30 September 2009

Rebecca Pan - My Dream, My Way, My Indie Music

This is probably going to be the most interesting HK album I hear this year. It isn't exactly by Rebecca Pan, but mainly tribute tracks from a bunch of local indie artists. When we met Rebecca two or three years ago, she didn't know about the indie acts singing in English. We also interviewed a few of the artists on the album and they didn't know about her. So it's nice to see them together because it creates a little bit of continuity in the music scene that wasn't there before. The hedgehog adventurer likes Ketchup's Solid Gold Rickshaw, Ga Yum Yan's, The Protest, and my little airport's I Wonder Why (actually, that is just P). I like the pancakes' Magica Luna, or at least it has got stuck in my head like a lot of her songs do.

The picture below is Rebecca signing the CD after her concert a week or so ago at the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point. PixelToy, Ketchup, Chet Lam, the pancakes, at17, p, and Eason Chan all appeared and Rebecca did a few numbers on her own. A lot of fun. So why is she signing on the stage? It seems the Sunbeam Theatre management wouldn't let her set up the table in the foyer, so as soon as she finished her encore, the curtains closed, up came the table and Rebecca sat down.

17 September 2009

Japanese English pop 4 - RC Succession

Again from Carolyn Stevens' Japanese Popular Music, there is a story behind these covers of Summertime Blues and Love Me Tender. In 1988, RC Succession recorded an album called COVERS, which was intended for release by Toshiba-EMI on the anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bomb and included Japanese versions of American protest songs such as Blowing In The Wind and Eve Of Destruction. So why Summertime Blues and Love Me Tender? In their Japanese versions, both are transformed into protests against nuclear power plants. This didn't please Toshiba-EMI at all - Toshiba being involved in the construction of nuclear reactors - so the record was pulled just before it was due to come out. Released on Kitty Records instead, the album went straight to number one in the Oricon charts.

15 September 2009

Japanese English Pop 3 - Kosaka Kazuya

Kosaka Kazuya's, Heartbreak Hotel came out hot on the heels of Elvis' version (January 1956) and was one of the big hits of 1956 in Japan.

14 September 2009

Japanese English pop 2 - Yukimura Izumi

Another find from Carolyn Stevens' great book on Japanese Popular Music. Our research has Grace Chang's, I Want You To Be My Baby as the first Hong Kong song with English lyrics (the verses alternate between English and Chinese) somewhere towards the end of the fifties. Now I know that this goes back further in Japan. Carolyn Stevens mentions Eri Chiemi, Tennessee Waltz (1952) and Yukimura Izumi, Blue Canary (1954). This is Yukimura Izumi doing Alice In Wonderland in 1953 - a magical 'sandwich' with English on the outside and Japanese in the middle.

13 September 2009

Japanese English pop 1 - Tokyo Jihen

I have just come across Carolyn Stevens' great book on Japanese Popular Music. The last chapter is on singing in English and translated English covers, a subject dear to our hearts, and so I have been tracking down some of the artists she mentions that I didn't know about. Let's start with Shiina Ringo and Tokyo Jihen, a band she formed in 2004. In a sea of songs with English titles that turn out to have Japanese, Cantonese, Korean, etc lyrics, Genjitsu wo Warau (meaning 'laugh at reality') is a bit of surprise - an English song with a Japanese title. The only one I know of, in fact. It was recorded on Tokyo Jihen's first album, Kyouiku (education) in 2004. We spent a frustrating hour looking for this album in Mongkok this afternoon and didn't find it.

06 September 2009

Hong Kong English vinyl record covers

chopsticks sandra and amina, originally uploaded by HKpop.
We have been collecting English language records by Hong Kong artists for a few years and, if I remember rightly, it started out with a hunt for The Chopsticks. More on Sandra and Amina another time. This is just to celebrate finally getting all our vinyl record covers - around 120 of them - into a Flickr set. Special thanks to Sally for the scanning and Kaz for getting the files down to size.

04 September 2009

Law Yim Hing - Tonight

Apart from tracking down English recordings and performances by Asian singers, we are also tracking down Cantonese and Mandarin versions of English songs. This is not so easy because the Chinese title doesn't usually give you much clue, and if you don't know the original English song, what do you do? Here's an easy one, Law Yim Hing singing a version of Tonight from West Side Story in a 1964 Cantonese movie Riches in Splendour. Law Yim Hing was a well-known Cantonese opera singer and I'd say it shows here.

I doubt this song was recorded other than in the film and the movie setting has her singing live on radio, which was also popular back in the days when people who enjoyed Cantonese songs mostly wouldn't have the income to buy records.

This is posted on YouTube by HongKongInThe50s who has put up lots of 50s and 60s Cantonese movie clips. What a guy! I could watch all day.

03 September 2009


I have been downloading music from emusic for a few years now and even though I have gone from unlimited downloads for US$10 a month to around 50 cents a track, I still think its a good deal for the music you find there. Not much good for Asian music, but I have just come across this excellent album by the Beijing band Hedgehog as well as albums by Carsick Cars, Sober and Queen Sea Big Shark. Noise Hit World is mostly English and I wonder if the title is namechecking Apples in Stereo's Fun Trick Noisemaker album, which gets its name from a Chinese toy?

Here's a nice interview with Hedgehog's drummer, Atom, and Li Qing from Car Sick Cars.

01 September 2009

Bangkok vinyl

Tonchabab Vinyl Records, originally uploaded by HKpop.

On a trip to Bangkok last week, we had a fun time searching for Tonchabab Vinyl Records on 10 Boonsiri Road. He has a great collection of second hand vinyl in his shop both western and thai. We picked up some nice Hong Kong stuff there, including a lovely Mandarin/Spanish album by Mona Fong & Los Mensjeros del Paraguay. And as you see, the owner is a really nice guy.

The reason we had a fun time searching is that a friend of the owner has put the location on google earth, but unfortunately in the wrong place. I've posted up this picture in the right place, and you can also find it on yahoo map if you follow the photo into flickr. It's kind of the middle of nowhere but not far from Khaosan Road.