Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chilling at the bookstore

Whenever I am at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and I had the time, I try to pass by the Fully Booked branch there. I like browsing their shelves for books, comics or CDs. I think I usually picked up a book, magazine or comic book almost everytime I'm there despite doing my best not to be tempted considering the escalating prices these days. Books are not cheap in the Philippines and I think this is partly to blame for our being generally immature for our tastes in literature. I mean, honestly, how many people really do read Murakami, Rushdie or Garcia-Marquez who recently passed away? I'm all for the electronic stuff as an aid for developing reading comprehension but there's nothing like a good book or magazine to enrich the mind. 

Recently, I had been at the bookstore again months after the last time I was at the Bonifacio High Street. This time I had some time for myself as I waited for the wife to arrive from their out-of-town workshop. I was surprised to find second hand CDs at the music section and found that most if not all came from Japan. I was certain with this as I saw the CD labels and ended up browsing the CDs as I did whenever I was in one of my favorite used CD shops in Tokyo and Yokohama (e.g., Yamagiwa and Recofan). I got most of my CD collection from those shops and most of these were high quality CDs that were made in Japan or Europe including my collection of classical music CDs. I ended up purchasing a couple of CDs - one classical and another jazz to add to my collection. I was a bit disappointed though that the used CDs were not as inexpensive as I had expected them to be. I recall that good quality used CDs in Japan usually cost me 1200 JPY or the equivalent of about 300 to 400 PHP at the time I was there. So I had to make sure I really liked the CDs I picked up before finally making the purchase. 

I celebrated my purchases by getting some frozen yoghurt at the White Hat branch in the same building. The froyo and lemonade were refreshing treats before I walked back to the parking lot to wait for the wife.

Frozen yogurt and lemonade while reviewing my CD purchases.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

An unexpected concert

We already knew that Per Sorensen, the former front man of Fra Lippo Lippi, a very popular band of the late 1980's and early 1990's, would be the opening act for Tears for Fears. And so, we expected him to sing a few songs (five would be the usual), particularly the bands hits during our college days like "Light and Shade" and "Beauty and Madness." What we didn't expect was for Per Sorensen and his back-up musicians (which included his own son) to come up with a mini-concert. Easily warming up the crowd with hit after hit, the Clairvoyant and I thought it was a really good performance judging by the response of the upper box and gallery people, who were very appreciative of the front act as if it were the main act for the night.

I dare state the distinction because we thought these were the ones who actually came to the concert to enjoy the music. These were the people who shelled out hard earned money to get seats and, in the case of those in the bleachers, lined up early to be able to get good seats for the concert. Unfortunately, we were not among the "real" music fans as I was able to get good seats near the stage :P Many in the crowd in our section were people who obviously knew only a few songs and many were either too old or too young to identify with Fra Lippo Lippi and Tears for Fears music. Of course, there were those who were true fans who could afford the more expensive tickets (i.e., our generation is supposed to be at our primes at this time.) but it was clear to me that we weren't in the majority where we were seated.

Peter Sorensen on stage on keyboards
The band backing him up was good and included a Filipino musician on percussions and hi very own son on back-up keyboards.
The former Fra Lippo Lippi front man
Here's a short video clip from the concert last August 2012 with Per Sorensen performing as the front act for Tears for Fears' much awaited return concert:



Per Sorensen's voice was clear and flawless. Parang nakikinig ka lang sa CD! (It's just like listening to a CD!) The performance was a bonus for many of us who probably missed the Fra Lippo Lippi concert back in the day when they were big and we couldn't afford to get tickets for their gig. Fast forward to the present and it really felt like we were in college again, at least for a few hours to listen to a sampling of music of our generation. So this is what it feels like to be sentimental? I guess it is what our parents and grandparents feel when they listen to their music from their generation. Nakakabata! (You feel young again!)

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

I have a lot of happy memories of Christmas and it is not just about the gifts, the food, and other material things. I think most of the happy memories are about family and friends. Christmas and the celebrations are a lot about companionship and fellowship - opportunities to renew and strengthen bonds. The sermon at the Mass last night was a good reminder for a lot of us that Christmas is about love. It is about giving oneself to others just as God gave Himself for our salvation. It is always a happy time and we should equate happiness not with material things but with being able to connect with others and to give a part of oneself.

Gloria in excelsis deo! A Blessed Christmas to all!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Reliving younger days - Tears for Fears in Manila - 2

The Clairvoyant and I had a blast one Friday night, a celebration of sort after she came back home after a more than 1.5-year stint in Singapore. I had bought tickets to one of our favorite bands from our high school and university days that we associated with the New Wave music that was quite popular with our generation. It was quite nostalgic for us and we always joke about how this must be the feeling of our parents and grandparents for music and artists of their time.

