Thursday, 29 March 2018


«SPECIAL NOTE TO THE CONSUMER AND RECORD REVIEWER: this album contains recordings by VINNIE BELL, at this writing New York's busiest studio guitar player. It is designed to show-case Vinnie's electronic genius and his musicianship. The album is based on the contemporary, popular, instrumental approach to recording. This is not a JAZZ recording.»

[from the back cover notes of "Whistle Stop"]

It's high time for another chapter in our series of posts that celebrate leading American session guitarist and pioneer of electronic effects Vincent 'Vinnie' Bell.

One of the two or three greatest guitar geeks of the Space Age Pop era, Vinnie Bell will go down in musical history as the inventor of the 'water guitar sound' that was a big fad in instrumental recordings during the '60s.

Used most prominently on Ferrante and Teicher's 1969 Top Ten cover of the theme to "Midnight Cowboy", and on his own rendition of the "'Airport' Love Theme" in 1970, the effect became one of the most-copied technique among guitarists until the wah-wah pedal became standard equipment in the '70s. Among the other essential records that feature his trademark sound, we should at least mention Dick Hyman / Mary Mayo's "Moon Gas", released in 1963 and available here on Stereo Candies..

Born in Brooklyn in 1935, Bell started to learn to play the mandolin when he was four years old according to the old method: solfeggio and a good swat for every mistake. Then, at eight years of age came the switch to guitar, and at the ripe maturity of twelve years the start of his professional career.

Trained by teachers like Carmen Mastren, who taught him the rhythm guitar, and Tony Mottola, who taught him the basic all-around fundamentals and made him his protégé, Bell also studied under Everett Barksdale and Mickey Baker.

Long before any company commercially produced guitar effects pedals, Vinnie Bell was tinkering and inventing with his own electronic custom effects pedals for his guitars. He constantly invented new effects using fuzz distortion and wah-wah pedals, before anyone else had them. This gave him an edge over most other guitarists in the '60s recording world, and producers loved to bring him on their sessions to get his unique guitar effects.

Bell soon became an in-demand session guitarist. The list of artists who benefited from his work is huge and includes Louis Armstrong, Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Donovan, The Mamas & The Papas, The Four Seasons, The Lovin' Spoonful, Bobby Darin and many more...

For a detailed biography of Vinnie Bell, I suggest that you read the post I dedicated to his debut album a while ago.

My copy of "Whistle Stop" comes with an original Verve company inner sleeve, yippee!!!

"Whistle Stop" contains the following tracks:

01. Moonglow (2:02)
02. Night Train (2:41)
03. Fever (2:29)
04. Dawn (2:09)
05. Bellzouki (2:12)
06. What'd I Say (2:57)
07. Last Stop (1:39)
08. Trainman's Blues (2:23)
09. Shindig (2:06)
10. Whistle Stop (2:13)
11. Memphis (2:18)
12. I Have But One Heart (1:59)
13. The End of the Line (1:47)
14. Tramp Song (2:07)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in March 2018 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

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

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

Vincent Bell: guitars and effects
Everett Barksdale: bass
Paul Griffin: electric piano, electric organ
Al Gorgoni: rhythm guitar
Gary Chester / Buddy Saltzman: drums

Arranged by Claus Ogerman and Charles Calello, except "Bellzouki", "Trainman's Blues" and "Whistle Stop" arranged by Vincent Bell.

Director of engineering: Val Valentin

Liner notes: Warner Fredericks

Cover photograph: Todd Webb

Produced by Creed Taylor.

Vincent Bell, circa 1964

Probably recorded sometime during the last months of the previous year, "Whistle Stop" was released by Verve with catalogue number V6-8574 (stereo) and V-8574 (mono) around January or February 1964.

The album cover features a picture by famous American photographer Todd Weeb, which depicts a small train station in Domingo, some sixty kilometers south-west of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Luckily, there is a road just near the rails, and Google Maps can help to give a more precise idea of where the picture was taken. Of course at least 55 years has passed, the small station is not there anymore, but I think I have recognized the old water tower...

Both the album title and its cover clearly imply that this work is focused on the railroad, and at least five of the tracks also explicitly refer to trains, trainmen, stops, stations and lines. A nice theme, I would say, and one that also vaguely inspired Bell on his previous solo effort.

Anyway, curiously enough the author's name is spelled as Vinny Bell on the front cover, spine and center labels, but he is referred to with the more usual Vinnie Bell on the back cover and in the liner notes... The same liner notes identifies this as Bell's «first recording as a soloist», which is not the case since his debut album was released no less than three years earlier, in late 1960.

In the page dedicated to the album on the super cool Spage Age Pop website, the reviewer points out how apparently the label was trying to «distance itself from its own artist» by including on the back cover the "Special note to the consumer and record reviewer" that you can read in full at the beginning of this post, warning them that «this is not a Jazz recording»... I can't help but agree with him, also when he writes that «Whistle Stop is, arguably, Bell's best album by far.»

In November 1963, "Whistle Stop" was preceded by a 7" release credited to Vinny Bell and The Bell Men. This included the title track on Side A and "Shindig" on the flipside. In Italy the songs were switched and the record was given the picture cover that you can see below. In Australia the songs included on the single were "Moonglow" and, once again, "Shindig". On such occasion they were credited to Vinnie Bell; pictures of this release are also available below.

In Italy the "Whistle Stop / Shindig" single was released in a picture sleeve and sides were switched...

...while the public in Australia was offered a "Moonglow / Shindig" single

The following is a slightly edited version of the liner notes written by Warner Fredericks that are printed on the back cover of "Whistle Stop":

«Better open the window and get ready to toss out every idea you’ve ever had about what a guitar should sound like. Because from the moment the stylus touches the first groove of the record inside this sleeve every guitar you’ve ever heard will become part of the past tense of your life. Vinnie Bell’s new recording as a soloist, composer, leader, arranger is a straight-off blast into the future of guitar music.

Look at the line-up of tunes: "Night Train", "Memphis", "What’d I Say", "Bellzouki", "Dawn", "Trainman’s Blues", "Shindig", "Fever", "Last Stop", "Moonglow", and the title tune - "Whistle Stop". Every one of them is dressed up in sounds you’ve never heard before - sounds no one has ever heard before on record. Sure you’ve heard train sounds - but who ever heard a trombone moan come out of a guitar? Listen to the moving bass line on "Moonglow". Or, who ever dreamed of making a violin come singing out of a guitar - or a French Horn, or cello, or pipe organ, or a baritone sax?

Vinnie Bell - he’s the dreamer behind this fantastic array of new sounds that come roaring, sighing, singing out of an instrument that once used to hang around in the background of folk songs and blues. Vinnie, a superb musician and a natural born inventor, got the idea a few years ago that there was a terrific, rockin’ orchestra hidden inside the curved frame of his guitar. He was determined to pry every instrumental sound loose he could discover - or invent.

Remember when Paul Anka took off with “Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine”? - a gold-mine of an LP. The guitar was Vinnie’s, the same guitar you will hear on "I Have But One Heart". He could bill himself like an old-time private detective, “The Eye That Never Sleeps”... He’s too busy - playing, composing, inventing.

Recently, he counted down the Top Fifty singles in the best-seller charts and discovered to his happy amazement that he had played guitar on thirty-two of the recordings! He averages close to twenty recording sessions a week in the New York studios; single dates, LP dates, TV commercials, radio commercials, movies, network TV shows... And he is a consultant for Danelectro in the engineering and development of new guitars, amplifiers and guitar attachments - both acoustical and electronic. "Bellzouki" is named after a patented device of Vinnie’s that he based on the terrific Greek bouzoukee sound. (Remember the sound track of Never On Sunday? That was a bouzoukee.)

Vinnie is originally a Brooklyn boy, born just about a mile from Coney Island. He’s a family man (“When I get to see them”) with a son and two daughters, all under 9. Married ten years, he and his wife went together for 9 years before they decided to take the final step. Vinnie’s training was informal - “But, with some really good teachers,” he says, “Tony Mottola and Carmen Mastron. Tony taught me the basic all-around fundamentals, and Carmen taught me rhythm guitar. Then, fellows like Everett Barksdale and Mickey Baker taught me a lot more later on. They’ve got something special.”

