Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Blue Danube Johann Strauss II

Mr Sonny Lim is a friend who teaches at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (NUS). He is an acoustics specialist and has excelled in setting up the sound systems for many concert and music halls in Singapore, including the YSTCM itself. 

Sonny loves classical music and as an introduction has recommended a well-known waltz made famous by Austrian composer Johann Strauss II in 1866.

Thank you, Sonny, for your contribution to this blog. The note below was for his students.
Dear Students, 

You will all enjoy this beautiful Youtube of the Strauss - Blue Danube Waltz.

The conducting and orchestra are superb, not to mention the scenery and cinematography where the Danube River passes.


Best regards
Sonny Lim CY

An der schonen blauen Donau, O. 314 is the actual name for The Blue Danube Waltz, the common English title for this greatest of all waltzes.

Subject: The Blue Danube - Simply beautiful

Sonny Lim 



Thursday, December 14, 2017


The Silver Strings members are familiar faces in the music scene in Singapore. Although each one is known for his position in the band, all the members are involved in other activities outside their duties as a group.

Audie Ng, band leader and bass guitarist is also director of his own event company. Audie is in charge of all contracts, music decisions, etc. when the band performs and has been at it for the past 50 years.

Rickie Chng writes his scores for each member before our stage appearances. He does his homework with the melodies and woe-betide a member who does not. He is very serious about his music and definitely one of the best lead guitarists in town since the 60's.

The Silver Strings On Channel 5 @ MediaCorp 
Audie Ng: Band Leader, Bass Guitar

Rickie Chng: Lead Guitar
Michael Bangar does not only play the guitar well, he is also the vocalist and a good storyteller, helping to write articles for this blog. He is another veteran musician and plays with other bands periodically. 

Nicholas Stravens, or Nick, has fingers so fast, he burns the keyboard. No tinkling on them, this ivory smasher rocks the halls with his rendition of Lobo songs and other music greats.

Michael Bangar: Rhythm guitar, Vocals

Nicholas Stravens: Keyboard, Vocals

John Cher helps to write this blog and is always the man of the moment. He is the percussionist who has an FB fan base so huge he has to answer each friend till 5 am every morning. Check him out on his Facebook page. I won't say more. 
Andy Young sings with the band and writes this blog with help from friends.

John Cher: Percussionist

Andy Young: Vocals
Don't forget 23 December 2017 @ The Kallang Theatre. See you.

Monday, December 11, 2017

'Whispering Hope' A Hymn And John Keats' Poem

It has been a long time since a book is mentioned within these postings of singers and songs.

I love John Keats' (1795-1821) To Hope, from his collection of poems under, Keats: Truth and Imagination. It's a book from my home library. He was well-known for poems like The Eve of St. Agnes, Ode To A Grecian Urn and othersHe died at the very young age of 25.

The hymn, Whispering Hope, another favourite of mine, was playing on YouTube and I was listening to the Haley Westenra's rendition. It was one of a number of songs composed by Septimus Winner (1827-1902). Jim Reeves made it famous in 1958.

Both poem and hymn have similar themes, except that the feeling of hope is expressed differently. But they agree on one point, that it is Sweet, fill the sky with silver glitterings and has the voice of an angel:

So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed... (Keats)

When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day... (Winner)

The 19th Century is still around today with its poetry and music. Perhaps you may have read the poem and is familiar with the song? Pray tell.
Portrait of 'Hope' by George Frederick Watts 1886 (2nd Version) is featured in the Keats' book that I mentioned.

To Hope
by John Keats (composed 1816)

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
When no fair dreams before my "mind's eye" flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

Whene'er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon's bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moonbeams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof!

Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
And fright him as the morning frightens night!

Whene'er the fate of those I hold most dear
Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

Should e'er unhappy love my bosom pain,
From cruel parents, or relentless fair;
O let me think it is not quite in vain
To sigh out sonnets to the midnight air!
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

In the long vista of the years to roll,
Let me not see our country's honour fade:
O let me see our land retain her soul,
Her pride, her freedom; and not freedom's shade.
From thy bright eyes unusual brightness shed---
Beneath thy pinions canopy my head!

