Rewind album: 'Listen to The Wynners', by The Wynners
Listen to The Wynners
The 1970s were the most important decade in the formation of Hong Kong's identity. Key local institutions, such as the ICAC, were founded, paving the way for the economic takeoff.
The baby boom generation of twentysomethings that emerged after the 1967 riots was in the offing and created a new hybrid of English-Cantonese culture for the city they called home. So in hindsight, Listen to The Wynners, the debut 1974 album from the era's most popular local band, is as iconic as the TV series Below the Lion Rock launched in the same year.
Celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, the band were barely a year old when they produced their first opus. The chic image of the five members - all with fashionably long hair, bell-bottom pants and platform shoes - appealed to the youth of the day. Led by lead singers Alan Tam Wing-lun (then 24) and Chung Chun-to (aka Kenny Bee, 22), the band redefined the pop music scene in Hong Kong.
Their first album contains all English songs, including the hits Sha-la-la-la-la, and Sunshine Lovers. The album also includes favourites such as Waterloo by Abba, and Listen to the Music by The Doobie Brothers. The all-English titles indicate that local musical tastes were very much influenced by the band tradition of The Beatles and light rock from the West.
The album came at the dawn of the Canto-pop age launched by Sam Hui Koon-kit with his debut Cantonese album, Games Gamblers Play, also from 1974. This all took place against a backdrop of a booming mass media, especially radio, which adopted the stereo format in 1976 and soon went on air 24 hours a day.
Although the English album sold like hotcakes, it did not take long for The Wynners to turn to Canto-pop. While Hui's songs tended to carry a moral message and appealed to the general public, The Wynners' repertoire catered mainly to the young and restless.
Hui had married in 1972 but the "Five Tigers of The Wynners", as they were called, were just as handsome, but available. Tam and Bee were the local equivalent of John Lennon and Paul McCartney in terms of their roles in the band and the place they held in their young fans' hearts. Lead guitar player Bennett Pang Kin-san was one of the best Hong Kong has ever produced. The same could be said of bass player Danny Yip Chi-keung and drummer Anthony Chan Yau.
Like The Eagles in the West, The Wynners may be inactive, but have never really disbanded. The five members went their separate ways in solo careers and in films in the 1980s. But they continue to perform in concerts from time to time, mostly singing the hits that encapsulated their past glories - and those of the bygone era.