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The 90S: A music memoir (2)



It did not happen overnight.

The explosion of Pinoy music talent in the 1990s could be traced to small sparks in the years following the 1983 assassination of Ninoy Aquino and after the 1986 People Power Revolt.

A new generation of Filipino musicians had come of age, weaned on punk and new wave, metal and other Western genres, while still attuned to its ’70s Pinoy rock forefathers.

Tommy Tanchangco, son of the food minister of the Marcos regime, had a band, Chaos, and an album, Third World Chaos, released in 1984 on a major label, Dyna Records, when he decided to put up his own indie label, Twisted Red Cross (TRC), the following year.

Brave New World Live! cassette

TRC produced a string of raw-sounding cassette albums by Urban Bandits, Dead Ends, Wuds, George Imbecile & The Idiots, Betrayed and the rest of the bands that nurtured the local punk scene.

The bands sprang during a depressing period in the country as the economy sank from government dysfunction, and the punk subculture reflected the brewing unrest that would find release via the Edsa uprising.

Karapatang Pantao album

Urban Bandits, for instance, had a song called “Battle of Mendiola” that captured the vibe of anti-Marcos rallies.

After the punks came The Dawn, a new wave quartet that released its self-titled debut album in 1986 on another major record label, OctoArts. Led by the intense guitarist Teddy Diaz, the band drew fans who were also listening to a new wave radio station, XB 102.

Lokal Brown album

But two years later, Diaz was stabbed to death just as their second album, I Stand with You, was released. The band and its manager Martin Galán decided to go on and find a new guitarist. But that’s for another chapter.

Meanwhile, another young new wave band, Identity Crisis, released its own debut album… Tale of Two in 1987 on Dyna — whose art director, Dodong Viray, with Jingle Chordbook writer Jing Garcia, would play an active role in the series of events that led to the big bang of the ’90s music scene.

I was co-editing Jingle with James Saspa and freelancing for the broadsheets when I started hanging out at Viray’s office in the old Dyna quarters in Sta. Cruz, Manila. In that office, record producer Ed Formoso showed up to pitch a project to Dyna managing director Jameson Dy.

Formoso had just produced his conceptual supergroup Lokal Brown’s album, This is Lokal Brown, and was commissioned to do a human rights-theme record.

Betrayed; Identity Crisis

The result was 1989’s Karapatang Pantao, a double album of 20 original songs recorded by a staggering roster of 20 artists: Susan Fernandez-Magno, The Next, Asin, Chickoy Pura, The Wuds, Hay’p, Banyuhay ni Heber, Joey Ayala at Ang Bagong Lumad, Pol Galang, Noli Aurillo, Sinaglahi, Bosyo, Spy, Buklod, Jess Santiago, Dessa Quesada, Inang Laya, Identity Crisis, Lokal Brown and Patatag.

Formoso followed it up with 1990’s Dear Cory: A Musical Message of Concern, a 12-track album that, like Karapatang Pantao, chronicled the violence of those years.

A 1989 compilation album, 10 of Another Kind (WEA), featured five young bands including Ethnic Faces, Introvoys and Deans December — whose front man Binky Lampano would be one of the first acts to perform at Red Rocks.

By that time, reggae band Cocojam and the Rolling Stones/punk-influenced Jerks were the weekend attractions at Mayric’s.

The ’90s: A music memoir (1) :