One of the reasons I like taking the school bus[1], apart from making new friends, was the music they played during the ride. When I was in standards 2 and 3, my school bus was a rattly Mercedes T2 driven by this pakcik from Sg Penchala. It was during this time, that I was exposed to a whole gamut of Malay/Indo music from D’lloyd to Emilia Contessa, and to this seminal Singaporean band – Black Dog Bone.

I am sure we have the 8-track or music cassette to this album, but the Si Gadis Ayu record from 1978 was the one[2] BDB record I loved. And when I saw that EMI reissued the CD, I didn’t think twice about buying it.

It wasn’t until I looked the liner notes, that most of the songs including the eponymous Si Gadis Ayu and Geram were covers. I knew Hatiku Luka Lagi was a cover of The ManhattansKiss And Say Goodbye[3] even as a kid, as it was so obvious. As the pakcik bas would play the cassette while he drove, it meant an album is played in its totality[4] and I would know all the songs in the Si Gadis Ayu album. BDB’s music pretty much was rock/funk/soul-based which pretty much was in tune with the popular music at that time (think KC and The Sunshine Band). The lyrics were really simple and reflect an easier way to live life (as things were back then unlike now). In a sing-a-song-and-have-a-smile kinda way. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I like the words to Penghibur dan Pemberitahu which merely describes the job of a radio DJ:

Dari pagi hingga malam
Tidak berhenti henti
Memutarkan piring hitam
Agar kita tak sunyi

Dialah penghibur
Dia juruhebah
Bergurau berlakon
Dalam rancangannya

Selain dari menghibur
Juga memberitahu
Cuaca berita dan waktu
Agar semuanya tahu

Gila innocent. And Geram is such a fun song, especially for an 8-year old that I was. Mnnh gerammm was my favourite bit. I need to add that it wasn’t til I was much older that I realise the other connotation of that mnnh geram phrase. Heh. Another cover was the waltzy Perjalanan Hidup which was of Paul McCartney & Wings’ Mull of Kintyre! Razzi’s nicely overdriven guitar intro was so bell on Hanya Bayangan, which wasn’t a cover for once. Mengenang Ibu penned by S. Atan was a typical Malay tearjerker of a song and things get swinging soon after with Joget Bujang Di Rantau, another one by S. Atan who had produced the album as well.

Covers aside, the musical chops of the band is superb. Before they were BDB, the guys collectively developed their musicianship backing up HK and Taiwanese singers at night clubs. Their monicker[5] was decided on by their manager, and the band was happy to stick with it. BDB was made up of Razzi M. (guitar and band leader), Jatt (vocals and drums), Masron Ali (trumpet, horn and trombone), Hamid Ahmad (bass), James Chai (tenor sax, flute and trombone) and Michael Heng (keyboard). Unfortunately, BDB disbanded back in 1981. I do remember that Jatt had gone solo and did well in the local scene. I have to say BDB’s hits include others like Khayalan (an Earth Wind & Fire cover) but it’s just that their Si Gadis Ayu album struck a chord with me.

They did reform recently for some concerts in KL and Singapore, and there’s this great blog post of a fan who attended BDB’s Istana Budaya shows that can be read here. Will defo look up for their other re-ish CD’s when I am in KL next.

[1]To go home if I was in the morning session, and to school in the afternoon session.
[3]Ayah used to play this song to death on our little cassette player at home. And in the car.
[4]Kena tukar side. Remember that?
[5]Can you imagine the furore if a Malaysian band is called that these days?