Araw-Araw, Gabi-Gabi

Joe Cruz and the Cruzettes

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Araw-Araw, Gabi-Gabi - Joe Cruz and the Cruzettes (1975)

Quintessential Manila show band, Joe Cruz and the Cruzettes were the house band for the Manila Hyatt-Regency Hotel during the 70’s and recorded several LP’s for the Vicor Music Corp.  Their blend of Latin Jazz and Bossa Nova recall the bands of Sergio Mendez while their pop influences conjure up the harmonies of the 5th Dimension.  That sound is no more apparent as in this Bossa / Cha Cha track written by Willy Cruz (Producer) and Ernie de la Pena.  Starting with a slightly out of place synthesizer intro but quickly going into the Bossa rythym and then Cruzette’s dreamy harmonies.  The track will transport you to a 1975 lounge at the Manila Hotel sipping cocktails and carousing with locals and tourists into the wee hours.

Congress Alley

The New Minstrels

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Congress Alley - The New Minstrels (1974)

I recently bought this record mainly for the promise of a funky version of the Aretha Franklin track “Rock Steady” but instead was completely floored by their take on “Congress Alley” and that song’s lineage. 

Quick history.  The New Minstrels was popular Filipino showband (cover band) that recorded seven records and toured consistently before disbanding in the 80’s.  They were mostly known for a wide variety of covers from pop standards, Philippine classics, and jazz.  Their record “1” which I believe (wild guess) is their first record however, featured soul funk covers such as the Aretha song, a Billy Preston track and this soul groove nugget “Congress Alley.”

History on “Congress Alley.”  This song was first recorded by 60’s Massachusetts psychedelic band called Orpheus.  The title of the song was eventually adopted as the name of a Philadelphia funk soul band in the 70’s.  The band Congress Alley recorded their version of “Congress Alley” in 1973.  Interestingly enough, the band consisted of husband and wife duo Lee and Jacqui Andrews who are also the parents of The Roots’ Questlove.   This version by The New Minstrels remains true to Congress Alley’s version.  It’s seductive, psych and soulful.  Enjoy.

The Cisco Kid

The Grandells

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The Cisco Kid - The Grandells (1976)

A 1972 Billboard article reporting about Italian releases of Philippine labels Vicor, Villar and others mentions The Grandells as a leading purveyor of the then rising “rock revival” movement that was lead by Juan de la Cruz Band.  The Grandells were a funk, soul, psych cover band that was on the Grandeur record label.  Their records were distributed on the Italian label Durium Marche Estere.

Aside from mentions of the band in a few Pinoy Rock blogs, there is nothing more I have other than they like to wear matching vest/jeans, as in the cover of this 45, and this, their break heavy cover of War’s “The Cisco Kid” and, what I think is, a soulful mid-tempo original titled “For You Baby.”  Their version of the War classic is a little more sparse than the original but not any less funky.  The intro matches the original in its great buildup to that pretty wicked and familiar bass line.

I’ll post the other song shortly.

In the Middle of the Night

Rico J. Puno

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In the Middle of the Night - Rico J. Puno (1984)


From the aptly titled The Great Performer LP from 1984, one of the Philippine’s most dynamic and soulful singers that really made his impact during the Manila Sound era, Rico J. Puno was significant in supporting and promoting Filipino popular music in the late 70’s.  Puno not only sang original pop ballads by some of the Philippines’ most renowned song writers, but he also re-interpreted a number of American Soul music.

Asides from all the music stuff, he was probably the smoothest mack daddy of all contemporary Pinoy artists.  An all around performer with a  charismatic stage presence, Rico J., as he is also known, played to large venues and hosted his own TV shows.

This track is from his less heralded period, but it brings together his velvety song stylings with a very identifiable classic 80’s production.  It does sound a bit like something from Lionel Richie’s All Night Long or Quincy Jones’ The Dude.  You can almost hear James Ingraham doing some back up vocals.  Nice tune to dim the lights too.  

