Friday, October 31, 2008

In Search Of .. Mar Y Sol

In the early 70's, the Live album was a major release event, second only to the live event it chronicles. After the huge success of Woodstock, the event and its subsequent 3-LP soundtrack album, and the film that documented the event, albums of similar nature began sprouting like so much magic mushrooms.

One such was Mar Y Sol.

Mar Y Sol (meaning "Sea and Sun") was a Woodstock-like music festival that took place in Puerto Rico in 1972. Originally planned to be held in 1971, with different producers as Fiesta Del Sol ("Party by the sea"), the festival fell under the auspices of promoter Alex Cooley (previously of the Atlanta International Pop Festivals and the Music Midtown Festival), amidst attempts from the Puerto Rican government to stop the festival, which was scheduled for the first to the third of April. The fact that the new dates for the festival was a very religious weekend in Puerto Rico, the government was even more determined to stop Mar Y Sol from happening. The news were everywhere and even reached some bands, who decided not to participate in the festival, even though their names were already included on the promotional posters. New bands were added to the roster at the last minute.

Mar Y Sol was marred by numerous problems and considered a disaster. Several accidental deaths occurred, including a murder, even rapes were reported. There was even a warrant issued for the arrest of Alex Cooley, who escaped the island even before the festival was over.

In spite of all the misfires, problems and failures, Mar Y Sol had its few shining musical moments. The lineup consisted of big name artists of that time such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Allman Brothers Band, Dr. John, Long John Baldry, B.B. King, Herbie Mann, as well as then lesser known, but up-and-coming name artists like the J.Geils Band, The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin, Jonathan Edwards, Osibisa, Nitzinger and Cactus.

Here's the complete tracklist:

Looking For A Love - The J.Geils Band
The Noonward Race - The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin
Wang Dang Doodle - Dr.John
Why I Sing The Blues - B.B.King
Do You Know - Osibisa
Bedroom Mazurka - Cactus
Ain't Wastin' Time No More - The Allman Brothers Band
Take A Pebble/Lucky Man - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Texas Blues/Jelly Roll - Nitzinger
Sometimes In The Morning - Jonathan Edwards
Train of Glory - Jonathan Edwards
Bring My Baby - Long John Baldry
Respect Yourself - Herbie Mann

As with the rest of the In Search Of entries, this double album is an item worth your while. Not so much for the haphazard event where it was presented, but for the music itself.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In Search Of .. Kampuchea

Here's another indispensable release we'd like to see on CD.

Released in 1979 to raise money for the victims of war-torn Cambodia, Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea compiled the highlights of benefit concerts held at Hammersmith Odeon in London, England. Those who’ve tripped on this double album before, are well aware of the twist this collection holds, wherein the big names in the lineup should be skipped and shunned, whilst going straight to the other sidelighted, yet more noteworthy artists, such as a brutal three-song salvo from The Pretenders. At the height of their popularity, the fearsome force of James Honeyman-Scott’s chorus-drenched riffs, the booming oomph of bassist Pete Farndon, Martin Chambers’ rocket-propulsion pounding and of course, the tough, gruff snarl of Chrissie Hynde, threatened to steal the thunder away from the pomp and glamour of the likes of Queen and even The Who. Their triple-whammy of The Wait, Precious and Tattooed Love Boys are classic and tight, to say the least.

Though the album is dominated by four lackadaisical (by Who standards) tracks by The Who (must be because of drummer Kenney Jones), and an inspired working of “Now I’m Here” by Queen, Kampuchea’s true essence is in the smaller name acts. You can forget all about the Wings cuts. Been there, heard that.

There are snatches of brilliance to be heard in “Monkey Man” by The Specials, a dark, foreboding “Armagideon Time” by The Clash, with Mikey Dread on organ. Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ live take of The Impostor, as well as Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.” Lamentably, the Kampuchea video featured Dury doing “Sweet Gene Vincent,” backed by The Clash’s Mick Jones on guitar, but not included on the album, with Ian admonishing him with “.. you know the changes, right Michael?” Another noteworthy track is Rockpile’s take of “Little Sister,” with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant on vocals. Truly sweet.

Albums like these demand attention, production works down to the finest, minute detail, digital remastering and of course a darn release date! And while you’re at it, the video deserves a similar work-up as well. Now!

In Search Of .. The Beat Of Love

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Randy Vanwarmer? Take your pick, choose your poison..

