I’ve come across a digital distribution of a record purportedly by a 1960s Indonesian keroncong band called the Steps. It’s entirely instrumental, and includes versions of a standard or two. The music doesn’t compare well to better keroncong (var: kroncong, krontjong, keronchong) recordings I’ve heard, but it involves a mystery that I felt compelled to investigate. Since I haven’t been able to resolve it definitively, I thought I should at least document it.
So lovely! This is a reissue of a ’60s Indonesian guitar pop record that Warren Defever of His Name is Alive stumbled upon at the Salvation Army. Attempts to locate the members of The Steps proved unsuccessful, so he reissued it himself on the Time Stereo label (for folks who care, it’s a cd-r). Pastoral instrumentals with a classic, rounded 60s guitar tone. Everytime we play this in the store, someone buys it!
But the website slipcue suggests it’s a hoax:
The Steps “Krontjong Warna Warni” (Time Stereo, 2000)
A groovy hoax! This wild, offbeat, limited edition indie release purports to collect various rare 45 rpm singles from an obscure ’60s Indonesian surf band. It’s really just some clever indie-rock dude 4-tracking it at home, but it still sounds hella cool. The riffs are simple, odd, alluring, full of bizarrely drippy, dangling notes with a decidedly different musical sensibility… a weird blending of Indonesian music and European rock. Includes cover versions of songs by the Bee Gees and Andre Popp…
Slipcue is apparently the site of San Francisco DJ Joe Sixpack, who provides no contact information. I was unable to find any other mention of DJ Joe Sixpack on Google, except for some Amazon reviews written under the same moniker.
So is this a re-issue or a hoax? As of 2017, neither the content on Aquarius Records (quote above taken from google cache) or the Time Stereo catalog (site active but non-functional catalog) is online. The distribuiton I received has 24 tracks, the same as this reissue by the Silver Mountain Media Group, the label of said Warren Defever, and available through his His Name is Alive website as a digital download. But the item page for SMMG-023 shows only this image of a 12-track vinyl record.
Discogs, an authoritative source for record releases, lists several editions of this recording, including two vinyl releases out of Singapore: Prima 122217 (n/d, top) and PopSound 112217 (1969, bottom).
The Dutch research institute KITLV lists an acquisition (GR 49, 1970) its collection at University of Leiden library. According to a KITLV librarian in a personal communication, the item was acquired in 2011 in Jakarta. The KITLV record’s images look similar to the PopSound release, but the label appears to be Remaco.
Therefore, Remaco is the same label evident in the KITLV record, the SMMG listing, as well as in a third Discogs listing: Time Stereo (2000). This last discogs listing shows only the original 12 tracks, numbered as for a CD and not a vinyl record with A & B sides.
On the face of it, I would say it’s fairly clear that there were multiple releases of this album in 1969 and 1970. Probably initially by Remaco in Jakarta and then by Prima and PopSound in Singapore.
To me the curious thing is the “bonus tracks” on the SMMG release. Perhaps Defever, via Time Stereo, released a CD-R edition in 2000 (now evident only in the discogs listing), with the original track listing, and then sometime later, SMMG released a 24 track edition. But where did these bonus tracks come from if Warren Defever was unable to contact the band?
One of the most beloved Time Stereo CDs is now available once again (emphasis added) as a Silver Mountain download with new printable art and an incredible TWELVE bonus tracks!
I’ve heard a 24-track edition but none of the supposed (?) vinyl recordings nor the 2000 Time Stereo release, if indeed it is different from the 24-track version. But the source of the 24-track edition I have says he bought the CD-R from Time Stereo, and yet it’s 24 tracks, not 12.
Perking my ears further, nearly every track on this edition uses a rythmic patteren of beeps which seems to my ears unlikely to have been produced in the late 1960s. These sound like sync beeps used in video sound editing.
So it’s all a bit bizarre.
Whether it’s real or a hoax, it’s worth paying attention to the credits. Ibu Kota (the Capitol) is attributed as (“Massachusetts” by B.R. and M. Gibb, aka the Bee Gees). Massachusetts was released in 1967, making it consistent with a 1969 release for Krontjong Warna-Warni.