The more I listen to Khanh Ly’s recordings of Trinh Cong Son’s music prior to 1975, the more disappointing I get with her later works. Not only her voice has dreadfully deteriorated (easy on the cig, ma), but also the soulless, fake musical arrangements that killed the aesthetic experience. Especially the productions made from the early days in the States, the monotonous beats served nothing more then just to maintain the rhythm.
While the rain was pouring outside last night, I went through 86 tracks of Trinh’s collection that Khanh Ly had recorded during the mid 60s and 70s, and I just want to throw all my other Trinh’s collections out the window, including her own after 1975. Her voice was incomparable, and she had the whole nine yards (real drums, bass, piano, guitar, saxophone and trumpet) backing her up. I am wondering if our music were influenced by American jazz at the time because even the drums had that jazz’s rollicking style in them. Her version of “Bien Nho” is timeless. Her voice was filled with sentiments, and the muted sax was just soul wrecking. I can barely get through the rendition of “Mua Hong” from Thanh Lam and even Ngoc Lan without yawning, but Khanh Ly’s effortless, ethereal vocals keep me coming back for more. I disliked her latter version of “Xin Mat Troi Ngu Yen,” but her former version is totally irresistible. That cascading piano’s gushes make the tune ageless. But the classic component of the collection is in those political pieces that are rarely covered today. Compositions such as “Chinh Chung Ta Phai Noi,” “Toi Se Di Tham,” “Canh Dong Hoa Binh,” and “Nhung Giot Mau Tro Bong” were simply begging for peace. So I don’t know why they have been banned.
Even though the computer-generated productions today are top-notch, I wish our musicians went back to the basics to bring real humanistic quality to their works. Call me an old-school head, but after listening to these soulful masterpieces and then went back to Ha Tran’s Communication 06, how the fuck did we go from treasure to trash? It’s definitely time for me to give up on Vietnamese contemporary shit and stick to the good oldies. Call me a sell-out, but I’ll be looking for real modern, innovative music elsewhere, besides Viet Nam. Fuck all that Vietnamese acoustic fusion shit.