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I've never heard this act but their one known album is said to have been reissued on CD by Prime Direction.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Kikuchi’s most successful album, both artistically and commercially, was his 1981 Columbia release SUSTO, which was recorded around the same time as his collaboration with his friend Terumasa Hino, on the latter’s groove LP DOUBLE RAINBOW. Similarly, Kikuchi ploughed a single-minded funkathon groove over four long tracks. Taking his lead from Miles Davis’ mid-70s funk band, Kikuchi invited Hino to play trumpet in addition to former Davis sax stars Dave Liebman and Steve Grossman. Kikuchi then reinforced his ensemble with an arsenal of guitarists and percussionists far beyond the point of overkill, but not with the same obliteration of ego that Miles achieved on such albums as GET UP WITH IT and AGARTHA. SUSTO’s high water mark is the fifteen-minute album closer ‘New Native’, which actually features four guitarists – Billy Patterson, Butch Campbell, Ronnie Drayton and producer James Mason – plus two drummers and two percussionists. Ironically, the only track to omit trumpeter Hino is a failure, ‘Gumbo’ being a lame lopsided reggae-disco piece of the style Can were want to lay on us around the time of SAW DELIGHT. However, as SUSTO was dedicated ‘to Alexander Calder, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Gyorgy Ligeti, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Toru Takemitsu’, it’s pretty clear where Kikuchi’s pleasure centres truly lay.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
This art director, master improvisational musician and founding member of Takehisa Kosugi’s freeform ensemble Taj Mahal Travellers is nowadays most well known for the three superb and iconically similar LP sleeves that he designed for records by Speed Glue & Shinki, Hiro Yanagida, Foodbrain in the early ‘70. The previous year, he had joined Tokyo’s Taj Mahal Ryokoudan design company, where he had designed the striking album art for Masahiko Satoh’s PALLADIUM, on Bridge Records. Satoh’s association with the guitarist Kimio Mizutani, brought his record sleeve to the attention of Polydor president Ikuzo Orita, who was looking for particularly eye-catching designs. Orita first asked Kimura to design a cover for the impending Foodbrain LP. Kimura blew up a photograph of an African elephant as large as possible for the Foodbrain album art, and everyone was delighted with the results. Next, for Hito Yanagida’s solo LP MILK TIME, the same process was repeated this time with a particularly appealing gorilla. When Ikuzo Orita moved over to Atlantic Records, he took Kimura’s ideas with him, and a huge tiger by Kimura adorned the cover of the legendary second Speed Glue & Shinki double-LP. As a member of Taj Mahal Travellers, Kimura added his voice, percussion and mandolin to their heady sonic underground still, as well as his ‘self-made instrument’ and a tree branch, which he is seen shaking throughout the Taj Mahal Travellers TV documetary that followed the band throughout 1969 across Denmark, Sweden, Britain and Iran. Unfortunately, outside of his work with Taj Mahal Travllers, Kimura’s only other known musical contribution to the Japanese rock scene was the appalling ‘free clarinet’ that assaults the senses throughout side two of the Foodbrain disaster ‘The Hole In A Sausage’.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Karuna Khyal is a highly obscure futen street ensemble who made one outstanding limited edition LP, entitled ALOMONI 1985, which was released in 1974. Karuna Khyal sounds like an exotic union between Exuma the Obeah Man, Faust, the Residents and a Foghorn Leghorn take on STRICTLY PERSONAL-period Captain Beefheart. Their sole album appears at number 19 in the Japrocksampler Top 50.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Beginning his career in the Group Sounds act The Happenings Four, keyboard player Kuni Kawachi will nevertheless probably always be best remembered for his writing contributions to Tokyo Kid Brothers’ version of THROW AWAY THE BOOKS, WE’RE GOING OUT ON THE STREETS, and also for his prescient employment of Flower Travellin’ Band members on his first LP KIRIKYOGEN. Indeed, despite the strung out elegance of that solo record having spanned several genres, the appearance on lead vocals of Akira ‘Joe’ Yamanaka has guaranteed KIRIKYOGEN a rightful place in rock’n’roll history, and a more genuinely listenable Japrock art statement you’d be hard pressed to find. Moreover, Kawachi’s early version of Flower’s ‘Map’ is, to some ears, even better than the later ‘original’. For his second LP, 1972’s LOVE SUKI DAIKIRAI, Kawachi turned to the ubiquitous Jun ‘Kimio’ Mizutani, former teen raver with garage band Out Cast, whose lead guitar had informed such legendary LPs as People’s BUDDHA MEETS ROCK and LOVE WILL MAKE A BETTER YOU by Love Live Life +1. Mizutani’s own highly rated solo album A PATH THROUGH HAZE was co-written by Masahiko Satoh along with Kawachi, whose painting is featured across the gatefold inner. In his later years, Kawachi moved north to become a farmer in Hokkaido, keeping his musical hand in writing TV commercials. A couple of years ago, his old Group Sounds band reformed, and are said to have played Kawachi’s KIRIKYOGEN in its entirety.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
In 1972, the guitarist Jun Kamikubo released one LP, entitled NOTHINGNESS, on the Toshiba Express record label. Contained within its grooves were several extremely average sub-sub-sub- Mountain/Cream blues rock workouts artistically somewhat equivalent to the kind of decrepit hash that the Welsh band Man were serving up throughout the ‘70s, but even less charming and containing none of the stupid Man titles that some say they find appealing. In 2002CE, the NOTHINGNESS LP was re-released by the obscure record specialist label Shadoks in a hefty cardboard sleeve and sold for a large sum of money, thereby giving early buyers a chance to smugly tout it to those who came too late to score their own copy. Me? I send it back to Freak Emporium and demanded (and received) my money back. However, this record is one to avoid, being neither outrageously free-rock and clod-hopping in the Leigh Stephens-period Blue Cheer style nor inept behemothballs-of-fire in the KISS ALIVE-stylee, and we never would have even heard of this moreley achieving Dadrock slush had not several should-know-betters of the underground touted it around and proclaimed it as being in some way relevant and therefore important. Music is not legendary merely because you can’t get hold of a copy. Beware!
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
This so-called ‘happenings group’ was a freak out improvisational ensemble, who played in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, in 1967. Their name means ‘zero dimension’, but it is unknown whether or not they recorded or released records, as the band’s only mention is as a favourite of J.A. Caesar, during his tenure as Longhair Brother Number One in the Go-Go-Café area of Shinjuku.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Masayoshi Kabe is one of the great stars of the Japanese 60s and 70s rock scenes, having made his name as bass player in the enormous Group Sounds band, the Golden Cups, thereafter forming Foodbrain with Shinki Chen, thereafter becoming bass player in the power trio Speed Glue and Shinki. His career is thoroughly covered in Japrocksampler.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Masahiko Satoh – piano, clavinet
Kiyoshi Sugimoto - guitar
Ken Muraoka – tenor sax, soprano sax
Hiroaki Suzuki – electric piano
Masaaki Terakawa – bass, electric bass
Akira Ishikawa - drums

The line-up for GET UP changed to
Hiroaki Suzuki – electric piano
Larry Kotonaga – percussion
Takao Naoi – guitar, etc.
Akira Ishikawa – drums

In the late ‘50s, Ishikawa released a 10” LP MOOD IN IMMORTAL CLASSIC OF JAPANESE SONGS for King Records.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007