Entertainment by The Mekong: The Voice of Paul Anka


August 1, 2015

Entertainment by The Mekong: The Voice of Paul Anka

It is the weekend again. What a hectic week it was for those of you guys in Malaysia. dr-kamsiah-and-din-in-baju-melayuYou were being entertained by the tricks and antics of our Prime Minister, YAB Dato’Seri Najib  Tun Abdul Razak.We have chosen Paul Anka, composer, singer and entertainer.

Paul Anka recorded his first single, “I Confess“, when he was 14. In 1957 he went to New York City where he auditioned for Don Costa at ABC, singing what was widely believed to be a lovestruck verse he had written to a former babysitter. In an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross in 2005, he stated that it was to a girl at his church whom he hardly knew. The song “Diana” brought Anka stardom as it rocketed to #1 on the Canadian and U.S. music charts. “Diana” is one of the best selling singles ever by a Canadian recording artist. He followed up with four songs that made it into the Top 20 in 1958, including “It’s Time to Cry”, which hit #4 and “(All Of a Sudden) My Heart Sings”, which reached #15, making him (at 17) one of the biggest teen idols of the time. He toured Britain, then Australia with Buddy Holly. Anka also wrote “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” – a song written for Holly, which Holly recorded just before he died in 1959. Anka stated shortly afterward:

“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” has a tragic irony about it now, but at least it will help look after Buddy Holly’s family. I’m giving my composer’s royalty to his widow – it’s the least I can do.

Paul Anka’s talent included the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (reworked in 1962 from a song Anka wrote earlier called “Toot Sweet“; it had been rewritten with lyrics and recorded by Annette Funicello in 1959 as “It’s Really Love“).] Anka composed Tom Jones‘s biggest hit record, “She’s a Lady“, and wrote the English lyrics to “My Way“, Frank Sinatra‘s signature song (originally the French song “Comme d’habitude”). In the 1960s Anka began acting in motion pictures as well as writing songs for them, most notably the theme for the hit film The Longest Day (which also was the official march of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, in which he made a cameo appearance as a US Army Ranger. For his film work he wrote and recorded one of his greatest hits, “Lonely Boy“. He also wrote and recorded “My Home Town”, which was a #8 pop hit for him the same year. He then went on to become one of the first pop singers to perform at the Las Vegas casinos. In 1960 he appeared twice as himself in NBC‘s short-lived crime drama Dan Raven.

In 1960, Anka signed with RCA Victor. He bought the rights and ownership of his ABC-Paramount catalog in 1963, but like most North American recording artists saw his career stalled by the British Invasion. By the late 1960s, his career focused on adult contemporary and big-band standards, played regularly in Las Vegas. In the early 1970s he signed with Buddah Records. After more than ten years without a top 25 hit record, he signed with United Artists and in 1974 teamed up with Odia Coates to record the #1 hit, “(You’re) Having My Baby“. The two would record two more duets that made it into the Top 10, “One Man Woman/One Woman Man” (#7) and “I Don’t Like to Sleep Alone” (#8), and the #15 duet “(I Believe) There’s Nothing Stronger Than Our Love”. In 1975 he recorded a jingle for Kodak written by Bill Lane (lyrics) and Roger Nichols (melody) called “Times of Your Life“. It became so popular Anka recorded it as a full song, which peaked at #7 in the U.S. pop chart in 1976. The follow-up was another hit that Anka wrote for Sinatra, “Anytime (I’ll Be There)”, peaking at #33. Anka’s last Top 40 hit in the U.S. was in the summer of 1983: “Hold Me ‘Til The Mornin’ Comes”, which included backing vocals from then-Chicago frontman Peter Cetera; it hit #2 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart.

His 1998 album A Body of Work was his first new U.S. studio release since Walk a Fine Line in 1983; vocalists and performers included Celine Dion, Kenny G, Patti LaBelle, and Skyler Jett. The album included a new version of “Hold Me ‘Til the Morning Comes”, once again performed with Peter Cetera. In 2005, his album of big-band arrangements of contemporary standards, Rock Swings, provided a mainstream comeback of sorts that saw him awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto.

