If the Eraserheads were the Beatles of the Philippines for their fab group chemistry and always evolving creativity, then Side A would be the country's equivalent of Toto, peddling an endless supply of straightforward, immaculately clean soft rock. Side A was formed in Manila, Philippines, in 1985, landing frequent gigs in hotel lounges. The band's innocuous, easy listening style was the antithesis of the city's developing underground new wave/punk scene but more accurately reflected the tastes of the masses. Formed by Naldy Gonzalez (vocals, keyboards), Side A became a hitmaking machine, unleashing a continuous stream of multi-platinum albums. Side A released its self-titled debut LP in 1989, which featured the band's first charting single, "Eva Marie." In 1991, the group -- comprised of Gonzalez, Joey Generoso (vocals), Kelly Badon (guitar), Joey Benin (bass), and Ernie Severino (drums) -- blasted into superstardom with its second full-length, White Album. The album was certified triple platinum.
Never a critics' favorite because of the group's MOR sound, Side A continued to attract mainstream record buyers in droves. Clean-cut and professional, Side A was labeled as a "show band," a derogatory term in rock & roll circles, for its crowd-pleasing and unchallenging music. However, in terms of commercial success, no other group in the Philippines was able to match their track record in the '90s. In 1993, the group's third LP, Blue Album, also went triple platinum. In the mid-'90s Side A was signed to Warner Music Philippines; the band's first album for the label, 1995's By Your Side, garnered two Awit Awards, the Philippines' equivalent of the Grammys. Since then, Side A has not veered from the laid-back pop and mellow love songs that brought the bandmembers a fortune, even bringing them to successful concerts in the U.S. Other regional groups have tried to imitate their formula but failed to equal their massive popularity. ~ Michael Sutton
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