4-Track Mind: Sony BMG’s 2-in-1 Series Revisited

Remember Sony BMG’s 2-in-1 series? The series of reissues of albums from renowned musical acts of the ’90s? No? Nevermind. I do. Color It Red, Yano, Sugar Hiccup, Sandwich, Mojofly, Wolfgang, Razorback, Grace Nono, FrancisM, and… (gasp) The Company. The Company? Yes, bruv, The CompanY. The thing with the internet is, anything related to the series — promotional stuff, reviews (if there were any), posters, etc. — you wouldn’t find any trace of it now. Zero. Nada. Except for this PX thread, which if you think about it, is just one server (or cloud server, if they use cloud servers) mishap away from internet oblivion.

Yes, the aforementioned thread is the last piece of history about the series that one can find through Google search. Not sure if anyone out there is selling posters, related ephemera, etc. on Carousell. Of course, the CDs, you can still find them on online second-hand CD shops and reselling websites — more often than not, unreasonably overpriced. You can still find the CDs online, most of them I supposed, but not much history, related literature or whatsoever. Okay, all of the albums are most probably listed on Discogs.

Well, I have a few of them CDs (by the way, I’m not selling them, at least not for now, but I might in the future). I have Color It Red, Wolfgang, FrancisM, and Sandwich. And while the whole series boast cover arts from no other than Cynthia Bauzon & Arnold Arre, the lack of liner notes or anything more than rudimentary information and the whole packaging of the albums is actually lacking. 

I think Sandwich’s is the most sulit “double album” of the bunch because you get both Grip Stand Throw and 4-Track Mind, the band’s first two albums. Which means you get “Butterfly Carnival,” “Paano Sasabihin,” “Hair Pin, “Bottleneck”and a lot more for just Php 285. If you’re thinking why these two and not Thanks to the Moon’s, it’s because only these albums are licensed under Sony BMG. Sandwich’s other albums are on another label.

Wolfgang’s 2-in-1 features Semenelin, their second album (it was their first under Sony/Epic), and Serve In Silence, their fourth album. I have no problem with Serve In Silence, but for some fans, it would’ve been better if these were Semenelin and Wurm, the band’s third album, which honestly, I’m not really that familiar with. See, Serve In Silence was the first Wolfgang album I was able to listen to from end to end. Can’t say it’s my favorite of theirs, but “Atomica” and “Hiwaga” are easily among my favorite songs by them. And I can’t remember any song off Wurm or Black Mantra (if I’m not mistaken, this is the one where they incorporated some Korn-sounding guitars, which kind of turned me off on first listen). Other fans wished it was Semenelin and Wolfgang’s debut instead, but the band’s debut is on Ivory Records. So, there was no chance Sony BMG was gonna go for that.

What’s kind of disappointing about this double album, is that the version of Semenelin included in it was the US version. Which means instead of “Mata Ng Diyos,” you get “Watermarks,” which is an English version of the song and “Mula sa Kamandag,” the other Tagalog song in the original version, was replaced with “Roadworthy Man.”

Yano’s double CD was also a bit disappointing in that instead of Metro, the band’s second album, Yano’s debut is paired with Tara, the band’s third and last album. Tara is no doubt the band’s weakest record. I’m not sure if the rationale behind this is that Tara didn’t sell as well as the other two, so this is one way for the label to make profit off it? Maybe.

Color It Red’s debut has “Paglisan,” probably their most popular song (though I kind of doubt kids these days even know the song, or the band) and that little known gem “I Need You Here.” The other CD on this double whammy is the band’s sophomore effort Fool’s Circle, which to be honest, I haven’t really listened to. The only song I know from Fool’s Circle is “Pagguhit Ng Bilog,” which I used to hear on the radio around the time the album was released. I think the song is about the confusion between love, lust, and sex?

If you’re thinking that FrancisM’s double album is also a double whammy, no it’s not. It’s a let down. This could’ve been Free Man and Happy Battle. We got Free Man and Free Man 2 instead. On why that is, you might want to read back what I said about the inclusion of Yano’s Tara. Sure, Free Man is a winner, without a doubt FrancisM’s best album. His second best album is either Meron Akong Ano!, which is not under Sony BMG, or Happy Battle, which is under Sony BMG. No, Free Man 2 is nowhere near as good as those two. And yes, this would’ve been a double whammy if it was Happy Battle on Disc 2.

How about the other albums, which I don’t have? Mojofly’s 2-in-1 coffee features their first two albums, one of which houses the minor hit “Scooter Boy,” which according to the band, its title’s resemblance to Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8r Boi” was a mere coincidence. In case you don’t know, these two albums feature Kitchie Nadal on vocals. This was before she left the band, went solo and passed the mic to Lougee Basabas, who prior to joining Mojofly, appeared in Sugarfree’s “Sinta” music video (and I had a crush on her from then on). With Lougee on vocals, the band produced the hit “Tumatakbo,” which of course, isn’t included in this 2-in-1 chai tea.

