Perfect harmony | Daily News

Perfect harmony

One fine sunny day in the good old seventies I happened to listen to Kandayam Gee (Voices in harmony), which was aired from 8.45 am to 9 am throughout the week, Monday to Saturday over the SLBC’s Sinhala Commercial Service .

Believe it or not, I really fell in love with that quarter hour programme instantly. Afterwards throughout the seventies whenever I was at home I never missed the programme, where four or five songs were usually broadcast. Later the programme was from 9 am to 9.30 am and sometimes 6.15 pm to 6.30 pm. In this short essay I like to reminisce about those unforgettable songs and artistes / bands behind them. Amigos Romanticas, Bentota Bees, Buzzing Bees, Bambaras, Dharmaratne Brothers, Desmond and the Clan, Diamonds, Experiments, Gay Sisters, Gren Leonardos, Golden Chimes, Gypsies, Humming birds, Jay Brothers, La Bambas, La Ceylonians, La Lavinians, Los Caballeros, Los Muchachos, Los Flamencos, Mendis Foursome, Meemasso, Moonstones, Nightingales, Samanalayo, Super Golden Chimes, Silver Clan, Seac, Sri Lankians, Sunshines, Super Stars, Three Sisters, Triosonics and Winslow six are some of the calypso groups, popular bands, which held sway during the sensational seventies.

Pop music concerts

In the seventies, the “ Group/Pop Music Fever Era”, there were so many pop music concerts in the weekends, practically every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in aid of building projects, welfare societies, school/church renovation funds. etc., at various venues in Colombo such as Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, Sri Kathiresan Hall, Ramakrishna Hall, Navarangahala, Old Town Hall and so on. Pop music shows on account of year-end get-togethers, X’mas season, Sinhala/Tamil New Year, Vesak, Poson, Thai Pongal as well as Deepavali were very common during those bygone golden era. For all these musical extravaganzas organizers booked popular bands of that time. Sometimes three, two or one. I’ve seen several pop music concerts at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium to packed audiences usually with three bands in attendance. Among the 3 one is a backing band. Super Golden Chimes, Gypsies, Desmond & the Clan, Sohan & The Experiments, Gabo & the Breakaways, Victory Super Set, Apsaras, Sathsara, Seac, Fortunes, Super Fortunes plus Superstars were some of the bands, which used to perform at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on regular basis for various shows.

