Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Every great band has their masterpiece album; The Beatles had "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band", Pink Floyd had "The Dark Side Of The Moon" and Metallica had their self-titled 'black album'. For Pinoy Rock champions Juan De La Cruz, it was their 1975 magnum opus "Maskara". This line-up's second album finds the trio in top musical form. Unlike it's predecessor, 1973's "Himig Natin", which consists mostly of blues covers, this album is all original with most songs sung in Tagalog.

Opening with the psychedelic title track, Joey Smith invites the listener to open their hearts, minds and ears to the music. Hearing the lyric, "...hubarin mo ang iyong maskara, upang ikaw ay makilala...", one can't help but follow the Pinoy Pied Piper's request. The band then starts it's engine and revs up with 'Pinoy Blues' and clutches it into gear with the scorcher 'Nadapa Sa Arina'; Smith's ode to his adventures with the new designer drug of the times, cocaine.

"Maskara" also contains some beautiful ballads with 'Nakatagong Mata', 'We Love You' and 'Naglalakbay' that can all lull a baby to sleep. But it is the album's heavy hitters that gives it it's mystique. 'Rak En Roll Sa Mundo' shakes the foundations and the Wally Gonzales-sung 'Palengke' grooves like no other. The Philippines would be changed forever with the album's two biggest hits. Smith's 'Beep Beep' and Hanopol's 'Balong Malalim' capture the vibe of 70's Filipino life thru the eyes of the jeepney driver and it's dazed and confused youth. They are the musical equivalent of the Roman gods Apollo and Mercury. These two paeans about urban Pinoy culture have stood the test of time that bands still cover them to this day.

Sadly enough, this would be the trio's last album in the 1970's. Joey Smith left the band to pursue a solo career and adopt the nickname 'Pepe'. The remaining members called it a day soon after. Wally Gonzales recorded two albums, "Tunog Pinoy" & "On The Road" while Mike Hanopol would launch into his greatest work with the smash hit, 'Laki Sa Layaw' as well as composing hit songs for the Pinoy version of the disco group The Village People, Hagibis.

Mike Hanopol's solo album, "Buksan"

Cover of Wally Gonzales' solo album, "Tunog Pinoy"


JDLC would reconvene six years later and record the slick reunion album, "Kahit Anong Mangyari". Although it was a great comeback album with it's own roster of hits, it didn't replicate the vibe and aura that "Maskara" had in 1975. Thankfully, this classic is available today as part of a reissue series by Vicor Records. Experience the power and majesty that is "Maskara".


As part of a classic reissue series, "Himig Natin" is the 1973 groundbreaking album that sparked the origin of the term 'Pinoy Rock' and the wave of original Filipino rock music that would dominate the 1970's. Interestingly enough, this is the group's second album but the first with it's classic power trio line-up of bassist/vocalist Mike Hanopol, guitarist Wally Gonzales and drummer/vocalist Joey Smith (the first album is from 1971 called "Up In Arms" with Gonzales as part of the original band).

JDLC's 1st official album, "Up In Arms"

Aside from the classic hits, 'Rock N' Roll Sa Ulan', 'Mamasyal Sa Pilipinas' and the seminal PInoy Rock anthem, 'Ang Himig Natin', this album is drenched in psychedelic rock and heavy blues. As the group opens with 'Take You Home', the only word that comes to mind is...H-E-A-V-Y. This is the aural equivalent of a herd of brontosauruses trudging thru the flatlands several million years ago. 'I Wanna Say Yeah' has a R&B Motown feel reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys. They use a Chicago blues feel on 'Round And Round' and down n' dirty Delta blues on 'Blues Train' where Wally Gonzales burns the fretboard like a man possesed.

Wally Gonzalez

Joey 'Pepe' Smith

Mike Hanopol

The Smith-penned 'Shake Your Brain' is another gem that deserves 'classic' recognition. The spotlight though, is on the title song. A song about how important music is to the Filipino and should be one of the top 5 best Filipino songs ever written. All the planets were definitely aligned when JDLC recorded this masterpiece. From the opening acoustic guitar riff and piano accompaniment to it's beautiful lyrics and Wally Gonzales' awe-inspiring guitar solo, it is the perfect song that touches the very core of being Filipino. The impact that this song and album made on PInoy Rock was never imitated and can never be duplicated.