Tuesday, August 29, 2017

80s Pinoy Punk bands gather for Eighties Enough

80s Pinoy Punk bands gather for Eighties Enough
by rick olivares

The romance with the 1980s as a decade is in full swing. All over pop culture are 80s themed shows from Transformers, Stranger Things, Deutschland 83, The Americans, Ghostbusters, and Red Oaks to name a few. Flicks such as The Lost Boys, Blade Runner, and Lethal Weapon are due up.

In the recent Spider-Man Homecoming film, British New Wave band A Flock of Seagulls received a healthy dose of attention as one of the songs in the soundtrack.

Domestically in the Philippines, there was the successful Urban Bandits reunion concert last February and now its highly-anticipated follow-up this September 30 called, Eighties Enough”.

Taking part in the concert organized by Lock & Load Productions at B-Side The Collective are 80s punk rock bands Betrayed, Wuds, Philippine Violators, Collision, and the Urban Bandits.

These five bands came up in the early 1980s and had albums released in cassette format by Twisted Red Cross records that was put up by Third World Chaos’ Tommy Tanchangco (who is currently working for ABS-CBN). These bands were outspoken against the Marcos dictatorship at that time and their music reflected the anger and tension of the times.

Betrayed put out a controversial if not infamous album that featured for its cover the front page of an issue of People’s Tonight with then sexy starlet Vivian Velez. The album music-wise featured two editions of the band with original vocalist Eddie Siojo presiding over the “Then” side with its punk songs having a more reggae-bent. The “Now” side featured the Dominic Gamboa (who went on to greater fame as aka of reggae outfit Tropical Depression) era that was more in tune to the nascent hardcore scene sweeping the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Urban Bandits featuring vocalist Arnold Morales released “Independence Day” that has become one of the best-selling punk rock albums in Original Pilipino Music history. Like Gamboa, Morales switched to a Jamaican music influenced crew in Put3ska in the early 1990s.

Although the Wuds (featuring vocalist and guitarist Bobby Balingit) released their first album in the 80s with “Arms talk” under Twisted Red Cross, it was their independently released third album, “At Nakalimutan ang Diyos” in 1994 that is perhaps their most critically acclaimed album.

Collision was a UST-based punk band that was featured in the TR release that was a compilation album featuring various bands called, “3rd Bombardment Rescue Ladders and Human Barricade”.

The Philippine Violators are the only outfit to have put out an album recently – “Noon at Ngayon” that was released in 2015. Betrayed and Urban Bandits are in the middle of recording their second album that are three decades overdue.

The original Twisted Red Cross cassette albums are prized today by music collectors and fans alike with good and working copies fetching for huge sums of money.

Ticket price for Eighties Enough is pegged at a flat PhP350 that not only gets you inside to watch the show but also comes with a limited edition cassette that featured classic tracks from all the night’s performers.

Picked up a couple of books about Paul Weller & John Lennon at Booksale

Monday, August 28, 2017

90s bands alive and kicking with Alert Level Silver Anniversary

90s bands alive and kicking with Alert Level Silver Anniversary
by rick olivares

For a couple of hours last Saturday, it looked like there was a time warp.

Three of the original members of Color It Red were on stage at one point when Mike Villegas joined Cooky Chua and Barbi Cristi-Paraguya on stage for “Paglisan”. Former Betrayed frontman Eddie Siojo was on stage performing “Never Meant to Be This Way” with the Rizal Underground who covered the song on an album of theirs. Famed music photographer Eddie Boy Escudero was there… of course with his camera. Producer and manager Jing Garcia was there. The Breed’s Johnny Besa was in the house to lend support in the absence of his bandmates. And some of the early members of Tropical Depression were on stage to close out the night.

Last Saturday, August 26, the Alternative Nation of the 1990s came together for the “Alert Level: Silver Edition: The Digital Release Party” at the Roadhouse Manila Bay much to the delight of fans who packed the venue. Baguio City-based singer Laura Jane opened the show with the Breed unable to perform.

Color It Red
Alert Level was a seminal compilation album that came out in 1993 that featured Color It Red, the Breed, Rizal Underground, and Tropical Depression. The album was a hit and all four bands were signed to record deals and went on to score some huge hits in the aftermath.

“For a moment there, it was like we were back in time,” underscored Rizal Underground singer and Alert Level producer Stephen Lu who also celebrated his birthday on the same day. “But more than celebrating, we also remember those band members who aren’t with us anymore such as Dominic Gamboa (Tropical Depression frontman) and Manny Amador (guitarist for the Breed). They both contributed heavily to make the music scene what it is today.”

Rizal Underground

Of the four bands that appeared on the album, only Color It Red and Tropical Depression still perform with vastly different line-ups.

“The significance of the album,” thought Chua when asked of the impact of Alert Level. “Siguro tignan natin yung musika sa independent at underground scene. Diyan naman nangagaling lahat. At mahalin natin ang sariling atin.”

In an interview with Besa prior to the show, the bassist who still performs with the Blue Rats to this day talked about the reception of the public and music fans to Alert Level, “The reception of the album back then was overwhelming. Respectively, all of the bands on it were already popular in our respective geographical areas and word spread fast back then even without Facebook. All our media partners in radio and television were quite cooperative contributing to the spread of the album’s popularity.”

Tropical Depression

Aside from the anniversary show and the digital release on Spotify and iTunes, the re-mastered album will be available on compact disc this coming October according to Lu who has worked on the project since late last 2016. “This will be a good opportunity for music fans to avail of the album that is rare right now,” noted Lu. “We will make the proper announcement when it’s ready for release.”

During the show, Eddie Boy Escudero who captured the excitement of the alternative years of the 1990s through his camera, told us, “These bands never get old. They are like wine, they get better and sound better with age.”

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Essential Punk Records from the Philippines: Badburn’s “Bound by Blood”

Essential Punk Records from the Philippines: Badburn’s “Bound by Blood”

Released on compact disc by Universal Records in 2001.

This was the first local hardcore crew signed by a major label. A crossover band, Badburn’s hardcore was infused by hip hop grooves. The move caught many by surprise because the 90s band explosion had already waned. Back then labels big and small signed bands by the truckload many of which didn’t amount to anything or sounded like shit.

Consider this – the label once asked alternative rockers the Weed to record a reggae-sounding song that was so unlike anything else on their repertoire because their music wasn’t pop enough. This is the same label that wanted to tear up the contract of Datu’s Tribe on account of playing hard rock when they said hard rock doesn’t sell unless it’s Bon Jovi. Well, Datu’s Tribe went gold, motherfuckers.

Anyhow, years later, in the opening track of “Bound By Blood” – “Realm of the Wicked” Badburn used the word “motherfucker” twice; bitch, once; and shit, twice”.

And that was just the opening track.

There are 19 expletives and four-letter words littered throughout the album. No doubt, if the band had their way, there’d be more. In the lyric sheet, whoever from the label tried to soften the venom by using the letters “MFKS” to abbreviate “motherfucker” missed out on it once. And there it motherfucking is in all its glory in the last track “41”.

Like I said, prude. Pretentious fucks. It’s a good thing, Badburn isn’t.

They bulldoze you with 12 brutal tracks behind lead singer Marben Romero’s agro-assault and the crunching guitar David Abaya. Bassist Hendrick Gonzales and drummer Libyano laid down the foundation for their bone-crunching beat.

What makes this band stand out is they built on their hardcore influence with tinges of jazz, odd time signatures, rap, and the knack for groove. While other bands will turn up the aggro, for Badburn it is all about the groove. In fact, in later incarnations of the band, they added more guitars to add more depth. But the groove, it’s got meaning.

The album revolves around themes of unity, strength, and seizing the day while taking aim at the unbelievers, haters, and doubters. When I first saw them in Club Dredd and listened to this album, there was an elation that we had our own hardcore band just like the crews from New York that I followed. Even after all these years, I still get a kick out of listening to this album.

“Bound By Blood” also has its share of guest performers such as Russell dela Cruz of Sky Church, Marc Abaya (then with Sandwich), Mon Mancio (Tribo Manila), and Wam Molina (Brownbeat All-Stars) who all add to the style Badburn has found.

So how did “Bound by Blood” do? The entire run sold out. However, the band never recorded another album for Universal and went back to their underground roots releasing an EP and their second full-length album after their major label debut.

More than a solid debut, this album gave hope to every punk and hardcore rocker out there.