My brother produced a '60s Malaysian psych-garage rock tribute to Adnan Othman, and you must hear it

Carl Hamm. Photo: Samuel Dixon

THE TL;DR:Bershukor: A Retrospective of Hits by a Malaysian Pop Yeh Yeh Legend” is a new vinyl collection of Adnan Othman's sixties psychedelic rock that was curated and produced by my brother, and released on Sublime Frequencies. In the 1960s, British and American rock was blowing the minds of young Malaysian teens. They listened to radio hits by Cliff Richard and the Shadows, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones, and a generation of Malaysian musicians transformed what they heard into a new form of Asian rock and roll that was entirely new of their own. The new genre became known as Pop Yeh Yeh, derived from the Beatles lyric, “She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah).” Berkushor, which means “gratitude” in Adnan's native language, will take you there. It's on Amazon, on forcedexposure, and good ole record stores. If they don't have it in your local vinyl shop, tell them to order it. Sound samples here.

“Bershukor: A Retrospective of Hits by a Malaysian Pop Yeh Yeh Legend Adnan Othman” [Sublime Frequencies]

“Bershukor: A Retrospective of Hits by a Malaysian Pop Yeh Yeh Legend Adnan Othman” [Sublime Frequencies]

Adnan Othman, on the cover of one of his original releases.

Adnan Othman, on the cover of one of his original releases.

THE LONGER VERSION:

From the “Bershukor” release notes:

The legendary Adnan Othman has long been a driving force in the Malaysian rock scene. As early as the 1960s his groundbreaking songs in the style known as "pop yeh yeh" (rock and roll sung in Malay) were attracting fans across Malaysia and Singapore. He has since gained many fans around the globe due to a renewed interest in rock music from Southeast Asia. Othman made his first recordings in Singapore in the early 1960s, when he was invited to record with highly popular backing band The Rhythm Boys. He produced innovative psychedelic rock well into the 1970s and continued to evolve as a musician and composer throughout his exciting career, but always stayed true to his rock and roll roots, even when many other artists were turning toward more predictable disco influences. Each track on this album, drawn from all eight of Othman's solo EPs and ranging from 1968-1971, reveals a different side of his personality. His forceful, gritty, and emotional lyrics and vocals are backed by such memorable pop yeh yeh bands as The Rhythm Boys, The Wanderers, The Flamingoes, and The Falcons. This impressive collection includes rare photos from the artist's own collection and a detailed biography co-written by Othman himself. This is a rare and personal insight into the life of one of Singapore and Malaysia's most beloved pop yeh yeh legends, revealing the humble, generous, down-to-earth man behind the spotlight. It is clear that Adnan Othman cares deeply about preserving the legacy of his fellow pop yeh yeh musicians; he devoted considerable time and energy helping to develop the previous Malaysian rock-focused release on Sublime Frequencies, Pop Yeh Yeh - Psychedelic Rock from Singapore and Malaysia 1964-1970: Vol. 1 (2013). Again, for this album, he patiently answered the label's many questions about his life as a musician and artist, lending Bershukor his unique perspective; the label's indebtedness to Othman is reflected in the album's title, which translates to "gratitude." The 26 unforgettable tracks on these two records are soulful, electrifying, and beautiful. To the many fans of '60s Asian rock and roll around the world who have been waiting for an album dedicated solely to the music of Adnan Othman, here it is. Compiled by Carl Hamm (Pop Yeh Yeh - Psychedelic Rock from Singapore and Malaysia 1964-1970). Presented in gorgeous gatefold sleeve with full-size eight-page color booklet of text and photographs.

Carl Hamm [L] and Adnan Othman [R]. Photo: Carl Hamm.

Carl Hamm [L] and Adnan Othman [R]. Photo: Carl Hamm.

For my brother Carl Hamm and I, being a super passionate fan of great (sometimes obscure!) art is in our blood, our DNA, our brains, and our family history. Our mom and dad were artists, and came from families in which intense curiosity for art and exploration thrived. Illustrators. Amateur astronomers. Housewives who dreamed of being physicists. Our dad was an extreme Star Trek fan: he recorded every single episode of the original series on the exciting new home taping technology called the cassette player. My brother and I grew up in a home where love for exotic vinyl and cherishing far-out musical experiences was a thing.

I found my way to Boing Boing. Carl found his way to a life centered around musical exploration. He's a radio deejay on the awesome independent radio station WRIR in Richmond Virginia, and the go-to guy for Bollywood weddings in South Asian diaspora communities along the American southeast (serious).

Malaysian Pop Yeh Yeh diva Zaleha Hamid

Malaysian Pop Yeh Yeh diva Zaleha Hamid

Carl fell in love with South Asian popular music when I moved away from home and he inherited my Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Smithsonian Folkways vinyl, along with my groove-worn punk rock '45s. Carl went deep into Asian popular music amd has achieved super-otaku status. My brother possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of rare Asian grooves from the 20th and 21st centuries. But none is closer to his heart than “Pop Yeh Yeh,” the Malaysian psychedelic rock movement that exploded throughout the culturally conservative, predominantly Muslim island nation in the late '60s and early '70s.

He's been at this for years, and (lol this is gonna embarass him, but i gotta type it) he's widely loved in Malaysia as someone whose deep respect for this great indigenous pop art form helped Malaysia appreciate its own music history, and appreciate its own living Pop Yeh Yeh legends -- many of whom are elders of advanced age, and contending with difficulties after many years of no income from their phenomenal art.

Carl's latest effort focused on the archives of Adnan Othman is out today, and your support of the project by purchasing a copy will go to help the elder musician himself. “Bershukor” is a look back through the career of a living legend. Mr. Othman has become our family's greatly respected Malaysian rock star uncle, and we extend our love and honor to him today.

There's a great interview with Carl here [MP3] about his epic friendship with Adnan Othman. The segment about Adnan is in the last 20 min.

Two new interviews with Carl on his long-running Pop Yeh Yeh archival projects: Style Weekly, and RVA Mag.

For more on Pop Yeh-Yeh, visit Carl’s archival blog, at menarigogo.blogspot.com.

PS: I'm so proud of you, bro! This record is amazing!

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