Friday, January 1, 2016

Ora: Demos (Blacklisted 4 Lyfe Records, 1999) (Unreleased)

Filipino-Canadian group Ora were one of the first independent R&B groups that I posted back during the summer and quickly became one of my favorites. Born at a time when Filipinos were just beginning to make their mark on the R&B world and much like the Bay Area quartet Premiere who were active in the mid 90s, they shunned the usual Pinoy Pop formula and embraced a more Americanized contemporary R&B sound. Briefly signed to Ontario-based label Blacklisted 4 Lyfe Records in the late 90s, they released one EP
which made some waves locally but sadly owing to the label's dissolution they never released anything else. Their debut album - as advertised on the back cover of their EP - was to be called Ora...Mismo Right Here Right Now1 and owing in part to my good friend Stuart and one of the amazing ladies in the group itself, I was fortunate enough to obtain most, if not all, of the demos for it. While their U.S. counterparts at the time were churning out watered-down pop music that had more in common with the worst of J-Pop, these four ladies from up north were putting it down like seasoned R&B professionals. A solid mix of smooth, mellow R&B grooves and uptempo urban-pop numbers, their style was reminiscent of En Vogue. Notable tracks include a duet Dream 'Bout You2 with fellow Canadian group 360, a beautifully sung cover of Sukiyaki and a more uptempo remix of the EP track Can't Stop  (which may or may not have been a consideration for a single at some point.) Produced entirely by Canadian R&B producers Sean and Billy Alexander with the exception of tracks 8, 9 13 & 14 which were co-produced with the group themselves. A Jewel Case Heaven and 4alldarnb exclusive only!!

Quit Stressin' [Rock Steelo Mix] 4:53
Interlude I - Hater Page 1:06
Can't Stop 4:54
NV So 4:00
I Don't Want You 4:25
Lies, Lies, Lies [Goodbye] 3:51
Sprung 3:59
Playas Goin' Down 3:45
Interlude II - Before I Go 1:32
Dream 'Bout You [ft. 360] 4:46
Sukiyaki 3:39
Love [Like Rain] 5:18
Interlude III - We Thank You 2:23
What Went Wrong 4:09
Can't Stop [Remix] 3:53

1One other online source - who is not very reliable when it comes to facts - also has the title of this album listed as "Can't Stop".
2Originally meant as a duet between Ora and Canadian soul singer Glen Lewis as per the You Tube video