Article from Manila Standard Online

Thanks to Erning for this information!

Picks & Pans
Marissa Laguardia

Last Wednesday, I promised to tell you how I feel about the albums Paolo Montalban and Jose Llana recorded separately for two different recording companies.

Listening several times to both albums made it easy for me to decide which album I like better, or which one fails my rather very high standards.

But, let me tell you that this is my personal opinion and I don’t have any illusion that my opinion matters even to these two Filipino-Americans trying to make a name in their parents native country.

Both Paolo and Jose are noticeably struggling with the correct enunciation of the words in the tracks of Tagalog songs in their respective albums. Paolo is smarter in a way by limiting the number of Tagalog songs in the tracks to three. Jose, meanwhile, had to suffer through 11. There are those who will find the American accent in the Tagalog songs charming, but the singers, after a while, sound just they couldn’t make a connection with the songs. The renditions, in most tracks, sounded mechanical, as if the singers were just going through the notes and not understanding what the songs were all about.

This is most specifically true with Montalban whose renditions of “Kung Di Tayo, Paano Na?,” “Ikaw,” and “Kung Alam Mo Lang” are as vapid as a rendition by an amateur in a sing-along joint. He does a terrible version of the Leslie Bricusse-Anthony Newly classic “Pure Imagination” and an insufferable rendition of Charles Aznavour original “She.”

Llana’s training in theater solves that problem in a certain way, yet you can sense that the emotions that color his renditions are not spontaneous. But, it’s discernible to people with musical training or simply perceptive.

As albums, Llana’s turns out to be the better one. The concept is good, with the producers compelling the Broadway singer to sing mostly OPM. He does a fairly good job on the tracks “Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw” and even on the difficult “Nais Ko,” which also features the lilting voice of 14-year old Sarah Geronimo.

The problem really is not with the singers, but with the production of the album. Vicor could have done a better job if it had planned the album, selected the songs and had given them arrangements that match the talent of Paolo. In its haste to cash in on the impending popularity of this Fil-Am boy, they gave him a so-so album. Brandy won’t be happy listening to it.

In the case of Llana, everything would have turned out okay had Viva recorded Jose’s vocals in the US. His voice here sounded differently from his voice on the Flower Drum Song cast recording. Perhaps it’s an engineering flaw, but that could have been solved easily with the technology. When you listen to the CD using digital optical cable connections to your amplifier, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Paolo Montalban website: