The vintage sound of luk thung, Thailand’s country music, continues to grow in popularity worldwide. Luk thung translates in English to “children of the fields” and it refers to the people outside of Bangkok who live in rural settings. Originally started during the 1930s, it wasn’t until 1964 when the term luk thung was first applied. As Thailand looked to move away from their colonial influences in search of their own identity, luk thung was embraced as a return to Thai culture. Thanks to Dust-to-Digital, listeners can learn about the history of this music through extensive liner notes courtesy of Monrakplengthai’s Peter Doolan as they dig into Luk Thung: Classic & Obscure 78s from the Thai Countryside.
As luk thung took off, musicians implemented diverse instrumentation which gives this music a unique sound. Small Latin-inspired horn sections blended with accordion or piano over a variety of Thai folk percussion, including thon, rammana (hand drums), ching and chap (small cymbals). These slow tempo songs, laced with minor-key brass melodies are sung with passion and typically deal with everyday hardships. The result is a mix of Latin American, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian influences combined with American film music, country music and yodeling.
The “King of Luk Thung,” Suraphon Sombatcharoen, kicks off this set and while he is only credited with one track, his significance is abundant. A composer of over 100 songs, Sombatcharoen developed great popularity during the 1950s and continued to rise to fame until he was shot and killed on stage in 1968 at the age of 38. He put together incredible live shows with numerous singers, dancers, musicians and comic actors. He was also a heartthrob which earned him the title of “Thai Elvis” and his songs would often touch upon love gained and lost. Sombatcharoen is just one of the artists featured on this album which provides a great introduction to luk thung and the outstanding musicians who shaped the genre.
Luk Thung features Thai music primarily from the 1950s and early 1960s, collected from 78s and neatly compiled by David Murray of Haji Maji. Dust-to-Digital doesn’t mess around with their releases and the fourteen tracks on this collection are all tremendous. Listeners will be surprised with the amount of variety there is on this compilation. Be sure to pick this up at your local record store or bandcamp and revel in the intriguing sounds of luk thung.
01. Suraphon Sombatcharoen – “Suai Ching Nong (Truly Beautiful Girl)”
02. Chan Chainat – “Ban Na Pha Suk (Happy Farmhouse)”
03. Aniao T.T.T. – “Utthayan Dok Bia (Garden of Debt)”
04. Namphueng Boribun – “Nak Kamphra (Orphan Monk)”
05. Suchat Thianthong – “Nam Tok Nang Loi (Nang Loi Waterfall)”
06. Narong Namchai – “Pha Hom Hua Chai (Blanket for the Heart)”
07. Phloen Phromdaen – “Ruedu Haeng Khwam Rak (Season of Love)”
08. Waiphot Phetsuphan – “Boeng Ai Si Sao (Look at Me, Girl)”
09. Tueanchai Khwanchit – “Mia Thahan Phan Suek (Veteran’s Wife)”
10. Roengchai Mueangsamut – “Tam Nok Noi (Follow the Little Bird)”
11. Anucha Na Tharuea – “Klom Khwan Nang (Comforting My Darling)”
12. Waiphot Phetsuphan – “Chiwit Rak Nak Rong (Love Life of a Singer)”
13. Mitt Mueangmaen – “Phu Ying Rai Muean Fai (A Woman Vicious Like Fire)”
14. Waiphot Phetsuphan – “Khut Thong (Digging for Gold)”
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