Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nostalgic Weekend - Matthew and The Mandarins

I was introduced to this group by George Das who once worked with The Star in the 70s. George had his column where he did record review for the paper. One day, he asked me to listen to a group and guess it's origin without looking at the record sleeve. I only have to listen to one track and I told him it must be a group from Nashville, Tennessee. He said, "Wrong. It's Singapore!" I couldn't believe it because the music had all the works of a country and western group from the States, you know, like singing with a southern drawl, slide guitar, banjo and the whole works. The next thing I knew, I was making a beeline to the nearest record shop to purchase a copy of "Matthew and The Mandarins". That was the group's first release in 1976. Out of the many tracks, the one that stood out was Matthew's own composition, "Singapore Cowboy". In 1979, they released their second album and that too has become part of my collection.

Each time when I was in Singapore on a business trip in the late 70s, I would take a cab, after dinner, and head for the Shangri-la Hotel, to see the group performing live at The Peacock Room. The room would be filled with American oil riggers who would be clapping and dancing to the songs performed by the group. All I can say is, they were simply outstanding.

In 1980, Matthew Tan left the group to go solo and released an album to that effect. However, it is gratifying to note that Matthew and his boys are still performing till today with a large following in Singapore.




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