On October 12, 2009, Anka stated that Michael Jackson‘s new release titled “This Is It” was a collaborative effort between the two in 1983. According to Anka, after recording the song, Jackson decided not to use it and the tune was then recorded and released by Sa-Fire. After Anka threatened to sue for credit and a share of royalties, the administrators of Jackson’s estate granted Anka 50% of the copyright.[15] An additional song that Jackson co-wrote with Anka from this 1983 session, “Love Never Felt So Good”, was discovered shortly thereafter. His album Songs of December charted at #58 in Canada in November 2011.–wikipedia

Please have a good weekend from Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican.

Bonus

Paul Anka and Sammy Davis Jr.

My Cousin Ahmad Daud from Penang

Weekend Entertainment by The Mekong


July 25, 2015

Your Weekend Entertainment by The Mekong

Kamsiah and Din in PNP

Dr Kamsiah and I promised you that Sir Cliff Richard will be our entertainer for this weekend. Let us start off with his rendition of Little Things Mean a Lot.

The sentiments reflected in this tune are out of date. 21st century women have no time for gentlemanly conduct like giving your hand when “she crosses the street”or “your shoulder to cry on”.  Rosmah Mansor, for example, goes for power, diamonds and money. Others like members of the Housewives Club accept being second, third or fourth wives as long as their men are loaded with money.

Ask Tiger Woods and he will tell you that his former wife was after his money. These men (ah, Tiger is a very good-looking guy with uncontrollable urges that got into an expensive divorce) have looks that could sink a thousand ships. Well, that is my view (Din Merican).

There are exceptions are as in all things. And here Dr Kamsiah agrees. But in general, it is true that, as Dame Shirley Bassey says, “Diamond are Forever”. Rosmah has no difficulty in endorsing that statement.

Sir Cliff Richard OBE (born Harry Rodger Webb, 14 October 1940) is a British pop singer, musician, performer, actor and philanthropist. He has been a resident for most of his life in the United Kingdom, but in 2010 confirmed that he is now also a citizen of Barbados. In addition to his property in England, he divides his time between living in Barbados and at a vineyard property in Portugal. Richard has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. He has total sales of over 21 million singles in the UK and is the third-top-selling singles artist in UK Chart history, behind the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

With his backing group the Shadows, Richard, originally positioned as a rebellious rock and roll singer in the style of Little Richard and Elvis Presley, dominated the British popular music scene in the pre-Beatles period of the late 1950s and early 1960s. His 1958 hit single “Move It” is often described as Britain’s first authentic rock and roll song, and John Lennon once claimed that “before Cliff and the Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.” Increased focus on his Christian faith and subsequent softening of his music later led to a more middle of the road pop image, sometimes venturing into contemporary Christian music.

Over a career spanning more than 50 years, Richard has become a fixture of the British entertainment world, amassing many gold and platinum discs and awards, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male twice and the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and two Ivor Novello Awards. He has had more than 130 singles, albums and EPs make the UK Top 20, more than any other artist] and holds the record (with Elvis Presley) as the only act to make the UK singles charts in all of its first six decades (1950s–2000s). He has achieved 14 UK No. 1 singles (or 18, depending on the counting methodology) and is the only singer to have had a No. 1 single in the UK in 5 consecutive decades: the 1950s through to the 1990s. In 2008, he celebrated his 50th anniversary in music by releasing a greatest hits album, featuring the new track “Thank You for a Lifetime“, which reached number 3 in the UK singles chart. In November 2013, Richard released his latest album, The Fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll Songbook, which became the 100th album of his career. –wikipedia.

