Category Archives: Turkey

Optikler

Optikler, 1967 Milliyet pop music contest, March 12, 1967: Gökhan Cansen, Jan Kurban, Kemal Ebcioğlu, Rüçhan Çamay (one of the judges), Bülent Terem, and Osman Kermen
Optikler announced as winners of the 1967 Milliyet pop music contest, March 12, 1967 From left: Gökhan Cansen, Jan Kurban, Kemal Ebcioğlu, Rüçhan Çamay (one of the judges), Bülent Terem, and Osman Kermen Click to see full article

 Optikler with Selcuk Alagoz and Vasfi Ucaroglu Milliyet, April 5, 1967
Optikler with Selcuk Alagoz and Vasfi Ucaroglu
Milliyet, April 5, 1967
Kemal Ebcioğlu – lead guitar
Jan Kurban – rhythm guitar
Osman Kermen – organ
Bülent Terem – bass guitar
Gökhan Cansen – drums

The band is Optikler. Although the 45 labels list the artist as Robert Kolej, that was their school, not the band name. “Robert Kolej” refers to the Robert Academy in Istanbul, more of a high school than a college. Lead guitarist Kemal Ebcioğlu was 16 while the rest of the group was 19 years old. Optikler translates as The Optics, a reference to the glasses all the band wore.Optikler won the Milliyet newspaper’s second annual contest of high school pop bands in March, 1967, an event that was televised to an audience of over 20,000. and announced in the paper under the headline “future stars are born”. Their set list at the finals consisted of “I’m a Believer” and two originals, “Köylü Kizi” and “Show Me A Way”.

Optikler sleeve: Jan Kurban, Osman Kermen, Bülent Terem, Gökhan Cansen and Kemal Ebcioğlu
Picture sleeve for their only single
From left: Jan Kurban, Osman Kermen, Bülent Terem, Gökhan Cansen and Kemal Ebcioğlu

Robert Kolej's Optikler Sayan Milliyet 1967 45 Koylu KiziOne of the prizes for winning was this recording, released on the Sayan label. The A-side was Kemal’s composition “Köylü Kizi” (translates to “Country Girl” or “Farmer’s Daughter”), a great instrumental with baroque influences to the hypnotic introduction.The flip is a cover of Peter Paul & Mary’s “Very Last Day” (though possibly known through the Hollies version), and for the most part it’s instrumental and also pretty good.

Optikler – Köylü Kizi

 Hafta Sonu Ilavesi, April 16, 1967
Hafta Sonu Ilavesi, April 16, 1967

 October 20, 1967
October 20, 1967
After the contest the band played occasional live shows and did some radio and TV work, with the last mention I can find announcing their performance during the 1968 contest festivities. After Optikler, Kemal Ebcioğlu started composing classical music, then worked in computer science in the U.S.

Mr. Ebcioğlu wrote to me about his career in Turkish pop music:

Thanks for noticing the fugal introduction to Koylu Kizi. I had just started studying counterpoint and harmony books at the time. The instrumental version of “Very Last Day” on the B side was adapted from the Peter-Paul-Mary version, if I remember correctly.

Speaking of Turkish popular music in the 60’s and 70’s, FYI, in 1974, I composed the song “Seninle Bir Dakika” (“A Minute With You”) that represented Turkey in the 1975 Eurovision Contest.

My late father Hikmet Munir Ebcioglu wrote the lyrics. Turkey came last in that contest! It was a difficult year for Turkey politically, right after the Cyprus events in 1974; and in hindsight, our song was slow and not sufficiently catchy for Eurovision (the Netherlands song won the Eurovision competition that year). However, Seninle Bir Dakika has remained popular in Turkey and is considered a classic nostalgic song now.

 The fans go wild... Milliyet, February 22, 1967
The fans go wild… Milliyet, February 22, 1967
Optikler on Radyolar at 11:55 Milliyet, June 6, 1967
Optikler on Radyolar at 11:55
Milliyet, June 6, 1967
 Cem Karaca, Apaslar and Optikler in Milliyet, October 23, 1967
Cem Karaca, Apaslar and Optikler in Milliyet, October 23, 1967
 Article in Milliyet, November 3, 1967
Article in Milliyet, November 3, 1967
Optikler Sayan Milliyet 1967 PS back
Flip of the record sleeve

Birsen Armağan with the Yurdaer Doğulu Orchestra


Ad for Birsen Armağan’s first Melodi single in Hafta Sonu Ilavesi (Weekend Edtion), February 1967.
Yurdaer Doğulu is listed as “guitarist with the National Orchestra”.

Here’s a neat single from female vocalist Birsen Armağan with the Yurdaer Doğulu Orchestra, one of a dozen singles from Turkey I found while on vacation in the Florida Keys earlier this month. “Helvaci” has an interesting guitar and bass opening, but I prefer “Gül Ayşe”, with it’s unusual rhythm and long guitar intro.

This 45 dates to early 1967, and though the instrumentation is mainly western (electric guitar and bass, organ, drums) the songs are very much in a Turkish style.

Her 1968 single on Melodi, “Gel Gel Gel” (“Come Come Come”) / “Ah! Yalancilik” (“Cinderella Rockafella” – a song by Mason Williams and Nancy Ames popularized by the Israeli duo Ester and Abi Ofarim) is much different, as “Gel Gel Gel” is straight-up ye ye style pop.

I don’t know much about Birsen. She may have done some film work as well, but her singing career seems to have quieted in the early ’70s. I don’t know of any other records by Birsen though I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of more.

All the news clippings shown here come from the Milliyet newspaper and its weekend edition, Hafta Sonu Ilavesi.

Thanks to Max “King Boogalouie” for the second Melodi 45 scan and transfers.


First notice I can find of Birsen, from 1964.

Concert ad, February 1967

December 1968

Solo artist, 1969

Ad for a concert engagement in 1971

Berkant with the Vasfi Uçaroğlu Orkestrasi

While vacationing in the Florida Keys last week I hit a couple of the local thrift shops. One had some good LPs including an unplayed promo copy of Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera (mono US issue on Epic) – not a bad thrift find in this day and age. A second shop seemed like a bust and I was about to leave when, on top of a box of VHS tapes, I found a stack of a dozen Turkish 45s circa 1967. Some of the records looked as if they’d never been played, and one was even in the original small paper shop bag it had been put into when it was purchased over 40 years ago.

From this batch, here’s Berkant with the Vasfi Uçaroğlu Orkestrasi: Turgut Dalar (piano), Nevzat Yalaz (saxophone), Erol Sidal (trumpet), Jean Sirap (guitar) and Erdoğan Serdar (bass). Vasfi Uçaroğlu is the drummer; his frisky fills and fast tapping are the highlights of these songs.

Berkant sang with this group from about 1965 until 1968, when they added a female vocalist, Kamuran Akkor. In fact, Vasfi Uçaroğlu’s Orchestra is the group backing her on “Sevgi Nedir Hiç Bilmedim”, which I featured a few years back. For much of 1968 both singers performed with the group, as shown in many listings and ads in newspapers from the time.

“Şu Aydinin Uşaği” reminds me of “Jaan Pechechaan Ho”. “Dere Geliyor Dere” draws from some of the atmospheric effects of Italian soundtrack music from the time, plus it has some fine stop and start passages. This was released on Sahibinin Sesi, which I believe translates to “His Master’s Voice”, thus the logo on the right of the label. Turgut Dalar arranged both sides.

I can’t find any detailed information on Berkant, but some info on Vasfi Uçaroğlu is here, though in Turkish, and I haven’t found a good automatic online translator for Turkish to English yet.



Muzik Ve Genclik (Music and Youth), November 2, 1968
Inset is Kamuran Akkor, another vocalist with Vasfi Uçaroğlu’s group.

Milliyet, May 24, 1969

Milliyet, June 7, 1969

I’m not sure what this clipping is about!
Kadin (Women), October 10, 1968

Kamuran Akkor


Great sleeve – but it doesn’t go with the song I’m featuring below…
Kamuran Akkor has had a long career in music beginning in 1968. Kamuran is the sister of singer and actress Gönül Akkor.This is her fourth single, I believe. “Sevgi Nedir Hiç Bilmedim” is a jaunty pop number with horns, featuring the band of drummer Vasfi Uçaroğlu. I think this 45 originally came with a picture sleeve – if anyone has the right sleeve for this single please contact me!

Muzik Ve Genclik (Music and Youth), November 16, 1968
To Kamuran’s left is Berkant, and directly behind them is Vasfi Uçaroğlu.

Another cool photo – this release from 1973