Incidentally, Everett Barksdale plays on this date and helps Vinnie make his debut as a combo leader on records. Barksdale plays bass guitar and gives the album a terrific drive. He sounds like he’s playing a bass fiddle - but most of the time it’s a Danelectro bass guitar that Vinnie helped research and develop. The other players in Vinnie’s group are: Paul Griffin, electric piano and electric organ; Al Gorgoni, rhythm guitar; Gary Chester or Buddy Saltzman on drums. Vinnie arranged three of the tunes and the others were scored by Claus Ogerman and Charlie Calello, both outstanding arrangers.

Vinnie has adapted, modified, invented, experimented, dreamed... Sometimes people are likely to think that a guy so obsessed with perfection is a little out of this world - a little touched. Vinnie’s certainly way out in a world of his own - a world of vibrant, exciting, rocking new sounds. And indeed he is touched - with genius.

Side A starts with "Moonglow", a popular song written by Will Hudson and Irving Mills with lyrics by Eddie DeLange. There is an abyss between the first version of the song recorded by Joe Venuti in 1933 and Bell's version, but the original melody is still quite recognizable. As I already wrote, this tune was released as a single in Australia.

On "Night Train" Bell emulates a variety of train sounds with his guitar, a trick that he already applied to "Sentimental Journey" on his debut album, but in a completely different way. This song was written by Jimmy Forrest with added lyrics by Lewis C. Simpkins and Oscar Washington. compared to Bell's rendition, the original version recorded by Jimmy Forrest in 1952 is much slower and creates a completely different atmosphere. James Brown also recorded his own version of the song in 1961, turning it into a Funky number with different lyrics.

"Fever" was written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell. The song was first recorded in 1956 by American R&B singer Little Willie John, and topped the Billboard R&B chart when it was released as a single in April the same year. Bell aptly takes the original vocal line and builds his soloing on it with a lot of expressiveness. His trademark water guitar sound is scattered all over the track and it takes the lead along with an heavy reverb during a break halfway through the song, making it one of the best cuts on the album.

Well, I tried my best but I couldn't find any relevant information about "Dawn" a song written by one Robert Robinson... It's a real pity because this is probably the most scintillating track on "Whistle Stop" and I would have been curious to learn something more about it and listen to the original version... Maybe someone in the know could shed some light about it? Thank you!
Anyway, once again I agree with the reviewer at Space Age Pop: «"Dawn" stands out in its compact intensity. It starts revved up and keeps the pedal to the metal right to the last note. Bell's fuzzed-out tone is pretty remarkable to hear, given that it's just 1964. It's the kind of track that blows the dust out of the speakers and leaves compilation makers wondering how to possibly follow it up.»

The album proceeds with "Bellzouki", the first of three compositions co-written by Bell himself with Wandra Merrell Brown that appear on the record. As per title, the song makes good use of the Bellzouki, an electric 12-string guitar that Bell had invented and perfectioned for Danelectro just months early. Bell's creation was inspired by the Bouzouki, a Greek string instrument, and I easily guess that this is one of its very first appearances on a record.

"What'd I Say" was written by Ray Charles, who also recorded it in 1959. Bell's version is pretty tight just like the original, and although it doesn't introduce new elements we can still appreciate the precision of his mighty touch.

First side finish with "Last Stop", the shortest number on the album. This instrumental was written by Phil Ramone and Cathryn Williams, and having being copyrighted just in December 1963 I believe that it is an original piece of music created on purpose for the inclusion on this LP. Bell's guitar introduces the track with its imitation of a steam whistle and then proceeds solidly to the end, making this a favourite of mine.

Side B opens with "Trainman's Blues", another instrumental written by the Bell-Merrell duo. As the title clearly implies, this is a Blues number augmented by Bell's tremolo and distortion effects. At times I feel like he's about to dive into a devastating solo along the lines of the one played by Marty McFly / Michael J. Fox in one of the best scenes of "Back To the Future", but instead he always manage to keep the train on the track, just to use a metaphor which suits both the song and the album.

"Shindig" is an instrumental written by Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch and brought to success in 1963 by their band, The Shadows. Bell adds a touch of his water guitar sound, but his version - althought being more powerful, in my opinion - remains mostly faithful to the original.

"Whistle Stop" is the third number written by Bell and Wandra Merrell Brown, this time also aided by Phil Ramone. It would be interesting to know the name of the anonymous whistler who gives this distinctive touch to a rather simple bluesy track... Since Bell had often collaborated with Dick Hyman - who is also well-known for his whistling ability - I wouldn't be surprised if it was really him, but of course this is just mere speculation... As I already wrote, apart from being choosen as the album's title, this cut was also released as a single. This was not a wise choice in my opinion, and the album has stronger tracks that could have served that purpose better.

