Help Xeni's brother get to Malaysia to research and archive psychedelic '60s pop


(IMAGE: From Carl's '60s Malaysian vinyl collection, the cover for "Tonic Chop Gajah," an album of rockin' promotional songs about the benefits of Standard Sasparilla Tonic, a local Malaysian beverage)

My crate-digging brother Carl, aka DJ Carlito, has been collecting Malaysian psychedelic pop vinyl from the 1960s for more than a decade. He buys '45s one or two at a time from eBay sellers in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. You could say he's obsessed.

He has worked to track down the original recording artists in Malaysia to learn more about their lives, their work, and see if it's possible to archive and reissue some of their music. He wants new audiences to discover their supremely groovy vintage mutant jams, and see if there's a way to move some support their way in the process. With all of that in mind, Carl has launched a Kickstarter Project that you can contribute funds to if you are so inclined:

One goal of this project is to release a compilation of some of the most beautiful, soul-stirring music I have ever heard: vintage Malaysian pop from the 60s and 70s. This genre is also often known as Pop Yeh Yeh, a reference to the Beatles lyric "She Loves you (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)."

But what I must do first is find a way to license this music, and the only way to do that is to track down the original artists. So, the other main project goal is to interview the artists (several of whom I already have found contacts and addresses for!!) and others who I'll surely find while i'm there, to share their stories and memories with the world— for use on my radio show, as well as a possible future DVD documentary (from video I'd like to shoot while I'm there).

I'm a DJ on the radio, and in clubs here in the US and Ive learned a lot over the years from researching so many obscure artists. I've also become pretty skilled in finding the rare gems in a stack of old vinyl. I know I've got some gems in this stack of old Malaysian '45s.

• Carl's Kickstarter project link: MALAYSIAN 60s POP RESEARCH TRIP to meet w Artists, request Licensing & Interview them
• Carl's project pitch video on YouTube: here's his Kickstarter video on YouTube.
• Got other advice or ideas? Share them in the comments, or contact him here.

IMAGE GALLERY and VIDEOS from his extensive Malaysian psychedelia collection after the jump.


Carl says, "Not all of these YouTube videos I've selected here are Pop Yeh Yeh. I have included some other Singaporean and Malaysian Pop styles, but these are all "classic artists" and many of them sang "pop yeh yeh" music at one time in the region.

• Video shown above in this blog post was P Ramlee, performing Bunyi Gitar ("Playing Guitar"). An early, western-influenced song by the late great legendary film director, actor and song composer. This song paved the way for the whole Pop Yeh Yeh genre: a rock, surf, soul, "a-go-go" sound that exploded in Singapore and Malaysia in the 60s and continued into the early 70s.

• Saloma (P Ramlee's wife - also an actress): Bulan Bintang Jadi Saksi.


• Here are a few clips from the incredible film A Go Go 67. I would love to see this film in its entirety, but all I've seen are these clips from Suria TV channel broadcast (Singapore TV).

First, The Rythmn [sic] Boys featuring S. Mariam in A-Go-Go 67 (note the spelling of "Rhythmn" -- was always like that on their records so they meant to do that). Here is S. Mariam 30-40 years later: Hilang Kekasih.

The Mods with singer Wan Intan, performing Penyakit Cinta.

Siti Zaiton and The Hornets performing the song Alam Seni.

M Ishak and The Young Lovers in the film A-Go-Go-67, doing the song Menari Go Go.

Sepuloh Budak Hitam by Aziz Jaafar & Puan Sri Saloma.

• Sharifah Ani, who sang in a 70s disco ballad style. She was also singing in the late 60s. This style was what came after Pop Yeh Yeh (Disco killed everything, didn't it?) Yang Di Tunggu Tak Tiba

• Footage from a 90s Pop Yeh Yeh "Nostalgia" concert: Roziah Latif doing Cinta Pertama (you can see the words "Pop Yeh Yeh" on the stage set up front

Here's Zaleha Hamid, a big star in the 60s and 70s. Zaleha made a comeback with here song Dangdut Bang (which caused controversy for its suggestive lyrics) and also Dangdut Reggae. Here she is doing a more traditional style song - 40 years later still singing.

