The Spinners

The Best of Manila Sound: Hopia Mani Popcorn (Various Artists, 2006)

In Compilation, Dodo Dayao, OPM, Tribute on December 7, 2010 at 5:17 am

Hal Willner, he’s down with the dogma that God really meant the tribute album for bigger things than just some glorified vanity KTV for pop stars with time on their hands who could use a little extra cash. Took it for the gift it was and ran with it, to extreme avant-juxtapose no less—pitting Keith Richards against Mingus, Michael Stipe against Bambi, Lou Reed against Kurt Weill. Not everyone’s idea of fun but then that Dolly Parton tribute Just Because I’m A Woman, with all those gorgeous female voices singing gorgeous country songs, or that Neil Young tribute The Bridge, brimming with back-in-the-day alt-rock royalty, was down with the dogma, too: reframe the song, push the singer. You do cover songs to untuck unfamiliar wrinkles in the overfamiliar. Re-contextualize, find new frissons. Otherwise, you’re a wedding band only in it for the ka-ching! And, in the case of Hopia Mani Popcorn, it’s the ka-ching! of all those units Kami nAPO Muna shifted. Didn’t take Viva long, eh? Bandwagon-jumping is an ostensibly, relentlessly Pinoy sport. And so is overkill—Volume 2 of this is apparently in the works. The so-called Manila Sound this comp is a valentine to was that relatively fertile stretch in the late 70s when homegrown pop loosened up, expanded its range of tropes, and embraced them full-hilt. Stands to reason, the catalogue would be ripe for re-contextualizing, even extreme avant-juxtapose. Glorious possibilities, nearly all squandered. Rope Manila Sound fetishists Kala in but give “Macho Gwapito” to Protein Shake—which they ruin, of course? Give the funk band and the hard rock band funkified vamp and power ballad, respectively, to play with? OK, Kapatid’s P.O.T.-in-everything-but-name “Hanggang Kailan” and DRT’s Gapo-grimy “Tao” do rise above the dross on nothing more than the give they pitch in with.  Belaboring the obvious a little is all.  Tribute albums come riddled with safety nets already, so whatever happened to that indie spirit of adventurism? The cojones brandished like principles of faith? A little better off with Up Dharma Down, that whip up a thick fugue to swirl around “Bitin Sa Yo,” nailing the unbearable yearning, the determined coyness of the words that disguise. Otherwise, it’s the kind of redundant blah that’s as worth pressing on CD as fart noises. Wedding bands on parade, at turns anonymous and vanilla (Join The Club, Soapdish), middling and half-asleep (Kitchie, Mayonnaise), downright appalling (6cyclemind, not surprising) and pure flatulence (Rocksteddy, even less surprising). “Kapalaran” does mutate wonderfully into blackly comic noir-soap. Radioactive Sago Project, they’re down with the dogma, too, more than anybody else here. “Kapalaran” almost justifies this volume. Nix Volume 2 and line them up for the Rico J tribute.

Dodo Dayao

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