"Memphis" is a famous song written by Chuck Berry, which was first released in 1959. Somehow Bell's version differs from the original and I must admit that I was not able to recognize it at first listen. The chord progression seems to be the same but the distinctive vocal line is completely absent and is not replaced by any instrument, making it difficult to draw a connection with the original composition, at least for me.

"I Have But One Heart" is a popular song composed by Johnny Farrow and Marty Symes. The song is an adaptation of a traditional Neapolitan song entitled "O Marenariello", and was first recorded by Vic Damone in 1947. Bell brings the song back to its original Southern Italy context by aptly playing most of it on a mandolin and using a very clean and gentle guitar sound.

"The End of the Line" is another short instrumental written by the Ramone-Williams duo, and I assume from its copyright date that, once again, this is an original number created for the album. Bell's guitar is at its best and this track - although not sharing any striking similarities - somehow reminds me of Perrey and Kingsley's "Swan's Splashdown" from "The In Sound from Way Out!", a 1966 album that also features an unaccredited Vinnie Bell on guitar, uhm...

"Tramp Song" brings the album to an end. The original version of this track is entitled "Tramp-Melodie" and comes from the original soundtrack written by German composer Martin Böttcher for the 1963 movie "Der Schatz im Silbersee" (The Treasure of the Silver Lake). It may seem an odd choice, but the orchestral movements of the original are faithfully reconstructed by Bell on his guitar, making it a perfect closure.

The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album: enjoy "Moonglow", "Night Train", "Fever", "Dawn", "Bellzouki", "Shindig", "Whistle Stop" and "The End of the Line"!

More information about Vinnie Bell and "Whistle Stop" is available here:

If you have 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!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018


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 ( 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. (

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:

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!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

PANCY LAU (劉鳳屏) "MY HEART IS BEATING - 我的心蹦蹦跳" (1968)

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 Co. (風行) 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, and is the subject of this post.

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 1968

"My Heart Is Beating - 我的心蹦蹦跳" contains the following tracks:

01. 我的心蹦蹦跳 (2:09)
02. 紅睡蓮 (2:22)
03. 你不妨等一等 (2:22)
04. 阿里郎 (1:45)
05. 採檳榔 (2:58)
06. 月光小夜曲 (3:22)
07. 多拉茜 (2:45)
08. 負心的人 (3:48)
09. 隨風飛去 (3:11)
10. 天涯歌女 (3:16)
11. 月圓花好 (2:52)
12. 永遠的微笑 (3:12)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in January 2018 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.

Since in a few years she released so many records - and none of them included a release date - it's not easy to come up with an exact chronology of Pancy Lau's early output. "My Heart Is Beating - 我的心蹦蹦跳" is her debut album and was probably released sometimes in late 1968 by Fung Hang Records Co. (風行) with catalogue number FHLP 1001.

Mono versions of four songs included on this LP (tracks 4, 7, 8 and 11) were also released as a 7" EP that I have already covered some time ago. Moreover, four songs (tracks 2, 4, 7 and 8) were also later included on Pancy Lau's third album, "劉鳳屏之歌" (Pancy Lau's Songs), an awesome record released by New Wave Record Co. (新風) which will be the subject of a future post.

Here's what I discovered searching information about the songs included on this album, translation of the song titles is approximate in most cases, but anyway...:

The title track of the album, 01. "我的心蹦蹦跳" (My Heart Is Beating), was also performed by 江鷺 (Kong Lo) and 鍾玲玲 (Betty Chung), I'm not sure about who was the original performer...

02. "紅睡蓮" (Red Water Lilies) was originally a Japanese song recorded by 李香蘭 (Shirley Yamaguchi) in 1940 (available here). Mandarin versions were later recorded by 美黛 (Mei Dai), 張露 (Chang Loo) and many others.

Unfortunately I could not find anything about 03. "你不妨等一等" (You Might As Well Wait)...

04. "阿里郎" (Arirang) is one of the most famous Korean traditional folk songs. In its original form it has been sung for more than 600 years: who would even think about it listening to the swinging version presented here? There's plenty of versions available on YouTube.

