use of funky sounds. Hyman felt that he could create a striking example of 'camp' by applying an old fashioned sound to Jimmy Smith's funky way of playing the music. To get that sound, Hyman used the Lowrey Theater Model organ and, while he was at it, he threw in occasional sounds of wood blocks and bongos from the organ's array of extra effects. He did this even though he had live bongo and wood block players with him in the studio. But using the synthetic sounds, he felt, added to the 'camp' quality of the piece.

Even more of a departure from the espionage mood than the bossa nova treatment of "A Man Alone" is this sensitive and thoughtful approach to the "Theme From 'The Spy Who Came In From the Cold'", a tune which reminded Hyman of a Chopin nocturne. The music box effect with which it opens is produced by Hyman at the organ, using a piccolo sound with a great deal of reverberation added. The range of the organ is suggested by the sonic distance from this small, close-up effect to the huge cathedral sound which he later switches to. The gentle, subdued guitar passage is played by Tony Mottola.

The ringer "Agent Double-0-Soul" does not come from either a movie or a television series, and it is further evidence of Hyman's sly humor. He first heard the piece on a record by Edwin Starr which was brought to Hyman's attention by his 14-year-old daughter who keeps him au courant on musical matters directed at the teen set. Initially he was amused by the title but then it struck him that «this was a blues commentary on the whole James Bond scene.» So he shot the works on it: The Girls are back again to give a proper shouting quality to the roaring beat. There is the sharp, insistent rhythm of two drum sticks whacked together. And when Hyman decided that a pianist was necessary to carry out the total effect properly, Tony Mottola laid down his guitar and made his recording debut on piano.

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

More information about Dick Hyman and "The Man From O.R.G.A.N." is available here:













If you have any other useful information about Dick Hyman and "The Man From O.R.G.A.N." - 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!

Sunday 21 July 2019


Long time no see! There hasn't been any new posts here on Stereo Candies since late April... Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way and priorities change. I am still not calling it a day, but I won't be able to keep you entertained with at least one post each month like I did for about eight years, so expect only random posts from now.

Thanks to whose who worried about me and sorry if I wasn't able to reply to your messages and comments. A new post about Dick Hyman's "The Man From O.R.G.A.N." is coming very soon, probably there won't be any other new post until Fall sets in. Hope you will enjoy your Summer, have fun!!!

Saturday 30 March 2019


Rita Chao, best known to her Mandarin-speaking fans as 凌雲 (…Ling Yun, Ling Ying or Seow Mei-Mei, depending on your preferred source of information…), 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.

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!!!

"Rita Chao With The Quests" includes the following tracks:

01. 隔壁的冤家 (The Boy Next Door) (2:01)
02. 薄情郎 (He's Untrue) (3:23)
03. 別纏住我 (Only Friends) (3:35)
04. 搖搖搖 (Shake Shake Shake) (1:49)
05. Hanky Panky (3:11)
06. 愛人你變了 (I Know) (3:17)
07. 去年今天 (Lonely Heart) (3:36)
08. 媽媽的勸告 (Bachelor Boy) (2:07)
09. Sixteen Candles (3:16)
10. 小姑娘 (Let True Love Begin) (3:05)
11. 往日的舊夢 (Gonna Be Alright) (2:23)
12. 我不能沒有你 (Wooly Bully) (2:07)

All tracks were remastered in March 2019 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.

Rita Chao as she appears on the front cover of the album

Preceded by four stunning 7" EPs - all available here on Stereo Candies - Rita Chao's debut album was released sometime in early/mid 1967 by Columbia / EMI in Singapore with catalogue number 33 ESX 603.

The album comes in a lovely flipback laminated sleeve with a two-colour printed matte back. The front cover uses a flipped picture of Rita Chao that earlier graced her 我不能沒有你 (The Boy Next Door) EP, while the back offers a slightly psychedelic collage of four different pictures that portrait her in three different outfits, including the one she is wearing on the front cover.

The vinyl copy in my possession is a first pressing with green labels that was manufactured in Australia, probably just weeks before EMI's Singapore pressing plant came on-line in June 1967. The second pressing has black labels similar to those that you can see in the post I dedicated to Sakura's debut album.

The colours on the front cover of my original copy are quite pale in comparison to the reconstruction that I'm offering in this post. You can catch a glimpse of the original cover in this picture available on the Stereo Candies Instagram account. I thought that somehow my copy was defective, or that maybe it had been exposed to direct sunlight for a long time but, as I was searching the Internet prior to compile this post, I discovered that other copies bear the same defect... The other record that appears in such picture is an infamous sounding bootleg that exploits this same cover, but features a different tracklisting that also includes tracks released a few years later.

