Three years ago I found myself announcing an album from the Valerga Brothers when they were inducted to the Hall Of Fame Class of 2019. Covid delayed that album and forced into isolation, the brothers put to good use the extra time available and started to add songs to it with a view to making it a double album. Recordings went on until they had thirty three songs for the final project – that’s nearly a triple album’s worth of memorable classic songs!
The Valergas reached out across our musical community and secured stellar collaborations from musicians of all genres and the expanded project is now presented as a beautiful CD/USB package finally on sale at Khubchand’s, who have sponsored the album so that the entire proceeds from the album sales will go entirely to Calpe House. The launch of the album took place recently at the City Hall hosted by Mayor Christian Santos, with Sir Joe Bossano and Minister John Cortes also present. Pre sales of the album had already clocked up over thirteen hundred pounds which were presented to Calpe House representative Albert Poggio during the launch.
“The ‘Soundtrack of My Teens’ by The Valerga Bothers is our ‘opus magnum’ ” says Henry Valerga. It’s a snapshot of our early years in music, pictures and biography, packaged with the soundtrack of the 60’s and 70’s music which shaped our teens. This bumper musical offering includes great covers of big hits from many legendary artists and we have also brought in local artists to the album in the hope that Calpe House, a charity really close to all our hearts, will benefit greatly from the entire proceeds of this thirty three track album.”
In his opening address Mayor Christian Santos welcomed the many collaborators present and praised the great collection of ‘songs from another time.’ He encouraged those present to spread the word and help to bolster the sales of the album so that Calpe House would benefit greatly from this noble project. Henry Valerga spoke of the brothers’ involvement in music from a tender age and the social history of their growing up in Red sands Road. He alluded to the content of the album as a ‘time capsule of years passing’ and being marked by great songs which made up the soundtrack of their lives and our lives too. “These footprints of nostalgia have been raised to another level with the collaborations giving the music a new lease of life with a special local significance always respecting the original versions.” Henry gave detailed thanks and mentioned by name many who were involved in the project from the start and then invited a close friend to say a few words.
Barrister Levy Attias, a published poet and great friend of the Valerga Brothers entreated those gathered for the launch to ‘consider for a moment a life without music’. Where the ‘soundtrack’ of these songs recorded here have served us as a backdrop for romances or even break ups, as most of us remember specific times in our lives when music of bygone days jogs our memories and tugs at our heart strings. He paraphrased the great Abba hit ‘Thank you for the music’ and raised the chorus of agreement to a warm applause.
At that point Sir Joe Bossano was invited to the microphone and he spoke warmly about Calpe House and how it belongs to all of us and how it’s now considered a home from home to many recovering patients before returning home after UK treatments. The presentation of a cheque to Albert Poggio of Calpe House followed on and Albert highlighted by way of a statistic that as many as a quarter of our population has benefitted from shelter at Calpe House during times of treatments. A sobering thought that underpins the many charitable endeavours that our community undertakes to raise money for the charity.
The guests were then invited to purchase their copies of ‘Soundtrack of my Teens’ and the gathering then mingled to the backdrop of some songs from the new album in a video presentation by Eddie Adambery. My own thoughts after hearing the album are that as Christmas is just around the corner, there is no better way to give music this Christmas and help a really worthy cause, but more than that, this great collection of songs of our youth will take pride of place in many musical collections across Gibraltar.
What do you get for £20? A great album which is guaranteed to raise many smiles and evoke musical memories as we remember those bygone days when many great songs from great artists marked our youth. Big value with plenty of photographs and well researched historical comments on the tracks, why they were chosen, who collaborates on them from our local artists and compelling pointers as to why the music of the 60’s and 70’s was so successful and has remained etched in the memory of so many from that generation. There are many interesting stories behind many of the featured songs which were new to me and these little gems of information are always entertaining to read and to know. It’s a big listening experience and very well produced indeed.
The photography and design throughout are excellent and bring to life the story in pictures of this established sibling duo that have been with us for 57 years and counting. In a two CD pack you would normally get 24 tracks but in this one the USB increases the capacity so you get a CD with 19 songs and the USB has 33 songs (which I’m told is the format most convenient to use in your car stereo). When you add all the aforementioned pictures and information to this great musical package you will agree that it’s an excellent gift to give music this Christmas. Especially for the Calpe House
The album which has been financed by Kamlesh Krishna Khubchand, consists of a beautiful front cover painting of brothers Henry and Denis by artist Leslie Gaduzo. Stephen Perera has done the graphic design and produced the twelve page libretto which includes many photos from the era in montage using vintage cameras and layout. The local artists collaborating are Chris Montegriffo on harmonica, guitarist Paul Patrick Cano, Trevor Guilliano of ‘After Hours’ (recording assistance), singers Corrine Cooper and Seila Pavon, tenor Nathan Payas and soprano Claire Hawkins, veteran Rocker Giles Ramirez and veteran Rock guitarist Harry Chichon.
A more recent contribution was made by Eddie Adambery who is a long time friend of the brothers and now lives locally after he retired from a UK career in song writing producing and recording. The Gibraltar National Youth Choir conducted by Christian Santos also took part in the project, with spoken words by Krisna Gulraj and Michael Cortes, which were recorded with Brian Torres and Nicky Gonzalez assisting. That represents a wide cross section of local talent who have rallied round to embellish the project with their selfless contributions. There are more contributors not mentioned here for brevity.
“The songs we have chosen are legendary classics, evergreens from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks, Simon and Garfunkel, Procol Harum, The Righteous Brothers, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Donovan, The Everly Brothers and many more. Our versions of their songs are backed by rich instrumentation and versatile vocal arrangements which we and the other contributing local artists have poured their hearts into. I think that we have achieved a recording milestone in the way that our covers of these classics have turned out. It’s the biggest project that we have ever attempted and we are immensely proud of everyone with the results that we have achieved.”
I have selected a few songs to mention as a trailer and ‘The Boxer’ immediately stands out as does ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ both great productions. ‘Grocer Jack’ features the GNY Choir on it and has all the tenderness of the original. Henry’s vocal in Donovan’s ‘Catch the wind’ gives you goose pimples and ‘Universal Soldier’ is a truly epic production. Denis Valerga sings ‘Blackberry Way’ and he has orchestrated a ‘Penny Lane’ type of trumpet solo at the end which is a masterpiece. ‘Ruby Tuesday’ is given a sensitive treatment which evokes all the magic of the early Rolling Stones at their acoustic best and Don Maclean’s ‘Vincent’ is also a truly standout track which captures the beauty and fragility of the original.
I can vouch that you will be in for a feast of classics which will make you feel proud of the local talent on display in these collaborations. They really do stand out as special musical treats and I can see many copies of this album from the Valerga Brothers selling really well in support of Calpe House.
On sale at Khubchands, The ‘Soundtrack of my teens’ will gladden many hearts with the nostalgia and the musical journey of two brothers who have captured our hearts and still endure with their music.