• This was a big hit: Chinchin Emas, by A Rahman Onn. A very popular pop yeh yeh artist. He's still performing these days, also.

• Adnan Othman -- he was sort of a rebel rocker -- more freaky psych sounding stuff. Here is one song, and here's another version -- a newer photo of him -- also a better recording.

• M Osman -- here's one great track. You can see this EP in my Kickstarter pitch video lying on the table to the right.

• And finally for this mix-list, Mi Ishak and the Young Lovers.



(Images in this post were scanned by Carl from his Pop Yeh Yeh album collection.)


  1. Well, I was going to suggest searching for this artists on youtube, then on the web, but I think he already did this. I was born in 1979, but I love 60s and 70s rock and pop music, wow, If I could travel in time I would go to all the Beatles live concerts (and recorded them in HiFi audio and video).

  2. I first heard this genre on the Swami Sound System on 94.9 in San Diego on Saturday evenings. Great stuff! Very cool to see the vids.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this Xeni.. so incredibly cool of you to do that. Even if this Kickstarter project doesnt fly.. I’ll find a way somehow to get there in July — i have to meet these folks while i have the invitation — looking into courier flights as well ; )

  4. Malaysian pop is the new Bollywood pop. Looking at the P Ramlee “Bunny Gitar” video and thinking that the fez and sunglasses look needs to make a comeback.

  5. I know that in 2003, Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) commissioned a six-part series documentary for television on the Singapore music scene from the 1960s to the present day, entitled Jammin’.

    Also, you can find more Malay Pop Yeh Yeh at Garage Hangover – and my site – Radiodiffusion Internasionaal –

    1. WOW Thanks Stuart.. I would definitely like to see that documentary.. and im sure the Malaysian Development Authority would be a good place for me to reach out to either from here, or when i get there. thanks for the tip! I really like your website too

      1. I have the contact info on how to get a copy of the documentary.

        Also, have you thought to contact Joseph C. Pereira? He wrote a book called Legends of the Golden Venus.

        1. Oh great! thank you.. I’ll email you through your website. and yes! J. Pereira has been a wonderful connection – i plan on meeting him there. that’s a great book too!

  6. I am a digger that is currently in exile in Singapore. It is worth spending a day or two here. There are still a few vinyl stores, mostly clustered around the Adelphi, a weird 70s/80s mall right in the centre of town that specializes in audiophile pursuits and ‘massage’ centers.

    There is a serious lack of 70s and early 80s Western artists on second hand vinyl outside of the soft rock genre. There are interesting Japanese pressings galore though.

    There is a weekend only record store in an industrial area here in Singapore that has tens of thousands of Chinese, Malay, Tamil and Western records. Your Singapore contacts should know of it (I know, I know, but I want to check it out before telling the world).

    1. Oh cool.. that sounds like just the place for me.. I’ll ask around when i get there.. thanks for the clue! Im glad you didnt mention the exact location either.. i prefer the challenge and secret spots should remain secret! :P

  7. If im not mistaken, Malaysia’s National Carrier, MAS, holds a MATTA fair where the plane tickets are on the cheap, but ti think the next one is in September, as they held one earlier. Also, we have AirAsia X, so you might want to figure out a way to go somewhere where it cheap to fly and there’s AirAsiaX… and uh… I can take pictures and document it for you if you like?

    1. great to hear other travel scenarios like this from an expert.. thanks! AirAsia X.. So i could fly into another location and reduce the ticket price right? I appreciate the photo offer too but i think i might already have a friend to help! thanks though!

  8. I think this is a totally noble pursuit. Stuff like this is getting harder and harder to find as it seems that most barrels of even the most out-there music have had their bottoms duly scraped.

    I’m sure your brother is aware of the Sublime Frequencies label, run by Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls and Hisham Mayet. They have compiled about 50 CDs of music from around the world. I own several, and though they have several Asian collections, I don’t think they’ve got anything specifically from Malaysia. Perhaps he could get in touch with them and pick their brains.

    He also may want to get in touch with Mahssa Taghinia at Other Music who compiled the wonderful Persian psych collection Pomegranates on Finders Keepers/B-Music.

