TV Times

‘La bambas' old hits get fresh look in 2011

Music lovers who adore group songs of the 70's era are in for a rare treat when La Bambas put out their brand new CD titled 'The Fabulous La Bambas' in early March this year. 'La Bambas' hailing from the musical town of Moratuwa hit the top with many popular songs such as 'Cock a Doodle Do', 'Enna Yanna Nelum Ville', 'Nuwara Menikela' etc. during the 60s and 70s era when group songs blossomed and emerged as a new trend of music in the country.

From the very beginning, La Bambas comprising Brian Fernando, Priya Peiris, Rolinson Ferdinando, Erinton Perera, Lasla Fernando and Malsiri Wijesuriya remained as one unshakable unit intact, with absolutely no breakaways. Incidently, out of the multitude of singing groups that emerged in the 60's and 70's era, 'La Bambas' were the only group in Sri Lanka who achieved nation-wide acclaim and success by singing an English original with a Sri Lankan flavour in 'Cock a Doodle Do'.

It is indeed remarkable that they achieved this success without the use of electronic instruments, barring the bass guitar. This was despite the fact that Rolinson, Brian and Priya all had performed for various beat groups earlier.

The 'La Bambas' remain unique as a musical outfit due to many reasons. They emulated the earlier generation of quality singing groups who sang in 3 and 4 part harmony. They were brave enough to continue the music unplug throughout their entire career.

A high point in their career was the 14 year contract, performing at the Hotel Lanka Oberoi on three days of the week, in the 70s and 80s entertaining foreign guests from many parts of the world singing a wide range of international songs from a multitude of countries.

Their repertoire was remarkable, besides their own Sinhala & English originals they also sang in Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic, Hawaiian, German, Danish, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Malaysian and Filipino dialects. They specialized in old American Plantation songs, Cowboy and Dixieland favourites and a multitude of English, Irish and Scottish hits. In fact their diversity and potential depicted that they were an outfit like no other.

During the modest and low profile career they maintained, 'La Bambas' produced four extended play records (E.P. Discs) for the 'Paradise (1968) 'Philips' (1970) 'Sooriya' (1971' and 'Macbertan' (1972) labels. Songs such as 'Lak Nadee', 'Piyakaru Mala', 'Nuwara Eliye Yanna', 'Nisala Raye', 'Moratuwe,' 'Wesida', S'amanmali' and 'Enna Yanna Nelum Vile' were all composed by Rolinson while Priya's songs include 'Nuwara Menikela', everybody favourite 'Cock a Doodle Do', 'Nilipul Denetha' and 'Kurulan Piyabala', 'Welcome to SuunyLanka' and the Sri Lankan Tea Song, specially dedicated to the tea industry. Brian's tracks featured on the album are 'Nali', 'Thotiyo', 'Ek sanda yameka' and 'Sebala Soyura', a military song composed for the armed forces.

The 'La Bambas' are well and truly sons of the Moratuwa soil, for they never relied upon outside musicians and godfathers to help them out. In fact they never needed any of them. All their songs were concepted, lyrically composed, musically arranged, and vocally rendered by themselves. In short their act was a 100% all Moratuwa unplugged production. Multiple harmony came naturally to the La Bambas who had within themselves and abundance of natural all-round musical talent.

The group could boast of no less than three composers in leader cum conga drummer Brian, lead guitarist Rolinson and rhythm guitarist Priya. Malsiri is a classy guitarist while Erinton and Lasla supplement with their rich voices and effective percussion playing.

Versatile songstress Christine Gunewardene who started her musical career with 'La Bambas' 1968 singing for the 'Paradise' E.P. is featured vocalising three tracks, namely 'Nisala Raye', 'Nilupul Deneta' and 'Nali' while youthful and talented Dulika Ferdinando (Rolinson's brother Annesley's daughter) a student of Methodist College Kollupitiya, with her rendition of 'Nuwara Eleiye Yanna' add much glamour and variety to the repertoire of songs in the album.

The La Bambas had the distinction of appearing in the first ever T.V. telecast in Sri Lanka way back in the 70's. While their first E.P. disc on the Paradise label was produced on a single track recoding machine, the other three EPs to follow were done on two track machines during the early days - a far cry from the cake–walk recordings done nowadays with ultra-modern technology, where a singer could record a false note, which could be conveniently corrected technically without the singer having to perform again.

After 43 years, La Bambas will be releasing their C.D comprising all their old hits recorded anew with the original flavor of music as they had done at the inception. The recording and mastering of the songs were done by Eranjan and Viranjan Perera, the twin sons of Erinton. The C.D is marketed by Maharaja Entertainments.

So, 'The Fabulous La Bambas', the 'La Bamabas 2011' version will available at all leading music stores from early March.

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