Music Monday – Cambodia’s Lost Rock-n-Roll

For the love of music! (and humanity)!

Rock and roll for your soul . . .

Most of the videos in today’s Music Monday collection come from an album called Cambodian Rocks. I remember having dinner with Parallel World and Paul Wheeler (original member of the Moldy Dogs) when the album idea was hatched – back in the mid-90s. I used to have the cd as well, though I have since lost it or sold it during my travels. 

A little background on the time this music was made (from wikipedia):

Cambodian Rocks is a compilation of 22 uncredited, untitled Cambodian psychedelic and garage rock songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s. When the tracks were recorded, musicians in the thriving music scene were combining Western rock and pop genres with their own styles and techniques. When the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, artists were among those viewed as a threat to the regime’s agrarian socialist vision, and several of the performers on the album are believed to have been among those killed during the ensuing Cambodian genocide of 1975–1979. A great deal of information about them and their creative output was lost, although some has been recovered since the album’s release.

The compilation was assembled from cassette tapes purchased by an American tourist in 1994 and released on the Parallel World label in 1996. The album has been lauded for its music as well as its historical and cultural significance, though the label has been criticized for reissuing it years later without working to identify those involved. Through collaboration on the Internet, the songs have all been identified. Cambodian Rocks inspired the 2015 documentary film Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten.

In the years before the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, Cambodia had a flourishing music scene. Particularly in Phnom Penh, artists were combining traditional and native styles with those from the West.[1]

The Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, wanted to return the nation of Cambodia to an idyllic notion of the past by implementing a radical form of agrarian socialism while simultaneously shunning outside aid and influence.[2] To build and protect their utopian goals, the regime perceived enmity in anyone tied to the previous Cambodian governments, ethnic and religious minorities, intellectuals, and members of certain professions.[3] Artists posed a threat due to their own influence on culture, incompatibility with an agrarian lifestyle, or exhibiting foreign influence. Between 1975 and 1979, about 2million people (25% of the country’s population) were killed during the ensuing Cambodian genocide.[3] Several of the artists on Cambodian Rocks are thought to have been among those killed, and information about them destroyed along with much of their creative output.[4][5]

Trailer for the movie Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten that Cambodian Rocks inspired:

Also, check out Yesterday Once More from the Cambodian Space Project.

It’s horrifying that these musicians were considered enemies of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and were killed during the Cambodian Genocide.

I’m grateful these recordings exist. 

Savor the sound! Savor your creativity and the creativity all around you. Savor your life!

What do you love? What will you create this week? (I’d really love to know – feel free to comment).

Peace,

Holly

Both images on this post from The Cambodian Space Project:

Header: Bandstand image – photographer unknown

Also, I love this image, again, artist unknown:

yesterday once more

May 24, 2021
Flagstaff, AZ USA

Posted by

I'm a rock-n-roller poet who left the Big Apple for the Big Sky Desert where I've been letting it be and grooving with universal love, singing to the gods, dancing with the muses and bicycling with dreamtime messengers. I like altering my reality through imagination, movement, breath, and makin' stuff.

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