TheWayWeWere_Edit

Josie Quizon Andico

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The Way We Were (Home Recording) - Josie Quizon Andico (1980’s)


I was recently asked by a cousin of mine if I knew of a place that can convert a cassette recording into CD because she had this recording of her mom singing.  Ecstatic, I jumped at the chance to transfer the song into an MP3.   I couldn’t wait to hear my aunt, who had recently passed away, sing.

My aunt was the late Josie Quizon Andico and she was a trailblazing Filipino jazz singer from the 50’s performing in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and other countries as well as Philippines.  I won’t go into to much detail but she’s featured in Richie C. Quirino’s books Pinoy Jazz Traditions and Mabuhay Jazz as well as various web sites such as ( http://www.pinoytuner.com/features/view/1415/22/planetjazz/jazz_heart_presents_josie_quizon_andico#.UXok2Su4E1s ) .  A true pioneer in Philippine music.  She was also part of the showbiz clan that consisted of Zeny, Georgie, Laura, Auring and, of course, Dolphy Quizon.

Growing up I never really heard her sing.  I asked her one time if she ever recorded anything in the studio.  Maybe cut a 78rpm?  Sadly, she said she didn’t.  So to actually have this precious cassette in my hands made me really proud and honored.

This was a home recording long after her retirement from singing, I believe.  It’s her version of the Bergmans and Hamlisch tear jerker made a sensation by Barbara Streisand in the 1973 movie of the same name.  My aunt  was in her 50’s and her voice was still so clear and iridescent.

Excuse the cut off intro (someone must have been late on the record button on the cassette).  Hope you enjoy this rare recording and a major part of my family’s history. 

Totohanin Mo

Pilita Corrales

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Totohanin Mo - Pilita Corrales (Early 80’s)


By the looks of the album cover it’s pretty apparent that the Philippine’s legendary singer/entertainer and justifiably dubbed “Asia’s Queen of Song,” Pilita Corrales, was venturing off to unfamiliar territory.  Even though the record keeps in tune with the rest of her oeuvre of dramatic ballads, there is a distinctly modern and adventurous approach to the double LP Yakapin Mo Ako / Abrazame.

As the liner notes states, the record combined the talents of living legend Corrales, as well as the hottest producer, lyricist and arranger of the time (Jose Mari Gonzalez, Levi Celerio, and Dante Trinidad).  This was apparently a high budget affair that was mastered abroad.  

The production level is high and it’s in full strength in this track.  A string heavy, slow burn with definite Spanish influence, a Latin rhythm, a telenovela lustiness and a late-disco low end,  “Totohanin Mo” is a pretty captivating and hot little number.  Also has a great intro.

And finally, to quote from the liner notes, “The songs as interpreted by Pilita Corrales are not only sung with the tongue, but with life.”  (huh?)  Anyways, passion is Corrales’ bread and butter and this song does not disappoint.

Ikaw Pa Rin

Tito Mina

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Ikaw Pa Rin - Tito Mina (1980?)

Here’s a smooth bossa nova track from an under-appreciated artist from the Manila Sound era.  A contemporary of Hajji Alejandro, Rico J Puno and Basil Valdez, Tito Mina had a string of hits during the late 70’s to early 80’s before eventually leaving the Philippines to live in Europe with his European wife.  Wish I had more info!

Coincidentally, this is yet another re-working of the “I’ll Never Find Another You” Seekers track that Nora Aunor also recorded and I’ve also posted about.  When Filipinos like something, we like it to death.  This version is unrecognizable really from any of the previous versions.  Lyrics are different and it’s done in classic late 70’s Pinoy bossa groove perfected by Bong Penera.  Contemporary jazz bossa nova singer Sitti Navarro has also covered this version.

Nice vibe.  

Scarborough Fair

Dolphy w/Helen — Classic Hits Vol 2

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Scarborough Fair - Dolphy w/Helen (1965)

I picked up this inexpensive compilation of Tito Dolphy’s songs called “Classic Hits of Dolphy & Other Vintage Novelty Hits” on my recent trip to the Philippines and was really excited how great some of these tracks are even though the quality is really poor and half the album does not even have Dolphy songs on them (“Other” really means “Other People”).

