In 1994, Philippine independent label Vicor Records released Malupit Na Pag-ibig (Cruel Love), a collection of songs recorded by Philippine singer Victor Wood for the label during the 1970s. At the time, Wood was one of the Philippines' most popular singers. The songs are pleasant and enjoyable, and overall there is an easy listening ambience to the music. Many songs are by American composers, but there are some worthwhile Philippine-composed songs as well. For example, the opening title track, "Malupit Na Pag-ibig," which Wood composed, features an incisive, dramatic melody written in a hypnotic minor key. The song has much substance, as do the passionate "Bughaw Na Buhangin" (Blue Sand) and "Kalyehon 29" (Street 29). One of the album's more interesting songs is "Teenage Senorita," which features an incessant military-type drumbeat and Spanish-inflected horn riffs, similar to the horn riffs heard in Johnny Cash's great 1960s hit, "Ring of Fire." "Carmelita" is an enjoyable, upbeat ditty, and has a catchy chorus that's easy to remember and sing along with. Another standout number is "Daddy Cool," which has a frenetic, 1950s rock & roll ambience, and is reminiscent of Little Richard's classic 1950s hit, "Lucille." As in "Lucille," "Daddy Cool" contains an exiting saxophone solo. "Inibig Ko'y Nakatali Na" (The One I Love Is Already Taken) is a substantive easy listening love song that Wood imbues with much sincerity and passion. "Maruja" is a derivative Philippine love song, but Wood's sincere rendition makes the song worthwhile. For easy listening music, this is an enjoyable album, and contains a good mix of Philippine and international songs.
AllMusic Review by David Gonzales