Tears for Fears is one of the most popular bands of the 80's churning hit after hit with favorites like Mad World, Pale Shelter and Change from their very successful The Hurting album. They followed this up with an even more immensely successful Songs From the Big Chair that featured Shout, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Mother's Talk and Head Over Heels. They broke up in the early 90's due to some differences between Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Orzabal retained Tears for Fears while Smith embarked on a solo career. Orzabal released a couple of albums that had some marginal success (compared to their 80's albums) while Smith's stint was largely forgettable. They got back together in the middle of the last decade and returned to touring. Well, it took them some time before they came to the Philippines for the first time last year. And they themselves were probably so happy to see how they are still immensely popular in this part of the world. That concert last year probably convinced them (and their producers) to return this year and even add a playdate due to the sold out initial dates in Manila and Cebu.


Tears for Fears' finale was Head Over Heels but even before they exited the stage, the fully-packed coliseum was already cheering them on to do an encore. They did respond to the shouting by returning to the stage to sing a couple more songs. The first one was the haunting Woman in Chains that everybody also seemed to know the lyrics of, resulting in a continuation of what has become one big karaoke session since the opening act of Per Sorensen of Fra Lippo Lippi fame. They capped the night with their smash hit Shout, which was #1 in the US, UK and other countries - a perfect ending to a night of fun that brought us back to what people may refer to as the good old days when we were young and care free.
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reliving younger days - Tears for Fears in Manila - 1

We had a great time recently, going to a concert where played two great acts of our generation - Fra Lippo Lippi and Tears for Fears. The former was represented by its lead vocalist, singer-songwriter Per Sorensen while the latter by no less than the duo of Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal, who are Tears for Fears. The concert turned out to be  a 3-hour karaoke session with the fully-packed Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City singing along with the artists as they performed the songs that were familiar to most if not all the audience.

Following is a video I took and uploaded to YouTube of the opening act for Tears for Fears. I wasn't able to record the entire performance of their first song but I guess it will be clear from the video how popular Tears for Fears still is in the Philippines.




The first time they were in Manila was only last year and they mentioned they were asking themselves the question of why they didn't perform here in the 1980's or even the early 1990's when their popularity in Britain, the US and elsewhere was peaking. Well, they are still quite popular in the Philippines and Roland Orzabal even related a story in between songs that when somebody asked him whatever they were doing these days, he replied that the man should go to YouTube and type in "Tears for Fears in Manila" to see how they're doing these days. That elicited cheers from the audience. In fact, they have three concert dates in the Philippines with 2 in Manila last August 10 (which the Clairvoyant and I attended) and 11 (an additional date due to the sell-out Friday, that many of our friends went to and was also a sell-out). They are now playing in Cebu to another sell-out crowd. 
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rip-offs?

Despite the effort of many local artists to compose new songs, there will always be a few who would attempt to simplify the process by lifting the tunes of foreign or older compositions. It's one thing to have a Tagalized or Filipinized version of songs like those made for Japanese and even US compositions that had quite popular localized versions. I believe those got permissions from the composers for the Filipino versions. In many cases, it was just a matter of translation and the original theme of the songs were not lost or replaced. It's entirely another matter when artists attempt to pass off plagiarized material as originals or worse, their own.

Two songs have caught my attention the past few years and it is disappointing that the band and the interpreter associated with the songs maintain they did not plagiarize the material. Here is the more recent one that is sadly also often used as a cheer or a celebratory song in sports events including the last time the country won the SEA Games. The original song is "Chandeliers" by The Change, classified as new wave and probably obscure to many, especially those of the younger generations. In fact, perhaps only the new wave aficionados were probably able to recognize the tune, which is quite catchy as evidenced by the success of the song by local band Orange and Lemons. The original song and the band is shown in the first part of the YouTube video below.



Another song that I myself noticed to be quite familiar the first time I heard it over the radio early last decade. It was quite new and for a country that was riding the wave of J-Pop before K-Pop came to town, I was expecting that more people could have noticed the rip-off immediately. The original song "First Love" is a top hit in Japan during the late 1990's and comes from a sensational album by Hikaru Utada that broke a lot of records and even grossed enough money that could probably could keep a small country afloat. The local artist's song is less obvious as a rip-off because some people even tried to defend it as a Tagalized version when they were running out of arguments. Toni Gonzaga, who delivered the interpretation seemed innocent enough in interviews where she maintained she was not aware of the original. The original is featured in another YouTube video below showing the original music video.