Please enjoy your weekend and leave politics in Malaysia behind. We believe that time is a great equaliser. Najib’s fate is coming. It will be one of a disgrace. He will be remembered in our history as the Prime Minister who blew all opportunities he had to build a united and prosperous Malaysia. –Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Sir Cliff Richard

Bonus: P Ramlee and Saloma

Your Weekend Entertainment– Matt Monro


July 18, 2015

Your Weekend Entertainment by The Mekong

Kamsiah and Din in Phnom Penh2Dr. Kamsiah who is now in Phnom Penh and I are pleased to present Matt Monro as our guest singer for this weekend. This former London Bus driver  was blessed with a golden voice. Here is a short write up about him which we obtained from  Wikipedia.

Matt was born Terence Edward Parsons in Shoreditch, London[1] and attended Duncombe School in Islington, and Elliott School in Putney] Affectionately nicknamed “the singing bus driver” (because one of his many occupations prior to achieving fame was driving the Number 27 bus from Highgate to Teddington),he got his first break in 1956 when he became a featured vocalist with the BBC Show Band. An important influence on his early career was the pianist Winifred Atwell, who became his mentor, provided him with his stage name, and helped him sign with Decca Records.

A Warm Personality with a Fabulous Voice

In 1957 Monro released Blue and Sentimental, a collection of standards. Despite the album’s critical acclaim, Monro languished among the young male singers trying to break through at the end of the 1950s, many of them emulating Frankie Vaughan by recording cover versions of American hits. (Monro even recorded a version of Vaughan’s “Garden of Eden” during this period.) A short recording contract with Fontana Records followed.

Matt MonroBy the end of the 1950s, Monro’s mid-decade fame had evaporated, and he returned to relative obscurity. He and his wife Mickie lived from her wages as a song plugger and his royalties from a TV advertising jingle for Camay soap. In 1959 he recorded a country pastiche song, “Bound for Texas”, for The Chaplin Revue, a feature-length compilation of Charlie Chaplin shorts. It would be the first of many Monro soundtrack themes..

Let us just relax and come back refreshed to witness and read about the political nonsense from Najib and his bunch of goons, all of whom should be put in a special prison for the things they have done to our country. When will UMNO Malays realise they have been bribed into silence.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican in Phnom Penh.

Bonus for My Friends and  Readers in Wonderful Thailand

Another Version –Sabai Sabai (Rock)

Your Weekend Entertainment– Frank Sinatra


July 11, 2015

Your Weekend Entertainment by The Mekong

FCC in Phnom PenhIt is the occasion again to relax  with some swing music this weekend while watching the Wimbledon Women’s Tennis  Finals featuring Sarena Williams who will be making history. When it comes swing and ballads, however, there is no greater voice than that of Francis Albert Sinatra, affectionately known as Ole’ Blue Eyes. Dr. Kamsiah and I are pleased to bring Sinatra back for your listening pleasure this weekend. Let us leave our cares behind us after a very hectic political week in Kuala Lumpur. After all, Hari Raya Puasa is just days away.  All the best.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Bonus

Aid Ooi Eow Jin, Malaysia’s Composer and Musician–Give generously


July 10, 2015

Benefit concert to aid Ooi Eow Jin, Malaysia’s Composer and Musician–Give generously

http://ssquah.blogspot.com/2015/07/charity-concert-in-aid-of-ooi-eow-jin.html

Last month, Jimmy Yeoh, one of my facebook friends, wrote a long passage about a fellow Old Free, Ooi Eow Jin.

People my age may recognise this name instantly. Ooi Eow Jin is a local musician and composer. In his younger days, he was a band leader who led the Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) Orchestra for many years.

I’ve just found out that Eow Jin has finally retired from the local music scene. He is now 85 years old, at an age when most people would have taken life easy, but he had to keep working hard for a reason which I would like to share on my blog.

During his long career, Eow Jin had supported his two sons through their education until both graduated from University. Unfortunately, his second son died after a prolonged battle against leukemia despite his efforts to give his son the best treatment available. Eow Jin, himself showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, continued his career as a resident pianist at the Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur until 30 June when he made his final bow.

