Move over Michael Bublé, Raymond Lauchengco is the new face of big band standards here in the Philippines. Artists like Rod Stewart and Bublé have revived the big band sound but locally, one of our own familiar faces has himself produced an album in the genre, titled Full Circle. Raymond Lauchengco has given this album his unique touch by selecting hit songs from the ‘80s. The launch at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City, last October 26 was supported by fellow celebrities Eula Valdez and Ayen Munji-Laurel.
Choosing ‘80s music for the album was easy according to him because of the wonderful and fun emotions that the songs bring. Combining it with big band orchestra was the most natural thing to do. Raymond described the album, "This album is so different, ninety percent of the songs that I perform and recorded in my previous albums have always been slow. This time ninety percent is fast."
Raymond thanks his wife Mia Rocha for conceptualizing the album. She said, "We were trying to figure out a way to make standards his. How do you compete with someone like Bublé for example? But whenever he sings, people identify him with the ‘80s. So I said 'Go with it.'"
Just as his wife ordered, Raymond gamely does the one-arm dance together with his Bagets hit "Just Got Lucky." What's interesting however is that if younger listeners weren't familiar with the original they would think that the music was specifically made as a big band song. The strong trumpet comes in the usual keyboard section and replicates the high energy tempo.
The biggest hits of the eighties are given a fresh new interpretation in the album. They include "Head Over Heels" by the Go-Gos, "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & the Waves, "Just Got Lucky" by Joe Boxer (popularly known as the Bagets soundtrack), "Let's Go" by Wang Chung, "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley, "Together in Electric Dreams" by Human League, "Always Something There to Remind Me" by Naked Eyes, "You to Me are Everything" by the Real Thing, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears For Fears and "Wake Me Up Before you Go Go" by Wham.
Raymond also credits the talents of producer Alwyn Cruz and Mia Lauchengco. He gives special credit to Vic Oria who worked as musical director and supervising arranger. "I just sang the vocals. Everyone in the band gave their very important input."
The band is composed of Vic Oria, key boards; Kim Lesaca, bass; Jun Austria, drums; Adam Cesante, electric guitar; Ronnie Marqueses, trombone; Ruel Cabrera, 1st trumpet; Richie Gonzaga, 2nd trumpet; Ronald Tomas, tenor saxophone; and Rancis De Leon, alto sax.
Raymond has also entered a new phase in his life with the arrival of his firstborn child, Natalie Grace. Mia gave birth to their daughter last October 18, a few days before the album launch. "Last week my life was turned upside down. I was very excited about my first born I had to pray, 'Lord can't she come ahead of schedule so I could be with her?' And my beautiful Natalie was born. This album is dedicated to her. If you buy the CD you're an instant ninong and ninang," says the proud father.
Eula Valdez said, "I like it, I grew up with Glen Miller because my father always listened to him. What Raymond did was a brilliant idea. I've been to his other concerts and have previewed the album."
Raymond was already a veteran of several stage productions like The Sound of Music when he was discovered for films and recordings in 1982. It was Megastar Sharon Cuneta who heard him sing and recommended him to Viva. It proved to be an easy transition to movies and recordings. A versatile singer who can go from pop to classical, Raymond hopes that his interesting take on ‘80s music will earn him another set of hits.