Three decades ago, four independent underground bands bonded and recorded a compilation album in the midst of semi-regular 12-hour brownouts in an era that didn't have YouTube or Spotify. The four bands? Heavy rock band The Breed, blues rock-flavored pop-rock outfit Rizal Underground, female-fronted alyternative rock outfit Color It Red, and Pinoy reggae champions Tropical Depression. The album? Alert Level, which is reissued in vinyl album glory courtesy of Plaka Express, fully remastered for vinly by Shinji Tanaka.
The four bands included in this album would go on and all get signed up by different major record labels, but carve their respective names in the annals of Pinoy alternative music.
Rizal Underground is led by Stephen Lu, who would lead this compilation album into fruition and have the recording sessions at his Loudhouse studio in Makati. Together with drummer Harley Alarcon on drums and brother Mike and Angelo Villegas on guitars and bass, respectively, they would release the songs "Rollers on Her Hair", "Powder or Lotion", and "Internal Revenue Man". The band was newly-formed then after Lu was on the rockabilly outfit The Runaway Boys. The band would go on and sign up with Polycosmic Records (which is now evolved into PolyEast Records). The band would go on and release mainstream hits such as the San Miguel Beer - Ina Raymundo-powered breakthrough hit song "Sabado Nights" and the hit power ballad "Bilanggo".
Tropical Depression, led by the late great Dominic "Papadom" Gamboa, arguably became the biggest progenitors of reggae music here in the Philippines. They mostly regarded the defunct Mayric's as their homecourt. For Alert Level, they contributed the kundiman-esque "Alaala", the Ysagani Ybarra-written "Bilog Na Naman Ang Buwan", and "Kapayapaan", which will eventually become their biggest anthem when they make their major label debut with Viva Records.
Color It Red, led by the enigmatic frontwoman Cooky Chua, were among the biggest fixtures from Red Rocks and Club Dredd. The Alert Level were literally their first recording sessions (there was no technology that enabled quality home recording sessions back then). For the compilation they recorded "I Need You Here", "It's Called Love", and "Mushy Song". They would sign up with Alpha Records and hit Gold and Platinum mainly on their breakthrough hit song "Paglisan".
Heavy rock band The Breed fronted by Charlie Ysmael came from the Makati and Kalye Bar rock scene that was populated by the likes of Razorback and Wolfgang. The band would record "Free", the frantic "Apocalypse", and their biggest cult favorite "Black Mercedes Benz" before signing up with Dyna Records.