Side 3 keeps swinging with more of Hong Kong’s 60’s English Pop Wave, featuring
- The Anders Nelsson Group. Anders Nelsson was also the founder and member of 60s bands The Kontinentals and later 60s group The Inspirations. A US born Swedish national who grew up in China and Hong Kong, Nelsson possibly represented the eclectic mix of nations and music styles that defined the English music scene in Hong Kong at that time more than anybody else, and he later became a leading local music and film industry figure, and music impresario. He was one of the few musicians to be writing his own materials in those days but is probably better known to most Hong Kong people as a movie and TV ‘baddie’
- Tony Myatt, a 1960s Hong Kong radio DJ, covers Jeb Stuart’s 1962 R&B twister ‘I Betcha Gonna Like It’. Tony went on to host radio shows in UK including BBC Radio 2’s ‘Nightflight’ and Capitol Radio’s ‘Topless Tone’
- Kong Ling with an infectious twist version of Eartha Kitt’s ‘Somebody Bad Stole De Wedding Bell’
- The Fabulous Echoes with a nice swinging soul version of Barbara George’s 1960 US R&B number 1 and Billboard number 3 hit ‘I Know’
- A soulful ballad rendition of José Feliciano’s Tom Springfield-penned song ‘Adios Amour’ by Macanese/Hong Kong band The Mystics
- Fabulously smouldering version of Them’s ‘Gloria’ by Teddy Robin & The Playboys, with Teddy doing a passable impression of Van Morrison
- Danny Diaz & The Checkmates cover the Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs rock n roller ‘Ring Dang Do’
- The Satellites with a nice swingy cha cha-ish version of Ray Charles’s ballad ‘No One To Cry To’. Can’t find anything else about this band unfortunately
- Hong Kong family group of four sisters and one brother, The Reynettes, with a high energy live recording of Fontella Bass’ ‘Rescue Me’. You can really feel the energy on the dance floor with this one
- The D’Topnotes, possibly the best known Filipino family music group of Hong Kong 60s, with a skating and back-dropping cover of Jackie Lee’s northern soul classic ‘The Duck’, complete with cheesy sound effects
- Joe Junior with his second band the Side Effects and a swinging cover of Pete Seeger’s anti-war folk anthem, made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary, and the Kingston Trio
- Hong Kong British singer Marilyn Palmer covers Shirley Bassey’s ‘Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me’. Sung in a kind of Connie Francis style, it was a huge local hit for her, exactly hitting the ever-popular Hong Kong penchant for cha cha and still gets enthusiastic cha-cha-heels out on the floor even today.
When I arrived in Hong Kong in the second half of the 70s, Cantopop – with artists such as Sam Hui, George Lam, Roman Tam, Teresa Teng – was already rising as a genre of Cantonese-language western-influenced 1960s soft-pop music – think The Carpenters, Fifth Dimension and so on. Even the ‘harder’ sounding songs were softer rock from the likes of the Beatles – ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Michelle’ are probably still two of the most requested, and murdered, songs in any karaoke lounge with anybody over 40. It seemed the one sole rock band of any popularity at the time was Beyond, singing a kind of Hong Kong garage rock that took its influences from American rock and folk music – perhaps not surprising with the influence of US rock music during Hong Kong’s time as an R&R spot during the Vietnam war.
In the 80s the genre exploded of course with the arrival on the scene of huge artists like Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung, Leon Lai, Prudence Liew, Priscilla Chan, Sandy Lam, and others, adopting musical influences as wide as disco, folk, rock and synthpop. And so the Golden Age of Cantopop was born. I have two other blogcasts highlighting music from these eras can be found in the blogcast archives.
It came as a bit of a surprise when I started to DJ here in the 80s and began to dig more into the oldies from Hong Kong’s music past to satisfy older local clients. While cha cha and ballroom styles were still popular at that time with most people over the age of about 30 – and still are – I discovered that Hong Kong in the 60s had enjoyed a swinging and rocking scene, incorporating styles from UK beat music, US garage rock and psychedelic folk, alongside sweet Mandarin songs from the 40s and 50s and swinging jazz updated to the modern style.
The cause of this was of course influence from overseas on one side. Hong Kong had a huge Chinese diaspora all around the World – and you can still find village elders who’ve returned after decades overseas speaking with a Liverpool, Essex, or New Jersey accent – and on the other side there had been a massive influx of people from all nationalities and race decamping from post-war China. This brought to Hong Kong a number of highly accomplished Chinese ballroom singers, Macanese and Filipino band leaders and musicians, all coming together in the melting pot that was Hong Kong at the time.
While a lot of recordings from the time have been sadly lost, the sterling work of RTHK DJ Ray Cordeiro, who holds the record as the World’s longest working DJ and was a key mover in getting these artists and their music onto the radio in the 60s, and later entertainment impresario Anders Nelsson who grew up in Hong Kong, has helped keep these names and their music alive so that there’s a rich vein to tap into, so much that Hong Kong Beat’s tribute has been split into three 30ish-minute long sides.
With thanks for much information from Hong Kong English Pop Music Blogspot