  1. “Randy who..??”
  2. “Err.. what???”
  3. Isn’t he the guy who sang “Just When I Needed You Most?”

Number one and two is, more so than not, the illicited response from the I’m-familiar-with-the-song-but-not-the-artist types, while the Pop geek’s reply would be number three.

Colorado-born Randall Van Wormer moved to England to live with his mother at 15. A visiting American girlfriend became the inspiration of his long-enduring and only Pop hit, the aforementioned “Just When I Needed You Most” which reached #8 in the UK in 1979.

But in 1981, VanWarmer released the upbeat The Beat Of Love which spawned “Suzi Found A Weapon,” a minor cult hit, which was Randy’s tribute to a Bearsville (his record label) P.R. Rep whom he wooed and later wed. Though VanWarmer veered away from writing mushy stuff, he would later rue publicly his decision to turn away from dreamy ballads.

He died of Leukemia, at age 48. His remains were cremated and sent to space in 2007. No kidding, lamentably. Randy’s death also came within six months of other Pop/Rock luminaries such as Greg Guidry, Warren Zevon, Robert Palmer and Roger Voudouris. Sad.

And though The Beat Of Love album still remains unreleased on CD, here's a crucial download link to the album.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where the River runs wild

Sounds like there's strong stirrings from within the Rivermaya camp. This just in, taken off the website..

MANILA, Philippines—“It’s so silly. They’re making it a comedy. I hope they won’t make Rivermaya a laughing stock.”

Embattled manager Lizza Nakpil thus described the band’s attempt to disengage with her as she stood firm in her claim to the band’s trademark, which she said is rightfully hers, duly registered with the Intellectual Property Office.

“No one from the band can claim it,” Nakpil said in a telephone interview with late Tuesday night. “Compared to other bands, Rivermaya is a different animal. Chito Roño and I formed the band. We had the idea, held auditions, and found the members—Bamboo (Manalac), Nathan (Azarcon), Rico (Blanco) and the others. We put the team together. It’s not like other bands that formed and looked for a manager. They were hired to make the band.”

Current Rivermaya members, drummer Mark Escueta, guitarist Mike Elgar, bassist Japs Sergio and vocalist Jayson Fernandez, are seeking to part ways with Nakpil as the band’s manager and agent. Escueta was said to have been leading the move to disengage with Nakpil for undisclosed reasons. A Philippine Daily Inquirer source claimed the band members were accusing Nakpil of unauthorized collection of royalties due them.

“It’s like you’re a race car driver in the Ferrari team and you fire Ferrari himself,” Nakpil added. “No one member of Rivermaya is Rivermaya. If they are not happy with my management, they can always leave and create their own legend.”

The band had been rocked with roster changes through its fifteen years of existence. The original group formed in 1993, consisting of Jessie Gonzales, Kenneth Ilagan, Rome Velayo, Nathan Azarcon and Rico Blanco, had all left the band with Blanco as the last of the pioneer group to leave last year. Among the prominent departures was the 1998 exit of lead singer Bamboo Mañalac, who replaced Gonzales in the succeeding months leading to their first, self-titled album, and went on to form his own group. Nathan Azarcon left shortly after.

“Bamboo and Nathan left not because of my management. Rico left because he wanted to quit music,” Nakpil said. Blanco, however, has since made a comeback and is embarking on a solo career. Escueta, the most senior of the current roster, was part of the second group of Rivermaya members. He replaced Velayo and was with Mañalac, Blanco, Azarcon, and Perf de Castro (replacing Ilagan) in the successful debut album “Rivermaya” that spawned the hits “Ulan” and “214”.

“Mark’s contract is up in November,” Nakpil said. “Mark has a strange attitude towards this. With his contract, he thinks he can take the name of the band with him.” Escueta declined comment but mentioned in a SMS message to the Inquirer: “All I can tell you is that she is no longer our agent, and no longer allowed to represent Rivermaya... ”

Asked if she has any idea why the Rivemaya band members wanted to cut ties with her, Nakpil she did not have a clue except for a planned reunion concert that a third party was offering her. "I've been approached. They were offering P42 million and eventually offered more for that reunion concert." Nakpil said she eventually begged off because she said Rivermaya was not a disbanding group for members to hold a reunion. She took exception to charges of “unauthorized collection of royalties” the Inquirer source was mentioning.

“Unauthorized? I’m authorized. I’m the manager. I own the sound recordings. I’m the record label,” Nakpil said. “I receive these royalties legally…All the time, I show them an accounting of all these—receipts and invoices, everything to the last dime. We have all the documentation, cabinet-full.”

