Tuesday, January 22, 2013


 I have always loved music since I was young. Growing up, there was no specific genre that I listened to since the only source of music was either Radio 1 RTM or FM Stereo. FM Stereo would start broadcasting at 9 p.m. every night and I always looked forward to its Pilihan Bersama slot (a song request programme). Every Sunday morning, I waited patiently for a programme called LPMI (Lagu Pujaan Minggu Ini) to be aired on RTM 1 and I would faithfully sit by the radio with my neighbour, Kak Dah (may Allah bless her soul). We jotted down the top ten songs of the week and predicted which one would become the number one song. When I went to boarding school, I kept a small battery-operated transistor radio under my pillow and the songs played would help me go to sleep at night. In college, I always had a few cassettes in my knapsack which I listened to on my yellow Sony Sports Walkman. I wrote about this Walkman in my previous entry so I won't go into details about it here. Nowadays, it's the regional radio station that I listen to most of the time since I truly feel that I cannot totally connect with the music played by the more contemporary radio stations (read : I am getting older). This post, by the way, is about my top ten favourite Malay CDs. I don't own a lot of Malay CDs so my personal choice is also quite limited.
 Aishah - Aishah : Her first solo Malay album after making waves in New Zealand and Malaysia with Fan Club. The group only managed to come up with two studio albums before the members went their separate ways. Aishah's killer song 'Janji Manismu' is still a favourite for many until today and has been covered by two other singers (both Indonesians). With a fantastic voice, clear diction and brilliant interpretation, Aishah is indisputably still one of the best singers around. This album also spawned a few other hits for her and thus, making her one the most popular singers of the early 90s.

Ziana Zain - Puncak Kasih : Ziana Zain during her peak in the local music industry was fabulous. Utterly fabulous. The packaging for this CD was also unique and different compared to the other CDs released at that time. Her previous album (Setiaku Di Sini) was certified platinum and I guess her record company had a lot of confidence that this album would sell well too. Hence, the extra-special packaging for the CD. Ziana still has a lot of loyal fans who support her but unfortunately, has not come up with a full album for quite a while now. Her last CD single "Dingin' which was released a few years ago only received lukewarm response from the public and media alike.

Sharifah Aini - Kenangan Lela Manja : This is Kak Pah's first album without Ahmad Nawab after he left EMI to join WEA. All the songs have been remastered and a few more songs of the same genre were added for this special release. This album truly showcased Kak Pah's ability to render traditional Malay songs flawlessly and effortlessly. Her voice was also in its prime at that time and in my opinion, no current pop singer can top her when it comes to singing traditional Malay songs.

Sheila Majid - Emosi : This is the first Malay CD that I bought more than 20 years ago when local CDs were still manufactured overseas (this one was made in Australia). I'm sure many of her fans were happy when a box set comprising all her studio albums was released a couple of years ago (you can check out the post on Sheila Majid's box set that I wrote if you are interested). 'Sinaran', the first single from this album was initially banned from being aired by the Ministry of Information due to Sheila's pronunciation. This album was commercially well- received by the public in Indonesia and made Sheila a household name there.

Sheila Majid - Legenda : A brilliant and classy interpretation of P. Ramlee's songs with modern instrumentations and fresher arrangements. This is the Japanese pressing of the same album which, in my opinion, is a thousand times better than the Malaysian pressing in terms of sound quality and packaging. The Japanese version, however, has a different version of 'Bunyi Gitar'. The R.A.P. Mix was used as one of the tracks instead of the Extended Mix.

The Bolshoi Ballet Theatre Orchestra Of Tashkent Present Tan Sri P. Ramlee : This is another album which I am not sure whether I can label it 'Malay' or not since it's pure music without any singing at all. It is one of the albums that I listen to whenever I need to relax and unwind. The stereo system that I have doesn't really do justice to the impeccable performances of the orchestra but is good enough to create a calming and soothing ambiance in my house especially during quiet evenings. Even my usually restless cats seem to be subdued every time I put this album in my CD player.

Kumpulan Harmoni - Penantian : I first heard of this group when I was still in high school. Their hit song 'Penantian' immediately became one of my favourites. For some unknown reason, I even asked one of my friends to write the guitar chords for it. FYI, I didn't know how to play the guitar and I still don't. One of the lesser known tracks from the album, 'Sepanjang Jalan Ke Pulau Pinang', is very special to me for reasons that I will keep only to myself. My heart still bleeds (profusely) whenever I listen to it. To my knowledge, this is their only full album that has been released in CD format.

Ebiet G. Ade - Cinta Sebening Embun : I'm not sure if this album can be classified as a 'Malay' album but I'm going to include it in this list anyway. The Indonesians are very proud of their 'Bahasa Indonesia' and they might consider it inappropriate to refer to an album sung in their national language as 'Malay'. This is a collection of songs from an Indonesian poet-singer who is well-known for his 'Camellia' tetralogy. Unfortunately, 'Camellia I' and 'Nyanyian Rindu' are not featured in this compilation and a few other favourite songs of mine are also missing.

Amy Mastura - Amy Mastura : Like Ziana Zain, Amy Mastura was also a stewardess with the Malaysia Airlines before becoming a singer. This is her debut album after winning Asia Bagus in 1993, a star-search television programme produced by Fuji Television. Just like her bubbly personality, most of the songs are cheerful and upbeat.The album was published by Pony Canyon, a Japan-based record company which is a subsidiary of one of the world's largest media company, Fujisankei Communications Group.

Fauziah Latiff - Apa Sebenarnya : Fauziah Latiff (or Jee as she is called) has been singing since her teenage years. This is her seventh studio album but it did not sell as well as her previous effort 'Epilog Memori Gelita' which contains the hit 'Teratai Layu Di Tasik Madu'. There were a lot of speculations regarding her personal life at the time this album was released. A few of the songs also seemed to hint at the speculated marital problems she was having but nobody knew whether the lyrics were intentional or not. She rarely sings on television anymore and nowadays, fans can only catch her when she appears in the occasional drama.