I’m going to be out of town for the next two and a half weeks – here.
And, no, it’s not a prison but part of a university kampus.
I have invited a few friends to contribute compilations to prevent a hiatus, and these have been pre-scheduled, so do return to see what delights they offer. In the meantime, as I will be teaching teachers I figured a few tracks about schooling (rather than education) seemed appropriate.
Flower power, peace and love, hippies, drugs … yep, that is the media image of London in 1967.
And I was there, but on the periphery because I’d just started my teaching career! I’d been taught that our role was to set our students, and mine were aged 9/10, on the path to becoming members of society. But I needed to examine myself, and those kids taught me a lot.
Most of them lived in a flat in six storey high housing on a nearby council estate, and I still remember some of them. There was Charlie whose father was a recidivist: “My dad’s got a new car; he’s painting it.”
Every Xmas Charlie’s dad gave we teachers a present: as a delivery driver he had loads of goodies behind him. I recall a fancy box of chocolates one year, but when in 1969 we heard that he was a driver for CBS Records, we eagerly anticipated his arrival. Sadly, he got sent down for six months shortly before.
By then I was more in tune with what the Summer of Love had represented, if only in terms of the music. I’d gone to gigs, met various members of the ‘Canterbury Scene’ (Soft Machine, Caravan +), listened to Pink Floyd and the electric Miles Davis, turned on, tuned in, but hadn’t (yet) dropped out.
The radio was still a source of listening pleasure; the pirate stations in the North Sea were gone, but John Peel was on BBC Radio 1, while ‘pop’ singers and ‘beat’ groups continued to turn out singalong hits.
Most tracks are listed in the UK Top 100 hits in 1967. However, I’ve included a few tracks which have a personal relevance. The Bonzos were in the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, while Simon Dupree and the Big Sound were a ‘local’ band when I was at uni, and were very popular at our Student Union organised gigs. Later they had a massive hit with Kites, and the Shulman brothers were to join the prog-rock scene and form the still fondly remembered Gentle Giant.
The last track in my compilation was only recently discovered: it’s a cover of the first single released in February by the Soft Machine, with Robert Wyatt on lead vocals. Neither versions were hits, but those tracks that were have mostly stood the test of time.
Addendum. As much as I love Marmite, I am not amused by their current advertising campaign which purports to be “inspired by Woodstock and the summer of love in 1967” that references the British spread’s “characteristically divisive personality: Love it or Hate it.“
Indonesia’s music scene is now amazingly diverse, and not just a reflection of the varied environment, both geological and botanical. From the flood plains of northern Java, to the forested, mountainous tropical hinterlands of the larger islands, the arid east, and the islands of the Mollucas, home of the spices which brought foreign traders, travelling with the trade winds, the Europeans, Chinese, Arabs and Indians, brought their different religions, cuisines, farming and fishing practices to pour into the melting pot that is the largest archipelago in the world.
And their instruments came with them and were adapted with bamboo, woods and metals. Examples include the kroncong, similar to a ukelele, rebab, a one-stringed bowed instrument, gambang, a wooden xylophone, kecapi, Sundanese zither, and suling, a bamboo flute.
Until the Japanese invasion in 1942, western music was largely enjoyed by the Dutch, and from from 1920 a healthy jazz scene(pdf) had developed which stretched from north Sumatra to Sumbawa.
The Japanese occupation and subsequent war against the Dutch who imposed a blockade largely isolated the nascent country from foreign influences. There is an unconfirmed suggestion that there was a jazz group in Yogyakarta c.1948 when it was Soekarno’s temporary seat of government. In the austere post-Independence years, Soekarno viewed popular Western music as decadent and as tainting the revolutionary spirit: nationalism was key.
The years spent incommunicado from the rest of the world meant that the bebop revolution had passed by unheard by local jazz musicians. Seeking an outlet for their muse, they often added Hawaiian and Latin flavours when accompanying singers.
As might be expected, the mostly urban generation who had taken little or no part in the march to independence and had grown up with dogma and austerity sought an outlet for their innate rebelliousness. Elvis Presley and the Beatles offered the needed illicit excitement. And much like parents the world over who criticise their offspring by reminding them of the struggles they had undergone “for the likes of you”, Sukarno issued edicts banning the “decadent” music forms in the name of nationalism, and his soldiers were allowed to cut the hair of youths with Beatles fringes. However, singers such as Lilies Soerjani and Bing ‘Crosby’ Slamet were known for being close to the President, and they performed pop music with Western instruments and modern taste.
