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REVIEW

Songs about everything under the sun in engaging 3-CD set

/ 06:09 PM August 22, 2011

GARY GRANADA

“The Essential Gary Granada Collection”/PolyEast Records

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A few months ago, Gary Granada gave friends copies of his entire body of work, bundled in a 22-CD collection. “Nobody buys them anyway,” he joked.

A major label has since acquired the publishing rights to 60 of Granada’s songs, resulting in this 3-CD compilation. Listening to it gives us the pleasure of understanding the heart and mind of one of the country’s most prolific and brilliant singer-songwriters.

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The tracks are not arranged in any discernible order, though some appear to be grouped according to themes. But there seems to be an attempt to give each disc its own character.

On disc 1, the first six songs capture emotions that everyone can relate to: fulfillment in a modest existence in “Ang Aking Kubo”; mourning lost love in “Dagat”; gratitude in “Buti Na Lang”; fears and anxieties in “Hanggang Kailan, Hanggang Saan”; playing a gay character in “Babadap-Badap”; and cheering for a favorite basketball team in “‘Pag Nananalo ang Ginebra.”

Granada could write just about anything. There are songs on the environment (“Earthkeeper”), tourism (“Lakbayin ang Pilipinas”) and worship (“Maykapal”); there are two samples of his winning entries to the Metro Pop contest—“Kahit Konti” and “Salamat Musika.”

Also on disc 1 are cuts from his latest album, “Basurero ng Luneta”: “San Simon,” “Buti Na Lang” and the title track. We glimpse a refreshing side of Granada as a folk musician—his flirtation with the blues.

Vivid lyrics, hallmark of classic, poetry-driven songwriting, are in abundance and Granada has mastered the craft. A sample, from “Dagat,” can be enjoyed anywhere, but sounds best with eyes closed and with headphones: “Sa dagat ng pangako/Sa laot ng pangarap/Sa alon ng iyong mga halik…”

Surprises abound on disc 2: country music that spices up “Asin”; a waltz-like arrangement in “Mana-mana Lang Yan”; a couple more blues pieces from “Basurero ng Luneta”—“Natutunan sa Buhay” and “Tulad ng Dati,” in which cynicism is described in an engaging light.

It’s difficult to pick standouts; nothing sounds bad here, but two cuts are worth repeated playbacks: the life-affirming “Saranggola sa Ulan” and the hilarious “Mabuti Pa Sila”—both describing romantic grief.

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On disc 3, social consciousness is highlighted. Familiar to devoted fans are a sense of irony in “Bahay,” conflicting interests in “Dam,” and the decline of imperialism in “Kanluran.”

The activist bent almost reaches saturation point in “UP Naming Mahal” and “Makibaka, Huwag Matakot” (both from the musical “Leán”) but ends on amusing note: “We will rock you!”

The sense of maternal love in “Uunahin Ko Kayo” (lovely vocals by Susan Fernandez-Magno) is touching, and the satire in “O Kaysarap” and “Made for Japan” are quite delectable—it doesn’t stop until “Holdap,” which precedes the optimism in “Itatawid, Ihahatid Kita.”

The absence of lyric sheets and liner notes aside, this collection deserves a resounding applause. Pocholo Concepcion

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