05. "採檳榔" (Picking Betel Nuts) is a popular Taiwan song; it was performed by many female singers, including 周璇 (Zhou Xuan, one of China's seven great singing stars, available here) and 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, an '80s live version is available here) who remembered that this was the very first song her mother taught her to sing as a child.

06. The sweet "月光小夜曲" (Moonlight Serenade) derives from a Japanese song originally recorded by 渡辺はま子 (Hamako Watanabe) in 1941. The Mandarin version was popularized in the early '60s by 紫薇 (Zu Wei, available here); it was also performed by 陳芬蘭 (Chen Fen Lan) and many others.

I wasn't able to find any relevant information about 07. "多拉茜" (Duo La Xi), except that it was also performed by 凌霄 (Ling Seow)...

08. "負心的人" (Heartless Person) is the theme song from the movie of the same name. The original version was performed by 汤兰花 (Tang Lan Hua, available here); other versions were later performed by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, here) and 崔萍 (Tsui Ping, here).

Once again, I've nothing to report about 09. "隨風飛去" (Fly Away With the Wind), maybe someone out there can offer some help?

10. "天涯歌女" (The Wandering Songstress) is probably one of the most well-known songs on this album and Wikipedia has a very informative page about it. The original version was performed in 1937 by 周璇 (Zhou Xuan, available here) in the movie "馬路天使" (Street Angel).

11. "花好月园" (Blooming Flowers and the Full Moon) is a classic Chinese song from the late '40s that was originally performed - once again - by 周璇 (Zhou Xuan); you can listen to the original version here. The song has been covered by many divas of the Chinese classic and pop music industry with each imparting their distinct flavour to the song. A lot of versions are available on YouTube.

With the closing number, 12. "永遠的微笑" (Forever Smile), the album almost turns into a tribute to 周璇 (Zhou Xuan). Here'a a link to her original version.

The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album, enjoy "我的心蹦蹦跳" (My Heart Is Beating), "紅睡蓮" (Red Water Lilies), "阿里郎" (Arirang), "採檳榔" (Picking Betel Nuts), "月光小夜曲" (Moonlight Serenade), "多拉茜" (Duo La Xi), "負心的人" (Heartless Person) and "永遠的微笑" (Forever Smile)!

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.

As a last note, 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!

Sunday, 24 December 2017


«The Startling Sounds of the Brave New Music World!... Singular, synthesized composition that heralds the future art of Sound-Expansion! This is the new sound of music: amazing, melodic electronic music played on the Moog synthesizer. These are not just the decorative sounds you usually hear from a synthesizer. These are compositions, specifically created for the synthesizer by Dick Hyman... Fascinatingly rhythmic melodies that move music in a fresh, exploratory direction. Dick Hyman's electronic themes provide an incredible, ear-opening glimpse into the new directions for popular music: music that may soon make every kind of music we have known before seem obsolete. The future comes vividly alive in the grooves of this record because Dick Hyman, Command Records and the Moog synthesizer play it not like it is, but like it will be.»

[from the back sleeve notes of "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman"]

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]

Hyman is best remembered among the Spage Age Bachelor Pad Music aficionados for his 1963 album with Mary Mayo - who provided otherworldy wordless vocals - the aptly entitled "Moon Gas" masterpiece, which was already covered here on Stereo Candies both in mono and stereo. As promised long ago, now it's time to take care about "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman", recorded in late 1968 using mainly the Moog Modular, «a cult-classic and a standout in the infancy of synthesizer album recording in its sophistication and original composition for the instrument.» [2]


[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

"Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" inner gatefold

The following liner notes are included in the inner gatefold of "Moog - The Electric Elclectics of Dick Hyman". They describe the Moog Modular synthesizer to the uninitiated and illustrate the way Hyman approached this work, highlighting a few technical and musical details.

«The Moog synthesizer is a musical instrument that is still so new that not even those who have developed it know what its full musical potential may be.

Synthesizers have been used in recording studios before this, of course. They have often added freaked out electronic sounds to whatever a musical group produces with its regular instruments. They have provided decoration, color and feeling.

But now Dick Hyman has harnessed these provocative electronic synthesizer sounds. He uses the Moog synthesizer as a musical instrument - a total musical instrument - playing it three ways: unaccompanied, with accompaniment from live musicians, and even with accompaniment from a robot instrument.

