Various Artists

Teen Dance Music from China and Malaysia

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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger

If the brief liner notes on the back cover are to be trusted, this CD was assembled by cherry-picking cuts from a batch of late-'60s/early-'70s-looking South Asian pop LPs found at a thrift store. While the cover design's on par with professional releases, there are no details on the specific cuts and artists other than the track listings, and even five of the song titles are given as "Indecipherable." So a state-of-the-art historical document this isn't, with surface noise and even a few skips to indicate that the music's been taken from vinyl rather than better sources. But if you're looking for something novel in the strip-mined field of 1960s rock reissues, this delivers the goods, though no doubt it sounds more exotic to Western ears due to its sheer difference from most pop/rock from North America, Europe, and Australasia. It's an unpredictable, ever-morphing (and mostly instrumental) hodgepodge of Ventures-Shadows-style guitar, spy and spaghetti Western soundtracks, lounge exotica, cheesy South Asian pop, go-go dance-rock, and cheapo organs with an otherworldly shimmer. It's silly and not terribly deep, the Man Chau Po Orchestra even stooping to doing a go-go version of the theme from The Bridge on the River Kwai. Yet on the other hand, it's pretty enjoyable, with spirited fun in spite of this material's possible (or even probable) origins as exploitative quickie easy listening/dance-rock LPs. One does wonder if much or any of this teen dance music actually came from China, given that country's historical official resistance to rock, even rock of this sort; perhaps some of the tracks with Chinese-language original packaging actually originated in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or other non-Chinese territories.