Sunday, February 25, 2007

Cambodian 60's Music

I suspect that like the music that is documented in the now seven volume Ethiopiques: The Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music, 1969-1975 series on Buda, the music of Cambodian Rocks probably grew out of some kind of night club scene in urban centers like Phnom Penh. Ethiopiques and Cambodian Rocks document thriving Western influenced musics that were squelched by communist takeovers. The lights went out on both scenes in 1975 and in Kampuchea the commies killed the video stars.
There are no band or song names much less any discographical information on the CD. (For a minute I thought this might be some kind of hoax a la John Lurie’s latter day black-face Marvin Pontiac Zip Coon act. Compiler Paul Wheeler’s initials are also the initials of the label Parallel World.) The story goes that Wheeler was on his way to the ancient Cambodian ruins of Angkor when he noticed the bus driver incessantly playing a cassette of this music. Intrigued, Wheeler was later able to hum one of the tunes at a cassette stall and purchased a handful of cassettes. Cambodian friends told him it was a style known as circle dance music. Cambodian Rocks is drawn from these cassettes.
There is no doubt that the musicians of Cambodian Rocks were not only listening to Western rock and R&B but mastering it. Bits of surf, wild R&B, girl-group vocals, garage, post-garage psychedelia, Cuban bongos, and even some pre-punk snarling vocals swirl about often in the same song. One song features a strangled screaming vocal on a cover of the Booker T and the M.G.’s instrumental “Hip-Hug-Her.” There is a long standing tradition in popular Cambodian music of singers teasing their audience during performances and that playfulness is apparent on Cambodian Rocks. There is a knowing self awareness to many of the vocals that anticipates the absurdist tongue-in-cheek irony of so many contemporary Japanese bands. Not only have these musicians absorbed late 60’s Western Rock and R&B their chops are so flawless and assured it’s almost if they are actually mocking the Western models, deconstructing them—in the correct Derridaian sense, thank you—and one uping the sources, more hijacking than parodying.
Despite this virtuosic tomfoolery with Western rock, regional folk styles are in the mix most notably the Thai-Laotian mor-lam whose accents and I-IV-V chord structure merge neatly with rock’s 4/4 beat and blues chord progressions. More.

I’ve been to Cambodia a couple of times and after hearing the original Cambodia Rocks CD I decided to pick up some similar music of my own. I then compiled it on to my own personal CD of 13 tracks which is available here in either MP3 or FLAC format. At least three of the tracks do appear on other compilation albums, but I don’t believe the others have been compiled. I’ve also included the artwork to my CD which utilizes the original artwork from the Cambodian cassettes. There’s no track listing because it was all written in Khmer. I hope you enjoy it!

P.S. Attention Khmer speakers! Can you identify the tracks on this compilation by going here.


Anonymous said...


The Filesend share seems to have been retired... Any chance you might be able to repost it?

best regs,


Mr. B.Normal said...

Hi Jim,

I'll update the link ASAP.

Mr. B.Normal said...


The link's update now.

Anonymous said...

Here is a list of some of the artists/songs found on the all anonymous "Cambodian Rocks" album published by Parallel World in 1996. You can cross-reference the material at

1. Cyclo by Yol Aularong
2. Chnam oun Dop-Pramp Muy “I’m 16” by Ros Sereysothea
3. Tgnai Neh Kyoum Yom Sra by Ros Sereysothea
4. Untitled Track
5. Srolaunh Srey Touch by Sinn Sisamouth
6. Jom Jongvak Twit by Pan Ron
7. Untitled Track by Pan Ron
8. Rom Sue Sue “Dance Sue Sue” by Sinn Sisamouth
9. Jum Brum Kia Thiet by Ros Sereysothea
10. Untitled Track
11. Ma Pi Naok by Sinn Sisamouth & Ros Sereysothea
12. Untitled Track
13. Untitled Track
14. Untitled Track
15. Kerh Snae Kyoum Thay by Ros Sereysothea
16. Untitled Track
17. Untitled Track
18. Untitled Track
19. Untitled Track
20. Untitled Track
21. Untitled Track
22. Untitled Track

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for going to the trouble of uploading this music- it's really great.


staticult said...

