Echoes from the Analog Past

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On hindsight, I feel lucky to have been hired by a record label which was founded in the early 1960’s. For a music buff like me who enjoys ‘old’ music, it was like finding Shangri-la when I was asked to hold office at the label’s library for a week to see what could be done with music from the thousands of album master reel tapes amassed over almost half a century. Never mind the ghost stories; you can imagine how excited my senses were each time I opened an old Scotch or Ampex reel box, smelling the scents of old carton and analog reel tape and reading the handwritten notes of the producer. I was told that most of the early to mid ‘60’s stuff was recorded in a small office cum studio in Quiapo or Avenida. Later projects were stored in old, square boxes labelled ‘Cinema Audio’ and ‘GSP,’ which stands for Greenhill Sound Promotion. These two companies were  owned by ‘60’s movie heart throb Jose Mari Gonzales and Ivory Records’ Tony Ocampo respectively.

That week in the library bore a couple of proposed compilations and reissues, two of which made it to the record bars: Together with the Tilt Down Men (Tito & Val Sotto’s pre-showbiz combo) and The Best of Dolphy and Panchito. Though purists prefer the original vinyl format, like that of The Tilt Down Men record which was praised highly by DJ-Musician Caliph8 at a music and technology conference held recently, the albums’ release on CD made them accessible to everyone.

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Other proposed projects, which unfortunately, did not materialize for reasons unknown include a back-to-back Soul album, an ‘Idol’ compilation featuring ‘60’s and ‘70’s singer-actors and actresses, and several combo music compilations that could have easily caught the attention of collectors, musicians and music writers.

Sometimes I think that it’s a bit regretful that social media sites like Facebook weren’t around back then. I could have taken pictures of those precious musical artefacts in the library and posted them on my “wall.” The 2 albums I have mentioned are still available (I think) in CD and probably in digital format too. These valuable records are very important parts of the history of Philippine music. These records are truly echoes from our distant, yet not forgotten, analog past.

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