Let me not see the patriot's high bequest,
Great Liberty! how great in plain attire!
With the base purple of a court oppress'd,
Bowing her head, and ready to expire:
But let me see thee stoop from heaven on wings
That fill the skies with silver glitterings!

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil'd face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o'er my head!

From Illustrated Poetry Anthology (1996: Brockhampton Press).

Haley Westenra sings 'Whispering Hope': Video Haley Westenra. Thank You.

Whispering Hope
by Septimus Winner - (Composed 1868)

Soft as the voice of an angel,
  1. Breathing a lesson unheard,
    Hope with a gentle persuasion
    Whispers her comforting word:
    Wait till the darkness is over,
    Wait till the tempest is done,
    Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
    After the shower is gone.
    • Refrain:
      Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
      Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
  2. If, in the dusk of the twilight,
    Dim be the region afar,
    Will not the deepening darkness
    Brighten the glimmering star?
    Then when the night is upon us,
    Why should the heart sink away?
    When the dark midnight is over,
    Watch for the breaking of day.
  3. Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
    Rends the dark veil for the soul,
    Whither the Master has entered,
    Robbing the grave of its goal;
    Come then, oh, come, glad fruition,
    Come to my sad weary heart;
    Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
    Never, oh, never depart.

Images: Google

Christmas joy is here 
More postings soon
For everyone's cheer...

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Johnny Hallyday: A Tribute From Singapore

Paris, France:

I tried, but couldn't start a romance with Paris, France. The country is picturesque, the language is beautiful with the not so easy to pronounce nasal vowels; the Louvre, ah, and the femme fatale, well I could not stand up to them. 

Worse, my wife and I were robbed* at the La Defense Metro underground while we were around or about to head for the Paris red-lights at Montmartre. That was the end of my love life with France. But I still love her...
Johnny Hallyday (1943 - 2017):

It was the same with Johnny Hallyday. I never got to know him but would have loved to. Why? The language just didn't work with me. And other reasons too.  But Johnny himself and the music 👍.

He was one of the top stars in the 60's, followed Elvis' style and sang rockabilly numbers. He started off right and like so many singers then, followed The King impact. 
Johnny Hallyday: Blue Suede Shoes: video from grandino 57. Thank You.

But what I like about Hallyday, as he grew in his own image, with his powerful voice, muscle-flexed stature, he became an original French rock star, not a rock-n-roll star. And he was outstanding - a man of his own before he died.

To say, as one international newspaper mentioned, that Hallyday was the Elvis of France is not true. He may have started off, copying Elvis' style but he was a singer and musician in his own category, in fact, the best that France could offer. Just watch his YouTube videos. He grew with the music.

His Vinyl Records:

I tried to buy his vinyl records but could not find them in Singapore. I should have bought a few on my trips to France, but the thought never came to mind. As a young person, I had more important things to do. I have regretted it since.
Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis Presley, before his death, unique!

Like France, my interest in Johnny Hallyday waned because it was difficult to know this great singer in Asia.  Unlike Maurice Chevalier, Francoise Hardy and Claudine Longet, I never really got to know Johnny Hallyday with his songs, only familiar with some of his rockabilly hits.

So readers out there, if you have Johnny Hallyday vinyl records to spare, spare me some. 110 million albums, half a century of reign, 74 years young, I'm sure I could find some. 

R.I.P. Johnny Hallyday, le meilleur il ya, (the best there is). 
Singapore 60's music has much influence from other countries. Is Hallyday the
French influence? Tell us.

*I was travel insured and got back what I lost. Cheers.

Images: Google.
Johnny Hallyday was married 5 times. Laeticia Hallyday announced his death. 

The Johnny Hallyday Funeral
9th December 2017 

Thousands gave Johnny Hallyday a big send-off this afternoon as they thronged the streets to wish him a last goodbye.  Even President Macron and the former President Sarkozy were present at the ceremony.

Motorbikers, 700 strong, lined the streets and famed guitarists played melodies outside the church. France's Elvis received a loving but sad au revoir, similar to the Elvis Presley funeral when The King died in 1977.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Australian Influence: Ray Brown and The Whispers Part 2

Ray Brown and The Whispers: (L-R) John Manners, Pat Jeffrey (seated), Lawrie Barclay, Ray Brown, Al Jackson (line up: 1964).

When 60's Music Friends Had A Get-Together In Singapore (2):

When Dr Steven Farram (Darwin U, Australia) came to visit Singapore recently, it wasn't the first time. He's familiar with a lot of Singaporean activities, its culture and history, especially with the local music 60's scene.

I first met him ten years ago when he introduced himself, all wet and hot, after rockin' and rollin' to Mike and Herb's (Beatles of Malaysia) stage performance in 2008 at the Vivo City Roof Top. We became good friends and he never failed to write an article for the blog when I made the request.

Steve wanted to interview some band boys so I managed the help of Mr Michael Bangar (professional guitarist playing rhythm for Silver Strings) to speak to him. We had our first session and a few days later, a larger group came. 
With Andy: Michael Bangar and Steven Farram during the interview @ a food court.

Our 2nd session ended after Steve interviewed guitar legend Horace Wee, bassist Zainal Abidin, drummer John Cher and singer/DJ Jerry Fernandez (images below).

It was a successful meet when Mr Bangar provided Dr Farram with the necessary information he needed. The interview and informal chit-chat over coffee lasted nearly four hours. The lecturer was satisfied with the outcome.

Steve brought with him some vinyl records. I list the artistes and songs covered on both Side A and B. All artistes were from Australia:

Ray Brown and the Whispers:

Now Is The Time        
In The Midnight Hour (YouTube Video above)
Say It Again
20 Miles
Devoted To You
Go To Him
Fool Fool Fool 
Normie Rowe:
Ain't Nobody Home 
Ooh La La

Johnny Young (image) Let It Be Me 
Step Back

The New World: Try To Remember
The World I Used To Know 

Col Joye and the Joy Boys: (Rockin' Rollin') - Clementine 
Fools Like Me

Clockwise from left: Zainal Abidin (Dukes), Michael Bangar (Silver Strings); Pete Hanoken (CD Producer, Helsinki); Jerry Fernandez (Neu Faces); Andy Young (host); John Cher (Writer, Silver Strings); Horace Wee (Guitar Legend, Radio/TV Singapore); Steve Farram (Lecturer, Darwin U, Australia).

Here's a list of Australian pop stars on the international scene that I am familiar with:

Slim Dusty,  John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John,  Rick Price, Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia, Rick Springfield, Tina Arena, Tommy Emmanuel, Johnny O'Keefe, The Seekers, Men At Work, The Easybeats (YouTube video below), Air Supply, AC/DC INXS, Little River Band, Savage Garden,  Keith Urban, Helen Reddy and of course, The Bee Gees. And the names go on...
It's time we have some writing about pops Down Under since we're neighbours but I am not an expert with 60's Australian pops so I have left Steve to elaborate on the records he provided. 

But that's Part 3 in this series.


Images: Steven Farram, Personal Collection.
YouTube Videos.

Wes Cossacks Singapore band covered Sorry under a Singapore label. Video from The Garage 1966. Thank you.

Read connection below about humble George Chew who used to play lead guitar with Wes Cossacks and in recent years, The Burns. Wes Cossacks had recorded a few instrumental numbers in the mid-sixties and The Burns in the 2000's which has disbanded since.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Blue Diamonds: Hendrick de Wolff Says Thanks

Here's a letter I received from Hendrick De Wolff, brother of The Blue Diamonds Ruud and Riem, who wishes to thank the duo's fans and friends found on this blog.  

I am glad this blog has managed to be an important link to all 60's music lovers from our region and internationally:

Proper words fail me to express my sincere gratitude to every person in this blog, who paid his respect to my late brother Riem. The words written by you will be valued by Riem very much and are of very great value to me as well.

I can only add to this that I respect(ed) and admire(d) him enormously myself, just like I respect(ed) and admire(d) my late brother Ruud, who once, together with Riem, formed the band The Blue Diamonds. 