Great compilation but... could you post it as MP3s instead of WMAs. I love what you've done, I just can't enjoy it as readily in that format.

SCM said...

Thanks very much!

Mr. B.Normal said...

Sorry, I forgot that my original upload was in WMA format. I've now re-uploaded as MP3s @ 320.

Zero G Sound said...

Very interesting share, thank you!!!

Jeff said...

Hi folks, found this post while searching for something else. However, I am a big fan of classic Khmer music, and I have made some websites for some of my favorite singers, complete with a bunch on MP3. Check 'em out -

yoshime* said...

amazing compilation! thank you very much. I've been looking for a long time since I listened a song compiled in LCD Connection :)

Anonymous said...

can you reupload the songs? link doesnt work

Mr. B.Normal said...

The link still seems to be working fine.

Daniele 66sixties said...


Anonymous said...

Here is the list of all the Artists/Songs on "Cambodian Rocks," by Parallel World:

01. Jeas Cyclo / Ride Cyclo [Yol Aularong]
02. Chnam Oun Dop-PramMuy / I'm 16 [Ros Sereysothea]
03. Tngai Neas Kyom Yam Sra / Today I Drink Wine [Ros Sereysothea]
04. Sou Slarp Kroam Kombut Srey - Rather Die Under the Woman's Sword [Somnang + Tuk]
05. Srolanh Srey Touch / I Love Petite Girl [Sin Sissamouth]
06. Rom Jongvak Twist / Dance Twist [Pan Ron]
07. Knyom Mun Sok Jet Te / I'm Unsatisfied [Pan Ron]
08. Rom Sue Sue / Dance Soul Soul [Liev Tuk]
09. Jam 5 Kai Thiet / Wait 5 More Months [Ros Sereysothea]
10. Jah Bong Ju Aim / Old Sour & Sweet [Ros Sereysothea] common title: Krav Pe Bong... Oun /Besides You... I.
11. Maok Pi Naok / From Where [Samouth + Sothea + Pen Ron + Dara Jamchan] [composer:Voy Ho]
12. Phneit Oun Mean Evey / What Your Eyes Has? [Sin Sissamouth]
13. Yuvajon Kouge Jet / Broken Heart Man [Yol Aularong]
14. Jol Dondeung Kone Key / Going to Get Engage [Meas Samon] [Composer: Mai Bun]
16. Chnang Jas Bai Chgn-ainj / Old Pot, Tasty Rice [Ros Sereysothea]
17. Kone Oksok Nas Pa / We're very Bored Dad! [Ros sereysothea + Dara JamChan][composer:Voy Ho]
18. Kom Kung Twer Evey / Don't Be Mad - [Ros Sereysothea]
19. Penh Jet Thai Bong Mouy / I Like Only You [Ros Sereysothea]
20. Sralanh Srey [Chnas/ I love mean girl [In Yeng + Pen Ron]
21. Komlos Teng Bey / Three Gentlemen [Sin Sissamouth- Meas Samon ][composer:Voy Ho]
22. Retrey Yung Joup Knea / The Night We Met [Ros Sereysothea]

Anonymous said...

hey .. paddy?
im deep into khmer music right now and ive gone thru everything i could find..
just finished listening to yr disc..
i like track 07 alot. But i cant make out who that is. Can you please tell me the artist name?


Mr. B.Normal said...

Hi Adam,

Sorry, I don't know who it is. The original tapes I took it off are all written in Khmer. Saying that, I'm sure it could be Sinn Sisamouth becuse I think the same song appears on the Cambodian Rocks CD. You can find it here:

Sweeny said...


I'm really enjoying your Cambodian Swing Machine collection, many thanks!

I came across your worthy site because I've recently discovered Dengue Fever,and wrote about them on my own blog.