Sidenote 1: Punks in Aceh suffered similar treatment just six years ago.* Sidenote 2: The Beatles (and Cliff Richard!) were also banned in Israel because of the fear that “from the west would come a bad wind of sex, alcohol and rock’n’roll.” Sidenote 3: In 1965, children of Kostrad soldiers, Indonesia’s elite fighting force then headed by Suharto, made an album which included ‘Girl’, a song on the Beatles album Rubber Soul. Download the album from here.
When Suharto took the presidency in 1966, Indonesia courted western capital flows, such as from Freeport, to pay off the debts accumulated by Soekarno. This also opened the floodgates for western popular music.
In 1967, the ballad singer Bob Tutupoly, released an album of very cheesy songs in English which strangely featured a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Stone Free.
Perhaps that was the track which heightened interest in western, and mainly British, ‘progressive’ music. Many current ‘senior’ musicians cite the record collections of their fathers as inspiration for their own paths, The late, and sadly missed, Riza Arshad told me that in 1975 when he joined his brother Luke’s band art/rock band Rara Ragadi, groups such as Yes, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, the Who, and, of course, the Beatles were his major influences.
In a 2014 interview for Vintage Guitar magazine, Dewa Budjana said that jazz-rock fusion and progressive rock were his basic and main influences, “I am very into John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, and Gentle Giant, and I like Steve Howe from Yes a lot.“
The seventies in Indonesia saw little jazz of note; what was needed was entertainment and rock and prog-rock provided that. Bands with long-haired musicians playing loud music was more appealing than cerebral grooves which can’t be sung along with.
Indonesia’s prog-rock scene of the 70s was the cultural coming of age for the post war generation here as it was in the UK, the USA, Europe and other less-isolated countries. It is good that international attention is now being paid to it, in part thanks to the 2011 compilation Those Shocking Shaking Days – Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk: 1970-1978.
1970.Shark Move – My Life Benny Soebardjawrote and sang this. A suling opens this almost pastoral track before it rocks on. 1971.Harry Roesli Gang – Don’t Talk About Freedom Musician and social activism were at the core of Roesli’s short life. 1972.God Spell – Pusara From a never released promo for radio. 1973.Ariesta Birawa Group – Pergi Pacaran
fr. Pop Matters
“The news media can sometimes make Indonesia look like a sea of anonymous fundamentalists planning to strap bombs to their chests and commit suicide around tourists, but when you’re with Ariesta Birawa Group it’s all peace, paisley, and devoted lovers holding hands and celebrating “the song we make every day.” 1974. Ivo’s Group – Sampai Hatimu Ivo Nilakreshna’s Group 1975. God Bless – Friday On My Mind Still going today, founded by Ahmad Albar, more rock than prog 1976.Jack Lesmana All Stars – Silence for the Buffalo This track is a live recording converted from a YouTube, w. Jack Lesmana (gtr), Bubi Chen (keys), Benny Mustafa (dr), members of Indonesian All Stars who, with Tony Scott, recorded the seminal jazz album Djanger Bali in ’67. 1977.Giant Step – Mekar w. Benny Soebardja, voc. gtr,, “Godfather of Indonesian prog-rock”, founder of Shark Move (#1 above), and Triawan Munaf, keys, now head of the so-called Creative Economy Agency 1978.Abbhama – Indonesia
“The talented keyboardist Iwan Madjid was clearly influenced by Yes, Genesis, ELP and all the Symphonic icons.” 1979. Harry Sabar Friends – Kemarin Dan Hari Ini The line up included the Nasution brothers who were in the band Gypsy on the seminal album Guruh Gypsy, downloadable fromhere (courtesy of Keenan Nasution). Debby Nasution is on the new Benny Soebardja’s Giant Step album, Life’s Not The Same.
‘Bonus‘: fr. 1979. Black Brothers – Saman Doye Black Brothers was a well-known group from Jayapura, West Papua. Their music, sung in Indonesian and Tok Pisin, included influences from reggae and political elements inspired by the Black Power movement. The group went into voluntary exile in Vanuatu in 1979, protesting Indonesian policies in West Papua. They later moved to Papua New Guinea and were .the most popular musical group during the 1980s.