    Since I’ve given up on political contributions doing any good in the world, I’ll gladly kick a few bucks his way. If I were independently wealthy, this is exactly the kind of thing I’d do. Good luck to him.

    1. Ah so you’ve found the mothership.. yup, that site is compeletely dedicated to Pop Yeh Yeh 45 rips.. ive been sort of not telling people about that one.. lol. this CD i’m making will hopefully be better quality sound and artwork, and hopefully also licensed.

  9. Great article on Malaysian pop yeh yeh. Well, I’m from Malaysia, and lotsa vintage vinyl can be found at flea market around Kuala Lumpur. Buzz me, if you need any specific one.

    1. @ Anon, thank you that helps alot!
      I will definitely make it a priority to contact the Artist Association and Cultural Ministry for assistance with this (that was also suggested by one of the contacts will meet when i get there who i think is a member of both)

      Right! Sublime Frequencies!

      Alan and the whole group have been an inspiration from the start.. a really great label! check out their new releases coming out soon (i got the inside scoop on some of them and they’re gonna be really amazing!)

  10. @ milx, glad you saw this – Malay 60s music is amazing, i know i’ll learn much more after visiting.

    to everyone who has offered to help me find vinyl.. thats really nice of you and i appreciate it alot, but thats not really the primary focus of this trip – the main objective is to contact artists who are still around who may be willing to tell their stories, and also ask their permission to use the music on a cd.

  11. I live in Indonesia in the winter and I am frequently finding these recordings in the second hand shops. I love the covers as well as the music.
    I should add the english translation in the P Ramlee video are way off mark

  12. Well….poop. For some reason, (maybe because of the links?) it took 3 hours for my post to come through.

    Had I bothered to go to Carlito’s blog instead of watching all the videos, I would have seen he’s already hooked up with Sublime Frequencies, which seems to me the most logical fit. I’ve been a fan of the Sun City Girls for longer than I can remember and the world music they’ve collected over the years is groovy.

  13. Great!! If you guys are a fan of foreign surf/psychedelic/60s stuff, another great source I’ve found has been Thailand’s WONG SHADOW music, based off the sound style of bands like the Shadows, Japanese eleki (electric) style, with guitarists like Tekachi Terauchi ripping it up (he plays a mean surf guitar, and incorporates the “wah-wah-wah-wah” sliding playing style of a shamisen, check out Tsugaru Jongara Bushi), the Peruvian compilation “The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru”, and the EP “Guitar Moods” with more international surf style guitar. I play a Farfisa organ in a surf band and eat this stuff up :3

  14. Also: for more modern wacky surf stuff with a psychobilly tinge, cant recommend enough the Russian band Messer Chups, especially the album Crazy Price

  15. There’s a weekend flea market with loads of stalls selling old vinyls from Malaysia and from old international acts in the city Petaling Jaya in the state of Selangor(bout 20 minutes from central Kuala Lumpur),but on other days,the shop Joe’s is open at that mall which also carries old vinyls and stuff.Mall’s called amcorp mall and its famous here in Malaysia for vintage shopping.

    Look up the Krautrock band ‘Can’ from Germany who once had a Malaysian frontman in the 60s or 70s for awhile after Damo Suzuki left,or was it Malcolm Mooney i cant remember.His name is Thaiga Raj Raja Ratnam,i’ve always asked his name around to old record store owners because i personally would like to interview him but really i still have no idea.

    anyway now is a good time for this project because bands are sprouting up like mushrooms in the malaysian scene,and of all these bands,there is one musician who is trying to renew the malaysian sound by reviving its roots.I really think he could be a great source for comparative insight on music then and now in malaysia.he’s a learned berklee graduate and has been in the malaysian rock scene for more than 15 years i think.

    as for myself,i would gladly show u around,perhaps take u to amcorp a musician myself and am in a band.could take u to gigs and such.


  16. My wife’s family were in a lot of the Singaporean Malay movies from this era. I’m pretty sure my mother in law would know half these people.

    1. Anon #35, thanks for your comment! wow if you think your mother in law might still have contact info with some of the 60s artists there, please get in touch with me through my kickstarter project and leave me a message so i can reach you!

