Reviving the Eraserheads spirit

- Shyr Chan -
Years after Ely Buendia, Raymund Marasigan, Buddy Zabala and Marcus Adoro, a.k.a. Eraserheads, had parted ways, the music of the flag bearer of Pinoy pop alternative music continues to course through the veins of the generation they defined. It’s all because they made nine groundbreaking studio albums that collectively sold over a million copies; churned out more than two dozens of hit singles that composed the collective soundtrack of a nation, and won every award the industry could give them.

And though some of their disciples seem to have moved on to R&B or acid jazz, trance or acoustic music, make no mistake about it. All still feel Ligaya, Toyang, With A Smile, Minsan, Sembreak, Alapaap, Tindahan Ni Aling Nena, Magasin, Ang Huling El Bimbo and Pare Ko.

The Eraserheads still serves as shining example to today’s new artists, whether the group admits it or not.

the 17-track album produced by Jam 88.3 and distributed by Sony BMG Music Entertainment is composed of reburbished Eraserheads’ tunes done by an all-star roster tapped from diverse genres in the OPM umbrella.

These are Paolo Santos (who did Magasin); Radioactive Sago (Alcohol); Imago (Spolarium); Isha (Torpedo); M.Y.M.P. (Wag Mo Nang Itanong); Orange & Lemons (Wag Kang Matakot); Rico J. Puno (Ang Huling El Bimbo); Kitchie Nadal (Ligaya); Barbie Almalbis (Overdrive); Sponge Cola (Pare Ko); 6CycleMind (Alapaap); Francis M with Hardware Syndrome (Super Proxy); Cueshé (Hard To Believe); Brownman Revival (Maling Akala); South Border (With A Smile); and Sugarfree (Tikman).

Eric Perpetua, associate program director of Jam 88.3 who masterminded the tribute album from the unlikely radio station to bankroll it, says pulling together Ultraelectromagneticjam would have been a Herculean task had things not fallen into place.

"When I started doing the album, there were so many difficult hurdles," says Eric. "Will Eraserheads give their imprimatur? Will Sony BMG Music Entertainment allow it? How will arttists take to the project? Which Eraserhead song will each do? And how does one give justice to E-heads’ songs without being derivative?"

The gods of alternative music were listening and so sent friendly arrows along the way. When Eric broached the idea to Sony BMG that owns the band’s catalogue, they readily gave their go-signal, provided only named bands do the work "as befitting the stature of The Eraserheads."

Then, Eric spoke to prospective top artists. The ones who don’t need to be "bothered" at this point to contribute to a compilation since all are already busy plotting their next albums, promoting their current ones, touring all over.

The response Eric got from them floored him.

"Everyone jumped at the idea!" says Eric. "It’s as if, they were waiting for something like this to happen. All were excited; couldn’t wait to hit the studio. Like us, the only question on their lips was ‘But which Eraserhead song?’"

Unknown to them, Eric had been reviewing the works of The Eraserheads. He was hoping of suggesting the right songs to them if they so much ask.

No one had intentions of doing so – after all, each artist already has his own favorite E-heads’ song long before Ultraelectromagneticjam came up.

The choices would tickle a smile from any of the Eraserheads’ fans and, maybe, even from the boys themselves.

Isha, known for her Tori Amos-eque piano-and-vocals ways, let it all rock for a change while adding a quirk to Torpedo.

Same with Kitchie Nadal who couldn’t keep a straight face while mouthing the line "ilang ahit pa ba ang aahitin?" from Ligaya. To this day, she won’t say which crop of hair from which part of her body she was thinking of then.

As for Imago and Radioactive Sago Project, who would have foreseen them doing unreleased E-heads’ singles? The first dredged up Spolarium from the album Sticker Happy and made it single material. The second did Alkohol circa-Circus in fashion that proves liquid, even if that be liquor, seeks it own level.

And remember Super Proxy, that Eraserheads and Francis Magalona team-up? This time, they turn the tables on each other with Francis doing the singing and Ely busting the rhymes.

"People have asked me, ‘Why the Eraserheads?’ " says Eric." The reasons are simple: No other band has made an impression and impact as big as it has on the music scene. No other band has captured every color – from A to D – in the demographic rainbow. No other band can create musical magic the way Ely, Marcus, Raymund and Buddy do when they come together. No other band is as witty, cheeky, spunky and as Filipino when it comes to lyrics. No one comes close to The Eraserheads, then and now."

To the credit of all who participated in the landmark album, these were never an issue, anyway. Instead, all went into the studio with a mind to pay tribute to greatness – the essence of which is marriage of universality with individuality that allows it to be remodeled successfully any which way.











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