As the title clearly implies, on this album Rita Chao is accompanied by The Quests, the legendary Singaporean group which was very active during the mid-late '60s, both as a backing unit - most notably for Rita herself and Sakura - and as performers in their own right with a very long series of singles and four full-lenght albums. It's about time that I also start taking care of their recordings, but that's another story, so let's move on to the usual track-by-track commentary...

Side 1 opens with "隔壁的冤家 (The Boy Next Door)", a song written by Johnny Madara and David White that was originally performed by American girl group The Secrets in 1963. The same year the song was turned into a huge hit in Singapore by The Crescendos, you can listen to their version own by clicking here.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any information about "薄情郎 (He's Untrue)", I would believe that it is an original composition, but the presence of a Mandarin + English title seems to prove the contrary... Maybe some reader of this blog can shed some light on the subject? Anyway, this track features Reggie Vergese in top form offering a great performance on acoustic guitar, including a mandolin-style solo.

"別纏住我 (Only Friends)" is a Mandarin cover of "Ton meilleur ami", a song originally performed by French singer and actress Françoise Hardy in 1962. An English version of this song was popularized in Singapore by Heather and The Diamond Four.

The very short and lively "搖搖搖" (Shake, Shake, Shake) was originally included in the 1966 movie "何日君再来" (Till the End of Time), which was a huge success in Singapore and launched the acting career of the young 胡燕妮 (Jenny Hu). The voice singing the original tune belongs to Chinese singer and dubbing artist 静婷 (Tsin Ting); you can watch the original music number here.

"Hanky Panky" is a song written in 1963 by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich for their group, The Raindrops. It was famously remade by rock group Tommy James and the Shondells, who took it to No. 1 in the United States in 1966. On this version, The Quests add their trademark guitar sound and wild drumming, turning Rita's performance in a Garage classic. Here's a link to The Raindrops' original version.

The original version of "愛人你變了" (I Know) was written by Robert Suriya of Naomi & The Boys and was included on the band's second EP released in 1965 by Philips. "快樂誕辰" (Happy Happy Birthday) was also included in the same EP, and is a cover of a 1957 Doo Wop number by The Tune Weavers (...original version is here).

Side 2 starts with "去年今天 (Lonely Heart)", a Mandarin cover of The Thunderbirds' "My Lonely Heart", one of the most popular original compositions in the history of Singapore Pop Music, which was written in 1966 by Harvey Fitzgerald - the band's lead singer - and Gerry Pasqual, their manager. The magic of the original version is reinforced by Rita's memorable performance and the evocative Mandarin lyrics would send shivers down the spine of the coldest human on Earth. This is a M-A-S-T-E-R-P-I-E-C-E!!!

"媽媽的勸告 (Bachelor Boy)" is a cover of a song written by Cliff Richard and Bruce Welch. Originally performed by Cliff Richard with musical accompaniment by The Shadows in 1963, it was also included on the successful movie "Summer Holiday".

"Sixteen Candles", the immortal youth anthem written by Luther Dixon and Allyson R. Khent, was originally performed by American Doo-wop group The Crests in 1958. On this release Rita sings a slightly adapted version of the original English lyrics; a version with Mandarin lyrics was also recorded and released during the same year.

While the "atmosphere" of all the other covers on the album is rather faithful to the original, this rendition "小姑娘 (Let True Love Begin)" - 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 along with Sandy Baron and George Eddy. Another interesting version recorded by The Crests in the early '60s is linked here for comparison.

"往日的舊夢 (Gonna Be Alright)" is a Mandarin cover version of Gerry and The Pacemakers' hit. The song was written by Gerry Mardsen and originally performed by the group in 1964.

The album ends 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.

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

More information about Rita Chao is available here:



















If you have any other useful information about Rita Chao and "Rita Chao With The Quests", 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!

Monday 25 March 2019

SCOTT WALKER, 9 January 1943 - 22 March 2019

Scott Walker has recently joined the great majority. I truly regret that the final chapter in the trilogy of posts dedicated to his lost albums could not be posted here on Stereo Candies before this mournful event... Anyway, I promise that it will happen soon.

Wednesday 27 February 2019


Best known as a member of I Gufi (The Owls) - an Italian musical and comedy ensamble - actor, singer, comedian and writer Roberto Brivio was born in Milan in February 1938.

Son of a man from the Brianza area and a Friulian woman, he dedicated himself to theatre after graduating with famous actress Esperia Sperani, from the Accademia dei Filodrammatici, in 1959.

