Some Sleeves Speak
Vinyl is back with a vengeance and I'm glad I kept my lot, especially the local ones because they have become a rarity these days. While some enthusiasts are buying used vinyl, others are buying newly pressed ones. In 2014 alone more than one million new vinyl has been sold worldwide and up till now, if website figures are correct, up to four million vinyl have left the record racks.
A young man who bought a vinyl record was asked the reason why he didn't buy the album on-line. His reply was simple, "The art work on the cover is worth it all..."
Record covers are works of art and if you love the 60's, their prints are emboldened either on large 12 inch LP canvases or on 7 inch EP squares but broad enough to be framed and hung on the apartment or house walls.
The record covers below, with drawings of our local stars, are commonly found, even a few years ago, but are hard to come by today. All the figures are hand drawn by artistes unknown but must definitely have been our own local Singaporeans. For this posting I could only credit one artist that I have acknowledged under a sketch. Very sad.
The blog images published on this posting are not very clear, coming from the home printer and computer but close enough for you to guess who the singers or bands are. So, just for fun, especially those who are new to local 60's music celebrities, try to guess who the groups or singers are.
This particular piece (image 3) was done in black and green, with strong lines featuring the singer's hair, shoes and semi-solid guitar. In the background are smaller drawings of the same person with different guitar poses. The lines are a clear where the black colours meet and sufficient to create the atmosphere needed.
A top gun from Malaysia, this singer was a school teacher from Johore Bahru. Great voice, with personality plus, he used to woo the young ladies with his, Woman In My Life, one of his top hits. The photographer and designer is Freddy Ang. It is an EMI Studio Recording.
This next one (image 4) is more a caricature of the group and the drawing features the detailed faces of each member, holding his own musical instrument. The lead singer is sitting on a diamond, symbolic of the group. Hard to tell if they are Asians or otherwise but definitely a neat piece that could be hung on the wall.
This group did not cut too many vinyl records but first recorded in Singapore in 1965. They became local celebrities when they appeared on television and became known on radio and Rediffusion. They have appeared down under in Australia. Apparently the singer's compositions (sitting in the middle) were well known in the Far East. From Philips, the caricaturist is not credited.
A personal favourite (image: 5), it looks like a water colour painting. But it is a subtle piece and uncommon for a local record cover. Colours are relaxing to the eye and of pastel shades. The singers are recognizable.
Yes, this group became well known first with one group name and then hit the high notes with another when they were in Europe for many years. The above image shows the four on a record sleeve and the group covered a Beatles number and a Bee Gees top hit. The above is a pirated version from King Record and there is no credit given as to who the artist was.
Is this a charcoal sketch (image: 6)? Looks like it. Dark, bold and strongly engraved, the drawing explains the two songs recorded. Yesterday's Sorrows (black colour) and Four Corners of My Life (four heads forming the corners). A strong piece indeed and with very bold lines.
This band started in the 60's but went straight on to the 70's stronger than ever. They wrote their own songs. A well-known group, they had cut quite a number of original hits. Produced by Life Records, this Libra vinyl should have had the artist credited.
The original cover (image 7) shows the sheen on the singer's batik shirt, a beautiful purplish blue. It is well drawn and the facial features are identical to the person himself. The belt looks natural and typical of 60's style. White pants go well with the batik. Very local styling. I like the jacket that looks like leather, carelessly hung on his shoulder.
Second prize winner of RTS Talentime 1968, this gentleman was known as The Man From Bukom. Voice, smooth as Johnny Mathis, he captured everyone's heart with his rendition of Born Free and became a regular on radio, Rediffusion and on television. He could be heard singing even during the Malay programmes in Singapore and Malaysia since he is bi-lingual. Again, the artist was not credited but it was an EMI Recording.
This particular record sleeve art piece (image 8) is so famous anyone familiar with Singapore music will know who the group is. Possibly drawn for this internationally famed company, the colours and textured patterns take us back to the 1970's. Different coloured jeans prominently featured proves what the company is trying to project and sell. The focus is obvious. It's a beautiful commercial print and I wish I had a larger copy of this picture.
The group is the same one that was written about earlier on this posting. Can you guess which one?
You might know who the singers and bands are, but do you know who had drawn the art pieces?
If know the artists or if you are one of them please write in. I'd love to meet you.
Frankie Cheah, Western Union Band, Ray Johnson n Diamond Four, Surfers, Sugiman Jahuri, WUB.
Images: A Private Collection, Google.
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