All for Love reunites pop music greats

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

All for Love is the title of the new album featuring former members of The New Minstrels and the Circus Band and I cannot help but think how apt those words are for these artists who cannot seem to stop giving of their talents. Firmly established as among the best in the local music industry and also busy with their private lives, they still find time to sing when opportunities arise to do so. 

This dedication plus a fan base that has withstood a whopping 40 years are certainly what made them the biggest rediscoveries of this year. Can you name any artist around who starred in five sold-out concerts? There is nobody. The All for Love singers did. They did two shows at the Music Museum last February and then returned last month to perform at the Plenary Hall of the PICC, followed by another show at the University of Baguio and then at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu. 

Audiences sang along, danced, laughed reminisced as Hajji Alejandro, Eugene Villaluz, Joey Albert, Ray-an Fuentes, Louie Reyes, Ding Mercado, Jacqui Magno, Tillie Moreno, Chad Borja and Basil Valdez dished out the music they performed on Roxas Boulevard’s nightclub row way back in the Martial Law-ruled ’70s. It was a grueling schedule but great fun. So, do not be surprised if they will once again take time off from their families and their other careers to do shows here again soon.

And what can you say about performers who come to rehearsals, promo stints and to the shows on time? They did that. They also knew all their lyrics. No teleprompters for them. They knew their music — who will do melody, second voice, counterpoint, etc. They shared make-up artists and brought their own costumes. They did all these while also selling out tickets. Promoters who have to deal with prima donnas who have only sold an album or two, must be salivating. Why can’t these new artists learn that kind of discipline and also sell? 

And to top it all, they can all really sing. And I do not mean those adlib heavy imitations of American hip-hop or those whispery tones where the vocally-challenged hide nowadays. They sing in their own styles with the voices that fans remember from the many hits they created over the years. All for Love, the album, which is made up of tracks they recorded early this year show off those vocals. They all have still got it so do not make age an excuse for not being able to sing right or with feeling. 

It is unfortunate that Hajji and Tillie are not included in the album but they promise that they will be around in the next All For Love. But everyone else is featured in the CD singing their versions of contemporary Filipino classics. No Barry Manilow or Donna Summer here, just some of the best compositions by Willie Cruz, Louie Ocampo, Dennis Garcia, Moy Ortiz, Edith Gallardo and Wency Cornejo. 

Basil sings Sana’y Wala Ng Wakas which Willy wrote for Sharon Cuneta as arranged by Homer Flores; Ding Mercado has I Can, arranged by Benjie Pating, which Louie and Edith composed for Donna Cruz in the movie Do Re Mi; Louie, with Tateng Katindig on the piano sings Dennis’ Sa Isip Ko, which was a big hit for Agot Isidro; Chad’s song arranged by Ian Fajarito is Willie’s Kahit Na, which was Zsa Zsa Padilla’s breakout hit; Joey Albert sings Hindi Na, a CompanY song composed by Moy and Edith and arranged by Gino Cruz.

Ray-An puts an R&B spin to Wency’s rock ballad, Habang May Buhay; then Jacqui jazzes up Willy’s Let The Pain Remain again with Eddie playing the piano; Eugene has Willy’s Mahawi Man Ang Ulap arranged by Paulo Zarate; it is Moy’s and Edith’s Pagdating Ng Panahon for Pat; and the guys also get to do something Il Divo style when Eugene, Ray-an, Ding and Chad sing Willy’s Never Ever Say Goodbye.

Incidentally, while selling out their shows, the All for Love singers were also selling out copies of the album, which hit the stores in time for their concert series. 

For now, Basil and Hajji, who are full-time singers, are back to their solo stints. Basil is also busy preparing to record his next album. Joey is back in Canada where she divides her time between her daycare center and concerts all over North America. Likewise Ray-an, who is a full-time preacher also based in Canada. It is also back to office work for Tillie who lives in the US. Also for Louie who teaches voice to young singers in LA.  

Jacqui and Chad return to their other gigs, either as soloists or with other groups. Eugene returns to teaching the business of music, coaching new singers, occasional stage acting and solo stints. Businessman Ding sells pan de sal when not teaching grooming or globetrotting for his other businesses. And Pat is an image consultant and instructor at John Robert Powers. She has co-written a book Social Skills A Modern Guide to Modern Living that should be a must for everybody.

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