Calypso and modern pop groups

The calypso group Amigos Romanticas recorded Ruwan Ambara with Latha Disanayake and that was an instant hit for them. Gayana gayum, Samuduru devi, Malbara himidiriye along with Sandak nage sandak gile were some groovy songs made popular by Neville Fernando and the Los Caballeros. Sobamana Guwan Sevika and Kumudumali were two hits from the harmony group Los Muchachoes. Catchy songs such as Kalu kella and Ahasata pimbina were two notable hits of the extremely popular calypso band Los Flamencos. Noel Brian Ranasinghe and the La Ceylonians had many hit songs to their credit and Hiru nagee ena udaye, Mage Sudu nangi were just two such songs to mention here. Yakada thalanna, Mala giravi were two popular songs recorded by Joe B. Perera and the Meemasso. The much popular song Nalawena maw ukule and Natum guruwari were recorded by Raymond Fonseka and Samanalayo in the late sixties. Priya Peiris and the La Bambas were well admired for their scintillating hits and Nuwara Menikela, Enna yanna nelum vile and Cock-A-Doodle-Do were just three of them. Clarence, Annesley and the Moonstones recorded many songs in the swinging Sixties and Dilhani, Gonwassa, Podi menike, Pem kathawa, Ruwanpuraya along with Dileepa podi puthu were only six of them. Dr. Manella, Eromi and the Winslow Six were very famous for the songs Duwa Roshi, Ranamonaru. Mendis Foursome was another band of the seventies, which was well-known for their hit single Swarna and other songs. The all girl group, Gay Sisters comprising Chitra, Chrishanthi, Nelum and Olga from Kandy were known for their hit single Ai duk wane. Yala, Yala was a huge hit for the beat aggregation called Gren Leonardoes. Mallika, Indrani, Irangani, the Three Sisters were a household name in the sensational seventies and Kalu kella mamai, Adare, Akkala nangila, Pipena piyum and Me geeya mama gayanne were just 5 songs from their repertoire of many songs. Clarence, Chanaka, Lankika, Anil and the Golden Chimes rocked the musical scene of Sri Lanka with many outstanding songs such as Muhudu ralle, Ada ve hiru dina, Sudu menike, Bethlehempure, Surangana ves vala, Pata pata ran thatu salala, Ma aadare nangi, along with Sihil nuwan in the early seventies. Coming from the same family the Dharmaratne Brogthers namely Maxwell, Melroy, Ronald and Christie won the hearts of many with their beautiful songs such as Vessa vahinawa, Avva payala, Varsity kollo, Kalakata pere and much more. Two doctors namely Dr. Perin Jayasekara, Dr. Jerry Jayasekara formed a group called The Jay Brothers in the seventies and they stole the limelight with hits such as Karata kare, Ramyalankare .Clarence, Annesley and the Super Golden Chimes dominated the airwaves and the stage in the local entertainment arena with many unforgettable smash hits. They had a long list of unforgettable songs to their credit and the list goes like this. Moratuwa, Ale dola piruna, Kandasurinduni, Sandak basa giya, Vana bambaroo, Uda rata neliya, Gamen liyumak, Maniyani, Sihina lowak, Kamak ne, Mangalam, Sathuta senasuma, Pena bubula and many more. In the late seventies Raymond Fonseka and the Seac band recorded some songs on the Silverline label. Among them Binaramali and Dan dan dan( perahara song ) became much popular. Desmond and the Clan made a name for themselves with catchy hits like Yanna rate wate, Yaman bando vesak balanna. Dr. Ranjith Bolenne and the Sunshines made some vibrant recordings like Dasa vidala and Oya mage surangana kathawe. Balaviye baa thorana vayase was a lovely song by a beat group known as Nightingales, which appeared in the scene in the late seventies. Ernest and the Super stars released some impressive songs such as Yahaluwane yeheliyane, Wewa suba nathale in the electrifying eighties. Sina was a pleasant song put out by a band called Silver Clan.

“Group/pop music fanatics”

Most of the above songs were recorded in prominent recording labels such as Philips, Exvee, Saraswathie, Sooriya, Lotus, New Sound, Supertone, Guththila, Gypsy, Victory, Gemtone, and Tharanga. In those days as soon as an album is released all the “group/ pop music fanatics ” will rush to record/cassette dealers such as Children’s Bookshop, Fort ( producer cum seller of records/cassettes on prestigious Sooriya label), Gemtone, Bankshall Street, Pettah, Tharanga International, opposite Regal Cinema, New Sound Enterprises, Main Street, Pettah, Silverline Record Bar, Baillie Street, Fort, Harendra Record Bar at Samarasinghe Brothers, Bambalapitiya, and Aiwa Record Bar, 1st Cross Street, Pettah . Die-hard fans of calypso bands, pop groups used to allocate money from their salaries to buy these EP, LP albums and later cassettes. These recording labels too were highly recognized among the music minded souls of that golden era.

Positive aspects

There were so many other popular groups of the 60s, 70s, and 80s worth remembering, but unfortunately the space is not enough to accommodate them. A majority of today’s songs are done with visuals. They need plenty of locations, costumes, clothes, dances, acting, facial expressions and so on. But during the good old days, in the 60s, 70s we heard songs over the radio only. And whenever there were musical concerts we were able to watch our favourite harmony groups, bands, singers perform live on stage without much ado, hullabaloo to packed audience. During those days everything was so simple. Today most of the singers sing sad songs on negative aspects of life, which is deplorable. During the past especially in the 60s, 70s and 80s we have heard many songs based on joy, love, on positive aspects of life, about country, nature, wildlife, famous personalities, prominent places, father, mother, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friendship, brotherhood and pets, with joyful music.

Songs on positive aspects of life with scintillating music will certainly uplift a person’s spirit forever . Genuine effort has been taken to bring into limelight Sri Lanka’s cream of calypso plus modern pop bands of yesteryear in this short essay. Any shortcomings or omissions are sincerely regretted.


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