Took me a long time to fully appreciate Rivermaya’s third album. Yes, the title’s cliche and the album’s more obtuse than a solid bang, but that’s not it. Only lately did I realize what’s keeping me from really enjoying this album. It’s the track sequence.
Of course, it’s just probably me but I’m thinking about those who owned this album in cassette back then and the great deal of patience required (or maybe just plain wide-eyed curiosity) to listen to this album from end to end. Because, between “Elesi” and “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” and between the latter and “Kung Ayaw Mo, Huwag Mo”, feels like lots of B-sides and fillers.
The culprit? Two-minute plus jazz interlude “Inst. 1: Spike the Mayo” and the overlong (6:46) three-part “Hangman (I Shot the Walrus)”, an obvious Beatles call-out featuring Bamboo and Rico Blanco as Phil Collins and Paul McCartney respectively. Wait, Phil Collins? Those two tracks, together with “Sunny Days”, another instrumental and “Saturday (Bakit Ako?)” slow down Side A considerably. They take away the excitement, break the momentum.
Tweaking Atomic Bomb‘s track sequence (something one cannot do with cassette tapes or without a personal computer back in 1997), placing “Wild Angel Candy”, “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” right after “Sunny Days”, putting “Hangman” near the end, and taking out the entirety of “Inst 1: Spike the Mayo”, solved my problem. With this new sequence, almost every song shines, even the B-sides (the goofy “Tea for Two”, the sultry “Ballroom Dancing”, The Kink-ish (Kink-y?) “Sunny Days”).
Atomic Bomb boasts a number of terrific singles. “Hinahanap-hanap Kita”, with its funky riffs and super-awesome basslines, is easily one of Rivermaya’s finest hits. There’s also the post-rock-ish “Mabuhay”, the guitar-propelled “Elesi” and folk number “Luha”. The album sounds eclectic if distracted at times, with traces of psychedelia, The Beatles, and Pet Sounds. And you won’t be disappointed if it’s only the four to five minute pop-rockers (“Wild Angel Candy”, “Kung Ayaw Mo, Huwag Mo”) you are after. If only the songs were sequenced better.
A-Bomb? More like Ab-Bomb. Or A-minus Bomb. As it is, Side A feels stunted, the whole album, drawn-out. I don’t have much use for either “Fever” or “Saturday (Bakit Ako?)” And even with the sequence changed, “Hangman” (obviously, “A Day In the Life” minus the wistful John Lennon part), is still a chore to listen to.