More fun than "Radio Thailand" and the more folk orientated Isan related CDs released by Sublime Frequencies - the Thai Pop Spectacular compilation is an enjoyable collection of psychedelic, funky, pop and rock n roll tunes from the 1960s through to the 1980s. A true gem of an album that spawned a worthy second volume too, it's extremely fun.
I suppose that with Thailand's reputation, we should not be surprised about the somewhat saucy content but I was, artists on this album sound like Thai versions of the girl and boy bands so popular in the 60s in the US like The Crystals and The Shirelles but the lyrical content of the songs is more rebellious.
I don't speak Thai and so it doesn't mean much to me but the song names are translated and titles like "Look Whose Underwear is Showing", "Uncle Dee is a Drunk" or "Drinking Whiskey Until I'm Blurred" have a distinct tone of rock n roll to it! Tales of heartbreak, desire and disgrace!
Thai is one of those rather nasally sounding languages that is pretty exotic to the English ear and can sometimes be a bit grating, it does help that these artists can sing wonderfully in tune and that the melodies are pretty catchy.
Whilst definitely influenced by Western music, these Thai bands definitely gave the music their own sound, it's raw and rather jumbled with lots going on - cool guitar riffs on tinny sounding electric guitars, distorted keyboard playing and numerous brass instruments. If you've ever heard the Las Vegas grind compilation, it's quite similar - fusing surf rock, rock n roll, soul and giving it a later funky flavour whilst a couple of songs also experiment with electronic gadgets.. a wailing police siren being one of them. The listener gets a taste of Bangkok disco from the late 70s.
The track "Sao Dok Kum Tai" is sang by the so called Queen of Luk Thung who spiced up a previously tame genre of Thai country music, real name Pumpuang Duangjan she probably has the nicest voice on the whole album, the music is simplistic but effective and it's a genre that I'm keen to explore, I've even spotted the album I want on Amazon, so expect a review soon!
This is a good album and I prefer it to the more experimental compilations by the Sublime Frequencies which are sometimes a little too odd.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Introduction: Welcome to Thailand
2 Roob Lor Thom Pai (There Are Many Handsome Men Out There) - Buppah Saichol
3 Mae Kha Som Tum (Papaya Salad Merchant) - Onuma Singsiri
4 Lung Dee Kee Mao (Uncle Dee Is a Drunk) - P. Promdan
5 Fawn Ngeo (Dance of the Ngeo) - Johnny Guitar
6 Kwuan Tai Duew Luk Puen (You Should Die by Bullets) - Chailai Chaiyata, Sawanee Patana
7 Dek Kai Nuang Sue Pim (Newspaper Boy) - Sangthong Seesai
8 Gao Guek (Wise Old Man) - Gawao Siangthong
9 Tid Lom Ta Lai (Drinking Whiskey Until I'm Blurred) - Man City Lion
10 Mai Na Lork Gun (Don't Deceive Me) - Kampee Sangthong
11 Nan Nan Pob Gan Tee (Long Time No See) - Generation
12 Koh Phuket (Phuket Island) - Phet Potaram
13 Gang Geng Nai Krai Lab (Look Whose Underwear Is Showing) - Kabuan Garn Yor Yod Yung Yong
14 Khor Tan Gor Mee Hua Jai (The Beggar Has a Heart, aka The Night Chic - Pairoj
15 Sao Dok Kum Tai (Lady from a Flower) - Pompuang Duangjan
16 Tangkon Tangnae (We Both Think We're the Best!) - Sangthong Seesai
17 Keng Ma (Dog Races) - P. Promdan
18 Na Doo (Very Striking Girl) - Man City Lion
19 Dteuu (Bothering) - Setha
20 Mia Rai Duen (Monthly Wife) - Duongdao and Chailai
21 Pleng Show (Title Theme) - Chalermpon Malakum