  17. Kickstarter?

    Not again.

    I would pledge something, but for some reason the rest of the net can accomodate PayPal, Google Checkout or any other payment service with *global* reach (it is the Internet damit) except Kickstarter.

    1. funny, yeah i realize this setup might not be ideal for everyone (or the most direct) i guess at some point if my project doesnt meet the goal Ive set… i’ll have to consider alternatives (i have a paypal account and a website of my own, and im also taking on a several wedding gigs in the next two months outside my 9-5) – however, Kickstarter provides some semblance of legitimacy, allows people to easily keep up with the project’s progress, and lets me offer rewards to backers in an organized way.. so there you go. call me predictable, but i decided to give it a try.

  18. Looks cool. I had no idea of a Malaysian pop scene of the 60’s. Checking out your blog, YouTube and MySpace now. You’ll make it! Three weeks there will be quite the hustle, though.

  19. If any of you are in Penang, there’s a street market every weekend called ‘Lorong Kulit’, or ‘Rope Walk’. Its far off from the touristy spots of Gurney Drive & Feringghi Beach. I’ve rarely seen tourists there, except for the ‘backpacker’ types…

    A few stalls have a large catalog of LPs from the late 60s-early 70s for sale. Not sure about the price, but if you’re buying lots, the guy can be persuaded to give you a good deal.

  20. I agree with Anon #33.

    Amcorp Mall in Petaling Jaya, near the capital city is a good place to find old vinyl. The fleamarket sellers on weekends are mostly old timers and if you ask around, perhaps they might be able to give some pointers.

    In Ipoh, 2 hours up north from Kuala Lumpur there’s also a fleamarket on Sunday morning called Lokin. Old timers selling antiques at a very very cheap price and I’ve seen them with many many boxes of old vinyls.

    I’ve posted this link up on my Facebook and will update you on anything that might be of help. It’s great to know that they are people who appreciate this music. Most young people my age here in Malaysia see this genre as a joke, though hardly ever really sit down and listen to it proper.

    Take care!

  21. ok. i’m hooked. but i’m broke.

    i grew up in this era (born 1956), and i’ve always loved the garage/psychedelic sound — never heard it malaysian-style before, but it’s great!

    i’ve also been researching obscure stuff for most of my life, mostly independently, but there was a time in a galaxy far away (the carter administration) when i got funded by the national endowment for the humanities. have you tried for any government grant money?

  22. The clip “Sepuloh Budak Hitam” (Ten Little Boys) has vocals by Aziz Jaafar & Puan Sri Saloma. But the performance (from a movie) is by Aziz Jaafar and Noor Azizah.

  23. hey i just got back from the studio and a friend of mine who’s an engineer was recording A.Rahman Hassan last night.He’s still playing pop yeh yeh stuff.we were joking about A.Rahman Hassan and his band Orkes Nirwana being Kurt Cobain’s he’s got a song titled ‘Tak Mengapa’,which translated,is Nevermind.

    anyways,i thought its very timely that i heard from my friend about him recording a.rahman hassan,i just read this blog post a few days ago.

    So you must come man!Would definitely hook you up with a meeting or his contact.


    1. Hey Anon • #44 !! thats a really hilarious coincidence.. so he thought of nevermind first huh. haha.. wow.. so A Rahman Hassan is still recording? then how do i get in touch with you when i get there? please contact me through the kickstarter page or youtube or myspace —

  24. Before I read this, I didn’t know Malaysian pop music from the 60’s existed.

    I was hesitant to listen, because I’ve always been dubious of any Asian efforts to co-opt Western music. I mean, have you heard some of the crap that comes out of Japan? You probably have some of it on your turntable right now actually.

    Still, I wanted to critique this music, because it’s just sitting there begging to be flamed. So I gave it a listen.

    It’s absolutely as lame as I thought it would be. That’s all I can justify saying. Verbal details would be superfluous to anyone after even the most cursory hearing. And the links are right here, so obviously the music speaks for itself.

    Nonetheless I wish you well in your pursuit. You’ve certainly found a rare niche and a lost era of…something.

