Yellow music

Cuong Pham

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Photograph: Vu Nhat Tan

We arrive at Dan Sinh market in Ho Chi Minh City on a sweltering afternoon. The monsoon season is just starting. After parking our scooters, we dive into the stands, which sell everything from army apparel to fruit and vegetables. A middle-aged man directs us to an antique stall. Immediately I spot discs inside a glass cabinet. The owner of the store pulls out more from various places. I go through the LPs hungrily, pausing now and then to wipe my sweating hands on my trousers.

I straighten my back and take it all in: somewhere, from another stall, Duy Khanh’s deep voice echoes softly. I recognise it as his later stuff, produced after 1975, in California.
Back to the LPs, some battered sleeves don’t correspond to the vinyl inside. Much to my delight though, I find a copy of Gap Nhau Tren Pho by Mai Le Huyen and Hung Cuong tucked inside a Hoang Oanh sleeve. I already have one at home in London, but will get it for a friend in Hanoi.

Next stop is Déjà Vu Audio. From the outside it’s not obvious there’s a record store inside, but there it is, on the third floor. Two friendly faces and tattered copies of Beatles albums on the wall greet us. Apart from a signed Japanese pressing of a Khanh Ly album — a highly sought-after record by arguably the most famous female singer from Vietnam — they don’t have much else. The owners say the last of their pre-’75s went to a Hanoian.

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