The reggae band composed of Filipino, Austrian and French members is back in Manila for a reunion tour.
If you love music and reggae in particular—it is not necessary to check both criteria but if you do then that’s great—then Spy’s masterful album, Sulabama Reggae Blast, is something you should have in your collection.
They might not be globally known as Bob Marley and the Wailers or even UB40, but really, what reggae albums do you know or even have?
Spy’s Sulabama Reggae Blast, recorded in Paris, France in 1995, by this trio of Filipino Sammy Asuncion on vocals and guitar, Austrian Fritz Barth on drums and percussion, and Frenchman Jean Maurice Casanove on bass and vocals, is a must-have.
The album will sit quite nicely next to your copy of Exodus, Labour of Love, or even The Harder They Come soundtrack.
With Spy reuniting for the first time in 25 years for a Reunion Tour of Manila (they regularity visited in the 1990s) while celebrating the re-release of Sulabama Reggae Blast on vinyl, from indie label Eikon Records, then this should be your quick guide to an album you must have.
The songs appear in order from Side A to Side D.
Dance Dance People
The perfect way to open a record or a show. Instantly appeals to your hips—even if you don’t have a dancing bone in your body.
A manifesto for people to open their eyes to injustice and to not remain docile. When Maurice offers a “haha” at the end of the first stanza, it’s subtle mocking of people’s state.
Whether the 1995 strikes in Paris had anything to do with this song, one thing is for sure. When the people spoke out with more than a million Parisians taking to the streets to protest a disadvantageous reform plan, the French government junked it. So, yes, speak out.
Furthermore, remember what Harriet Beecher Stowe once said? “The bitterest tears shed over a grave are of words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” Spy captures that perfectly in this groovy song that exhibits Sammy’s guitar playing” a la Hendrix.
I’ll Be Missing You
A lovely addendum to Bob Marley and the Wailers’ classic “Waiting in Vain”. Hearts should fall for the sheer poetry of yearning set to that ephemeral vibe. Towards the end of the song during one of the last refrain, when Sammy coos, “again and again” to “I’ll be missing you” if that doesn’t get lovers’ hands clasped together while looking deep into each other’s eyes, I don’t know what will. And that whistling at the end? Add that to songs with whistling such as GNR’s Patience, Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy, and the J. Geils Band’s Centerfold.
There Is A Mystery
A fun song wrapped around Clapton-esque riffs from Sammy.
Live As One
If Speak Out urges people to be vocal, Live As One directly speaks to politicians to remind them of why they ran for public service in the first place. Unless, of course, they entered to enrich themselves.
Spy steps up their diatribe against the system (read: the leadership). This was written in 1995 in Paris and somehow, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
A reminder that no matter how life can get testy and difficult, Spy also tells us in the same vein to still smile and bring a better and sunnier disposition in life because things will turn around.
Ah, the tempo quickens in this ode to the Philippines! When city life gets suffocating, there’s nothing like a road trip among the seven thousand-plus islands to recharge and soak in the beauty of nature and the world around us.
Who says that laughter is only the best medicine? A quick getaway should fill that prescription!
War Is Real
We must be now desensitized to what is happening in Ukraine and Gaza, but with the tension in the West Philippine Sea, Iran, and Yemen, Spy reminds us that we should not get complacent as these conflicts continue to affect everything around us. Hence, speak out.
Dig the subtle guitar work and that masterful bass.
Mind Yourself Mister
Note to the nosy ones – mind your own business and scratch your own galis.
Nuff said. Oh, check out the stick work of Dr. Sticks.
Imagine, Sammy sounded off on illegal logging, poaching, pollution in 1995, and more. It looks like no one paid attention. Dig the music, but you know what, do what you can for Planet Earth. Because close to 30 years later, the world is fighting back and you know who is going to be on the losing end.
So much for keeping the peace. How can this supposed guardian of the peace be the oppressor? Terrorists in uniform.
In the light of EJK and all these instances of police brutality, police road rage, police corruption, and police irregularities, who is safe? Can anyone police the police?
In my opinion, one of Spy’s best songs. Music-wise, harmony-wise, lyrics-wise. At times, I get this Joe Walsh vibe from this song, especially the guitars. How can such a beautiful song be wrapped around the misery of the tone?
Do not be fooled by these false promises and honeyed words. Many of our leaders speak with a forked tongue. Be on your guard. Especially to such a foolish and gullible electorate.
You’re the One
A return to love and some great guitar-work. What a way to end this glorious album.
Spy will kick off their Reunion Tour at 19 East this February 3 followed by a private show at Mid-Century Manila on February 7. The band returns to one of their old haunts in 70s Bistro on February 10 (their home away from home) with a show at Café Kalsada in Laguna on February 17.
The band has other shows lined up but will announce them after February 10 (for a reason they will unveil later).
Sulabama Reggae Blast is available through the Facebook page of Eikon Records and the live shows.