"My objective is to humanize electronic music," said Dick, "as well as to humorize it and to play it as a full performance instead of a collection of unearthly sounds."

"Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman", original inner sleeve shows Command goodies...

What is a Moog synthesizer?

To the non-technical eye it consists of two short organ-like keyboards, and three cabinets with panels which contain knobs and jacks similar to a telephone switchboard so that various elements in the synthesizer can be linked or "patched".

When he sat down to play the synthesizer, Dick Hyman says he felt as though he were inside an airplane cockpit.

His link with reality was the fact that he has played all sorts of keyboard instruments from the piano and the organ to the Ondioline and the Ondes Martenot. As a result, he not only had confidence in his approach to the two keyboards but he had some experience and knowledge of the kinds of sounds he wanted to produce, particularly from his experience with electronic organs.

"I had to approach it as an organist," he said. To me, the synthesizer is like a super-organ because it includes everything that the different kinds of electric organs can do. The difference is that it can produce only one note at a time."

Dick could work the keyboard - but that's only part of the operation of a synthesizer. It also has to be programmed - the linkages have to be made by patching to create the types of sounds that the performer wants. This requires someone skilled in the technical operation of the synthesizer.

So, while Dick Hyman manipulated the keyboard, Walter Sear, technical specialist in Moog equipment did the programming, or patching.

"I would suggest the sound that I wanted," Dick explained, "and Walter would set it. Or he'd suggest a sound that he thought would fit in with what I was trying to do. Sometimes we'd stumble on something interesting while we were on the way to something else.

"...and more goodies on the back!

Some of the pieces Dick played were composed before he reached the studio. On these set pieces, he used live musicians along with the Moog - Art Ryerson and Jay Berliner on guitars, Chet Amsterdam on Fender bass, and Buddy Salzman, drums, with Dick on honky-tonk piano.

Other selections were improvised in the studio. Dick constructed his improvisations from the sounds of the synthesizer, just as a sculptor might be inspired in his creation by the texture of the stone he was working with.

"I found," said Dick, "that it was much more interesting to create freely on the synthesizer in this fashion than to bend the machine to any preconceived ideas I might have had. In playing my prepared compositions, I had more control over the final result than in any other recording situation I've been in but because the instrument is so new and so unexplored, the final results were more unrelated to what I started out with than anything I've done before. The pieces that were developed in the studio, when I just went ahead and explored the instrument, went much more quickly. I'd say to Walter Sear, 'Surprise me with some sounds.' And he'd patch in something and I'd start to play whatever it suggested. That was the most fun."

In addition to the Moog synthesizer, Dick also used another electronic instrument on some pieces: a Maestro Rhythm Unit, a robot drummer that is normally used by organists in cocktail lounges to provide accompaniment. It is an electronic box decorated with push buttons marked "samba", "rhumba", "tango", "foxtrot", "rock and roll", "go-go", "boogaloo", ad infinitum. You push the button to get the desired rhythm and then adjust the machine to the specific tempo you want. The rhythm unit can be fed directly into the Moog synthesizer so that the unit's rhythmic aspects can be turned into tonal aspects.»

Dick Hyman, 1969

"Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" contains the following tracks:

01. Topless Dancers of Corfu (3:03)
02. The Legend of Johnny Pot (2:01)
03. The Moog and Me (3:03)
04. Tap Dance in the Memory Banks (2:34)
05. Four Duets in Odd Meter (4:32)
06. The Minotaur (8:33)
07. Total Bells and Tony (2:03)
08. Improvisation in Fourths (2:26)
09. Evening Thoughts (3:25)

The following bonus track is taken from the promotional 7" single issued for radio stations, Command-ABC Records RS 45-7499 / RS 45-4126, pictured below:

10. The Minotaur (Short Version, Mono) (3:32)

All tracks were remastered in December 2017 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.

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

Dick Hyman - Moog Modular synthesizer, Lowrey organ, Honky-Tonk upright piano, Maestro rhythm unit, Echoplex tape delay unit, whistling
Art Ryerson - guitar
Jay Berliner - guitar
Chet Amsterdam - bass
Buddy Salzman - drums

All titles composed by Dick Hyman and published by Eastlake Music, Inc. (ASCAP).