A major part of Dolphy’s repertoire throughout the years has been song parodies.  It’s actually a great Pinoy tradition that is still carried on by contemporary artists.  Filipinos love to cover.  There’s a couple of great re-workings of other songs like the Peanut Vendor and Paul Anka’s “Diana.”  I chose this version of the British folk classic made famous by Simon and Garfunkel.  

The CD credits it as “Scarborough Fair” (Movie Theme) - 1965 and by Dolphy w/Helen.  I’m not sure which movie, but I think it maybe 1965’s Dolpinger (movie parodies was definitely his go to comedy medium as well).  I’m assuming “Helen” is Helen Gamboa.  I may be completely wrong, so please anyone, correct me.

This is such a great version of this song and a departure from the solemn Simon and Garfunkel version.  The intro would make a great sample.  Someone work on that.  Some of the vocals is vaguely done for comic effect, but this is basically a straight version of it and definitely 60’s groovy.

Siggy Siggy

Tribe —

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Tribe - “Siggy Siggy” (1974) from Ethnic Stew

In 1974 ABC Dunhill staff producer Big Dee Ervin decided to create a full track from a fade out of a song he produced for the label.  He called upon keyboardist and vocalist Earl Foster to complete the tune.  That song would become “Coke” and Ervin would name the project Tribe.  The track became a proto-disco hit and Ervin and ABC Dunhill eventually signed up the non-band with Foster changing the name of his own band called The Fourth Parallel to Tribe.  They recorded three records with various lineups.

The band consisted of a multi-ethnic lineup as evident by the name of the first record “Ethnic Stew” and further illustrated by the first two record’s cover art.  Each member dressed in their corresponding ethnic garb.  One of the members of the band is wearing a Barong and a malong, traditional Filipino clothing.  That Tribe member is Edward H. Romias, guitarist and vocalist or as named in the band’s second record Tribal Bumpin, “The Flip.”

The band was definitely a stew of various musical and cultural influences from funk, soul, Caribbean, Latin and 70’s  psych-rock.  A few of the songs incorporate Tagalog words as in this great track.  The band chants “mabuhay” and counts up in Tagalog.  The call and response breakdown at 4/4 to fade out is made to be the opening track to a great deep disco mix. 

Enjoy and hit me up if you know anything more about Eddie!

Tribe Info:

http://www.shampen.com/ABC-DunhillTribe.html

You Are My Sunshine

Vi Velasco

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Vi Velasco - “You Are My Sunshine” (1964) from The Vi Velasco Album

Trying to keep my good string of PGE posts this month in recognition of October being Filipino American History Month and this one is actually perfect being that this one is from a Fil-Am artist.  

Vi Velasco is a fairly obscure artist in the Fil-Am world not to mention the pop music sphere and I only discovered her from a random find of her record in San Francisco (or was it Pasadena?).  As the back cover claims “Vi was born in San Diego of Philippine parentage.  While attending City College in Los Angeles, she entered and won (of course) a talent contest on a local TV Show.”  The album cover goes on to say that Vi had stints on Broadway as well as Las Vegas.  Vi also recorded a Bossa Nova record with jazz saxophonist Zoot Sims in the mid-60’s.

I dug deeper into this record when looking to score a short film and came across this song.  On the LP, Vi covers Bacharach, King/Goffin as well as some original tracks, but this version of an American standard just stood out because I hardly recognized it.  It’s probably the most unique version of it I’ve ever heard (there may be other similar versions, but I’ve never heard it).  Vi has a powerful voice that would have (and did) find a home on Broadway and Vegas, but she definitely has some Nancy Wilson jazz/soul flourish and this song really makes that shine along with a lovely, lush, early 60’s Ray Charles style arrangement by Charles Calello.

I keep listening to this track and its lyrics of loss and heartache was never more apparent to me.  Written in 1939, it subsequently became the Louisiana state song as well as a children’s song for generations after, Vi made this version unrecognizable from the original and created a surprisingly moving piece that was really unexpected.

Wish I knew more about Vi.  Holler back if you do.

Happy Filipino American History Month!

