The Malaysian singer Shake is back!
With his fragile style, translucent figure, abundant ash-gray hair, unchanging physical appearance and his uncategorisable, kaleidoscopic personality, the Malaysian singer Shake is back for the greater pleasure of all.
He made it big in the mid-1970s with a launch to stardom worthy of a fairy-tale. He was singled out in a Malaysian bar by a couple of girls who were so charmed by his voice that they sent him a one-way plane ticket to France. Spotted by Orlando, Shake stimulated French popular music with the eclecticism, open-mindedness and a breath of fresh air that had often been sorely lacking.
And success came pretty quickly. Shake is someone who, unlike other renowned vocalists of the time, their renditions artificially confined and beefed up in a studio, has a naturally sonorous and supple voice, as incomparable as it is resonant. And as a secret fan of rock and roll, he also has a powerful voice that can match the best rock frontmen.
But the epoch was marked by romanticism and the Malaysian singer created a music that is infinitely personal, comes straight at you and tells the story of a beating heart.
A whole string of catchy hits with a few memorable nuggets such as “You know I love you” which, after his appearance on the “Rendez vous du dimanche” talk show hosted by Michel Drucker, sold 40 000 units in one day. Other hits include Quand on ne peut pas avoir la fille qu’on aime (When you can’t have the girl you love), Je chante cette chanson pour toi (I’m singing this song for you), Rien n’est plus beau que l’amour (Nothing is more beautiful than love), La fille que j’attendais (The girl I was waiting for), Soleil aide moi (Help me, Sun), L’étranger au paradis (The foreigner in heaven), Elle s’en va (She’s going away), Avec elle (With her) and, naturally, Let me be your number one.
These are real pearls whose nostalgia never goes stale and which were not only successful in French-speaking countries but also in Holland, Italy, Germany, Spain and in Asia where he was granted the title of “Dato” (Sir) and knighted by the King of Malaysia for having represented and introduced Malaysia to a European public.
So Shake was the first Southeast Asian artist after Bruce Lee to pursue such a prolific career outside his own country. And he was also awarded the prestigious Chevalier des arts et des lettres et du mérite medal for having promoted French language and culture in Asia.
In any event, Shake is open to many influences and capable of deserting the beaten paths of variety and working happily elsewhere backtracking if he feels like it. And so having spent 15 years in Europe, he stepped onto the American stage and collaborated with producers / artists such as Michael Sembello (who wrote and interpreted one of the songs in Flashdance and has worked with many internationally-famous artists including Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson). He’s also given memorable concert performances like the one for Valentine’s Day in 1998.
Yet, as a true traveller, singing his life as he lives it, head in the clouds and always ‘elsewhere’ (which made Dalida say of him ‘He comes from distant shores but his talent was worth the journey’), Shake is now back in France.
From amused poses to accepted pauses in his career, the ex-singer of the 70s, with 60 million records sold has become an icon without ever taking himself too seriously. He has always been driven by an artistic ambition and inspiration so rare in the music industry these days that one can only hold him in admiration.
And so it was that recently he made a winning comeback with Live Nation at the Alhambra (he’s the first French artist to be acclaimed in this way by Live Nation) where once again all the richness and abundance of his repertoire, the range and diversity of his compositions was to be seen and heard as well as the sleek stage performer himself, in total contrast to the often simplistic image of a crooner. Because Shake is above all a singer who defies compartmentalisation. For music is always where his heart has led him. And with each performance you can measure the commitment, emotion and energy he puts into his music. This is what the French public will rediscover during a vast concert tour which coincides with the release of a Greatest Hits CD.