Erwin GutawaOrchestra in 2011
a) Menjilat Matahari by God Bless 0:00 b) Geger Gelgel by Guruh Gypsy 1:35 c) Chopin Larung by Guruh Gypsy 3:00 d) Janger 1897 Saka by Guruh Gypsy 5:02 e) Indonesia Mahardhikka by Guruh Gypsy 5:51
If you can find any 70s Indonesian prog-rock albums in mint condition, be prepared to pay a lot.
So that’s another homecoming nearly over, and it’s time to return to the routines of commuting to the clock in, clock out workplace in the daily rush hour – what an inappropriate name – of macet (traffic jams) in order to save enough for next year’s mudik
Today’s compilation is for all who are letting the trains take the strain this weekend.
“The Official Website” thinks that John Lee Hooker (JLH) was born in 1917. Wikipedia, with some research links in the footnotes, says that he was born in 1912. Both agree that he died on June 21st in 2001.
Although today is the 16th anniversary of his passing, whenever, whatever, no excuse is needed to offer a compilation of his music, some by him, some by those he inspired, and some with those he inspired.
That song’s history goes back to the 20s and 30s with blues singers such as Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Leadbetter, Tampa Red, and Charley Patton recording variants, as did Lightnin’ Hopkins in 1947. The Muddy Waters’ Chicago blues version first released on Chess records in 1953 infiltrated the music awareness of British teenagers as they gradually got fed up with the British ‘cloned’ rock ‘n’ rollers with names changed to reflect their supposed anti-social status: Fury, Steele, Storm, Power et al.
Personal note: my Sunday School teacher cried all through Sunday morning service: she’d been ‘jilted’ by Reg Smith, aka Marty Wilde.
In the late 1950s and early 1960sChris Barber was largely responsible for arranging the first UK tours of blues artists Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and Sonny Boy Williamson (the 2nd). This, with the encouragement of local enthusiasts such as Alexis Korner and John Mayall, sparked young musicians such as Peter Green, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. It was rhythm and blues which powered the British invasion of the USA charts in the 1960s.
The Belfast group Them, fronted by the then 19-year-old Van Morrison, recorded Baby Please Don’t Go in 1964, and the groups’ (mimed) appearance on TV shows such as Top Of The Pops (video ) captured the imagination of the British generation just getting used to beat groups because it was raw and loud. Van Morrison had heard and felt “something really unique and different [with] more soul” about John Lee Hooker’s version on the 1959 album Highway of Blues. (He’d first recorded the song in 1949.)
And, yes, although I’m not a musician, Them’s hit single lead me down a path of music exploration I often return to.
01. John Lee Hooker – Please Don’t Go (1949) 02. Them – Baby Please Don’t Go (1964) 03. The Amboy Dukes – Baby Please Don’t Go (1968 – USA) 04. Baptism of Uzi – Baby Please Don’t Go (2012 – Aus) 05. John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom 06. Alan Price – Boom Boom (ex-Animals) 07. Long John Baldry – Dimples 08. John Lee Hooker – House Rent Boogie 09. John Lee Hooker & Bonnie Raitt – I’m In The Mood 10. John Lee Hooker & Ry Cooder – Crawling King Snake 11. Ry Cooder – John Lee Hooker For President 12. Hugo Race & Michelangelo Russo – Hobo Blues (2017 – Aus)
It’s very quiet around Jakartass Towers at the moment, and that’s unusual for a Tuesday. However, next Sunday is Hari Raya Idul Fitri, the day which celebrates the end of Ramadhan, the Muslim fasting month. That means that the mass exodus from Jakarta known as mudik, and pulang kampung (going home), which happens every year, has already started.
Of the over 10 million residents of Jakarta, not including the wider built up area of satellite cities known collectively as Jabodetabek with some 20 million residents, many of whom commute daily into Jakarta, the majority are from elsewhere in the archipelago.
There is an official week’s holiday allowing folk to return to their home towns and villages, a tradition some save up all year for so they can reconnect with the families and friends perhaps unseen since the previous year. Presents are handed out, children are given crisp bank notes, and a lot of mum’s home cooking is enjoyed.
Non-Muslims may well take the opportunity to take holidays too, and every year it is advisable to book trains and boats and planes up to three months in advance. Some workers may be able to use the free transport laid on by companies and local authorities, although it seems that the family motorcycle is the most popular conveyance. But whatever the means of transport, the roads are hell.
My compilation is about the anticipation, the journey and the final homecoming.