In the early 90s, medley was the trend. Every production pumped out medley albums one after another. I am not a fan of this mix-and-mash style, but I was hooked on Lien Khuc Tinh Xanh, a medley tape put out by Asia with Don Ho, Lam Thuy Van, and Kenny Thai holding down the vocal lines.
What makes this album stand out for me is the playful interaction between these three youngsters. Kenny is fantastic with his English; Don Ho is mesmerizing with his backup vocalizations; and Lam Thuy Van is fabulous in accompanying both male vocalists with her high pitch. Of course, Asia’s skillful arrangement works seamlessly to weave one tune to the next, especially with those electronic keyboard licks and up-tempo Latin rhythms.
Vocally, I just love the way the three trade lines with one another. Vu Thanh An’s “Bai Khong Ten Cuoi Cung” is a perfect example. Kenny and Lam Thuy Van kicks off the first verse, then Don Hon joins in at the chorus asking brokenheartedly, “Nay em hoi con duong em di do / con duong em theo do se dua em sang dau?” Lam Thuy Van replies sadly, “Mua ben chong se lam em khoc / se lam em nho nhung khi minh man nong.” Damn, that just cuts it.
And how could the ladies resist when Don Ho calls his lover in “Goi Ten Nguoi Yeu” at the end where he croons, “Roi anh se khoc / se khoc len goi long dau trien mien,” then cries his heart out with his voice. If he works on scatting, I am sure he can do it successfully. Another magnetizing piece is his Vietnamese rendition of “Unchained Melody” (“Mai Mai Yeu Em”) where his vocals ebb and flow around the mid-tempo beat. As for Kenny, no one does the Chinese translated tune, such as “There’s Only You In My Heart,” “I Love You More Than I Can Say,” and “Summer Kisses Winter Tears,” better than him. And who doesn’t love Lam Thuy Van for her exotic vocals, especially when she phrases, “The life’s unreal and the people are phony / And the nights can get so lonely / A single girl needs a lovely man to lean on.” Don’t you wish you could loan her your shoulder?
I could still remember when a friend of mine handed me this tape back in 92. I rocked it until I could sing along to every goddamn tune in it. Til this day, Lien Khuc Tinh Xanh is the only medley album I can jam to without getting bored because of the variation in production and diversity in song selection.