VARIOUS ARTISTS – Pop Yeh Yeh: Psychedelic Rock from Singapore and Malaysia: 1964-1970

Album: Pop Yeh Yeh: Psychedelic Rock from Singapore and Malaysia: 1964-1970

Artist: Various Artists

Label: Sublime Frequencies

Release Date: January 22, 2013

Pop Yeh Yeh


Sublime Frequencies: true, that.

 If any label can be said to have drug ‘world music’ out of the ghetto of lowest-common denominator music for pony-tailed baby boomers looking to get jiggy with cute and safe indigenous music, that would be Sublime Frequencies. While they’re only one of several fine labels dedicated to uncovering and releasing music from distant (to us, anyway) corners of the globe, they are perhaps the most dogged, the widest ranging and the most fearless. They are also almost militant in their stance when it comes to releasing music that has much in the way of widespread commercial viability here in the West; with Sublime Frequencies it’s all about the music.

 So, here we have their latest installment: 26 tracks from a mixed and matched bunch of acts, all recorded between 1964 and 1970 in Singapore and around the rest of Malaysia. Not surprisingly, the kids in the Malay peninsula were doing what kids all over the world were doing in the 1960s: taking all the rock, psych, Mersey Beat and soul from America and England and mixing it up with their local and regional music for a potent, localized hybrid. In Malaysia they called it Pop Yeh Yeh, a term that apparently referenced the “Yeah Yeah Yeah” refrain from The Beatles “She Loves You,” which is perfectly fitting seeing as how that song (in tandem with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”) was more or less the shot across the bow heard ‘round the world; a call to arms to the kids of the world the grow their hair, start a band and let it all hang out. Nothing like it has ever come close to the impact, or most likely every will. 

 Painstakingly researched over 8 years by archivist Carl Hamm, Pop Yeh Yeh just bursts with vitality and the head-long rush of the 1960s. You can hear the kids making it up as they go, using the same tools that kids everywhere were using (Vox or Farfisa organ, electric guitars and bass, drums) and of course whatever was local. So, we have super heavy psych from Nur Azilah & Desa Bersaudara, pop psych from A. Halim & DeFictions and Adnan Othman & The Rhythm Boys, fuzzed-out proto punk from M. Said & Les Remaja, poppier numbers from the Fabians Boys, M Osman & Les Fentones and J Sham & The Wanders, a surf pop classic from Azizah  Mohamed & Orkes Nirwana, yodel pop from Zaleha Hamid & Orkes Zindegi and a surf number that Quinten Tarantino would kill for by Fatimah Amin & The Clans. That, and a whole lot more. Most everything is sung in the one of the major Malay dialects, and the playing and production are somewhat uneven but generally excellent, from inspired amateurs to professionals alike. 

 Pop Yeh Yeh includes stupendously comprehensive liner notes covering every possible aspect of  the Western introduction of pop culture, the Malaysian music and film industry and notes on each act,  as well as lots of juicy photos, enough to fill not one but two booklets. The acts are all an incredibly sharp dressed, well turned out lot, and perhaps the skinniest bunch of bands ever collected on a single compilation; did these kids have enough to eat?

 Pop Yeh Yeh is archiving at the peak of the curve, from a label that is defining the curve.

 Sublime Frequencies: true, that.

DOWNLOAD: at will.