I'll Never Find Another You

NoraAunor

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Nora Aunor - “I’ll Never Find Another You” (1969) from Nora Aunor Sings

From the “Girl with the Golden Voice” on her first record with Alpha in 1969 doing a Seekers UK folk classic from 1964.  This begins her meteoric rise and indelible imprint on Philippine popular music that would eventually lead her to one of the most influential and successful acting career the country has ever seen.  But  before all that, she charmed a nation as a teen with her unmistakably simple yet captivating voice.  

I know her music is lost on a couple of generations, but there’s so much to enjoy here.  It’s an enchanting and convincing version not to mention its gentle ring of poignancy in regards to the ever increasing Philippine diaspora.  Yes, her accent is so clearly evident on this English tune and isn’t it about time we Pinoys just enjoy hearing it instead of chuckling at it.  Aren’t we there yet?  To me, that just sounds like home.

Tuloy Pa Rin Ako

Labuyo

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Labuyo - “Tuloy Pa Rin Ako” (197?)

It’s just a nice Manila Sound era classic.  The kind of track that this immigrant soul needs once in awhile to survive.

More info to follow.  In the meantime, enjoy.

(Image of Manila Bay from the 70’s from sesantos.com)

Kung Ako'y

Sharon Cuneta — DJ's Pet

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Sharon Cuneta - “Kung Ako’y” from DJ’s PET (1978)

First PGE post in ages.

Not much to say.  From the Philippine’s “Megastar” on her first record, DJ’s PET in 1978.  She was 12.  

Recorded in the milieu of the Manila Sound era but still wrapped in the warmth of the hazy sun of Philippine 60’s and early 70’s folk pop.  Written by the Pinoy Folk Rock duo Verde and Clarino (Tass Verdeflor and Len Clarino).  Something comforting about this song.  It’s at the junction of Pinoy Folk and the Manila Sound.  The acoustic guitar and string arrangement is at one with the dreamy keyboards and persistent bassline.  Add Mega’s doe eyed cooing and it’s all funky and sweet.  Maybe there’s just an inherent sadness and blurry eyed longing when I hear anything Philippines circa 1978.  

Sexy Lady

Barrabás — Watch Out

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Barrabás  - “Sexy Lady” (1976) from Watch Out

Barrabás was a Spanish band formed by drummer Fernando Arbex in the early 70’s.  The band also featured Ignacio Egana on bass, Juan Vidal on keys, Tito Duarte on percussion and two Filipino brothers named Ricky and Miguel Morales on guitar and vocals.  They were originally more of the funkier Spanish version of Santana but eventually gained underground attention after Disco pioneer David Mancuso discovered their first LP at a record store in Amsterdam and began regularly playing “Wild Safari” and “Woman” at his legendary Loft parties during the embryonic stages of Disco in New York.

"Sexy Lady" is a track written and sung by, although not the main lead singer, Miguel Morales.  From their 1976 record Watch Out.  It’s a honey of a mid tempo groover with a relentless Herbie Hancock-esque hook and sweet falsetto vocals by Morales.

Don’t know much more about the Morales brothers, but it’s another example of Pinoys contributing to music scenes across the globe.  Even if they get stuck in the shadows (see pic below of the Morales brothers in the back row on the right)

Barrabás - Wild Safari (LP Back Cover) - 1972

Dont Ask My Neighbors

Boy Katindig — Midnight Lady

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Boy Katindig - “Don’t Ask My Neighbors” (1981) from Midnight Lady

Just a quick PGE post for this Saturday (err Sunday morning) from Boy Katindig.  Part of a long lineage of great Pinoy jazz musicians, Boy’s 1981 Midnight Lady featured some nice fusion funk pieces (“Language of Love” and “Midnight Lady”) but right now I’m feeling his version of the Skip Yarborough penned track “Don’t Ask My Neighbors” made famous by The Emotions and recorded by countless others.

For those who need a little Rhodes in their life right now.  Beautiful work on the Rhodes and mini-Moog by Boy that conjures up some of the best work by Bob James on CTI.  He’s a keyboard master and one of the legends of Manila Latin Jazz.