gullbuy music review

Steam Kodok


Steam Kodok


Grey Past Records

various artists LP

Steak Kodok LP coverSteam Kodok is an above average collection of 17 "Ultrarities From the 60's Singapore and South-East Asia Underground" (as the subtitle to this collection reads). It might be too diverse for those interested in totally hip sounding 1960s music, but that diversity is actually one of the things which lends this compilation a bit more excitement than the standard ones. The fact there is an excellent set of liner notes and the vinyl is blue colored helps a lot to create a wonderful and educational musical experience.

It's already well known just how pervasive the various 1960s brands of music were thanks to the myriad of compilations delving into the furthest corners of the world. It's always exciting to look, see and hear these foreign brands of rock-n-roll, r&b, pop and psych, and see how they translate and interpret the various sounds of the day.

Steam Kodok worked for me in portraying a highly diverse and exciting scene of 1960s pop music in Singapore (and the surrounding area). Found in this collection are sides from acts like D'4 Ever, Les Kalifas, Mike Ibrahim and the Nite Walkers, Rosnah and The Siglap Five, Kassim Slamat and the Swallows, Ronnie Ong, October Cherries, The Quests, Naomi and The Boys, Ismail Haron and The Guys, The Dynamics and The Antarctics. Don't be afraid by the mysterious names; this compilation rocks with all sorts of fuzzed out/ soul/folk rock/ surf/girl group sounds and some of it is even in English.

For me the compilation was the most exciting when it had some great fuzz, some great girls, or was at it's most bizarre. Mungkir Janji by D'4 Ever mixes The Yard birds' riff from For You Love with a haunting male vocal lead, an upbeat rhythm and some subtle fuzz. Mike Ibrahim and the Nite Walkers have a jazzy upbeat frat rocker in the song Chock Chock Kundong, which I'm sure would inspire Los Samplers. The most bizarre and intriguing moment in the compilation comes from Fox, with a song title in an unprintable language - which has some haunting cat howls throughout the moody, sinister tune. Ronnie Ong's version of Buttons and Bows works quite well, actually (and is sung in English), thanks to some amazing fuzz guitars. The capping moment to side one of the lp, is the tremendous version of Donovan's Barabajagal by October Cherries, one of my favorite fuzzy moments on this collection. Side two of this lp compilation has my all time favorite cut, in Naomi and The Boys' song Bad Loser (a Peter Thomas song!). This song has a wonderful sweet female lead singer (who sings in English) with combination fuzz rock / toy piano sounds backing her up. This song was a nice surprise and made me want to hear more by Naomi and The Boys.

Steam Kodok is a really great collection, opening up a door to a side of music I had never heard before. And like compilations like the ones with the Japanese GS bands, The French Yeye, and the Cambodian Rocks compilations, I found this compilation to be an amazing and exciting listen.

---Patrick, June 17, 2003