I haven’t really listened to Mojofly’s first two albums, so I’m listening to Birthday right now. I’m on the fourth track now and so far, it’s pretty good. I like “Minimalas” and “Sinusubukan” is also fine.

Now, after checking the year these albums were originally released, I noted that A Million Stories came out in 2002, it was the “newest” album in the series. These reissues came out in 2006. Considering the four years gap, and as a fan of good album packaging, I wonder if it was wholly possible that the label could’ve just reprinted the two Mojofly albums, just like I presume how they did with Eraserheads albums sometime around late ’00s to early 2010s. I also wonder how come Mojofly albums are out of print already in 2006, considering again, the four years gap. 

But then again, record labels don’t probably print CDs in huge numbers unlike with cassette tapes which were much cheaper. It’s probably only around the mid-00s (when prices for local CDs were adjusted from around Php400 ~ Php450 to around Php250 ~ Php300) l’d ASSUME, that more fans started to buy CDs, especially since labels stopped releasing albums on cassette around that time. I’m sure Sugarfree’s Dramachine was released on both CDs and cassette because I initially bought it on cassette, probably one of the last records to be released on that format. 

Going back to the series, Razorback’s double murder has their second and third album on Disc 1 and 2 respectively. Beggar’s Moon, which I like, and Star, which I haven’t really had the time to listen to. Why not Hebigat Sounds Vol. 1? Well, because it’s on a different label, just like Wolfgang’s debut. Beggar’s Moon has “Munting Paraiso,” and other rifftastic songs. By the way, there’s a line in this song which I initially thought was “Pinili ang suso mo’t iba ang kulay.” When I checked the lyrics online, it’s actually “Pinili ang asul at iba’t ibang kulay.” Talk about an embarrassing case of mondegreen.

Sugar Hiccup? You probably know them for the song “Five Years”? No? The band had two albums under BMG (before its merger with Sony). The first one was produced by Ely Buendia and Raymund Marasigan, and contains the song “Five Years” and “Moden De.” But my favorite Sugar Hiccup song isn’t on any of these two albums. It’s called “Someday” and it’s on Alphanumeric Sampler 502, a compilation of songs from then unsigned bands, among them are Sugar Hiccup and Keltscross.

What else? The CompanY? I have nothing against this church choir (church choirs are generally fine). It’s just that I don’t think I’m among their target audience, which I don’t know exactly what — old Tito’s and Tita’s perhaps? I like “Muntik Na Kitang Minahal,” which is probably not included in this reissue. Grace Nono? Again, not the type of music I’d usually listen to. I appreciate them fine, Grace Nono, and acts like Pinikpikan, them that incorporate ethnic beats and instrumentation, them that remake folk songs like “Sarung Banggi.” But if you would ask me what’s the best version of “Sarung Banggi” for me, or “Pantomina,” nothing could replace the versions I grew up with. The version of “Pantomina” which people would play on really loud speakers every time there’s a wedding in the barrio, that’s the best version for me — and the songs sang by Carmen Camacho. But that’s for another story.


Header borrowed from this post about the impending CDpocalypse.

Alcoholiday: Drinking Songs

Bakit Ba? Siakol. Nagaaliw sa usok at beer lang ang kasama. You can forgive the song’s overt sentimentality. Obviously, the guy’s already drunk even before the first line. And you know some guys are like that when they’re brokenhearted. And drunk.

Syota ng Bayan. Grin Department. Probably the most un-PC in the list. And it isn’t totally about drinking either. But you know me, I’ll include a song even for the slightest hint of alcohol in the lyrics. Even if it’s denatured or rubbing alcohol we’re talking about. This is what lack of alcohol does to a MF.

Di Ko Alam. Grin Department. Why this song? Because it’s hard to drink with the girl when you’re in the friendzone.

Salamat. The Dawn. Corporate rock at its finest but corporate rock nonetheless. I don’t really like The Dawn or this song, even though it automatically makes me think of ice-cold San Miguel Beer. But if you’re a fan, you can argue that even Fernando Amorsolo worked for La Tondena before (back when it was Ayala Distillery).

Sige. 6cyclemind. The thing with 6cyclemind is that, no matter how you dislike them, most of their songs (the better ones) are videoke staples. Also, because Eraserheads’ songs are usually harder to sing (Spoliarium, El Bimbo, Magasin).

Sabado Nights. Rizal Underground. The band sampled a riff from Juan Dela Cruz’ “Mamasyal sa Pilipinas.” And you may forget about this JDC tidbit but maybe not the lady in black T-shirt in that Sabado Nights TV commercial.

Spoliarium. Eraserheads. It’s not about something so sinister as some people think/used to think. By the way, “Wasak Waltz” is medyo cringe (Sorry, so conyo). Medyo pilit s’ya. At saka cliche na ‘yung ‘wasak’ nung ni-release ‘tong kantang ‘to. If I remember correctly, Ely once said that some of his songs (post-Eraserheads) were intially written for beer commercials. Maybe “Wasak Waltz” was one of those.

