Boyfriends, VST&Co are the Bee Gees sound in Pinoy music

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star
Boyfriends, VST&Co are the Bee Gees sound in Pinoy music
The Gibbs boys are numbered among the greatest pop acts of all time. Timeless is a wonderful album that encapsulates the best songs of the Bee Gees trio.
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There was nothing new about the Bee Gees in 1977. The trio already had hits like Words, Spicks and Specks, To Love Somebody and others during the late ‘60s. Considered Australia’s answer to the Beatles, Robin, Maurice and Barry Gibbs have already been around for about 10 years when their songs, John Travolta and disco music exploded everywhere.

Bee Gees music was used in the soundtrack of the movie Saturday Night Fever where the lithe and mesmerizing Travolta danced to More Than a Woman. There was no stopping disco after that. What was once music from the clubs of Europe, disco became a worldwide phenomenon. And in its wake followed Travolta and Bee Gees music.

Manila Sound was the hot new music of the time. It conformed to no established genre and was open to any. Rock, jazz, soul, pop, all those and others could be Manila Sound. So why not also disco or the Bee Gees.

First to jump on the bandwagon was a group named Boyfriends. It was formed by Orly Ilacad of OctoArts International out of singer and songwriter Joey Abando Jr., ex Ramrods and veteran producer Bob Guzman, warehouse supervisor Gary Arriola and Ilacad’s youngest brother Artie. The Boyfriends hit big time on its first time out with the Bee Gees sounding pop ballad Dahil Mahal Kita.

Manila Sound lore has it that Tito Sotto, then vice president in charge of artist and repertoire at Vicor Music Corporation, was having lunch at the office canteen when he heard the waitress singing Dahil Mahal Kita. So, he listened and got the strong feeling the song would be a big hit and he knew he must get Vicor on the bandwagon.

Like Ilacad, Sotto sourced the members of the new group from people close to him. His brothers Vic and Val; music producers Celso Llarina and Spanky Rigor, who brought in his brothers Male and Roger plus barkada Monet Gaskell. Named VST&Co for Vicente Sotto III & Company, the band was sent post haste to the studio to record two songs that were composed by Vic Sotto and DJ turned comedian Joey de Leon. Side A of the single was Ikaw ang Aking Mahal, while Side B was Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko. And Manila Sound disco, with Bee Gees style falsetto singing was born.

And Pinoys love the sound immensely to this day. VST&Co songs continue to sell, as in downloads, streams or in the recently reissued vinyls. No celebration hereabouts is complete without music by VST&Co. Rock Baby Rock, Swing It Baby, Disco Fever, Magsayawan, Kiss Kiss, Magnifica, Step Yes Step No, May I Have This Dance. Boyfriends also continue to do well with songs like Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal, Sumayaw Sumunod, Nais Kong Malaman Mo and others.

As for the Bee Gees, the Gibbs boys are numbered among the greatest pop acts of all time. There is this wonderful album that was put together by Barry that encapsulates the best songs of the trio. I believe this is the compilation which should delight fans and also give the uninitiated a close look at the group’s great music output.

Barry has this to say about the collection: “There is a spirituality about this album and these songs always meant the most to us. So it is extraordinary that it came together in such a natural way. I chose the songs with the intention of having a chronological order to the whole album and although there are many other songs, these songs, I feel, are the songs that Maurice, Robin and I would be most proud of. These songs represent the path of our lives, moments in time. Moments that will never be forgotten.”

Aptly titled Timeless: The All-Time Greatest Hits, the album includes No. 1 sellers in the US of A, the UK and Australia. These are: Spicks and Specks; New York Mining Disaster; To Love Somebody; Massachusetts; Words; I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You; I Started a Joke; Lonely Days; How Can You Mend a Broken Heart; Jive Talkin’; Nights on Broadway; Fanny (Be Tender with My Love); You Should Be Dancing; How Deep is Your Love; Stayin’ Alive; Night Fever; More Than a Woman; Too Much Heaven; Tragedy; Love You Inside Out; and You Win Again.

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