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.

My 10 Favorite Records of the 2010’s

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You can never quarantine the past

Not intending this to be a quasi best of list. Just ten albums I liked/loved more than the others. All which came out between 2010 and last year. Maybe this is more of a personal chart, what music songs records I’ve been listening to for the last ten years. And this doesn’t even include those which were made in the ’90s and the 2Ks. Continue reading “My 10 Favorite Records of the 2010’s”

20 Songs from the 2010’s

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Night Shift – Lucy Dacus (2018)
I was reading Consequence of Sound’s best rock albums list when I found this song. I was looking for songs too good for me to have missed so I clicked on a few YouTube links. But then of course the list includes Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light, which I think is fine, but no Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks? Just saying, Mirror Traffic‘s Continue reading “20 Songs from the 2010’s”

Thanks To The Moon

91XJC0HUHkL._SS500_And then, Sandwich parted ways with BMG, otherwise known as the Beatles’ record label, went indie, and released an album with five, (take note, not just four but five!) naked girls under a huge umbrella on the cover. Due to strict censorship at the time, under then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, they had to hire the best photoshop artist (before they were called that) not to airbrush armpits, stripes and whatnot, but to clad each babe in digital two-piece. Have you ever wondered why you can’t find a high-res image of the said album cover on the internet?

The album would be called Thanks To The Moon’s Gravitational Pull. (The moon’s gravitational pull is, in layman’s term, the force that pulls things up, the oppossite of what gravity–Earth’s gravity–does, which is pull things down. So the moon’s gravitational pull makes ’em you-know-how, while the Earth’s pulls ’em down, just like in that Radiohead song about a surgeon, “Fake Plastic Trees” I believe it was called.) The album was released to little funfare. It was then that EMI signed the band and re-released Thanks To The Moon, with bonus tracks, but unfortunately with different packaging.

So, no nude babes in digital clothing this time—not this time—not even on the inside of the CD. And for this, the new edition, even with bonus materials included, always gets a rating half a star lower than the original. But the new edition helped Sandwich reach new highs even without smoking pot. “2 Trick Phony” proved that they have more tricks up their sleeve—not just one, but two. Its music video got major airplay on both MTV and Myx. Little did we heard of the original edition. Thus, only true die-hard Bruce Willis fans knew about the original version. Most people I know don’t know about it. Including my mother.

The limited ‘indie’ early pressing of the album, has since become a hardcore collectors’ item, selling on eBay and Sulit for  a whopping JPY 4000 and is only available on import from Japan. Someone must have figured the limited edition thingie back then, bought all the remaining copies and decided to migrate to Japan—just for the extra bucks, or to be more precise, “extra lapad“.

But the album, thanks to the moon, is quite good. Even better than the last one. Liked it better than the last one, has less of Marc Abaya, and less tendency of getting “Sabotaged”. It also has “Masilungan” and non single “Not This Time.”

Sandwich – Debris (2016)

Sandwich_DebrisDebris, Sandwich’s eighth LP, despite having “Kagulo” and “Outlaw,” is a little less than their previous outing—the one which they recorded live, in studio. “Kagulo”, easily Sandwich’s most recognizable hit since “Betamax,” could have been up there with the band’s best album openers—alongside “Sugod”, “Procastinator”, and “Cheese Factor Set to 9”—if only it isn’t the third cut in the album. Instead, we have “Border Crossing” opening Debris, which isn’t just as good. I miss the charred, slow burning eponymous track that opens their last record.

Continue reading “Sandwich – Debris (2016)”

Have you ever wished you were a 90’s kid? FYI, the 2000’s was awesome too!

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“We grew up listening to the music from the best decade ever.”

                                                             – Lariat (Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, 2014)

Everyone wants to be a 90’s kid these days. Everyone wants to relive those times when “Pare Ko” hits the top of the charts; when “Alapaap”, “Banal Na Aso” and “Laklak” almost got banned; when Rivermaya premiered their music video for “Elesi”; and when the boys of Parokya Ni Edgar debuted on national TV, wearing skirts and dusters. Continue reading “Have you ever wished you were a 90’s kid? FYI, the 2000’s was awesome too!”

Sandwich – Fat Salt & Flame (2013)

PhotoGrid_1463069239517Fat Salt & Flame opens with grinding of the axes that segues into a series of build up and release – a layer cake of feedback and guitar screech. Around the two minute mark, you start to wonder – either they forgot the lyrics or somebody forgot to switch on the mic. But it never overstays its welcome – it actually feels shorter than its actual length. Pretty much like the whole album.

Fat Salt & Flame marks Sandwich’s fifteen years as a band (or shall I say Sandwich S-marks their anniversary with a BBQ-flavored disc). It’s a celebration in a rock-band kind of way. And there’s no better way of celebrating fifteen years together, than going to the studio to bake your birthday cake.

After the raucous title track, comes Track No. 2, the first single that has a very important message to say – Sandwich is here to stay. Track No. 6 is, for better or worse, typical Sandwich on assault mode. The proceedings take a different turn on Track No. 8. Here, Mong Alcaraz and Myrene Academia take turns on the mic, delivering the sweetest bitter lines on top of Mike Dizon’s skipping rhythm – it’s heartbreakingly beautiful. Ultimately, Track No. 9 closes the album with an epic guitar solo that’s really effing good – they should actually do this kind of shit, more often.

Despite being another birthday bash of sorts, FS&F does not come off as mishmash of things we’ve come to love and expect from Sandwich. This might be intentional since they did that already with <S> Marks the Spot, their tenth-year album. <S> Marks was roller-coaster ride, with small and big surprises revealed in every twisted turn. FS&F, on the other hand, upholds the same narrowed scope and focus of their previous (and arguably best) outing, Contra Tiempo, with a dash of moon dust from Thanks To the Moon’s.