So who got the classic 'Tag-Ulan' riff right?
It may be ironic to talk about a song about rain when the heat is really on. But it won’t hurt to fire up a conversation about a classic OPM riff that turned out to be oft-misplayed, at least according to the tunesmith behind it.
Riff in question is that heard on the After Image classic “Tag-Ulan,” penned and sung by frontman Wency Cornejo and released in 1994 off his band’s album “Tag-Ulan, Tag-Araw” which, against heavy competition, was declared “Album of the Year” in the 1995 Awit Awards.
“There’s this little known fact about that rift wherein usually mali how people do it,” claimed Wency with an obvious grin during our chat a few months back.
He insisted his verdict by humming the famous D-chord intro then emphasized the slight, yet intriguing difference from how it was actually delivered on record, “May hammer ‘yun eh,” he said, adding “Hindi ako masyado nag-aareglo pero sa akin nanggaling yung riff na ‘yun.”
Back in those days, it was almost customary for start-up guitarists to know how to play that part, which is somewhat as famous as the intro to Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
Anyhow, it gives Wency, child of seasoned news anchor Mel Tiangco, some pride that his idea for a riff turned the song around. In fact, it was the carrier single to a loaded album and it became a gold record. The track, in his mind, contains a couple of more oddities worth-mentioning, like it was the only song he wrote on piano (while everything else were via guitar) and that it took him three years to finish it — a long stretch if taken into account how fast he scribbled another unforgettable piece, “Habang May Buhay,” which wrote in just one sitting.
“I usually start with an idea of what I want the song to be about. Tapos title kaagad,” he tipped. “From the title kasi you get an idea of what you want to say. Nauuna sa akin ang words tapos lalagyan ko ng melody.”
He added, “Every time I think of something, I write it down. It can be a title or a phrase.”
Arguably more revered for his emotive singing than for his ability to score a hit song, the slim-bearded performer showed me a line that came out when, as he recalled, he was feeling angry: Revel in my exclusion/Rejoice in my dismay.
The AfterImage catalogue is no doubt a strong suit because of Wency’s talent, with hits including “Mangarap Ka,” “Forevermore,” “Bai”, “Tag-Araw” and “Next In Line.” Interestingly, all four albums the group recorded contained either the words “sun” or “araw.” Chuck Isidro, who later played for 6Cyclemind, was Wency’s bandmate.
In the mid-90s, the hitmaker was commissioned to write “Hanggang Ngayon,” which gathered the famous band vocalists of the then flourishing alternative rock scene. The ensemble sang his composition in celebration of the centennial year of Philippine revolution against Spain.
He expressed, “It was such an honor na ako ang pinasulat nung song na ‘yun. I got to handpicked who would sing which line, tapos bahala na gang kami. I’m proud of it kasi maganda naman ang kinalabasan.”
Wency recently signed with Star Music as he posted on his Facebook page, “Exciting times and music ahead.” That sounds like a new riff.