Introduction. Most discographies and discussions of Faye Wong’s (王菲) albums begin with Shirley Wong, released in Nov 1989. It’s as though Faye came out of nowhere, with little or no previous recording history. But every fayenatic knows that she had established a career in mainland China before she moved to Hong Kong with her family in 1987. For many of us English-speaking fans, these pre-HK albums are vague and mysterious because they’re seldom discussed and almost never heard. I don’t think there’s a single YouTube video of Faye performing in this early period, 1985-86, when she was 15-17 years old. In an attempt to fill this gap, in the next few days, I’ll be doing a four-part series on Faye’s mainland albums. This is the first installment.
Even before moving to HK in 1987, Faye had already made quite an impression on record producers in China, who saw her as a youthful phenom. In 1985, she released two albums (on cassettes — CDs hadn’t been invented back then), Enchanting Kaler (迷人的卡勒,1 March 1985) and Where Comes the Wind (风从那里来, 15 June 1985). She was only 15 years old. Less than a year later, when she was 16, she was so highly regarded that producers decided to release an album titled Faye Wong Collector’s Album (王菲珍藏集, April 1986). It’s better known as Miss Charm (迷人小姐). The producer of the third album, Wei-yuan Production (卫元强制作), released a CD version on 19 Oct 2004, retaining the original title, Faye Wong Collector’s Album (王菲珍藏集).
Before getting into the very first album, though, I think it’s worth noting that Faye was not only a strikingly beautiful and talented adolescent. She was also an extremely bright student. While still in high school, she took and passed the examination to enter Xiamen University (厦门大学), which is one of the most prestigious and selective universities in China. Faye could very well have gone on to a brilliant academic career if chance hadn’t stepped in and sent her to HK and the now well-known path to recording history.
Faye’s very first album. Enchanting Kaler (迷人的卡勒), was released on 1 March 1985, when she was 15. It was a cassette with 14 tracks. In 2003, Focus Music Ltd., China, released a CD version with 13 of the 14 tracks:
01 Moonlight Serenade 月光小夜曲
02 You Illuminate My Heart 你照亮我心
03 Harmonica Story 口琴的故事
04 Postman (English, The Carpenters’ “Please Mr. Postman”) 邮递员
05 Top of the World (English, The Carpenters) 世界之顶
06 The Hometown Has Never Refused Me 故乡从不拒绝我
07 Young Age 年纪轻轻
08 Destiny (Japanese) 命运
09 Forget Him (Guangdong) 忘记他(粤)
10 Often Worry About Past Events 往事常牵挂
11 Rose Garden 玫瑰花园
12 Enchanting Kaler (English) 迷人的卡勒
13 Today’s Happiness, Tomorrow’s Dream 今天的欢乐明天的梦
The engineering and production aren’t great by today’s standards or, perhaps, by standards in HK, Tokyo, Taiwan, and other Asian metropolises of the day, but what it lacks in technical sophistication is made up in talent, energy, and pure spirit. You can’t help but feel the electricity that 15-year-old Faye Wong was creating in China’s emerging pop world. In this album, she does the Carpenters in English as well as a Japanese song. Click on the audio icon below for a listen to Faye’s Carpenters’ cover, “Top of the World.” Her voice is still that of an adolescent, but it holds all the beauty and promise of the diva that she’ll be in a few short years.
“Top of the World”
“Please Mr. Postman”
“Enchanting Kaler” (English)
Parts 2 and 3 in the series:
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