Pinoy balladeers present The Classics

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

There is nothing like a classic love song to get listeners into a sweet, romantic mood. And while we have had no shortage of those these past months, think Spandau Ballet, Michael Learns To Rock, All-4-One and other foreign acts coming to visit, it is only now, that we will be getting these time-tested romantic sounds, and in huge doses at that, from Pinoy artists.

The one night special performance is titled The Classics and it stars Hajji Alejandro, Marco Sison, Noel Cabangon and Nonoy Zuñiga, who, doubtless, are four of the biggest names in the field of Filipino music. They will be headlining at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila on Nov. 8. This dream concert is presented by RWM in cooperation with Redstone Media Production, Inc.

No way anybody has forgotten who Hajji is. As most of you certainly know, others have aspired to the title but never with any success and so, more than 30 years since he sent young girls’ hearts a-flutter, Hajji, a member of the original Circus Band, remains the one and only Kilabot ng Kolehiyala. These songs are among the reasons why: Tag-araw, Panakip-butas, May Minamahal, Nakapagtataka and Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika.

Marco is also known for arousing romantic ideas among females but his appeal goes out to the older variety. Hajji has the kolehiyalas, while Marco magnetizes the matronas. Discovered in the old TV show Student Canteen and known for his sweet baritone, he made his mark with originals like My Love Will See You Through, Si Aida Si Lorna O Si Fe, I’ll Face Tomorrow, Always and Make Believe.

Nonoy’s low, sonorous tones got him into the Family Birth Control Band. He could have stayed there and done well. But a bombing incident that cost him his left leg during the Martial Law years thrust him into the solo spotlight. By some coincidence, composer Willy Cruz was looking for a singer for his new song. Nonoy recorded Doon Lang, and what came next is now history. The songs that came in its wake were Kumusta Ka, Never Ever Say Goodbye, Init Sa Magdamag, Magandang Gabi, Love Without Time and Fragments Of Forever.

Singer and songwriter Noel is the odd-man out in this group of balladeers. He actually made his mark as a folk singer. And while he has covered many Filipino ballads like George Canseco and Rey Valera songs these past few years, his big hit, Kanlungan also known familiarly as Panapanahon, is of the folk-rock genre. Still, I find it a good idea to spice up the line-up with something different and Noel’s addition might just result in new excitement for this show.

Incidentally, there is an old story that connects Hajji, Nonoy, Willy with George and Basil and Jem Recording and Vicor Music.

Hajji and Basil were members of the Circus Band, which in 1975 had decided to disband. Vicor’s Vic del Rosario became interested in promoting Hajji as a solo act and asked producer Willy to begin work on his album. Unknown to Vic, Willy was already prepared to leave Vicor to set up his own recording company that eventually became Jem.

Willy soon left Vicor and to everyone’s surprise, Hajji left with him to become Jem’s first recording artist. The first single he recorded was Tag-araw, a Tagalog adaptation of Charade by the Bee Gees flip-sided with Panakip-butas taken from The Worst That Could Happen by the Fifth Dimension. It became a huge hit.

Incensed over the treachery, Del Rosario sent his prized composer, George, in search of Circus’ other male soloist Basil. George found him singing at the lounge of the Admiral Hotel on Roxas Boulevard. The uncertain Basil, who was not sure about recording solo, was herded off to the Cinema Audio Recording Studios in Mandaluyong to record George’s latest. The song was Ngayon At Kailanman. To say it was a big hit is an understatement.

That is not the end of this story. A scant two years later, Hajji, after some hits with Jem, was once again enticed to leave and this time around, he returned to Vicor. Hence, the album Ang Pagbabalik. Willy came home from studies in the US of A with new compositions and no singer to record them.

But then he heard Nonoy singing Ako Ay Ikaw Rin in honor of the year of the disabled at the Metropop Music Festival. He thought that maybe Nonoy could do well with his songs. And so it happened, Nonoy recorded the songs originally meant for Hajji’s next album. Those were Doon Lang and Never Ever Say Goodbye.

Fate does play interesting and very intriguing tricks at times.


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