Ebe Dancel leads OPM vinyl releases with 'Baliktanaw'

Rick Olivares

Posted at Sep 21 2020 03:17 PM

Even with the pandemic raging, vinyl sales have surged. With people spending more time at home, there’s more time to listen to music; hence, the rise in sales for physical format albums as well as digital.

Here are three vinyl records I picked up and recommend. 

"Timeless" – Arthur Manuntag (Rainbow Records)

The “Tony Bennett of the Philippines” passed away last 2018 and in his long career as a performer, he only released three albums --- "Mga Awit ng Puso" and "My Kind of Christmas Is You" – both on compact disc – and "Timeless," the one release on vinyl, in 2015.

"Timeless" was never sold as it was meant to be a wedding anniversary gift to family and friends. However, after his sudden passing after falling comatose, his family has allowed the sale of the few long playing records that were left (you have to go to the Legazpi Street Market on Sundays to find this). 

In "Timeless," Manuntag produces something akin to the Great American Songbook with a cast of talented musicians like Dix Lucero and Dan Gil, along with the legendary composer and arranger Emy Munji. And it’s a lovely record with Manuntag’s golden voice accentuated by ticklish keys and light brass. This one can stand next to my records of Ol' Blue Eyes, Dino, and Bing Crosby.

"Baliktanaw" – Ebe Dancel (Polyeast)

Dancel is one of the most gifted songwriters we have. His songs for the lovelorn and the hopeful are to a generation or two of Filipino music fans just as what Paddy McAloon was to '80s kids – well-crafted and yet delicate pop gems that stick to your heart and mind.

"Baliktanaw" is not re-issue. They are new reworked versions of Dancel’s classics whether with his old band Sugarfree or as a solo artist. And of all the re-issues of these OPM classics, "Baliktanaw" not only sounds better (the only good sounding re-issues are P.O.T. and True Faith), but is new.

And rightfully so, in this pandemic, Dancel’s "Baliktanaw" is just what the doctor ordered. 

"Zookeeper’s Cardinal Healing Forum" – The Insektlife Cycle (El Ron del Mundo, Fruits de Mer Records/Friends of the Fish Records)

Post-rock psychedelic band The Insektlife Cycle return with a 7-inch single with a handful of a title, "Zookeeper’s Cardinal Healing Forum." The first track, “Our Jitterbug,” is a bouncy instrumental in the vein of the majestic “Sungaze” from the band’s debut "Vivid Dreams Parade." A nice driving instrumental. 

The other track, “Zookeepers,” will have you tapping your foot and nodding your head. 

Only 150 copies of this record were pressed. I think locally, only 20 are available so better check out the band on Facebook to find out if there are copies left. If not, try their labels.