Arthit Promprasit aka DJ Sonny is a radio DJ from Bangkok and his top-5 is from his formative radio days: «From 1982-1987, I shaped up my youth with the sound of the radio in Bangkok. We had 3 radio stations playing different kinds of western music. The first was US-focused (99FM), another one UK and European- touched (94FM) and the last one AOR and Jazz (100.5FM) – all managed by the same company. I was listening to them all but I loved 94FM the most. They were playing non-stop new wave, synth pop, Italo, and dance music. All 3 folded in 1987 and the same team started up the new stations (another three – 88FM, 95.5FM and 105.5FM) a year later. I switched to those and I was eventually working with them in 1989. And that just changed my life. Now as a radio DJ myself, I hope my music will inspire the next generations of music lovers. My top-5 here is from my formative radio days.»
I could have picked Rah Band, Level 42, Haircut 100, Animal Nightlife, Freeez or Sade. But Blue Rondo had stuck to my ears as one of the early “Brit-funk” sounds in Bangkok’s radioland. Of course we didn’t call it Brit-funk but more “UK Soul”. One of my DJ heroes (DJ Rujayapha) would raved about this record every time he played it. It wasn’t a hit here (because he would have been the only DJ playing it). I remembered request it and of course have this taped on one of those well-loved Pause Button tapes. Blue Rondo is such a cult early 80s band, at least they didn’t become a Spandau Ballet.
I didn’t think my beloved radio stations had something as boring as “playlist” at the time. DJs were free to play whatever they want (and I championed that ethos to this day). This was not a Carly Simon cover and was in the same era as Blue Rondo and, to my knowledge; it got played a few times. It was one of those one-off bubbling-unders in the 80s that not many knew about. I love the boy-girl vocal over the tribal jazzy funky beats. The B-side is as glorious and demands to be re-edit by the likes of Leo Zero. I’m glad to secure this original copy from the station. After it shut down obviously!
Akina Nakamori — Akaitori Nigeta 12″ [1985, Warner-Pioneer Corporation]
Listen to it on Youtube
Japanese are excelling at doing better on whatever the Western had started. Music is one of them — being disco, jazz, fusion, Brazilian, boogie, reggae, AOR, ambient or electronic music. There is always one great Japanese artist in any kind of music. Maybe it was the language , we had a few Japanese pop music aired in that era. But it was teenage pop idol, Akina Nakamori that everyone’s excited about. Her music was heavily played on 94FM especially the single “Mi Amore”. This was difference in lyrics and song title. It got more tropical groove and boogie beats as opposed to chart pop of the original. No artist’s name on the cover and her look was far away from her idol pose. When the new station (88FM) launched in 1988 we had a special weekend show playing just Japanese artists. All before the term “J-pop” was coined.
From 1986, the 94FM station played more Italian dance music than the UK’s. Of course they didn’t call it Italo Disco. That trend carried on very briefly to the new station (95.5FM) before they stuck completely to US/UK charts. During my university years, I joined them as a music coordinator helping them order and sort the records for DJs. By the time I learned that they focused on chart music, this record shown up in the studio. No DJs played it as it wasn’t in the chart. But no one has seen it returned to our library. Chris Kontos put it on his blog 5 years ago and re-sparked my memory. I played it once on my own radio show and I believed that was the first time the song got aired in Thailand. Lovely melody with timeless vocal. Fantastic record.
Thanks to the name, Fra Lippo Lippi were semi-popular here with “Shouldn’t Have To Be Like That” and “Every Time I See You”. Before they would have been super popular with this album, the stations closed down. It was like a limbo when records spreading around and no one knew what to do with those. DJs were busy looking for the new jobs. The new station ignored this band instantly despite me pushing it. Partially I think it’s down to the west-coast feel of the album that was not trendy in the late 80s. I loved it so much and playing this record non-stop and memorising all the lyrics. I even bought a cassette and CD for my Walkman and Discman. If I could pick my classic guilty pleasures this would be one of them.
Photos & texts by Arthit