Produced by Dick Hyman.

Associate Producer: John Turner

Synthesizer Programming: Walter Sear

Mastering: George Piros

Cover and liner design: Byron Goto and Henry Epstein

Recorded towards the end of 1968, "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" was released by Command-ABC Records sometimes in early 1969 with catalogue number 938-S. A few sites mention a January release, and as a matter of fact, the album entered the Billboard Top 200 LP Chart on April the 19th. At the same time it was also released as an 8-track tape with catalogue number 803-938.

"Topless Dancers of Corfu" was chosen for single release, backed with "The Minotaur". This was the very first single featuring a Moog synthesizer to chart, reaching #27 on the Billboard R&B Singles and #38 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The public elected "The Minotaur" as their most favourite track, and a special single aimed at radio stations containing both an edited and a full version was also released. In some countries "Topless Dancers of Corfu" was confined to the flipside, replaced by the full version of "The Minotaur".

Subsequent pressings of the LP also included a «Featuring the Full Lenght Version of THE MINOTAUR» hype-box on the front cover. Driven by the appeal of this track, the album peaked at # 4 on the Billboard Jazz Chart and #30 on the Billboard Top 200 LP Chart.

Hyman's memories about the recording of "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" and the subsequent "The Age of Electronicus" are available in a great piece written by Thom Holme for the Bob Moog Foundation website. Pictures of a Moog Modular system very similar to the one used on these albums are available here.

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 A opens with "Topless Dancers of Corfu". Greek music, which, along with Indian music, were two of the influences on Dick Hyman's musical creativity at the time the album was recorded, is the basis for this piece. This is one of the selections that Dick composed in advance, one on which he used a live rhythm section. Because the Moog Modular synthesizer can play only one note at a time and has only two keyboards, overdubbing was necessary to create fully harmonized melodies. ln the overdubbing process, Dick threw in some double speeded effects which reproduce as a high, bird-like sound. The sudden, rising, whistling sounds are unique to the synthesizer. "When you play the synthesizer keyboard as though it were a piano or organ, funny things happen," Dick said. "On a piano or an organ, if you're playing staccato and you hold a note for a second, it will fade away downward. But if you play a note in the same fashion on the synthesizer, it goes up. It's weird."

On "The Legend of Johnny Pot" Dick Hyman plays Lowrey organ as well as the synthesizer, backed by the live rhythm section on this bi-tonal and bi-rhythmic piece. The second tonality and the second rhythm were created when the Lowrey organ (the xylophone effect) was dubbed over the Moog synthesizer which produces the bell effect, the flying saucer sound and the bass line. The title comes from the whimsical but actual news report about a traveling adventurer who planted marijuana in fields all across the country and then sent letters to his friends telling them where he had planted it so that they could harvest it when it had grown.

Years ago, Dick Hyman established himself as a whistler when he made the first hit recording of "Mack the Knife". The tune then was still known by its original title, "Moritat", and Dick's whistling gave it a fascinatingly, exotically lonely feeling. On "The Moog and Me", a track that comes right halfway the first side of the album, he whistles and plays both piano and the synthesizer, accompanied by the Maestro Rhythm unit. "This," he said, "is the ultimate attempt to humanize the Moog." Notice the series of timbre changes he achieves in the synthesizer, somewhat similar to the effect that Jimi Hendrix used to get by using the wah-wah pedal on his guitar. And listen, too, to the breaks that Dick takes by turning off his rhythm unit briefly. This is done with a foot pedal. "With the Rhythm Unit you get perfect time," Dick commented, "but it has no initiative. Of course, this has its advantages. It doesn't talk back to you and it doesn't insist on having its own solos." Some elements from this track, most notably the whistle that serves as the lead-in, were sampled by Beck for the song "Sissyneck" on his 1996 album "Odelay".

Advertisement for the album taken from a 1969 issue of Billboard magazine

For "Tap Dance in the Memory Banks" Hyman turns to improvisation - something created by sitting down at the keyboard of the Moog synthesizer and composing with the materials at hand. The materials in this case include, in addition to the synthesizer, the Maestro Rhythm Unit. In feeling his way toward the finished composition and performance, Dick used the rhythm unit with the knobs turned so as to filter out certain elements. When he added a brass sound to this, he stumbled on the idea of turning the piece into a tap dance. "One of the early titles for the piece was 'Fred Astaire Meets Hal', the computer in the film 2001," Dick explained. "The rhythm unit is set on 'tango' with most of the elements filtered out. This dancer, however, is no Astaire. He sounds a little bit klutzy."

