Quitting Opium Song 戒煙歌 and other classics
May 27, 2014 11:40 PM   Subscribe

Antique Shanghai Pop Music 1930-1949 Downloadable mp3 episodes chock full of wonderful music with delightful commentary from Ling.

Glamour from an Erstwhile Era - In this pilot installment, you can hear songs by some of the biggest stars that shone in the night sky of Shanghai in the 30’s and 40’s. Most of the recordings featured here were made at the height of Chinese Antique Pop. They are representative of the sophisticated taste of mid to late 40’s and demonstrate a unique flavor particular to the period - rich, ornate, delicate but devoid of bashfulness.
Gold and Silver - The featured stars of this bimetallic installment are Zhou Xuan and Yao Li. Your host, Ling also takes special care to reveal some facets that distinguish antique Chinese pop music from its western kin.
White Light and Fragrant Violets - You can hear Li Xiang Lan’s (Yamaguchi Yoshiko’s) operatic pop songs and the fascinating stories of her life. Equally stunning is Bai Guang’s incomparable charisma. This installment features the most unique voices of Chinese oldies.
White Rainbow and Autumn Clouds - This installment features Bai Hong and Gong Qiu Xia, who joined the entertainment field and achieved fame even before the Golden Voice, Zhou Xuan. What is also afforded here is a rare opportunity to experience the harbingers of antique Shanghai pop music, Li Li Li and Wang Ren Mei, who were indeed the very first of the breed. Though their presence was brief and their vocal styles bespoke a highly experimental phase of the genre, their legacy is not something to be overlooked.
Nightingale and Dews - This installment features two singers whose careers took off in the post WWII Shanghai, the golden era of pop music. They are Wu Ying Yin and Zhang Lu. The bands had perfected their crafts and the music industry had reached its full maturity. The results were very elaborated arrangements and highly refined vocal styles, and even the voices that sang blues were very refined, if not overly refined.
The Gentlemen Singers of Shanghai - This installment brings you some of the notable gentlemen singers of Shanghai. They were truly a rare breed but one finds their styles no less diverse or engaging.
Liang Ping and Yi Min - This installment features two very modern singers in the 1940s, Liang Ping and Yin Min. The production and commercial quality of their songs reached parity with the leading trends of the world. Liang Ping's voice was highly protean and she treated her songs with a classical interpretation, a facile jazz delivery and occasionally a traditional ballad style of singing.
The Soprano Edition - This installment presents the true divas, amazing sopranos of Shanghai.
Li Li Hua and Bai Yun - Two very delicate voices that sang with a traditional panache - evergreen movie queen, Li Li Hua and Bai Yun.
Zhang Fan and Chen Juan Juan - This installment brings two singers who were 'sisters' on the silver screen. They share much in common at the first glance yet each has her very distinct style.
Foreign Songs Adapted - Listening to foreign songs alongside with their Shanghai adaptations, one easily notices the progression of antique Shanghai pop's stylistic progression and marvels at, realizes its uniqueness.
Lesser Known Singers - A collection of lesser known singers.
Duets - This installment formally introduces duets in Antique Pop. Most of these songs take on a style very similar to Chinese folk music, usually set in very simple melodies and presented as dialogues between a man and a woman. There are exceptions, with voices in polyphonic composition, and they evince great affinity to early Hollywood musicals.
posted by unliteral (12 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
This looks like an excellent post. I'm a huge fan of Zhou Xuan; my first introduction to her was this song from the 1937 movie 'Street Angel.'

From there, I started listening to other artists, but information on the English-language internet can be hard to find. I'm really looking forward to these!
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:10 AM on May 28, 2014

Nice find! Thanks!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:32 AM on May 28, 2014

Fantastic post. Almost all of this is entirely new to me, and now halfway through the second episode it's been nothing but a feast of discovery. Thanks for posting this!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:02 AM on May 28, 2014

Almost all of this is entirely new to me
Until today, yeah me too. Now I'm two and a half episodes awareness worth. Ling is my new mellifluous spirit guide to a previously unknown music world.
posted by unliteral at 6:01 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am literally and physically in Shanghai right this very moment. This post could not be more perfectly timed.

Thank you.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:31 AM on May 28, 2014

I am figuratively and spiritually in Shanghai right this very moment, just from listening to this. Great post, thank you.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:42 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Great stuff, thanks for posting. I love the DJ's manner as well. [You know how to whistle , dont you?]

I just recently, a couple of weeks ago in fact(!), discovered Shanghai Pop -my brother gave me some ancient 10" vinyl records he found at a tag sale, which I have converted to MP3 and have been listening to over and over, one by Yao Lee and one by Woo LingLing, both of whom are well represented here.
posted by Abinadab at 7:42 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the wonderful post. Love the host's accent.
posted by conrad53 at 10:41 AM on May 28, 2014

In case anyone is interested, Ive photographed the covers of my Shanghai 10" album collection
posted by Abinadab at 2:32 PM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

What a brilliant post! Just my cup of chai! Thank you unliteral for this marvelous, amusing and interesting treasure.
posted by nickyskye at 8:57 PM on May 28, 2014

This is great, thank you so much.
posted by Think_Long at 5:50 AM on May 29, 2014

Just before this closes I'll mention that there will be more episodes. Ling tells me that the next instalment will be a Zhou Xuan special. He has about 80 songs to review and upload. In case you don't realise you can also subscribe to his podcasts on iTunes and follow him on Facebook.
posted by unliteral at 7:30 PM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

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