It is quite obvious and one cannot deny that the tunes were ripped off and the local artists continuing denial of such only worsens their cases in as much as my respect for them are concerned. Credit should be to the originals and not taken by a few whose objectives were clearly to make a buck here and there but at the expense of plagiarized material. For the latter song by Utada Hikaru, I was really disappointed because I am a fan of the artist and have her CDs from when I was studying in Japan. But I am disturbed by one major network's continuing use of the first song as an anthem of sorts for sports and other events that they sponsor or cover. I believe that a more appropriate theme for such purposes would be an original by Bamboo - "Noypi."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reconnecting with a friend and his music

I first met him in high school and he was ahead of me by a year. I was a freshman and he was a sophomore when we got introduced by way of scouting. It was a little later that I discovered he was the older brother of another sophomore but wasn't at all surprised. In our school, it was quite common for younger people to catch up to boys a batch ahead of them because of the acceleration opportunity granted to Grade 6 students who performed quite well in their academics. I found him as someone quite odd yet very kind and very patient. He was to me someone whom you'd want to be your kuya given the way he related to people younger than him. Many of us in our batch got to be acquainted with him and he was gracious enough to help us out being an upperclassman in high school. He shared stories with us about what he would like to be if given the freedom to choose, to decide. He wanted to become a DJ. He wanted to devote time to music. He wanted to mix music, play it and enjoy it. That was how I knew Vir-Gil then and that was how I know him today, many years after we lost track after graduating from high school.

He is known online as DJ Beatraxx and his works are accessible for music lovers through Mixcrate, which I only discovered a few days ago, thanks to one of his postings on Facebook. We only got reacquainted last year thanks to the search features of Facebook where he was suggested as someone I knew. I took the opportunity to reconnect and he did accept the friend request. Later, he related to me about how he had become serious in life after marrying and having a family of his own. He also shared how he finally got to save up to get back to his hobby of mixing music. And so I was happy too to have reacquainted with an old friend and had a bonus of sorts with his music, which happens to be mostly about the 80's and particularly about New Wave. Glad to see you again, my friend, and perhaps we shall meet in one of those alumni homecomings at Lourdes soon. The silver jubilees of our batches are coming up quite quickly in the next few years.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Everything Counts

Tears for Fears held a concert last year to the delight of many Filipinos particularly those of my generation who were in high school or college in the mid to late 1980's. It was about 25 years late but it didn't matter to fans who gobbled up the tickets to the gig at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. In fact, when I had a chance to check for tickets the only ones remaining were the 10,000 PhP ones. I would've wanted to watch the concert with the Clairvoyant but just couldn't justify shelling out 20,000 PhP for a pair of tickets. My conscience would not allow me to splurge just like that. So now I'm just looking forward to the real possibility that Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal will be returning to Manila given the tremendous success of the concert. In fact, I learned that the organizers initially reserved only half of the venue but eventually had to add more seats as the demand for tickets was clearly underestimated. It seems that one thing they didn't consider was that a lot of those who probably would have coughed out good money if the concert were held in the 1980's are now mostly successful people who can afford the tickets, even the most expensive ones.

Another act that I would consider going to is Depeche Mode, shown in the YouTube video below in a live performance of "Everything Counts," a personal favorite aside from the mushy "Somebody" and, of course, "People are People." I have a few albums including compilations. But one album I bought in Japan was lost somehow a few years ago and it happened to be a rare one featuring live and extended performances of their greatest hits.



Of course, nothing will beat having U2 live in Manila. Surely this will be sold out in a matter of munites and one would have to compete with expats and tourists to get tickets. But I'm sure it will be something worth it, if only to catch a live performance by a band that is still in top flight and form.

These days, I try to catch my music on several stations during the week and currently, it is 99.5 RT Saturday evening program which provides the best mix of 80's music. I have even had the chance of listening to some new wave music I haven't heard of for so many years now including one that was plagiarized by a local band and passed of as an anthem in sports events. For shame! Anyhow, there is still 89.1's Laid back Wednesdays, 88.3's Slide and 89.9's Magic Madness on Fridays. Only, new wave is not the only thing they play as there are mostly Pop and Rock from 80's and the 90's much like what 97.1 played back when I was at university. I hope RT is able to sustain their Saturday program as it provides a nice backdrop while relaxing on a weekend or even while correcting examination papers.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Used books and CDs

My brother gifted me with a copy of "The Dilbert Future" last Christmas. I was quite elated and again surprised that he got the copy from a used book shop. It was only last October that he got a hard-bound copy of "The Dilbert Principle" from the same book shop. It seems to me that he got some ability in finding such items like these books in a used book shop where it can be quite a challenge to scan many if not most of the books to find those of interest and worth buying. I must say that I also have this knack for scanning, searching and finding items and I have been able to hone the "skill" while I was studying in Japan.

