Friday, August 14, 2009

Juan dela Cruz Band - Up In Arms (1971)

The original Juan Dela Cruz Band, consisting of Wally Gonzalez (guitar), Sandy Tagarro (bass guitar), Edmund Fortuno (drums), Bing Labrador (organ), and Alex Cruz (saxophones & flute), was formed in 1968. (Source: They performed that year at the Antipolo Rock Festival (filipino equivalent to the legendary Woodstock Rock Festival of 1969) and was subsequently tapped as the featured rock band in tandem with the Manila Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Redentor Romero) for the Philippine production of the rock opera by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Consequent to his dramatic part as the Judas character in the rock opera production, Sandy Tagarro vacated his instrumentalist role in the group and was replaced by Clifford Ho as bass guitarist.Upon the conclusion of the Jesus Christ Superstar production, Edmund Fortuno (aka "Bosyo"), Bing Labrador and Alex Cruz (with guitarist Vic Naldo and bassist Marlon Ilagan) formed a splinter group, Anakbayan which, together with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, performed for another major production run at the Cultural Center, the rock opera, Tommy by The Who.The versatile Sandy Tagarro returned to the Juan Dela Cruz Band, occupying the drummer's seat as Fortuno's replacement, and also as the band's lead vocalist; while Clifford Ho retained the bass chores. A musician from the Manila Symphony Orchestra (whom they had befriended in the Jesus Christ Superstar production), Romy Santos (flute/sax/clarinet), replaced Alex Cruz. Rene Segueco (organ/piano/vocal) was also recruited to replace Bing Labrador. In the wake of this major revamp, the Juan Dela Cruz Band recorded its first album in 1971, entitled Up in Arms, which was released by the Vicor Music Corporation under its Sunshine Records imprint. However, complications in the band caused Sandy Tagarro to leave abruptly barely after concluding the Up In Arms recording sessions; not even to pose for the album's photography. Consequently, the group picture for the LP's album cover showed a different drummer (Bobot Guerrero), with Tagarro's name stricken off the personnel credits, with exception to a parenthetical credit of him as composer of one song ("Lady in White Satin"). Bobot Guerrero's entry as the new drummer of Juan Dela Cruz continued through the promotional run of the album and into concerts and club stints.The Up in Arms album was not a commercial success and had not been reissued by Vicor Music Corporation to date. An unauthorized compact disc translation of the LP (albeit excellently remastered and packaged) by Shadoks /Normal Music (Bonn, Germany) --with spurious bonus tracks from a later edition of the band-- is sold in online Internet shops. Wally Gonzales is showcased as a rock guitarist with progressive leanings in this early effort. In several months, keyboardist Rene Sugueco had also left (briefly replaced by Larry Martinez), and bassist Clifford Ho (briefly replaced by Tony Rodriguez). It was during this transition phase that Joey Smith had recently returned to the Philippines from a successful sojourn in Japan, and in 1973 had accepted a cameo singing role at the Cultural Center's "Little Theater" for an abortive rock musical (produced by Carlitos Benavides) based on Erich Segal's novel then in vogue, Love Story, in which the Juan Dela Cruz Band was once again called upon to perform. This was also the period when the members of Juan Dela Cruz and Anakbayan where freely associating and performing collectively as a "supergroup" ensemble in various concerts.

Track Listing...

1. Justice (Where Are You)
2. Stranger In A Land
3. Mystery Roach
4. Requiem For A Head
5. Lady In White Satin
6. Love Of A Woman
7. Kagatan (Live)
8. Balong Malalim (Live)
9. Beep Beep (Live)
10. Palengke (Live)
11. Langit (Live)
12. Sarap Ng Buhay (Live)

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