Where Is The Love

I’m halfway through my two-weeks vacation, where I have been spending most of my time bonding with boy, over-spending my money on Ultraman vinyl figures and books; rearranging my err… music and books collections.

And guess what I rediscovered as I was spring cleaning?

Among the nuggets include the brilliant Hapuslah Air Matamu original soundtrack, Black Sabbath’s 1972’s Paranoid album, one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time; Ariesta Birawa’s self titled debut album.

Just in case you wonder, Ariesta Birawa is an Indonesian trio that was lauded in the worldwide psyche/garage scene as one of the best to have come out of this region.

With joy I spent the whole week listening to these treasured recordings, particularly Hapuslah Air Matamu original soundtrack.

Listening to Sharifah Aini sing the words of Hapuslah Airmatamu or Broery Marantika baring his soul on Sabar Menanti or even Datuk Ahmad Nawab’s infectious Regent Club instrumental, one could not help but wonder what have actually happened to the sense of melodies in today’s music, great singers who tell stories and not just sing, and music that is warm and do not sound like it has gone through multiple computer alterations.

These music may not have the current commercial appeal but if it’s packaged properly and positioned in a way where owning it is a pride of the nation, we believed the Malaysian music lovers will see the value.

Speaking of that, it is sad that the highly anticipated five-CD collection of Malaysian popular music in the 50 years project didn’t took off.

Based on a conversation with one of the people working on the project, I was told that the project is off as it is not commercially feasible.

The way I see it, Malaysian popular music has again taken the back seat.

From an observer’s point of view, it’s pretty disheartening to see how Malaysian popular music is being overlooked as a part of the country’s 53th year of nationhood.

With all due respect, events like The Rainforest Music Festival in Sarawak, World Drum Festival in Port Dickson in November, will certainly lure the tourists into the country, but in terms of its relevance to an average Malaysian, not you, urbanites, by the way, we don’t think any of the performers at the festivals is as significant as let’s say Sharifah Aini, Jamal Abdillah, Search, heck even Mawi.

Now who should be held responsible for this lack of respect and appreciation?

Technically, the body that is responsible to look after Malaysian popular music are the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia (RIM), or was it the Music Council of Malaysia or Majlis Muzik Malaysia (MMM), an association that was formed back in 2000 by RIM, Musicians’ Union of Malaysia (MUM), Association Of Malaysian Singers, Musicians And Songwriters (PAPITA) and Malaysian Association of Live Entertainment Promoters (MALEP) or was it, Ministry of Information Communication and Culture?

Who it is, I have only one thing to say – whatever it is, credit must be given when it’s due. And after years of being entertained by it, Malaysian popular music certainly deserves one.