I am told that his eldest son is now suffering from a brain tumour. Again, it was with the effort of Eow Jin that the son is still hanging on to life. Eow Jin now lives with his wife and son in a home shared with other unfortunate people.

Jimmy met with Eow Jin and another fellow Old Free, Richard Hoon, and they (Jimmy and Richard) agreed to do their best to help Eow Jin and his family to have a more comfortable life from now on. To achieve this, they proposed to organize at least three charity shows to raise money for Eow Jin. One of the shows is now coming to fruition. I received this appeal letter today with details of the first show which will be in Petaling Jaya:

I wish to call upon my friends, both Old Frees and non-Old Frees, to support this worthy programme to help this outstanding man in his difficult times. Even if you can’t make it to the show, please consider donating some funds. Whatever you give, I’m sure you will receive back the blessings many times over. Thank you. The programme appears below:

Happy Birthday, America: It is the Fourth of July


July 4, 2015

4th of July

It is The Fourth of July for Americans at home and abroad. As a friend of your country and a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington D.C., I ( and my wife Dr. Kamsiah) extend to you our warmest wishes  and congratulations on your country’s birthday.

Once again, thank you for the generosity and consideration you gave me when I was a graduate student Kamsiah and Din4(1968-1970).  During my time at DC some 40+ years  ago–I visited your beautiful city again with my wife in June, 2013 as a guest of former US Ambassodor to Malaysia John R. Mallot–I witnessed you moan the loss of Martin Luther King and Robert Francis Kennedy and agonise over the loss of American lives in Vietnam.

I admired the manner in which you sought to end that bloody and costly war which destabilised South East Asia and brought untold tragedy and genocide to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia where I now live and work at the Techo Sen (Hun Sen) School of Government and International Relations, The University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

The idea of America is best summed up in these words in Latin e pluribus unum–out of many, one.  These words led me to read Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter’s  delightful and educational book, The Idea that is AMERICA: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World.  Maybe by sheer coincidence, I just finished reading it today. Anne-Marie’s book comes to you with my recommendation.

Adlai StevensonStatesman and Presidential Candidate

In the opening of her concluding chapter (pg.215), Anne-Marie quotes my favorite American Statesman, Presidential Candidate and Diplomat, Adlai Stevenson as follows:

When an American says that he loves his country,  he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistenng in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self respect.–Adlai Stevenson

In the opening paragraph of that chapter, Stars to Steer By,  she says in almost Stevensonian fashion, and I quote her: “American patriotism is grounded not only in our love for the values our country stands for–of the idea that is  America, no matter how far short we may fail in practice. It is the idea that knits us together in our vast diversity. It is the idea that our soldiers fought for. It is the idea that all patriotic citizens stand for, even against our own government. And it is an idea that ultimately belongs to all the world’s peoples.”

James Balwin and Msrtin Luther KingJames Baldwin with Dr. King

Grandiose indeed. But inspirational. And yes, the idea is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the United of America. Anne-Marie also quotes my favorite African-American novelist who said: “I love America more than any other country in this world; and, exactly for  this reason. I insist on the right to criticise her perpetually.”(pg.14)

On the occasion of the 239th Anniversary of your freedom from the tyranny of King George III, I have a simple message to the Obama White House, the members of the US Congress and captains of American Industry. Diplomacy is about making friends. Foreign policy is about the pursuit of peace and cooperation and building partnerships founded on mutual respect and trust.

It is time to put an end to the era of regime change initiated by George W. Bush and his neo-conservatives. Make friends, not enemies. The world does not need hegemons, and prophets of war. We need enlightened leaders, not egotists and dictators.

To celebrate the Fourth of July, Dr. Kamsiah and I have to chosen John Denver to entertain us. Mr. Denver,  may God Bless you and thank you for your musical legacy.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican.