In my humble opinion, it has got to be Justin Lusah’s volume 1 (1976).
Why? For starters the album has at least 5 total classics: favourite songs of every sumazau music lover – I bet you won’t find any Kadazandusun, young or old, with the slightest interest in local music, that won’t know these songs. Guaranteed available in every karaoke bar, at least in Sabah.
Even after 30+ years, it still towers above all the others.
Just look at this lineup, especially the first 5, it’s a dream team!
1. Sumandak mantad sunsuron
2. Namot nu poingsikul – beautiful refrain repeated over and over again
3. Odu aki – I think this is should’ve been selected as a national song, rather than Jambatan Tamparuli. Perhaps the English lyrics proved to be its undoing.
4. Kada arau monduli – Probably this is the first instance ever recorded of the now ubiquitous keyboard intro riff. This song was rerecorded in Volume 2; but I prefer this more laidback version. Another beautiful refrain repeated over and over again.
5. Oi darling – This features a keyboard riff that was fashionable in the 70s and early 80s. Nobody uses this riff nowadays. This song was rerecorded in Volume 2; but I prefer this more laidback version. Another beautiful refrain repeated over and over again.
6. Sumulok bawang Sunsuron
7. Ralan Kumaa Kinabalu
8. Pitongkiadan Kito do Toruhai
9. Kosusaan Id Piginawaan
Not a single weak track – this is Mr Lusah’s masterpiece. Tracks 6 to 9 seemed rather obscure in comparison, due to the incomparable heights reached by tracks 1 to 5.
This album does NOT contain “Jambatan Tamparuli”: that appears in volume 2, apparently produced in the same year.
Having said that, local album covers during that era usually featured artistes in various poses, unfortunately in forgettable garb, never in an Oscar de la Renta for example…