Monday, August 14, 2006

Remake nAPO Siya

(I was too excited last night to post this episode immediately. This morning I had a change of mind regarding certain interpretations I had of the songs “Doo Bidoo” and “Batang-Bata Ka Pa.” So now I’ve revised this episode accordingly. If you can spot the difference, I’ll give you a prize. – McVie, 15 Aug. 2006)

I grew up with the music of the APO Hiking Society. With their earlier songs I wasn’t really a big fan; I was merely aware of them (they were big hits on the radio at the time). It also helped that I knew we shared the same alma mater; it made their songs easier to like. Still, I was never really compelled to go out of my way to listen to their songs. When Ninoy Aquino was assassinated they reinvented themselves as a very vocal anti-Marcos group. But that never changed the way I saw them; for me it was music first. It took me a while to really appreciate their well-crafted Pinoy pop gems. That’s why, a few years ago, when I saw their two-volume greatest hits in the record store I immediately bought them.

Yesterday while browsing at the record store for the first time in quite a while, I saw this new release: Kami nAPO Muna. It’s a tribute album with current acts like Parokya Ni Edgar, Sponge Cola, Orange and Lemons, Sugarfree, Barbie Almalbis, Kitchie Nadal, Sandwich, Moonstar88, and more doing covers of APO’s greatest hits.

So I did what a nerdy music lover would do: I made a playlist in my iTunes/iPod called “APO/OPA” wherein the original version is placed side-by-side with its cover version. It’s what I’m listening to now. I must say it makes for quite an interesting listening experience.

Some of the covers hew very closely to the original. But they still sound good, which means the original sounds good even nowadays.

The more adventurous arrangements are far more interesting. The most exciting for me so far is the Kamikazee version of the song “Doo Bidoo” and Sugarfree’s reworking of “Batang-Bata Ka Pa”. With the former, Kamikazee’s irreverent approach transformed APO’s simple, playful ode to the joys of singing into a roaring, all-too-obvious dig at drug use. It’s hilarious to hear the Kamikazee guys going “O, doobee! Doobee!” with the guitars slashing in the background—go, jutes, go! And while the APO’s “Eto na, eto na, eto na, haaaaaaa…!” sounds positively giddy and almost innocent, the new one is a scream that’s a sonic equivalent of a drug rush.

Sugarfree takes the song “Batang-Bata Ka Pa” and makes it theirs. While APO’s version is a gentle lullaby, Suagrfree amps it up and not just in terms of added guitars and drums. APO’s version is a child while Sugarfree’s is a teenager; this is the first time I actually heard a song literally “grow up.” While the original addresses a child’s loss of innocence, the latter is more world-weary and knowing—as if they were talking to teenagers grappling over unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Even Sugarfree’s more intricate and sophisticated arrangement echoes the growth of the song. Plus lead singer Ebe Dancel channels his best Ely Buendia-“haaaaaaaa!” in this song.

I still have to listen closely to the others, but so far I like what I’m hearing. It’s great that these songs are being rediscovered and presented anew to the younger generation.

They’ve done a tribute album for Hotdog (which I also have, but I don’t have the originals). I wonder which artist from the 70s will next be given this distinction. VST and Company? Hagibis? Mike Hanopol? Sampaguita? Coritha?


its a good album. way better that e-heads 'ultraelectromagneticjam'.

most of the bands in the new APO album gave justice to their songs.
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