The first time I tried and discovered this "talent" was during my first trip to Japan back in February 1996. I remember staying at the International House of Tokyo Tech and there was this small used books and CD shop near the university. A friend and I passed by this shop and he mentioned to me that it was in similar shops that he acquired music CDs. In fact, all of his CDs at the time were second-hand and were acquired cheap from such shops. But cheap doesn't mean poor condition for I learned that many of the Japanese who bought CDs usually sold the same to used CD shops to recover money (to purchase newer CDs) and to de-clutter their homes. In several chains, they even have a rating system for used CDs where "A" usually referred to a CD in almost mint condition and "C" may mean that the lyrics insert is no longer included in the package. One may also examine the disk to see whether there are scratches or other damages to the case. Anyhow, as my friend labored in scanning the shelves for CDs of is interest, I managed to spot 2 or 3 CDs including a Duran Duran album. These became my first CDs and I bought them despite not owning a CD player. So, they ended up being loaned to my friend at the time.

Through 3 years and the establishment of several haunts for used CDs, I was able to collect CDs on various genres including classical music, new wave and pop. Among my favorite shops were the Yamagiwa store in the Kannai district of Yokohama, the same store in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, and the Recofan stores near Yokohama Station and in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Of course, I did purchase new CDs but I was always selective of these purchases considering the wealth of used CDs in the shops at the time.

Recently, I have renewed my interest in used items but this was and will be limited to books. Several used book shops have sprouted in Metro Manila and so far, my luck has brought me a hard-bound first edition of The Silmarillion, several classics, a hard-bound edition of a civil engineering textbook , and hard to find chess books including one by the old master Reuben Fine. I look forward to more browsing as these used book shops bring in a treasure trove of books though I am also wary of some of these books bearing some damage or writing/scribbles from its previous owner(s). Perhaps I should focus on hunting for books on chess? I did lose a lot of my chess books in the past 15 years to bookworms and floods. It would be nice to reacquire some if not all of them. In fact, some of the old chess books happened to be given to me by a cousin who has already passed away. He will most certainly be the subject of a future posting.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

End of an era in Philippine FM radio

I just heard from a radio jock on 99.5RT that NU107.5 will be signing off for good tomorrow. It came as a surprise and a sad one that an icon for rock music on Philippine FM radio will be concluding its broadcast after so many years of airing various forms of rock. This was the FM station that introduced me to heavy metal and hard rock when I was hooked (and still am) on new wave and jazz.

NU107 went on air when I was attending university and I remember it becoming part of my preset stations on my Walkman as I liked their mix of rock that was never heard from the other stations. That time, LS97.1 was among the leaders when it came to airing music from the rock genre but most of the material were actually of the glam rock kind. I wanted to know more about the headbanging sounds of bands like Metallica for times when my usual dose of new wave, jazz (even new age) or classical just won't do.

Even today, NU107.5 is among the presets on my old Walkman and our car stereo. I must admit its been awhile since I've tuned in to the station though; a result of having the CD player fixed and me loading up on my 80's CDs (U2, House Martins, Spandau Ballet, Billy Idol, etc.). I can only hope that perhaps NU107.5 will be resurrected one day just like how 99.5RT had returned after years when it sounded like just one of those stations that you need not "memorize."

Here's a salute and a toast to NU107.5. Great job guys and gals! The memories live on!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hymns

While I only went to three schools, I only know of two having hymns. These are the hymns of Lourdes School of Mandaluyong, where I spent my grade school and high school days (11 years), and of the University of the Philippines, where I took my Bachelor's and Master's degree in Civil Engineering (7 years total). Incidentally, I still am with UP but as a faculty member of its College of Engineering. I am not aware of my third school, the Yokohama National University, having a hymn and so I reproduce below the hymns of both LSM and UP:


LOURDES FOREVER

Let us blend our tongues in praises,
Let the years resound our voices,
Enduring be our fealty
To the school, we love so well.
Though the years our paths may sever,
Sons of Lourdes we’ll ever be,
And with joy thy praises
Sing so proudly, cheering
Alma Mater, hail to thee!
Comrades dear…
Let the song…
Echo clear…

Loud and long!


UP Beloved (Original English Version of the UP Hymn)
I.
U.P. beloved, thou Alma Mater dear
For thee united, our joyful voices hear
Far tho we wander, o'er island yonder
Loyal thy sons we'll ever be
Loyal thy sons we'll ever be.
II.
Echo the watchword, the Red and Green forever.
Give out the password, to the Hall of Brave sons rare.
Sing forth the message, ring out with courage
All hail, thou hope of our dear land,
All hail, thou hope of our dear land.