You're probably aware that the second track on your collection was covered by Dengue Fever as "Tiger Phone Card" and is robably their strongest song. It was really a surprise to hear the original!

I hope you don't mind, but I've put up the track on its own as part of a post on my blog. I've directed people over to here if they're interested in hearing more.

I promise I don't normally leach off other people's posts but I felt if ever there was a case of a lost music deserving a wider audience, this was it. If you have a problem with this, do let me know and I'll take it down.

Again, many thanks, good work!


Mr. B.Normal said...

Hi Sweeny,

Glad you like the collection. That's no problem about the track. The more people who listen to this music, the better. I'm sure it's what the original artists would have liked.

dahlzel said...

Great stuff indeed! If you'd like to learn more about this music, check out the following two films.

Sleepwalking Through The Mekong (
The story of Dengue Fever's first concert tour of Cambodia

And, in progress, a full-length documentary about the music of Cambodia from the 60s and 70s.
Don't Think I've Forgotten


Mr. B.Normal said...

Thanks Dahlzel,

I've heard of the Don't Think I've Forgotten documentary. I'm looking forward to it coming out. I wonder when that will be?

One of my friends saw Dengue Fever in Phnom Penh and said it was a great show.

Here's a great Youtube clip of an unknown Cambodian band playing the Kink's All Day and All of the Night:

Akin Ercan said...

A surprisingly good compilation, can't stop listening to this tracks, astonishing heavy stuff amongst it. Sadly most some of these musicians were killed by the Khmer Rouge. Thank you very much!

lizm62 said...

Hello: would love to hear your cd, went to sharebee site, all links were for uploading, not downloading. Can you help? thanks!

Mr. B.Normal said...

I think there's a temporary problem with the Sharebee site. Here are all the active links which were on it:

Anonymous said...

I've gone through all the cambodian rocks stuff and radio phnom penh and while it's all great cause I love khmer music your cambodian swing machine is the best compilation I've come across! Not to get greedy but do you have any more? Or could you recommend where I might find more? It's not like you can get the stuff on itunes. Anyhow thanks for the great mix

Mr. B.Normal said...

Many thanks for your compliments!

Have you heard the Cambodian Psych-Out album?:

I don't have any more of this music myself. If I was more organized I would pick up more because I usually visit Cambodia at least once a year. Maybe I will in the future.

demoKam said...

fantastic, this is really extraordinary... some hot, hot cuts here that I haven't found anywhere – #2, 6, 7, 11, 13. amazing and once you hear these, it's hard to imagine a world without them, and think of how close we came to that. also makes you wonder what the heck else is out there and what just never made it through? jeebus, that guitar...!

seriously though, thanks SO much for this.

demoKam said...

by the way, any way you could post a scan of the track names and artists so we could get them trans'd?

Mr. B.Normal said...

Hi DemoKam,

Many thanks for your comments!

I don't have the original cassette covers with me as they're all packed away. I work overseas from where they are stored.

I have thought about getting them translated at some point in the future, but to be honest, I won't be able to do it for a while.

demoKam said...

Packed away eh? I know the feeling! Who knows what other sonic you have hidden away in there.

It's OK, I'm going to Cambo soon anyhow and will track down some info on these. I think that a lot of the key ones on there are all Sinn, his voice is pretty unmistakable.

Really getting into #11 right now, despite a bit of a musty intro it tucks into a seriously sweet, dark flute groove that just makes you wonder where this guy could've gone in time. Sick organ solo in that there as well.

Mr. B.Normal said...

Let me know if you find any info on them. That would be much appreciated.

Have a great time in Cambodia, it's a great place.

shiidii said...

Great compilation, I haven't been able to find any of the track titles, but they all mostly sound like Ros Sereysothea and Sinn Sissamouth songs.

I know Track 3's title is:
Soum Bong Kor Pok Mout Teu by Ros Sereysothea

Cocomaan said...

I am passing this CD on to a friend who had to carry a gun and fight in the civil war at the age of 15. He emigrated to the USofA and I'm sure would really like to hear this.