Bananatype. Eraserheads. Hey! What’s your name? Hindi mo ba alam na akoy lasing? This is Ely at his wackiest, and maybe Eheads at their bluesiest. Watch out for references to Tekken’s Jun Kazama (aahh, ‘yun pala ‘yun) and Mario O’Hara.

Giyang. Razorback. Conyo rock not at its finest but conyo rock nonetheless. Ugh.

Baso. Maude. The rare 2010’s song in the list. And… that’s all.

Hudas. Bamboo. ‘Pag sila’y nagtatawanang malakas, tinatawanan lang tayo. O ‘di kaya isang tropa lang sila, ang demonyo, si San Pedro at ang Diyos. ‘Nuff said.

Straight No Chaser. Rivermaya. Nathan Azarcon, patron saint of the broken, wrote “She’s So Uncool,” “Homecoming,” and this. While it is really about drinking it straight — no chaser — like that Siakol song above, this is also about a girl.

Gin Pomelo. Radioactive Sago Project. How the f*ck did I forget about this one the first time?

Inuman Na. Parokya Ni Edgar. This song could go on and on for as long as everyone knows the chorus (nevermind the verse) and until the guitarist couldn’t play the right chords anymore. Because he’s drunk already. We’re drunk already. And neighbors were already angry.

Pare Ko. Eraserheads. The post-basted group therapy song. You can be Siakol and drink alone with your misery or you can drink with friends which is probably a lot more fun.

Masaya. Bamboo. Ako’y malungkot na naman. Amoy chico na ako, ilang tagay na hindi pa rin tulog. What I wrote about “Straight No Chaser,” I should have written for this. This song hits really hard. Ang pag-ibig, ganyan talaga. Sa una lang masaya.

Alkohol. Eraserheads. This one’s from Raymund Marasigan. He wrote a Larry Alcala Slice of Life, where people are drunk, drinking, and all the things described in the song.

Laklak. Teeth. Someone needs to write a song about different type and brands of beer (or whiskey or whatever your weapon of choice is) the way The End wrote and sang about cars in “Drive My BM” just for the sake of it. Just for fun. You know, a song where there’s a line that mentions Heineken, San Miguel, Tiger, Sapporo… and rhymes Carlsberg with Spielberg. Why not a song about the perils of alcoholism? Well, because Teeth already did that.

Beer. Itchyworms. If including a song that has little to do with drinking (see above: Syota ng Bayan) is what lack of alcohol does to a MF, this song is what lack of pussy [and plenty of alcohol] does to a MF. Is he in denial phase? Or he got drunk so hard that he reached the tipping point of letting go. Either way, this song asks the ultimate fucking question. Ano ba talagang mas gusto ko: ang beer na ‘to o ang pag-ibig mo?

Photo from Reddit.

Razorback – Hebigat Sounds Volume One (1995)

hebigatHebigat Sounds sounds fine–but Inuman Sessions Vol.1 would have been more apt for this debut from Razorback. From the opening motif of “Tabi Ng Bulkan” to that riff that’s played repeatedly and ends “Diwata,” Razorback delivers bad-ass goods—equal parts booze, rock & roll—but not much else. “Stand by…rolling.” Self-reflexivity: Check. I took one bottle, poured half in my glass. It’s bitter. And sweet. Kevin Roy started singing about stuff: misadventures, a drinking buddy of his, among other things. But the band kicked arse mainly via the one-two punch of David Aguirre and Tirso Ripoll. Riffs, motifs and licks, after, over, and within riffs, motifs and licks. Imagine that.

I emptied the bottle. Dumped two cubes on the head. Before he could finish his fifth song, Kevin Roy must’ve been drunk already. He sang the same verse over and over. I took another bottle. Then another. And another. The band played the same verse about three times, the same chorus, three times. They must’ve been smashed already. Man, that song would have been finished two minutes ago. Damn! Then, I reached the bucket for another. This bottle’s already warm. The ice bucket was empty. A girl in black shirt showed up and took it. Then, I went to the bath room, tried to keep my balance as I walk carefully past tables and chairs. My feet following the beat from Louie Talan’s bass and Miguel Ortigas’ pounding rhythm. I heard Kevin Roy talk about things again—beer, jazz, ganjazz, another friend—all shallow stuff, “coño stuff”, including his baño song. I’m not really complaining. You play this for the riffs, the guitars. If you want songs, you’re better off some place else. (There’s more songwriting involved in their sophomore effort Beggar’s Moon.)

I was already having tamang amats by the time I went home. Before I sleep that night, I remember that fair lady in black with a pretty smile. She took that ice bucket and never came back. Then, I woke up with a supermassive hangover. My head hurt and felt ten times heavier. Hebigat, indeed. Damn, never gonna drink again.