    1. hey, i can respect your perspective… however, in my opinion there’s a truly unique mix of sounds and cultural influences in this 60s malaysian pop music (not just “co-opted” western, but influences from Arabic music, Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian — as well as their own local styles- which are so beautiful and unique) I was drawn to it not because it was a bad knock off of western music, but something all its own.. electrified folk music maybe?.. i also feel that way about some of the more “western” sounding stuff ive heard from various countries.. a cover version is a cover version and nothing more.. so thats why i dug deeper..and eventually got hooked on this stuff. also, many of the artists pretty much dropped the “a go go style” later in the 60s and began to incorporate more of the local Malaysian styles into the pop sound again.. sometimes called “Asli” there’s alot to discover in this music if you give it some time to grow on you.. pls consider giving the cd a try when it comes out ! either way thanks for being honest ;)

  25. It’s interesting, as the music from SE Asia is much unknown despite its great quality.

    However it is Malay, not Malaysian: most of the bands came from Singapore at the time. Nowadays Malaysian singers/bands copy the Indonesian pop music.

    Western Union Band (just the name is funny), Stand by me:

  26. A couple of things:

    AirAsia / AirAsiaX. It’s been mentioned a couple of times before and I think it’s a great idea for a low cost flight into and out of the Singapore / Malaysia region. Their CEO is Tony Fernandes. Write to him about your project. See if he’ll be willing to sponsor a ticket or two. No harm trying, yes?

    The National Museum of Singapore has a permanent exhibit currently running which showcases old movies and movie theme songs, including some by P.Ramlee. *Someone* has done the research. Maybe you could get in touch with the museum people. The exhibit link is here:

  27. you might find this site useful too, or at least, the owner Mack, if you don’t know him already….

    good luck – great project. Endorse the Air Asia idea – they sponsor all sorts of things….

  28. amazing post. P.Ramlee and Saloma are Malaysian’s equivalent of Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto of the Latin Jazz circles. both are about the same era and both produced great music (check out P.Ramlee’s amazing jazz ballad compositions and his movies), but Getz is better documented and received better publicity. seeing someone like you trying to archive it is a great relieve for us P.Ramlee and 30s-70s Malaysian music fans. most of us are into collecting records and personal archivings, but serious large-scale documentations are never really done that could do proper justice for these music and publicize it globally.

  29. Well, as a young Singapore Malay, I’m not exactly a big fan of Pop Yeh Yeh myself. Fact is, I roll my eyes everytime I hear that term. But, in the interest of knowledge, I do support this, even if I’m not really fond of your taste in music. :D

    Though, it must be said, P. Ramlee was an absolute legend, and one of my idols. Hell, I think he’s right up there with Chaplin as a comedian. He’s the exception to the rule.

    Just stay away from Dangdut. Indonesian Disco, basically. Stay far, far away.

  30. So, you’re the guy who bought all those 45s on ebay? I keep thinking that it’s crazy that someone is collecting all these vinyl and no one is doing anything about it. I’m a broke local or I’d probably bought the whole crates of them everytime I see them

    Some key people are Aziz Sattar (he’s P Ramlee’s best friend and sidekick in most of his movies). I just saw him the other day during a wedding. He’s probably the coolest guy I know.

    You should really keep in touch with the holder of biggest library of music in Malaysia, RTM – Radio Television Malaysia. The orchestra leader, Mokhzani Ismail is on Facebook.

    Oh, the translation on the video is CRAP.

  31. Pop-Yeh-Yeh genre is still very alive in Malaysia. Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) is the only radio and TV station which promote Pop-Yeh-Yeh actively.

  32. I know nothing of Malay pop, so thanks for these video links!

    But there is some music which I like which has some roots in Malay culture, specifically that of the Semelai people:

    These people use the splashing sound of water to make music, and a recording of it inspired the avant-garde trumpeter Jon Hassell to release this album (recorded in Canada)in 1981:

    And here’s a cut therefrom:

    Sadly, I cannot find a web link for the cut “Malaya” , which contains the “water music” sample, nor for Kilton Stewart’s original field recordings of that music.

Comments are closed.