Both Riem and Ruud dedicated their lives to share their music with their fans and looked upon it as a privilege to be appreciated by them. 

Riem and Ruud's departure caused a hard to bear emptiness in me and I miss both of them very much.

My wonderful memories of them are my only consolation and I know that my love for them will remain for as long as I live. 

The urn with Riem's ashes was placed in a cremation niche in Singapore; may his soul grow further from there on. 

May all of you have God's Blessings. 

I send each of you my fondest thoughts and warmest greetings.

Hendrick de Wolff 

                                                Hendrik Toch
Image: Google.

This article/letter has been copyrighted.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Andy 60's Music Celebrates 10th Anniversary

On 21 November 2017, this blog went into its 10th year. To date one and a half million viewers have visited its pages - 1,509,413 to be exact. There are 8,875 comments on the 1,957 articles written and 1,600 published. 

I have been involved in other activities and could not publish the statistics on the actual date. 

Thanks to each and every reader, supporter and friend for the support these past years.

Happy Birthday, Swing: video from Lucky Seven. Birthday wishes from James Kwok.

W.A., Australia
25th November 2017:

I celebrated my birthday and received FB wishes so here's thanking everyone for the greetings and congratulatory messages which can be found on the Comment Page. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Singapore MRT Breakdowns And Train Sentiments

Trains: Old and New

The Singapore Mass Rapid Transport (SMRT) woes have brought about a lot of heartaches for commuters, especially those who need to use the trains to go to work. It is serious and an unpleasant state of affairs. 

Singaporeans have always been encouraged to use public transport, the train, the bus or the taxi (hired car).  I am one of those lucky ones who can still afford a car but wanted to abandon it last year. To keep the car now would be a better option. 

Trains, the many different types that exist throughout the years, have always been a choice for many commuters, especially those who have to travel many miles to reach their destination. Hopefully the situation improves.
Elvis Presley: Frankfurt Special: One of the best train songs and a Presley classic. From his movie, G.I.Blues. Video by: Kevin Allen.

The earlier trains of yesteryear have always been large, bulky, long and noisy but today, in the 21st Century, the new electronic trains are quiet and clean, whipping around like grass snakes, fast and efficient. 

I remember in the 1960's taking an old mechanical train from the station at Tanjong Pagar, Singapore to a town in Malaya. Cannot remember but it could be Butterworth, Penang. It was a dreadful trip and one I wish never to remember. More so it was the condition in the train rather than the ride.  

Other train trips in Taipeh (Taiwan) and Shanghai (China), using the mass transit system were wonderful experiences. England, Canada and Europe trains were excellent too. These trains consisted of both the older train type or locomotives and the present rapid transit system.

Train Songs: Old and New

Songs about trains too are in the hundreds, perhaps more. These songs would be ones where trains are either mentioned in the titles or in the lyrics and many of them would have been written a long time ago. There is a list of nearly every train song on Wikipedia
From Abalinga Mail by Slim Dusty to Zion Train by Bob Marley, the titles are varied and an eye-opener for those who love this mode of transport and love the usual chug-a-chug-chug musical rhythm.

The titles that came off my head are not too many nor are they in order, so here goes:

Chatanooga Choo Choo - Ray Charles
Freight Train - Bob Dylan and many others
Mystery Train - Elvis Presley

Frankfurt Special - Elvis Presley
(Hear That Whistle Blow) 500 Miles - The Seekers
The Lightning Express - Everly Brothers

Morning Train (9 to 5) - Sheena Easton
Morningtown Ride - The Seekers
Rambling Man - Del Shannon

Everly Brothers 'The Lightning Express': another classic hit that expresses sadness and pain. Video by:  johnsonchusc.

Rockin' On The Railroad - Chuck Berry
Sentimental Journey - Les Brown
Wabash Cannonball - Chet Atkins

Folsom Prison Blues -Johnny Cash
Choo Choo Train - Children's Song
She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain When She Comes - Pete Seeger

Take it easier. Check out these songs and hope for the trains to run better soonest.

Any comment, please? About trains songs or train disruptions?

Images: Google
YouTube: Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers.