The Victor Wood playlist
Armed with his naive confidence, Victor Wood the Jukebox King just took any song and did it in his style. Those versions turned out so good that he got to own the songs.
STAR/ File

The Victor Wood playlist

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - May 12, 2021 - 12:00am

If records of music sales from the ‘70s era exist, I am sure, it will be proven that the recently departed Victor Wood was one of the biggest selling artists of all time. Victor passed away last April 23 at the age of 75.

I took a look at his catalogue and found a long list of hit songs. They were no ordinary hits, too. They were massive. Legend has it that during the early ‘70s, music stores in Raon St. in Manila daily resounded with Victor Wood sounds all day and deep into the night. And loudly at that.

Then there were the jukeboxes, machines that played records. You put in some coins, press a few buttons and the record played. It was said that during Victor’s heyday, jukebox operators from all over the country would time their trips to Manila to coincide with the release of the latest Victor single.

That way they go back home carrying those precious little black 45s to be distributed to their jukeboxes, mostly in eateries where the records get played all the time. That was why Victor was known as the Jukebox King.

Then have you heard of any artist today or in the recent past who can release three or five albums a year and make big sellers of all of them? I cannot think of anyone. But Victor did. The first time was with the Darryl Boy Garcia original, I’m Sorry My Love, which became a big hit and his first album in August, 1970.

In 1971, he had three LPs, Great Hits, Mr. Lonely and Knock on Wood. 1972 netted four, Memories, In Despair, His Majesty and his first compilation, 14 Bestsellers. 1973 opened with his first all-Tagalog  album, Pilipino, followed by Wood I Love You and Victor Wood Music.  Love Is…, Ihilak, his first Visayan LP, Blue Christmas, his first Holiday album and another Tagalog collection, Kalyehon 29 in 1974. 1975 had Sincerely and Wooden Heart.

It was after this that Wood’s career turned sour with his payola expose. He accused record companies of paying disc jockeys to play their preferred recordings. That means favoring artists over others who were therefore left with no airplay. The expose resulted in the Presidential directive about radio playing a minimum of four Filipino recordings per hour, but left Victor ousted from his throne.

But the payola incident is a different story. This one is about Victor Wood, the hitmaker.  And what hits he made! Okay, those were mostly covers of foreign songs but that was local music during that time and Victor and his label, Vicor Music, went along with the trend.

If you are interested in knowing the hit songs of the ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s, take a look at the list of songs recorded by Victor. Armed with his naive confidence, he just took any song and did it in his style. Those versions turned out so good that he got to own the songs.

Everybody is familiar with that style, part-country, part-yodel spiced from time to time with Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones. It worked with every song. So well, that people now think of Sweet Caroline as Victor’s, not Neil Diamond’s, of Eternally as not Vic Damone’s or Mr. Lonely as not Bobby Vinton’s.

What about Carmelita or Girl in the Wood, Pearly Shells, Fraulein, Crying Time, I Went to Your Wedding? We do not recall the names of the original artists. We all know, Victor sang them.

Plus A Tear Fell, Lies, One More Chance, The Way of a Clown, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, The Great Pretender, Release Me, Lonely Teardrops, Till, Everyday, Let Me Be With You, Little Darlin’, Knock on Wood, Teenage Señorita, Cheryl Moana Marie, Daddy Cool, You Are My Destiny, She Wears My Ring, Slippin’ and Slidin’, Malaguena, It’s Now or Never, No Other Love,

The Voice of Love, In My Little Room, Vaya Con Dios, Hurt, Return to Me, Exodus, Be Bop a Lula, Rip It Up, Pretty Woman, Runaway, Happy Together, Good Golly Miss Molly, Love Me Tender, Inamorata, My Serenade, The Wonder of You, Jezebel, Only You, Peggy Sue, Happy Birthday My Darling, Remember You’re Mine, Am I That Easy to Forget,

Papa Oom Mow Mow, Satisfaction, Oh! My Papa, Rave On, Love Letters in the Sand, Let Me Try Again, Sonata of Love, The Locomotion, Day-O, Sincerely, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Sunshine, Sweet Lady, Tennessee Waltz, Paper Roses, I’ll Be Seeing You, Wooden Heart, Twilight Time, Feelings, Oh My Mama and many more.

No originals?  There were a few. Malupit na Pag-ibig which Victor composed, also revivals of classics like Johnny Astor’s In Despair and Clod Delfino’s Hahabol-habol. But that was a time for foreign covers and Victor served up a lot.

The success of his recordings helped Vicor launch Pilita Corrales, the Juan de la Cruz Band, Rico J. Puno and other stars. Although the payola expose was ill-advised as far as his career was concerned, it led into the golden age of Filipino music.

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