Tam back at top of the pops

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am

Veteran singer Alan Tam Wing-lun has updated his classic tunes from 25 years ago to remind Hongkongers why he's still the king of Canto-pop.

His new album, The Root of Love - The Best Sound Ever Reborn, is a re-recording of his best-selling record The Root of Love - originally released in 1984.

Replacing electronic elements with an orchestra of more than 30 musicians called the Headmaster Symphony Orchestra, the album will be released before the Lunar New Year.

'Singing Love in Deep Autumn again stirs up plenty of feelings,' said Tam, who recorded the new album in about two hours with producer Chan Fai-young and the orchestra at Tuen Mun Town Hall earlier this month.

'That song introduced me to Chinese people in every corner of the world.'

The orginal recording of The Root of Love sold about 400,000 copies, making Tam one of the most popular male singers in the mid-1980s.

Chan said the album cover photo, which features Tam standing on a mountain top looking into the distance, represents the mainland as the root of Hongkongers' love.

'That's Chan's interpretation,' said Tam, laughing.

'I was there for the shooting of a TVB music programme and the white suit that I was wearing was borrowed from the TVB wardrobe.

A senior staffer from my record company was there taking pictures of me. Because we were in a hurry to release the album, one of the photos became the album cover.

'Then, there was no design or concept for my albums. They were the least costly to produce [compared to others], although they sold the most copies.'

It is almost impossible nowadays for any singer to release a new album that sells as many copies as Tam's did. Almost every number on the original Root of Love album was a hit.

'Nowadays, people celebrate with champagne when an album sells 10,000 copies,' said Tam.

'These songs emphasise a good melody. Nowadays, pop songs don't need melodies. They just focus on the rhythm. Times are different and everything changes quickly. A song can be very popular within two or three months but nobody will remember it a few months on. Things come and go quickly now.'

The same also applies to singers, who rise as quickly as they fall.

Tam said in his day there were fewer than 20 successful singers in Hong Kong's music industry, but today new singers popped up every month.

'How can one become a superstar? You have to accumulate enough credit to become one. These days many singers are just faces, doing plenty of promotion and appearing frequently in the papers.

'But that's not a true superstar because you won't get the approval of audiences. You need to have talent,' said Tam.

'But of course as a singer you need to be persuasive. If your words are empty, who will listen to you?'