THROWBACK: Dara Puspita

You may have met Dara Puspita this past summer, when Sublime Frequencies recovered old recordings, and released a comprehensive twenty six track album exploring their most beloved work between 1966-1968. Back then the all-girl band spun Indonesia into a frenzy–British Invasion style, taking over Bangkok with wild shows of tropical garage and western pop. Which all-in-all, was pretty ballsy considering the government had recently banned the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, citing their music as “a form of mental disease”.

Dara Puspita draws heavily from established rock n’ roll, but carry their own commanding spunk as well. “Pip Pip Yeah”, uses the Beatles “Drive My Car” as a springboard to launch into their own shrieks, whistles and the kind of yelps you make when checking for echoes…tentatively testing their bravado. The swooning ballad “Believe Me” is a distinctive single, but I found myself drawn to the strained voices and jungly oo ah’s of “Semua Gembira (All Happy)”, as well as the tag team of surfy tempos in “Mabuk Laut (Sea Sick)” and “A Go Go”.

What’s most revolutionary about Dara Puspita however isn’t their music, though it is great classic pop music; it’s the fact they persisted as a band under such an oppressive Communist regime. Koes Bersadaura, a band often sharing the stage with Dara Puspita, was slapped with three months of jail time after singing “I Saw Her Standing There”.   So for the quartet to continue within such a highly charged political climate, and under constant threats of jail, shows amazing determination. The girls stuck to their guns (er..instruments) for eight years, and eventually toured Europe after the fall of Indonesia’s Communist regime.

Click here for “PIP PIP YEAH” !

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