CD REVIEW

Philpop CD a harvest of new songs

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Various Artists “Philippine Popular Music Festival 2012: The 14 Finalists”/Ivory Music & Video

THE 1ST Philpop (Philippine Popular Music Festival) album is as an argument against the periodic claim that Original Pilipino Music (OPM) is dead. What this CD seems to be saying is, that claim should be put to rest because there is no such thing as OPM  in the first place.

The album offers a harvest of well-written new songs by the three winners and 11 finalists of Philpop—Pinoy acoustic pop (Keiko Necesario’s “3 a.m.”); Pinoy R&B (grand winner Karl Villuga’s “Bawat Hakbang,” second runnerup Soc Villanueva’s “Kontrabida,” and Thyro Alfaro’s “Himig ng Panahon”); Pinoy jazz (Trina Belamide’s “Bigtime”); Pinoy reggae (James Leyte’s “Brown,” and Edwin Marollano’s “Kesa”); Pinoy soul (Noah Zuñiga’s “Dulo ng Dila”); Pinoy rock (Mike Villegas’ “Negastar,” and Byron Ricamara’s “Takusa”); Pinoy folk (Krist Melecio’s “Piso,” and first runner-up Toto Sorioso’s “Tayo-Tayo Lang”); even a Pinoy adaptation of waltz (“Slowdancing”); and an inspired attempt to fuse Pinoy gospel and protest (Gary Granada’s “Minsa’y Isang Bansa”).

It does not mean there is nothing “original” in the 14 tracks. Lyrically the songs are honest reflections of the composers’ thoughts and feelings, most of them quite refreshing in approach, even as a few seem to have unwittingly borrowed lines from older tunes (compare “Bigtime” with Hotdog’s “Beh, Buti Nga”).

There is no use fussing over whether local music is in the doldrums; there will always be artists sitting in some corner, writing songs and waiting for the right time to play them.

Philpop has just given its first batch of winners and finalists a treat through this CD. The competition’s 2nd edition has just been launched, which probably means the guys behind it are serious. That’s very good news.

Led Zeppelin

“Celebration Day” (DVD-CD)/Atlantic; Warner Music

The band is gone, but the thrill is not, said a writer on the historical and cultural significance of Led Zeppelin and its music. In 2007, singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer Jason Bonham (sitting in for his late father John) got together for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert—a benefit show held at the O2 Arena in London.

The one-night gig not only raised money for university scholarships in the United Kingdom, United States and Turkey through an education fund established by Ertegun (whose record label Atlantic signed Led Zeppelin in 1968). It likewise set the stage for a rare appearance of one of the world’s greatest bands—wonderfully documented on this DVD-2 CD package released recently.

It’s hard to imagine that Plant is now 64, Jones is 66 and Page, by golly, is 68. And yet, one is totally amazed to discover that, at least five years ago when this concert was held, they had not lost the gifts that laid the groundwork for hard rock and heavy metal.

In this 16-track collection, the audience gets another chance to marvel at Plant’s banshee vocals, Jones’ melodic bass lines, Page’s instinctive guitar riffs, as well as Bonham’s aggressive drumming that’s eerily reminiscent of his dad’s.

For the uninitiated, “Celebration Day” is the perfect opportunity to learn how Led Zeppelin transformed the blues into a magnificent new music genre that was at once raw and sophisticated.

Many of the songs are grand in scope and structure, notably “Kashmir” and “Stairway To Heaven”—the latter an epic narrative that became an anthem of strung-out jeproks in Manila in the 1970s.

But the encore, “Rock and Roll,” goes back to basics a la Little Richard—with the lyrics holding special meaning to the reunion gig: “It’s been a long lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely time.”

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