"Four Duets in Odd Meter" is made of four brief selections that were developed from a book written by Hyman, entitled "Duets in Odd Meter and Far Out Rhythms". Each duet is separated by four portentous strokes on a gong. In the second duet, Dick uses the 'instant atonality' that is possible on a Moog synthesizer. "Because the Moog can divide the keyboard into any units you want, not just the usual half tones," Dick explained, "the entire system of musical values becomes mixed up. A diatonic composition automatically comes out atonal." The third duet is changed by adding reverberation to each note. And in the final duet, Dick uses an Echoplex, a tape loop machine which plays back a note within seconds after it has been played so that the performer can use a note he has already played as part of his immediate total sound.

Side B starts with "The Minotaur" which, as already pointed out, was successfully released as a single and helped to boost the album's sale. Four elements are involved in this remarkably rhythmic and melodic improvisation. First is the Maestro Rhythm Unit which, instead of being set for a single rhythm, is blending two: a bossa nova and a waltz ("It comes out as a sort of oriental ¾." Dick Hyman commented). To this is added a drone effect, like a tamboura, played by the synthesizer. Then a bass line is laid in, also on synthesizer. Finally, the synthesizer produces the melody line. The style is a mixture of Indian and Greek musical influences: the basic set-up is drawn from the Indian mode while the germ of the idea for the solo melody came from a Greek record in Dick's collection. Because the robot drummer can become monotonous, Hyman played his bass patterns in such a fashion that it sounds as though the drummer is picking up ideas from the bass (although, in actuality, Dick's bass line anticipates the drummer). When the various tapes involved were being mixed, Hyman established the rate at which the melody moves back and forth between the speakers by actually pacing back and forth in the studio while the engineer worked his pots.

The Tony in "Total Bells and Tony" is Tony Scott, a jazz clarinetist, with whom Dick Hyman played on some of his earliest jazz jobs. The original idea for the piece was to base it on layer upon layer of bells - at least, bell sounds as created by the synthesizer. To give the bells a cascading effect, the Echoplex tape loop was used. Then Dick added a clarinet sound on the synthesizer. "When I heard it," he said, "it sounded rather like the way Tony Scott played, particularly when he made some recordings with Japanese musicians." In addition to playing three tracks of bells and one clarinet track, Dick also dubbed in a bass clarinet track which, like all the other tracks, was improvised on the synthesizer.

"The Minotaur / Topless Dancers of Corfu" single, French edition, front cover

The performance in "Improvisation in Fourths" is unique in that it is not only totally improvised but it was done with no overdubbing. This is the Moog synthesizer, pure and unaltered. The basis of the piece is the fact that a compound tone can be built on a Moog Modular somewhat in the same way as it is done on a Hammond organ. But while a Hammond can only be set for harmonic tones, the Moog can be set for any interval the performer desires. In this case, Dick Hyman set the synthesizer on fourths (but he did not use all the fourths because they did not all work as he had expected them to). The effect that is produced is very much like a flutter-tongue flute in jazz.

The original album ends with "Evening Thoughts", a mood piece where the Lowrey organ is mixed with the Moog synthesizer. "One of the problems of the synthesizer," Hyman pointed out, "is the difficulty of maintaining specific characteristics. A sound that is supposed to be wind sighing through the trees may turn into a storm and then into the sound of surf." This shifting of character can be heard in the decorative effects that accompany the melody, which is played first on the Lowrey organ and, in the middle, in theremin-like fashion on the Moog synthesizer. In back and through the melody glide the sounds of bird calls, a gentle tinkling and a 'white noise' that might be a breeze but which, as you listen to it, could just as well be surf. That's one of the chances you take with the music of tomorrow.

The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album: enjoy "Topless Dancers of Corfu", "The Legend of Johnny Pot", "The Moog and Me", "The Minotaur", "Total Bells and Tony" and "Evening Thoughts"!

More information about Dick Hyman, "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" and the Moog Modular synthesizer is available here:

If you have any other useful information about Dick Hyman and "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" - 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!

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