At the beginning of the '60s he joined the Compagnia dei ragazzi dell'Angelicum and started producing a series of 7" singles for children and prose LPs for La Voce del Padrone and Ricordi.

Among these we'd like to remember at least his Italian adaption of Nigel Kneale's "The Quatermass Xperiment" (L'astronave del Dottor Quatermass), which will hopefully be the subject of another post here on Stereo Candies in the future.

In 1962 he opened the Teatro del Corso in Milan, which he successfully managed for a few years.

Around the same time he started writing for the Italian TV and radio, and also produced his first comedy / chanson records for the Columbia label under the alias Roberto Bi. These included some early examples of his gallows humor, which he will expand later on during his experience with I Gufi.

In 1964, the meeting with Lino Patruno and Nanni Svampa, later joined by Gianni Magni, gave rise to the aforementioned musical group. In those years, I Gufi helped to create a form of musical cabaret in Italy, often using the Milanese dialect in their productions.

Their debut album, entitled "Milano canta" (Milan Sings), was released by Columbia in February 1965, and was the first in an astounding series of twelve successful LPs which were produced by the group in just four years.

During his tenure with I Gufi, Brivio was credited for writing about 50% of the band's repertoire in collaboration with his musical partner Ario Albertarelli.

Until their disbandment in 1969, the group regularly performed in theatres throughout the country and also arrived on television, managing to pass through the tight stranglehold of censorship thanks to their use of dialect.

Shortly after, along with Augusto Mazzotti, formerly one of his classmates at the Accademia dei Filodrammatici, Brivio debuted at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan with a new play entitled "Fantascienza" (Science Fiction).

Following this effort, a selections of songs probably excerpted from the play were collected on the first Brivio solo album, the aptly entitled "13 Canzoni di Fantascienza" (13 Science Fiction Songs). The album was released by Columbia in early summer 1969 and will be a succulent subject for another post quite soon.

During the same year, a 7" single entitled "Salve eroi della Luna" (Hello Heroes of the Moon) b/w "Glass" was also released, and is covered in this post.

Roberto Brivio on stage in a recent picture

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

01. Salve eroi della Luna (3:00)
02. Glass (3:28)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in February 2019 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

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

"Salve eroi della Luna / Glass" was released by Columbia / EMI in Italy with cat. number SCMQ 7155 / 3C 006-17196 M sometime in 1969. The matrix numbers in the dead wax area are marked "2-10-69", so I easily guess that the single was published towards the end of the year.

The records comes in a cover that superimpose a picture of Buzz Aldrin, Neil Alden Armstrong and Michael Collins - the crew of the successful Apollo 11 mission that brought the first men on the Moon in July 1969 - on a drawing by cartoonist Ferruccio Alessandri that originally adorned the cover of "13 Canzoni di Fantascienza", the album released by Brivio a few months later. On the back we don't find much of interest, just a small coupon that can be cut out to be used inside juke-boxes.

As both the cover and title imply, "Salve eroi della Luna" (Hello Heroes of the Moon) is a ballad that solemnly celebrates the conquest of the Moon. The song was written by Brivio along with his long-time collaborator Ario Albertarelli and is a tribute to the "...fearless, brave, immortal, generous..." men who accomplished such extraordinary feat.

On Side B we find "Glass", a more hilarious track that had already appeared months earlier on Brivio's debut album. This is another Brivio-Albertarelli composition that focuses on the effects of lack of gravity during space flight, comparing them to the signs and symptoms of drunkenness. The lyrics make an elegant and effective use of all sort of onomatopoeias and Brivio's prowess as an actor clearly emerges. The last line "Non c'è serietà senza gravità." (There is no seriousness without gravity.) effectively summarises the concept expressed in the song.

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

More information about Roberto Brivio and I Gufi is available here:

















If you have any other useful information about Roberto Brivio and "Salve eroi della Luna / Glass", 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!

Wednesday 30 January 2019

PANCY LAU (劉鳳屏) "快回頭望一望" (EP, 1969)

Pancy Lau (Lau Fung Ping, 劉鳳屏 or 刘鳳屏, also referred to as Liu Feng Ping) was born sometimes in the late 40s / early 50s in a family of musicians; her father Lau Bak Lok (劉伯樂) - also known as Tin Ngai (天涯) - was a well-known Cantonese Opera Star. He was her very first music teacher, and guided her through the entertainment world.

Her career started when she was around 8 or 9 years old singing Cantonese Opera. As a teenager she transitioned to singing songs she enjoyed: Pop music. During the early 60s she participated two times in the Sing Tao Daily Singing Competition in Hong Kong with no significant results.