UP Naming Mahal
I.
U.P. naming mahal, pamantasang hirang
Ang tinig namin, sana'y inyong dinggin
Malayong lupain, amin mang marating
Di rin magbabago ang damdamin
Di rin magbabago ang damdamin.
II.
Luntian at pula, Sagisag magpakailanman
Ating pagdiwang, bulwagan ng dangal
Humayo't itanghal, giting at tapang
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan.



Friday, November 27, 2009

Reminiscing through music

I always remember my father playing songs from his younger days on our old stereo and later on component system. I grew up to the tune of Nat King Cole (whom he preferred over Sinatra), the Cascades and Ilonggo Folk Songs, thanks to a collection of vinyl records that I assume is stashed away somewhere after surviving the floods that brough havoc last September. I have come to appreciate that music - his music - as part of my upbringing, even as my tastes evolved to including classical, jazz, new wave, rock and pop from a wealth of talented musicians I was exposed to from the 70's to the present.

I must admit the guilty pleasure of listening to Bread and England Dan & John Ford Coley Songs. I sing along to Earth, Wind and Fire as well as to Air Supply and feel good when Barry Manilow plays on the radio. It's even more satisfying to hear tunes from high school times - Spandau Ballet, The Cure, The Smiths...and the list goes on and on. "Nakakabata nga talaga." It's the same statement I remember my father saying when he listens to his music. I guess by now I also have my music and am entitled to it if only because my taste is influenced by almost 4 decades of listening to various artists including one hit wonders (anyone for some Vitamin Z?).

I sit back and relax on Fridays and Saturdays. I'm content listening to Magic Madness or Slide on Fridays and Freestate Sound and another New Wave program on Saturdays. The music allows me to recharge and maybe, at least for those times I allow myself to indulge in it, turn back the clock to a time when there was less worries and less complications in life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Freeflow Music

It's been quite a while again since the last post and I had wanted to write about recent trips to Davao and Baguio. I haven't been to Davao since 2000 (that's nine years) and Baguio since 2004 (five years ago) so I'm raring to describe these places as I remember them last time I was there. Baguio will always have a special mention as it was the city where I did my first gig after graduation. It wasn't as crowded then but all indications pointed to a problematic future. But that's another story and I promise to write about this soon.

Meanwhile, allow me to talk about the music I love to listen to. I must admit that I listen to a variety of genres and was hooked on Jazz and New Age for quite some time while I was living in Japan. The radio programs in Tokyo and Yokohama made that possible and they were more (much more) welcome than the J-Pop that dominated the airwaves. However, the CDss I purchased told a different story. Most were of artists who were popular during my high school and early college years.

New wave albums and recordings by bands like A Flock of Seagulls, The Cure, Depeche Mode, and the Housemartins alongside the more pop Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Tears for Fears seemed too difficult to find when I was in Manila and the CD stores in Japan offered delight as I haunted the gigantic Tower Records in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. But most fruitful were expeditions to the smaller shops that also offered used CDs in excellent condition. I found that such CDs included imported ones from Europe, more specifically the UK, where the New Wave sound reigned supreme back in the 80s.

The result was a hoard of CDs taken home everytime I took a vacation. I just wanted to secure my own collection while I had the resources and the sources for the music I would play again and again and again. I've managed to rip some of them unto my MP3 player and get more music via friends and what used to be the popular sharing sites in the net.

On the FM radio back home in Manila, I have always looked forward to Fridays. 89.9 always had Friday Magic Madness on and it allowed for some reminiscing. Now I can put myself in my father's shoes when I imagine how it must be from back in the 70 to the present, to be missing the music of the good old days and loving times whe you can sit, relax and just listen to such music. Don't get me wrong. I also love standards and other "old" music. But let's be realistic, these are not the music that defined MY good old days.

These days, I've always looked forward to Fridays AND Saturdays. Friday Magic Madness is still holding steady but the selection can get quite predictable especially for one who's usually tuned in on Fridays. A welcome surprise is 88.3's Slide on Friday's and it would in my opinion give 89.9 a run for its money if people attempt to surf stations. The real deal of course is Freestate Sound on 88.3 Saturday mornings 9 to 12. The show distinctively features Manchester music and became quite amusing not just because of the lively (and lovely) DJ but the cuts that seem to have been resurrected from some old "baul". Indeed, 3 hours of bliss always made my day. But let's not forget the whole day treat that is Saturday's at 99.5. The 6 to 9 pm should be difficult to overlook and would complete the day if not save the week.