While there have always been labels that sought to release "lost" music from across the globe to Western audiences -- and thankfully, there are now more than ever -- Seattle's Sublime Frequencies has always played a special role. From the very beginning, the label dug deep into the music of the Middle and Far East, revealing everything from indigenous folk traditions to pop music -- including entire volumes of radio broadcasts. Pop Yeh Yeh focuses on the emerging teen rock & roll as its entered Singapore and Malaysia following the British Invasion in 1964, through the psychedelic era from 1967-1970. This package includes a single disc comprised of 26 tracks that range from under two minutes in length to a little over three. There are two booklets loaded with historical notes by compiler/producer Carl M. Hamm, lyric translations, and rare photos. The liner essays are not mere academic treatises but colorful histories on bands, record labels, and songs and culture. As usual, SF doesn't skimp on musical quality. Check the early Kinks/Yardbirds-styled Brit R&B rave-up of Adnan Othman & the Rhythm Boys in "Budi Bhasa," the reverb-drenched "Dara," by M. Osman & the Fentones, which combines Malay folk forms with teen idle croon and surf guitar intensity, "Nelayan Bersampan" by Zahela Hamid & the Black Cats fronted by a female singer, channeling both Phil Spector's girl groups, Dick Dale's guitar fury, and traditional Malay melody. The psych aspects can be felt heavily in tracks such as "Kembali Lagi," by A. Halim & De'Fictions with its guitar and Farfisa freakouts, or Zaleha Hamid & Orkes Zindegi's "Bertemasha," a cover of a Bollywood hit song, with roiling percussion and ominous organ contrasted by celebratory, near giddy signing. With its terrific music, great sound, and deluxe packaging, Pop Yeh Yeh is as essential a volume as anything Sublime Frequencies has ever issued.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek