Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BEYOND COOL: Cambodian Garage GRRRL! - Ros Sereysothea

BEYOND COOL is a new rotating feature here starting today.

With ROCK Sex entries I trace the cultural hand-off and odd connections of pop songs, while LADIES FIRST showcases the often unacknowledged women who did the first versions of classics we take for granted. With BEYOND COOL, I'll just spotlight things I think are beyond cool.


Rock'n'Roll had immediate impact all around the world, with thriving scenes following or advancing every changing trend through the decades. Record collectors who once helped excavate and archive all the great '60s Garage Rock eventually spread into the international variations of it. Today we are still catching up with thriving scenes from France, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Hong Kong, and Australia, to name a few.

Here is a young woman from Cambodia named Ros Sereysothea.

This song sounds like a crazed jam between Asha Bhosle and Creedence Clearwater Revival! Asha, of course, is the reknowned queen of Bollywood soundtracks who sang all female leads for decades. Ros' register is similar but her rocking sentiment is notably more freewheeling. (As for CCR, Ros also did a cover of John Fogerty's "Proud Mary".) And that big chunky rhythm they settle into is a monster groove!

ROS SEREYSOTHEA -"I'm 16 (Chnam Oun Dop-Pramp Muy)" (197_)

Now the sad part.

It is feared that Ros Sereysothea may have been among the millions killed in Cambodia in the 1970s by the murderous Pol Pot and his hideous Khmer Rouge. This butcher regime was simply Fundamentalism at its most base and naked, destroying every expression of humanity solely for power under the guise of divine order.

The only revenge we have against holocausts like this, besides not repeating them, is to fight back against any repression and regression when we can. The huns attempted to erase history. But Ros' legacy lives on defiantly in current bands like Dengue Fever and Cambodian Space Project who keep Cambodian Rock a living culture.

DENGUE FEVER -"One Thousand Tears Of A Tarantula" (2005)

CAMBODIAN SPACE PROJECT -"i Am Sixteen" (2011)

Crank it up like you're dancing on Pol Pot's grave.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

> "Dengue Fever presents: Electric Cambodia", a compilation of 1970s Cambodian Rock
> Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, a documentary about the revival of Rock in Cambodia

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