Thanks so much. I don't know anything about Cambodia, but you've just made someone really happy.

MarĂ­a Laura said...

Hey, thanks for the music, really intersting! greeting from Germany :)

Anonymous said...

If you get a chance to listen to "10,000 love" Khmer oldie, sung by Pan Ron, its pretty catchy..wish I can post it up somewhere or perhaps Youtube might have it.

Anonymous said...

The 6th Track is:

Ros Sereysothea - Kerh Snae Kyoum Thai


Mr B Normal - I've downloaded this using the Megaupload site but I can't extract the rar, file seems to be corrupt. Can you help me out?

Mr. B.Normal said...


I've just downloaded the file and extracted it without a problem, so it's definitely not corrupted. Maybe there was a glitch with your download, so give it another try and you'll probably be okay.


Perhaps it's just the Megaupload site because this time I downloaded from Rapidshare and all went well. I had sent the link to a friend and he also had the same problem downloading the file from Megaupload. Fantastic share and much appreciated in 320mg or not and tracks untranslated as demoKam suggested back in 2009. I'm listening with my ears, not my eyes. Thanks!!

Chas Peterson said...

Yeah, the MU link is borky. RS works fine.
This is an amazing time/space capsule. Totally cool. Thanks!

Jean-Sien said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I was wondering if you could include jpg files of the cover and of the song titles in khmer? I can translate it if you like... It would be really sad not to tag all those great songs properly.

Mr. B.Normal said...

Hi Jean-Sien,

Many thanks for your offer. The trouble is I still have the covers, but they are all packed away in storage. I won't be able to get them for quite a while because I work overseas.

It would be great having them translated, and I'll try to remember to look for them when I'm back home. If I find them, I will post them here.



Unknown said...

hello there,
the download links are no longer working, perhaps due to the megaupload shutdown. would be great if you could upload them again, perhaps through mediafire?

greetings from belgium,

Mr. B.Normal said...

Hi Seb,

Thanks for letting me know. I've now re-uploaded it using Mediafire.


Anonymous said...

This sounds amazing and I linked in from the Cambodian rocks page that I desperately found after deleting my album accidentally. However, umm... the file you uploaded is an exe :\ Is there another link to this great mix?

Mr. B.Normal said...

I've re-uploaded it, so give it another try and I think you should be ok.

Dancymi said...

Thanks for the great music!..Do you have the list of the tracks and artists for you own 13 track compilation?

Mr. B.Normal said...

Hi Dancymi,

Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry, I don't have a tracklisting. The original tapes were all written in Khmer, so it was impossible for me to translate. I couldn't even work out which was side one or two.

I do still have these originals packed away somewhere, but currently they're not assessable.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the hard work!

If you ever have the time to do so, could you please upload the cassettes covers with the khmer track names?

Anonymous said...

I guess this is the annual request for track names or scans of the khmer cassettes so someone can translate them? Please?

Mr. B.Normal said...

I haven't done them yet because I don't have access to them as I work overseas and they are in storage back in my home country. All is not lost though because I'm returning home in April and I have to sort out all my belongings because I won't be able to store them any more. When I do, I'll definitely scan them and post them here. The challenge would then be to match the songs to the titles, which I remember wasn't very easy when I originally ripped them. Anyway, stay tuned because they should be done.

Sereibanndith Seang said...

If people haven't realised it already, Don't Think I Have Forgotten has realised there OST for their documentary in iTunes and CD. The sound quality is superb and I think most are from the original vinyl. Also Bophana Centre in Phnom Penh compiled a great "Back to Rock" album which was really well done as well.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea: scan the original track listings from the cassettes and upload the scans for your audience to figure out and translate. Trust the hive mind of the interwebs.

Mr. B.Normal said...

The good news is that I've finally been able to upload the scans of the original track listings for the cassettes I used in the hope that someone could identify the tracks:

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hi, there. I've heard a few of these on youtube. Great! Please refresh the dl link for the FLAC folder if you could. I'd really appreciate it. Thank you for this.