Nakpil said she found it strange that she was being “summoned” to the “Napolcom office” to explain the charges. She noted that National Police Commission vice-chairman and executive officer Eduardo Escueta is Mark’s father. Asked if this matter will end up in the band members’ favor, Nakpil said, “Not a snowball in hell, man. It doesn’t make sense. Whatever the case is, it will be junked.”

Blogging for a living?

I don't know why. But I now blog at the office as well, mind you in an official capacity. I have recently been tasked to manage the posts, entries, discussion boards and comments on Magellan Solution's website blog. You can read my first ever blog entry, just click this.

In Search Of .. Jan Akkerman - 3

For those who are familiar with Jan Akkerman, I'm sure the name conjures memories of the Dutch progressive band Focus. Their 1973 Rondo-esque Rock classic "Hocus Pocus" immediately comes to mind, a song written by guitarist Akkerman and flautist/keyboardist Thijs Van Leer, which featured, according to, "..a powerful rock chord riff and varied solo "verses" (in the original all performed by Leer) which include yodeling, an organ solo, accordion, gibberish lyrics, flute riffs and even whistling. Focus recorded a special, faster radio version, which became a hit song. When performing live, the group would play the song even faster." "Hocus Pocus" reached #20 in the UK and #9 in the US during the spring of 1973. Jan Akkerman left Focus in 1976 to pursue a solo career, and collaborations with different musicians.

In 1979, he released an album simply entitled 3. Not the expected breakthrough solo release from such a prolific guitar figure, but at that particular juncture of the local music scene that was, at that time, awash with anything and everything about Jazz Fuzak, Akkerman's 3 was but one of those albums mish-mashed in the fray. Here's the album tracklist..

Stingray (Get Up With That)
Wait And See
She's So Divine
Funk Me
This Is The One
Time Out Of Mind


Jan Akkerman / Guitars
Peter Schön / Keyboards
Gene Santini / Bass
Bruno Castellucci / Drums
Neppie Noya / Percussion (on "She's So Divine")
Duane Hitchings / Keyboards
Bunny Brunell / Bass
David Igelfeld / Drums

"Stingray" and its guitar driven fluidity will definitely bring back those late 70's early 80's memories of Macho Machines, CB radios, WK-FM 101.9, Brother Wayne, the old Birds Of The Same Feather jazz bar at the corner of Timog Ave. and Tomas Morato in QC and all the Pogi Jazz of that particular era. I may be the victim of erratum with this post, as the possibility of 3 having been released on CD as of this writing is strong. Should you run into a post, or, better yet, a copy of 3, please feel free to leave a comment.

In search of .. Times Square

Yet another album that has fallen through the cracks and gone unnoticed and still unreleased on CD is the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Times Square. It's a bit ironic that music fans, specially CD collectors, have lamented the non-CD release of a soundtrack to a movie that, more so than not, they have not watched.. ever.

This Various Artists double album was released also in 1980, and locally released on vinyl under the then-high profile mostly-Bee Gees label RSO Records (which stood for its owner's organization, Robert Stigwood). Though for those who have actually seen the film, which is not exactly the kind of movie worth any real sales at the tills nor something to e-mail your Mom about, it is the song selection that astounds. For 1980, this was a pretty eclectic music mix you could buy locally. Here's the tracklisting:

Rock Hard - Suzi Quatro
Pretenders - Talk Of The Town
Roxy Music - Same Old Scene
Gary Numan - Down In The Park
Marcy Levy & Robin Gibb - Help Me!
Talking Heads - Life During Wartime
Joe Jackson - Pretty Boys
XTC - Take This Town
Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated
Robin Johnson - Damn Dog
Robin Johnson & Trini Alvarado - Your Daughter Is One
The Ruts - Babylon's Burning
D.L.Byron - You Can't Hurry Love
Lou Reed - Walk On The Wild Side
Desmond Child & Rouge - The Night Was Not
Garland Jeffreys - Innocent, Not Guilty
The Cure - Grinding Halt
Patti Smith Group - Pissing In The River
David Johansen & Robin Johnson - Flowers In The City
Robin Johnson - Damn Dog (Reprise - The Cleo Club)

For a local 1980 release from Dyna Products, Inc., this is a pretty astounding soundtrack! At that time, where in the world would you be able to purchase local releases of The Cure (whose "Grinding Halt" appears here, from Three Imaginary Boys, an album that was never released here) and Ramones (their Road To Ruin also dealt a similar fate)? Not to mention Patti Smith's "Pissing In The River" from her 1976 album Radio Ethiopia, another unreleased gem. Or D.L. Byron's quirky take of The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love," which makes us ponder, who the hell is D.L. Byron? Here lies the essentiality of Times Square.

Back in the day, you'd be hard-pressed to send away for these imported record albums through your Balikbayan Aunt coming home for a visit, or maybe that steward/ess friend of yours who can easily handcarry them in overnight, no sweat. Now, with the readily available access of torrents and peer-to-peer filesharing programs, these once locally unreleased albums are now a few search strokes and mouseclicks away.

As for the fate of unreleased-on-CD record album gems such as Times Square, our hopes lie in some savvy Japanese label manager or executive who has the sharp foresight and chutzpah to release it on Japan-only CD. It would surely set us back a few bucks (it being a double album and all), but it's all in the essentiality. Or is it the novelty? Or both?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In Search Of ..

Don't you just hate it? It's the 21st friggin' century, and amidst all this cutting edge technology all around us, one measly album release ISN'T available in CD format? Unbelievable yet true. You'll be surprised by the amount of catalog album releases that are NOT (yet) available on CD. Only the savvy Japanese record label people seem to know how much good music there is from our rich past, and the need to release them onto the music world. Here's one I am definitely in search of.. Monsters Of Rock Live At Castle Donington.

Released in 1980, Monsters Of Rock Live At Castle Donington is a various artist affair, featuring a virtual who's-who of old school Heavy Metal. Promoter Paul Loadsby planned a day-long summer festival dedicated specifically to bands from within the heavy rock and metal genre. As he had been promoting the recent Rainbow UK tour, he asked the band to headline, to which they agreed.

The venue chosen for the event was the Donington Park motor racing circuit at Castle Donington, Leicestershire. Capable of holding up to 100,000 fans, it was near to the industrial Midlands and had easy access to major transport links. Early preparations were delayed after objections from locals and police but the festival organisation had addressed fears the event was scheduled for Saturday August 16, 1980.

The rest of the bill meantime was assembled as a balanced mix of British and international hard rock. A quadraphonic sound system was installed. Parallel to a Judas Priest sound-check days before the event a test of Cozy Powell’s pyrotechnics resulted in an explosion heard some three miles away, that blew out all the P.A. and caused £18,000 worth of damage to the stage set-up.

Ticket prices were £7.50 in advance. Though torrential rain over the preceding week had turned the site into a quagmire the day itself dawned bright, hot and sunny. The P.A. system only seemed to work well for those few thousand crammed down the front of the stage but, minor criticisms apart, the occasion was deemed an overwhelming success. From the organiser’s point of view they had lost money but had proved the principle sufficiently to have the confidence to organise a festival for following years.

Within a few years it became the annual event for the UK hard rock fraternity, superseding the rival Reading Festival. The event was destined to become a British music tradition for over a decade, and was eventually extended to include a list of dates through mainland Europe as well. Said Paul Loadsby: "It was a great day, the show Rainbow put on is still one of the best headlining performances at Donny...the first of its kind and a terrible risk."

Attendance at the first festival in 1980 was 35,000.

The album was released shortly after the event. Though Judas Priest were part of the bill, they were not included on the album. The lineup consisted of Rainbow, Scorpions, April Wine, Saxon, Riot and Touch.

It was reported that a member of Touch swallowed a bee while performing onstage. The whole event was recorded, with the exception of Judas Priest. The album was released consisting of two songs each by Rainbow ("Stargazer" and "All Night Long") and Scorpions ("Loving You Sunday Morning" and "Another Piece Of Meat") and one from April Wine ("I Like To Rock"), Saxon ("Backs To The Wall"), Riot ("Road Racing") and Touch ("Don't You Know What Love Is"). The cassette version had a slightly longer running time and added a third Scorpions track. Part of the Rainbow performance was filmed and shown on UK television in the Midlands broadcasting area (the locale of the festival). This album also marked Cozy Powell's last appearance with Rainbow. They also performed "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," the Carole King/Shirelles song (intended to be their next single) live, though never released.

As of this writing, the album, only available in Vinyl, has yet to see the light of digital day.

Breaking News: Now Melamine-enriched!

Yet another famous biscuit brand widely available in Qatar has been added to the growing list of melamine-contaminated food products. A Hong Kong food safety watchdog yesterday alleged traces of melamine were found in Croley Foods Sunflower Crackers (pictured).

The Philippine-made biscuit sold in many hypermarkets and grocery stores here has made it to the list of products tainted by toxic melamine substance that has stoked fear among consumers around the world and rocked China's food industry.

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety which has been conducting tests since last month said the biscuit along with a brand of eggs from China contained melamine.

Earlier, hypermarkets in Doha have pulled off shelves popular Sri Lankan biscuit Lemon Puff Munchee following reports by Swiss authorities it was melamine contaminated. Health Science Authority of the Health Ministry in Singapore, however, had later cleared the biscuit of any melamine content.

Also Qatari authorities have stepped up measures to ensure that the local market is free from melamine tainted products; these include a meeting of officials of Food Safety Committee of the National Health Authority (NHA) and making more stringent checks at the NHA's port control section. Sources from Central Food Laboratory under the NHA have earlier said the laboratory is also currently upgrading itself to locally conduct melamine tests.

Meanwhile, Premier Wen Jiabao of China - the country mostly affected by the scandal - vowed yesterday to win back the trust of the world by having the Chinese food exports meet international norms.

Friday, October 24, 2008


How many times have we heard it before? Cliches. Cliches. Cliches. “The only thing constant is change.” What a letdown.

Yet, we must trudge forth, soldier on, adapt and survive.. and like a runaway freight train with no brakes, I’m facing the changes head-on. And it’s all good. How different is it? It’s as different as night and day. Well, sort of.

I still have to get used to the heading, or the title, as some might call it.. Foundation/Soft Skills Trainer.. sound lame? Perhaps, but it’s far from it. If I were to surmise, it’s like Aircheck.. but worse. I’m so mean haha.. well, it kinda is, and kinda isn’t. Kinda, because you get your fair share of wannabe’s and the semi-experienced.. and it’s isn’t, coz unlike the dj program, this is the real deal. Preparing the trainees for battle, as I term it. And it really is. Unlike the wannabe dj’s who we can push and pull on and off-air at will back in the day, here, it’s the real thing. It’s job training, theoretical-to-practical, it’s someone’s job, someone’s future on the line here. Definitely preparation for battle.

And it’s exhausting. It only lasts for a week, but man, talk about brain drain. But it’s fulfilling. It’s gratifying. Why? Because you actually have a hand at leading them down the right path. If they happened to stray, you still have a chance to point them in the right direction. And should you manage to do so successfully, the feeling’s like no other. Misfires notwithstanding, it feels good to have actually helped someone.

Do I miss radio? Hell yeah. That’s why I still do it once a week. But this is the first time that radio is less bread-and-butter, and more of a stressbuster. You may be wondering if I miss the everyday grind of radio.. all I can say is, if it’s anything like the last fiasco, then no, I don’t miss it. At all.

In a nutshell, I’m happy.

Which I guess is the way it always should be.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

China Crisis

Back in the day, almost everything was "made in Japan," which we later learned, was a good thing. Now, everything's made in China. The land of cheap multinational labor, cheap consumer retail, and oft times cheap quality as well. Sometimes, dangerous even. The recent Melamine fiasco raised a lot of paranoid brouhaha over China-branded products. Which brings us to ponder how can we tell if a product is made in China or not? Simple. Read the barcode. I know your next question is.. "How the hell do you do that?" Simple. The first three digits in a barcode is the country code of the product's origin. Go grab that suspicious tin of powdered milk standing in your pantry cupboard. Check the first three digits on the barcode. If it begins with a 690. or 691. or between 692 and 695, it's definitely made in China.

30-37 FRANCE
50 UK

Funny how our government never, NEVER got around to informing the public about barcodes and how to read them. Then again, who trusts the government? Any one of them, for that matter.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I've been doing The Rock Show at RJUR Underground Radio, 105.9mhz on your FM band, for a little over two months now, and it's all good! I started broadcasting sometime late August and it's been fine and dandy, so far. The Sunday programming's rocking, in spite of the erratic signal in the Metro, and I'm getting my fair share of phone-in requests, as well as text messages. For those who wanna tune in, specially from halfway across the world, just click on this, if you happen to be online. And while you're there, you might want to chat with me in real time over YM at So there's really no excuse for you not to lock it into Underground Radio 105.9!

R U Listening to U R ?