Friday, December 30, 2016

SIDE A-Year 12 (1997)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: December 30, 2016

I'm three for three now, as my current streak of fulfilling long-standing personal music wishes sees me returning back to the OPM circuit with a special rare album commemorating the twelve years that the Filipino band SIDE A had been together. And I myself just might be a fan of this band for twelve years—perhaps even longer than that!—considering how fond of their music I've become since becoming acquainted with them through their earliest releases from the 80's. SIDE A—the answer to the long-running American band TOTO, as I've read before, and I was quickly reminded of that fact upon taking in the smooth, easy-listening groove of the opening song about confidence in finding a perfect lover that is "The Girl Is So Right For Me". And taking the idea from that title further, it would be easy to conclude that this whole album is so right for me, as every one of the songs thereafter maintains that same warming, easy-listening, soft rock radio perfect sound. "Endlessly", where the theme is eternal love, is one that highlights the amazing soaring vocals of the lead singer; the closing piano ballad, "Breakaway", sees those soaring vocals being shown off a second time (these tender piano pieces always make great vocals stand out), although the words sung here speak negatively about a broken relationship that the songwriter literally must break away from. The only other time negative feelings come into play is on the upbeat jam, "Don't Get Me Started", which instantly appeals with its slightly jazzy r&b rhythm. It's a classic story of not taking things too far if it's not going to be serious without playing with the other's emotions. Everywhere else, the mood is happy and bright, and one song in particular that makes me and my ears happy is the delightful "Just Wanna Make You Happy"—simple words, fine voices, and fine production all around. These SIDE A guys put on some real serious charm when the tempo slows down and a quartet of beautiful ballads is delivered: "Always Here" (the member with the high voice taking lead here sounds so beautiful all throughout this one), "Can't Keep This Feeling In" (desperate but tender love), "Forever Starts Today" (more of the eternal love theme; I adored this one the moment the music started playing) and the powerful "All This Time", which deals with two different people in search of the one who can change their lives and is performed as a duet with a female vocalist named Sharon Cuneta (she and the guy on leads here make quite the explosive vocal pair, especially when their voices collectively rise up with the epic orchestrals in the breathtaking, final movements!). Then there's the Tagalog track, "Wala Nang Iba" (translated as "No Other"), which gave me a little more Filipino cultural exposure. No idea what the lyrics speak of here, but I imagine it to be about not looking for any other girl that he would rather spend the rest of his life with, and I'm sure those words are just as charming as those delivered in English on the other easy-listening gems:

1. The Girl Is So Right For Me
2. Endlessly
3. Just Wanna Make You Happy
4. Always Here
5. Don't Get Me Started
6. Wala Nang Iba (No Other)
7. Forever Starts Today
8. Can't Keep This Feeling In
9. All This Time
10. Breakaway

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