I’ll let you in on a secret. The Eraserheads, the now defunct greatest local band in the land, is in the process of re-recording the songs from their ultra-celebrated but supposedly tinny-sounding first album Ultraelectromagneticpop!. Maybe I should drop “supposedly” in my last sentence, because that’s the very reason Ely Buendia wanted to re-do their twenty-five year old debut. That is, the songs on Ultra were really good, the production wasn’t.
Although Raymund Marasigan said he would rather record new materials, or in the case of “Sabado”, old but unreleased songs, it seems that they’re actually doing Ultra. Which isn’t a bad thing really considering that the band’s label had already folded and the masters were probably already lost. Also, Orange & Lemons are doing the same with Love in the Land of Rubber Shoes & Dirty Ice Cream. Yes, in case you haven’t heard Orange & Lemons are back together, but without Mccoy Fundales. Which is why Clem Castro sings and…
Wait, isn’t this supposed to be about Eraserheads’ greatest songs? Of course, it is. What, you don’t want to talk about the band first before we go to the songs?
Okay, okay! You bitchy wobbly E-lectric fans, here we go!
Maselang Bahaghari. Manila Sound meets millennium techno fuzz in a song about a series of “Maling Akala”, which only proves that six albums after Ultra, Ely Buendia still hasn’t learned a thing from experience. I remember one DJ back then describing the title on air as “a contraction of maselang bahagi ng ari.” What? Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t make that up.
Saturn Return. An Ely-Raimund collaboration off Aloha Milkyway that almost reduced Marasigan to tears when they played it together during Buendia’s 40th birthday. This was after the breakup and after the reunion. It was probably the latter’s way of saying sorry—inviting the former to party and jam with him, on his birthday nonetheless—that resulted to one heck of a closure.
Ha Ha Ha. “Ha-los walang kurap, ang hinaharap, habang buhay hawak-hawak.” The best song off Sticker Happy, ha ha ha.
Trip To Jerusalem. Our parish priests would call them Three Kings, scholars would say wise men, from the East—the guys who brought the gifts to Baby Jesus in the manger (guess what, they actually almost gave it to another boy named Brian who’s born on the same day and place. With this song, Ely Buendia formulated the missing link, the three wise men (some accounts say there were four, but the fourth gave up his ass along the way) were the “kings” of “Trip to Jerusalem,” either the actual trip or the parlor game usually played at Christmas parties. Buendia even added flavors of Merovingian tales (i.e., Holy Blood, Holy Grail). Oh, and what chorus does it have, the propulsive “So tell do you wanna fly?” literally lifts you “high way up in the sky.” And the four Carol Kings, three of them riding their guitars like wizards while the drummer trails a bit behind, pounding the skins on a magic carpet ride. But in reality the Eheads/Carol Kings travel in a van, which they named Nirvana (nirVANa, gets?), to go from town to town.
Ang Huling El Bimbo. Nevermind that the words “nasagasaan” and “eskinita” don’t add up, unless we’re talking about a pizza delivery motorbike. The guy probably just made that up, to cope with losing someone who resembles Paraluman when they were kids. The early part of the story is set in the ’70s. And so the song was made, written, mixed like one from that decade, albeit with prominently jangly guitars and a few distortion-flavored chords courtesy of Marcus Adoro. Like the boy in the story falling in love with the girl during rehearsals, this song has the same magical effect on repeated listens, forming some kind of vacuum that sucks you in, makes with you fall in love—with the song, with your crush—and makes you accept beforehand that it may not actually last forever. But like that wonderful coda that seems to last forever, the symphony of guitars, piano, drums, keyboards, love, pain, innocence, and lust—love actually lasts. Maybe even beyond the grave, as its Aureus Solito-helmed music video suggests.
Magasin. When I first heard Magasin, it was unlike anything I heard before. The intro alone was already catchy; the chorus, even more. The slide guitar solo? Sweet baby Hellboy! Supposedly based on real account—the guy’s ex, whose real name’s referenced in one of Eheads’ songs in Ultra, entered showbiz and most probably posed nude for some dirty underground magazine. Which specific seedy magazine, we don’t know, but considering this was most probably in the ’80s, surely it wasn’t FHM or anything like it. These expensive jerk-off glossies we have today have got nothing on that particular brand of magazine referred to in the song. Ask your Tito about it and he’d probably say that their time was infinitely more fun, if not better, than yours.
Pare Ko. Have you ever wonder why the clean version of the song was titled Walang Hiyang Pare Ko instead of Pare Ko (Radio Edit) or Pare Ko (Clean Version)? And the dirty version is simply Pare Ko? Isn’t it more logical that the Walang Hiyang Pare Ko is the dirty version? Maybe it was to confuse those nosy radio DJs who always affix the words “the” and “band” when referring to bands (i.e., The Eraserheads band? The Teeth band? Annoying, right?) back in the day. So that the next time you hear the No. 1 song on the radio, you’d wonder whether what you heard was ‘tang ina or ‘langhiya and wonder whether “nabuburat” and “naiinip” really mean the same thing.
Ligaya. The most perfect pop song from Ultra. Listen to the original for Buddy’s melodic bajo and the heavenly to-do-do-do-doot… Listen to the remake to catch Kitchie Nadal titter on that line about shaving (which crop of hair, I don’t know). Also, I believe her when she said she’s not a ‘manyakis.’ Unlike other girls.
With A Smile. Eraserheads gave us THE love song. Then never bother with love songs ever again (okay, they gave us Fine Time but that was it). With A Smile is simply beautiful, it’s perfect. And there’s a brief moment after the three minute mark, where Ely and co. were able to tucked in a little slice of heaven, elevating the song further beyond the stratosphere.
Overdrive. Way before Peryodiko mainman Vin Dancel wrote “Tayo Lang Ang May Alam” as answer and companion piece to Up Dharma Down’s “Indak”, there was “Drive My BM.” Eraserheads’ quirky song about cars and driving to the moon, which also carries one inside joke about their bassist who was then already semi “rich and famous” but still didn’t know how to drive, got one of the snarkiest answer from a band called The End. The song rhymes Lamborghini with “pwet ni Ily” and opens with the rhetorical “Gusto mo bang mag-drive? Gusto mo ba talagang mag-drive?”
According to Darem Placer, who wrote the song, he was pressured by OctoArts to write an answer to “Overdrive” in span of one week, or else they won’t release The End’s debut album which was already finished at the time. Well, thanks to their greedy label then. There were a few songs that were obviously influenced by (in other words, “cash-in”) Eraserheads’ popularity (songs by Randy Santiago, the APO, even The Dawn’s “Talaga Naman”), but none of them are as self-aware, obvious and memorable as “Drive My BM”. It’s ingenious, in-your-face, and funny. While “Overdrive” is best consumed when stoned (ever wondered why they ended it with Marcus Adoro’s food trip?), “Drive My BM” is best listened to in the car, when you’re driving and sober.