The Spinners

Archive for the ‘Compilation’ Category

♪ Love Has Come My Way (Heart Evangelista, 2002) ♪

In Compilation, OPM, Pop, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 5:02 am

The first Himig Handog Love Songs spawned a lot of hits: “Hindi Na Bale” (Jessa Zaragoza), “Kung Ako Ba Siya” (Piolo Pascual), “This Guy’s In Love With You, Pare” (Chito Miranda), “Hanggang” (Wency Cornejo), “Kung Ako Na Lang Sana” (Bituin Escalante). Basically all the songs in the compilation, hearing them for the first time on the radio, were fresh and interesting, but it was Heart Evangelista’s “Love Has Come My Way” that easily became a classic. At the time Heart was managed by Star Magic, a bubbly if not trying hard host of Myx, and still hadn’t ruined her life being involved with Jericho Rosales. That’s when we really took her seriously, and this song seemed to close that part of her for good. Even when she screams “I LOVE YOUU!” in the bridge, we sing along with her and think she’s just being sweet. And when she tells And itch will always be a happy day / because love has come my way . . . how perfect can it get for an honest-to-goodness hearty laugh?

*included in the upcoming “A Decade in POP: OPM in 50 Songs”

– Richard Bolisay


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

Anthology Two (Eraserheads, 2006)

In Alternative Rock, Compilation, Dodo Dayao, OPM on December 7, 2010 at 4:32 am

The first one did make sense as completist fanaticism—preying not entirely on sealed-over scars and the nostalgic reflex of disheartened fans, sucking in even above-it die-hard Eheads otaku with that bonus track carrot dangling from its tail. It helped that the bonus track “Sa Tollgate” was no castoff. Still, some kid just out from under his rock and without the age nor the cash flow to imbibe the discography in toto would have more of a use for what was essentially a pair of pricey mixtapes. As capitalistic fetishizing of entry-level Eheads, it was utilitarian, exhaustive, generous. And if said kid’s first pop rush comes from the awful school of colloquialism-is-authenticity Eheads Lite like, say, Rocksteddy and the truly awful 6CycleMind, the first Anthology constituted a public service. Assuming said kid’s still strapped for change but keen on moving up the oeuvre makes milking this monkey the second time more than sensible, almost an act of evangelical largesse, albeit unwittingly. Flogging dead horses is still the business model of record companies. Above-it die-hard Eheads otaku may wonder, though, about any carrots dangling from Anthology Two’s tail—like another bonus previously unreleased please.  Sadly, there’s nothing here. Not a live track, not even outtakes, not even some hackneyed remix, not even more “Punk Zappa.” You do get non-album flotsam curated in one place—1896’s “Casa Fantastica” and Burger Machine’s jingle “Tikman,” both of which have respectively grown more skittish/playful and more resonant—but nothing new.  Doesn’t sound remastered to my unschooled ears either—and, getting real here, the murk of Natin99 demands taking digital soap and water to it. Fancy new Arnold Arre sleeve art, then? That’s all you really get in lieu of real bang for your buck. Plus 28 tracks over 2 discs.  Newbies rejoice, then. Time hasn’t been as kind to the ratty spunk of “Tindahan Ni Aling Nena” and “Shirley” even as “Shake Yer Head” proves wise beyond its years, so the lazy chronological sequencing actually has a sense of upward progression, kicking in proper by the time you get to the second disc, to the desperate prettiness of “Balikbayan Box,” the moody smolder of “Spoliarium,” the brittle fluff of “Playground.” This is, of course, second layer, not second-tier, Eheads. Which is to say it goes deeper, not lower. Which is to say its repertoire may be less embedded in brainpans—“Futuristic” is the catchiest song here, “Kailan Lounge” the most ubiquitous by default—but sonically more adventurous, compositionally more nuanced, emotionally more cathartic. Which is to say the songs are bang for your buck enough.  Kid’s gonna be in for a blast.

– Dodo Dayao

Eraserheads Anthology (Eraserheads, 2004)

In Alternative Rock, Compilation, OPM, Thor Balanon on April 20, 2010 at 7:51 am

“Rock n’ roll is our epiphany, culture, boredom, alienation, and despair.” – Manic Street Preachers, Little Baby Nothing

1991. I was a miserable lost boy when I first heard the Eraserheads play “Pare Ko” in the Para sa ‘Yo Bagong Isko concert in Palma Hall’s cramped lobby. And they sucked, big time. Sloppy guitars, pitchy vocals, absolutely forgettable performance. Lousy, really, but loved. The support was almost cult-like; everyone knew the words, there was feverish adoration in a thousand eyes. And despite my freshman virtuousness and ignorance, I immediately got it. Right away I understood the iconic yet reserved worship the band received in the echoing halls of the campus, when everybody started shouting the now-immortal lyrics: O! Diyos ko! / Ano ba naman ito / Di ba, tang-ina! / Nagmukha akong tanga / Pina-asa niya lang ako / Letseng pag-ibig to! No other band could be sweet, desperate, and funny at the same time like the Eraserheads.