In 1965 at last she won the Mandarin section of the 6th edition of the contest with the song "三年" (Three Years). Upon winning the competition, she became a resident singer at the prestigious Golden Crown Night Club (金冠).

Television Broadcasts Limited (電視廣播有限公司), commonly known as TVB, commenced broadcasting in Hong Kong on 19 November 1967. Pancy Lau was one of the first musical artists who participated in the popular show "歡樂今宵" (Enjoy Yourself Tonight), which was the longest running variety show in Hong Kong's television history.

In 1968 Fung Hang Records released her debut album entitled "My Heart Is Beating - 我的心蹦蹦跳". The album was the first in a long series of recordings that continued for more than fifteen years.

Following two EPs entitled "水長流" ("Water Flows Long") and "山前山後百花开" ("When the Flowers Bloom On Mount Qian Shan"), Pancy Lau's second album was finally published in late 1969. "快回頭望一望" ("Quickly Take a Look Behind"), contained twelve songs, including the eight tracks already released on her previous EPs.

The record was a huge success with no less than four editions published - and sometimes also bootlegged - by different labels in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. At the time, a lot of popular music was coming from being featured on television or were theme songs from television drama series. The album, however, did not need any push from the media to become an instant hit, as it contained enough fresh material to estabilish itself as a modern classic.

For a more detailed biography of Pancy Lau, please have a look at this other post of mine: "The Very Best of Pancy Lau Volume 1 [1968-70]".

Pancy Lau, circa 1969

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

01. 快回頭望一望 (2:55)
02. 姑娘的心意 (2:01)
03. 不如不嫁了 (2:17)
04. 爲甚麽 (2:04)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in January 2019 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

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

As I already wrote many times, it's not easy to come up with an exact chronology of Pancy Lau's early output, but since the first owner of the EP that is on offer in this post has written a purchase date on the back cover (27-12-69), I can confirm that this particular record was released in 1969, probably towards the end of the year.

All the songs on this EP were included on Pancy's second album "快回頭望一望" ("Quickly Take a Look Behind"), and two of them were also previously included on her debut single back in 1968... Since this EP was released on Life Records (麗風) in Malaysia, it is my opinion that it was aimed at the local market to help popularize Pancy Lau outside of Hong Kong during the 'Mandarin Pop phase' of her career.

I can't tell if this is a rare release but, as a matter of fact, her singles released on Life Records (麗風) have been more difficult to obtain, at least for me, than those on Fung Hang Records Co. (風行). As a trivia, please allow me to tell you that I purchased this single from a Mexican record shop and it is probably one of the records in my collection that has travelled the most!

All music on this release is played by 太陽神樂隊 (The Apollo), 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) - which are also on offer here on Stereo Candies - 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), Frances Yip (葉麗儀), Stella Chee(奚秀蘭), etc.

Oscar Young (楊道火) and Joseph Koo (顧嘉煇) are both credited as arrangers, respectively for tracks 1 and 4 (Young), and 2 and 3 (Koo).

Young was a key-figure in the Hong Kong music scene of the late 60s / early 70s; with his arrangements he also had the merit to introduce and popularise Classical music to the younger generations. He arranged for many famous bands and singers and released countless albums with his prolific and versatile projects The Apollo (太陽神樂隊) and Oscar Orchestra (奧斯卡管弦樂團).

Koo was also a famous composer and arranger, and one of the most respected authors of Cantopop songs; he is considered the Godfather of Hong Kong pop music. During his career he has created more than 1.200 original compositions and many of them have become classics, including various themes of popular TV series.

Here's what I discovered searching information about the songs included on this EP:

"快回頭望一望" (Quickly Take a Look Behind), which was also Pancy Lau's second album title track, is one of her signature songs written by 湮亭 (Yan Ting). During the years it has been covered many times and has become a karaoke classic.

"姑娘的心意" (A Maiden's Heart) is an adaptation, with lyrics by 湮亭 (Yan Ting), of a song imported from Japan. The original was popularized by 美空ひばり (Misora Hibari) and the Mandarin version was also successfully performed by 張露 (Chang Loo).

"不如不嫁了" (How About I Don't Get Married) seems to be an original composition and I wasn't able to find any other information about it, except the name of its authors: lyrics by 馮美葆 (Feng Mei Bao) and music by 曹嘈 (Cao Cao).

I guess that "為甚麽" (Why?) is probably another original composition written by 湮亭 (Yan Ting), sorry but I wasn't able to find any other relevant information about it....

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

More information about Pancy Lau is available here:














I'm currently trying to compile a Pancy Lau exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.

All my posts dedicated to Pancy Lau are available here.

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