Their college-rock sound defined the nineties. From their 1993 debut, the hilarious, Beatlesque ultraelectricmagneticpop! to their fuzzy, Sonic Youth-influenced Carbon Stereoxide in 2001, the Eraserheads were consistently imaginative and brave. Though not always successful with their experiments, Ely, Buddy, Raimund, and Marcus consistently (and stubbornly) rocked with the confidence that they knew what they were doing. And rightly so. They wrote songs that appealed to almost everyone. With the release of their debut album, suddenly the kolehiyalas and the hukbalahiphops were listening to the same music. It didn’t matter who you were—student, professional, war veteran, or a senator—the band held your attention and you were glued to the band’s amazing pop hooks and brilliant, yet simple, lyrics. The Eraserheads were and still are the band to beat when it comes to astute songwriting and popularity clearly evident in their double-disc collection of singles and rarities aptly called Eraserheads Anthology.

Disc 1: 1993-95. All the hits. Immediately fulfilling.

Everything that was loved and cherished is here. It perfectly opens with “Ligaya”, an aw-shucks confession of love and an offer that you simply cannot refuse: Gagawin ko ang lahat pati ang thesis mo. Next up is the masterpiece ode to heartbreak and drinking, “Pare Ko”. Unfortunately, what’s included here is the clean version, which takes away the childish pleasure of screaming Di ba, tang-inaaaaa! And when it comes to irreverent pleasures, the Eraserheads definitely know our secret tasty thoughts, like expertly dissing an ex in the crunching guitars and headbang sing-along chorus of “Magasin”: Di ko inakalang sisikat ka / Tinawanan pa kita / Tinawag mo akong walang hiya/ Medyo pangit ka pa noon. Heh.

“Alapaap” was almost banned from the airwaves (Masdan mo aking mata / Di mo ba nakikita / Ako ngayo’y lumilipad at nasa langit na / Gusto mo bang sumama) when the Senate tried to rid radio of drug-laced songs to stop, uh, drug use. I guess it didn’t help that the opening shoe-gazing, psychedelic guitars are deliciously dizzying before the solid riff kicks in and you’re gently lifted by the soaring chorus.

Speaking of choruses that are explosively contagious, “Ang Huling El Bimbo” features one that is downright perfect, the kind of perfection that landed the Philippines a niche in MTV’s buzzing media matrix. Comparison to Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” is inevitable and that’s not bad at all. Eraserheads may also be accused of being too derivative but they make up for it in the pulsating energy and lyrical invention of their songs. “Ang Huling El Bimbo” is an epic-scale tale of childhood love and grown-up loss complete with obsessive violins and a rousing guitar lead. But at the heart of this big production is a tender story of an ordinary man’s first awkward step toward love. Of course it all ends violently, but what’s left as the violins fade is the subtlety of love’s beginning and the fierceness of its remembering.

Ely Buendia, lead lyricist of the early albums, understands the fine art of subtlety. He effortlessly balances humor with gentleness, universal themes with sharp character/story details. “Minsan” was never a huge single, but surprisingly, it always encouraged drunken sing-alongs. It’s just brilliant how one specific reference (Kalayaan) can resonate in the hearts of hundreds.

“Minsan” defines the tone of the first disc. These were the great songs we listened to as we struggled toward adulthood. They were the friends that made us laugh as we suffered through heartaches and hangovers. They kept us company when we were lost in speeding jeepneys, when we were horny in our empty beds, when we were happy on the walk home with our loves.

Disc 2: 1997 – 2004. Experiments, EPs and an unreleased track. Not that great but still important.

1997’s “Sticker Happy” was loud, brash and experimental. They still had hits like “Huwag Kang Matakot” and “Maselang Bahaghari” but nothing as phenomenal as their previous singles.

A welcome addition to Disc 2 is the Eheads’ cover of Ryan Cayabyab’s “Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka”. Think of it like “Superstar” by Sonic Youth in the Carpenter’s tribute album. Unlike the version that has been relentlessly murdered by a particular songbird, Eheads’ “Tuwing Umuulan” retains its delicately shining melody, as the fuzzy guitars and bass reverbs work around the lyrics. They place the familiar against an edgier, audacious soundscape and what we get is a version that is as fresh as wet paint, sticky and vibrant.

Other experiments, however, did not fare as well. “Fruitcake” always had a novelty feel to it, “Bogchi Hokbu” is fun but flat, “Julie Tearjerky” feels like a pop hook exercise, and “Run Barbie Run” sounds just what the title implies, rushed and nowhere to go. But the thing is, with the Eraserheads, you never felt that it was about the money. They could’ve continued to churn out materials similar to their first three albums but they chose what most of us are scared to do, to grow up. Their sound matured, got less melodic, got louder and sonically more adventurous. While hardcore fans admired the growth, most felt alienated by it. But the band had no regrets. In what could be their best written song, “Para Sa Masa”, Ely pays tribute to the “masa” without the usual token we-love-you-all put-on. The dialogue is honest, kind and straightforward:

Ito ay para sa mga masa…
Sa lahat ng aming nakasama …
Naaalala nyo pa ba?
Binigyan namin kayo ng ligaya.

Ilang taon na rin ang lumipas,
. . . Mapapatawad mo ba ako?
Kung hindi ko sinunod ang gusto mo.

Pinilit kong iahon ka
Ngunit ayaw mo namang sumama.

Ito ay para sa mga masa,
Sa lahat ng ibinaon ng sistema…
Sa lahat ng mahilig sa lab song at drama . . .
Sa lahat ng fans ni Sharon Cuneta,
Sa lahat ng may problema sa pera.

And this is why I consider the Eraserheads the best band in Philippine history. They were brave and unapologetic but they also understood. They’re almost too fucking intelligent for their own good and their titanium-assed determination to write music was never compromised. The Eheads knew that their next few albums will never be the spectacle that was ultraelectricmagneticpop! They knew that they would be leaving behind multitudes of fans (and vice versa) but in the end, their loyalty was to music. And I’m guessing that this was the same loyalty that led to the break-up of the band. Maybe each of them had a different vision of what music to write or perform and had to follow opposite musical paths. I’m making this all up of course because I want a happy ending in my head. And I know they’re all out there with new bands, but it’s just not the same.

Eraserheads Anthology ends with a previously unreleased track, “Sa Tollgate”, a relaxed, middle-of-the-road song. We’re all in a pick-up truck driving nowhere, uncertain but happy. We should all be so lucky.

– Thor Balanon

♪ You Are The Blood (Sufjan Stevens, 2009) ♪

In Compilation, Electronica, Folk, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on January 26, 2010 at 10:22 am

Sufjan’s version is more than twice the length of the Castanets original—the longest in the RHO’s compilation album, Dark Was The Night, in fact—but that doesn’t mean he’s just showing off. He’s done the same ‘horsing around’ before, and quite majestically I must say: his version of “A Free Man in Paris” may have baffled and delighted Joni Mitchell, and I’m sure Bob Dylan, if he had the time to listen to I’m Not There’s soundtrack, would be pleased with his charming orchestration of “Ring Them Bells”. Sufjan continues to outdo himself—taking projects left and right, helping co-artists, contributing to wonderful compilations such as this—and with “You Are The Blood” he stays with the same subtle interest; his music never fails to stir our hearts and imagination. Listening to the crazy ornamentation, the elaborate alternation of instruments, the meticulous arrangement—not to mention his alto voice that is rather horrifying—I think the man just deserves our warmest hug for all he did last year. I hope he goes back to being cheerful.

– Richard Bolisay

Go—The Very Best of Moby (Moby, 2006)

In American, Compilation, Dance, Dodo Dayao, Electronica, Techno on January 8, 2010 at 6:50 am

Never mind the career overview bollocks. Single-record Best Ofs—Ok, the import has 16 tracks and a remix bonus disc, we get 15 tracks and no bonus disc but this is the Philippines, what’d you expect?—smack of cash-in.  A no-brainer, that. This is techno’s poster boy of sellout. Yeah yeah, the cross-purposes between art and commerce have long ceasefired and nearly everyone sells out, cashes in. So why hang the DJ? Moby did it mega than most is why. But let’s be fair here. We go back, me and this born-again crusading straightedge showbiz geek vegan purveyor of melancholic techno.  Him meshing spooked-up Twin Peaks strings with electro-throb on Go (still his finest four minutes) was, barring primordial New Order, my unofficial indoctrination into electronica per se and the record that came after, Everything Is Wrong, my first time to forage blind in unknown—and, in theory, forbidden, for the rockist prude I used to be—territory since someone fed me the Residents’ Eskimo without qualifiers. Him finding Jesus literalized the rave/church parallels all those techno-drug tropes were hinting at, eventually making the Gospel Vs. BPMs of Play somehow both wondrous and trite. And his upfront, fiercely idealistic activism had the headbutt you want from activism. You could say half of  Go—The Very Best of Moby is the falling from grace, the way it pays mere lip service to the stellar Everything Is Wrong, wisely sidestepping the career kamikaze of Animal Rights, but bearing out the pedestrian self-cannibalizing  of 18 and Hotel—the sound of turntablist ingenuity outing itself as one-dimensional popcraft. Unfair to dis him on that, though, as half the alt-rock/dance brethren of his time trafficked in fluff more throwaway than his. Least Moby’s had a sense of its own fleeting quality, its uselessness. And had its moments—“Move” is nearly sublime, “Feeling So Real” pumped-up and full-on, We Are All Made of Stars” secondhand Enopop that holds up, “In My Heart” derivative but pretty, and new track with Debbie Harry superstar walk-on “New York New York”: pointless but fun trash-glam wankery.  It’s actually the other half of the Go tracklist, spewing forth from his tasty but overexposed Play, previously and rampantly whored out to sell everything from SUVs to Leonardo DiCaprio, that plays more like a fall from grace. The pitfalls of underestimating advertising and its power to deteriorate and supersede whatever empathies pop music forges  in you,  to trivialize it into no-context fuzak, to make it nearly unlistenable as anything but an elegy to that ruinous point of no return when a song that once took you to the river now just reminds you to upgrade your cellphone.

Dodo Dayao