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Akira Fuse was a debonair '60s pop star whose story is central to Japrocksampler, and is told in detail throughout the length of the book. His finest contribution to Japanese music is undoubtedly as lead singer on the King Records LP LOVE WILL MAKE A BETTER YOU by Love Live Life +1. This record appears at number 6 in Japrocksampler's Top 50.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
The early career of Keiji Haino is well catalogued in Japrocksampler, and his ostrasism from Japanese rock society appears to have lasted beyond the mid-1970s. Fushitsusha are a power trio whose career was best known during the 1990s. However, Haino now claims that the original Fushitsusha were rehearsing if not performing by the late 1970s. One release appeared on the PSF label, typically clad in Haino's all-black, and bearing these words:

‘Endlessly scattering the people fragments that must have been’.

‘Sooner or later they will want to huddle together’.

‘The numerous fragments that got out of myself, ‘Thinking: Things Shouldn’t Have Been Like This’

Each One Of Them Drag Out, Expose, Bring Forth Further Editions Of Myself’.

‘PRETEND TO BE ME’

‘The untranslatable act that brings the impossible (such as pretending to be me) closer to the possible, in order to send a letter of challenge to the subject called eternity, I continue to persist in this untranslateable act and carry on living.’
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Masumi ‘Vocal’ Ono – vocals
Momoru ‘Mark’ Horiuchi – vocals
Tomiaki Hidaka – vocals, guitar

Best known for their 1973 hit 'Gakuseigai No Kissaten' (Café In A Student Town), Garo was a poppy folk trio who had very long hair and perpetually wore sunglasses. They all came out of the university folk scene, although Masumi Ono and Momoru Horiuchi both made their name in HAIR, playing the same character ‘Wolf’. Garo was named by their powerful manager, who took his inspiration from a hip discotheque in the Kawara-machi area of Kanuma City. Before joining the cast of ‘HAIR’, Masumi Ono had been an early member of Tokyo Kid Brothers, where he wsas known by the two stage names ‘Christ’ and ‘George’. In April 1971, the three received a major break playing at the famous festival ‘Rock Invitation Number One’, at the Hibiya Outdoor Hall, alongside Murahatchibu, Blues Creation, Too Much, Carmen Maki, Blind Bird, M and Tadashi Kosaka. Garo also supported Murahatchibu in July ‘71, performing alongside Blues Creation and Escape. With these cool underground credentials under their belt, they proceeded to make several very catchy singles, scoring hits in 1973 with 'Kimi No Tanjobi' (Your Birthday) and 'Romansu' (Romance), and the aforementioned ‘Café In A Student Town’. Garo broke up in December 1975.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Hideto Kano – guitar, vocals (ex-M)
Masayuki ‘Mahbo’ Aoki – bass (ex-Too Much)
Ryoichi ‘Ryo-chan’ Nakano – drums, synthesizer

Formed by ex-members of early '70s festival stalwarts the M and Too Much, Gedo was a power trio whose biker fans followed them from bar to bar, making each gig into a show of ritual, full of euphoric moments, in-jokes and surprising outbursts of extreme collective male melancholy. With songs full of lyrics evoking images of hell, despair, pig’s flesh and fool’s paradises (sic), Gedo's early LPs were sparsely-produced by Mickey Curtis, who kept intact the band's furious Born-to-be-Wild rush of proto-Ramones. Unfortunately, like other such mid-'70s hard rockers (think Bang, think Pink Fairies, think Dust), Gedo's albums nowadays suffer from too much variety. However, their debut LP appears at number 30 in Japrocksampler's Top 50, and the band is discussed further in the book's brief essay 'Gedo & the Rise of the Festival Bands' (pages 130-131).
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Named in English 'Yamashiro’s Performing Arts Group', Geino Yamashirogumi was a massive vocal ensemble comprised of up to 70 singers at a time. The ensemble was joined on side one of their 1976 debut LP by the Spiders' organist Katsuo Ohno and 'Monsieur' Takayuki Inoue on some particularly incendiary electric guitar, along with bass player Takanori Sasaki and drummer Jiro Suzuki, conspiring to create a thrilling and soaring hybrid of Krautrock, Gospel and swampy Cajun music. Side two's bizarre early Residents-like vocal chimping and LORD OF THE FLIES prattle was almost (but not quite) as great. Named OSOREZAN after the legendary sacred mountain on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, this debut LP is a spectacular achievement and appears at number 8 in Japrocksampler's Top 50. Thereafter, Geino Yamashirogumi unfortunately lost 'it', their muse being substituted instead for a series of bizarre 'genre' LPs. The second LP CHI NO HIBIKI was merely an accurate reading of several Georgian, Russian and Bulgarian folk songs, most likely without interest to anyone still on this mortal coil, and certainly back up on ebay just two days after our postie had delivered it. Five years later, the third LP AFRICA GENSHO was released, though the title freaked me* out so I've never attempted to search it out. In conclusion, we rock'n'roll frontiersmen just have to accept that in order to find the greatest lost Japanese music, we're gonna have to become ever more open-minded about the places where we search. A further tour of underground Japan will undoubtedly bring forth umpteen more lost classics from the most unlikely places, as evidenced by the unexpected classics lurking within theatre music, street music and the like.

* In the early 1970s, Japanese attitudes to Africans can best be illustrated by the behaviour of Murahatchibu's lead guitarist Fujio Yamagauchi, who went to such lengths to emulate his hero Chuck Berry that he appeared in blackface for one press shot.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
I've never heard this very obscure group who are said to have made at least one album, INOCHI, which has been described by internet bloggers as ‘progressive underground’, whatever that might be!
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Takehisa Kosugi – violin, sax, tapes
Shukou Mizuno – cello, drums, tapes
Chieko ‘Mieko’ Shiomi - piano
Yasunao Tone – sax, tapes
Mikio Tojima - cello
Yumiko Tanno – FX, tapes
Genichi Tsuge - guitar

The story of Group Ongaku (and its founder members Takehisa Kosugi and Yasunao Tone) is essential to the fabric of the post-war Japanese music scene. Their history is carefully mapped out throughout Book 1, Chapter 2 of Japrocksampler.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
See Japrocksampler, Book Two, Chapter Six.


On September 7th 2007CE, Kevin Cheli-Colando commented: "Two of the founding members of the band, Joe Yamanaka and Yuya Uchida, have continued on as actors, and in 2002 they hooked up with the amazing Japanese director Takashii Miike in the movie Jitsuroku Ando Noburu kyodo-den: Rekka or 'Deadly Outlaw Rekka' for the rest of the non-Japanese world. Yamanaka and Uchida then turned Miike on to the album Satori and he was so taken with it he wound up scoring the film with that album. It's a pretty crazy Yakuza/revenge film, but with the very bent sensibilities of Takashii Miike and the sounds of the Flower Travelin' Band's Satori ripping away throughout. Surprisingly or not, the music works very well with the film. Who'd have thought Satori would have an afterlife as a Yakuza soundtrack."
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Hiro Yanagida – organ
Shinki Chen – guitar
Masayoshi ‘Louis Louis’ Kabe – bass
Hiro Tsunoda - drums

In the days before anyone in the West could get a hold of their sole album offering, 1970’s A SOCIAL GATHERING, Foodbrain was considered to have been one of the true holy grails of Japanese turn-of-the-70s New Rock. For a start, on the obi strip of this LP, producer Ikuzo Orita stated ephatically: “Finally in Japan a true heavy rock is born.”* Furthermore, Foodbrain was a supergroup comprised of such heavyweights as future members of Speed, Glue & Shinki, Masahiko Satoh & Sound Breakers, Love Life Life +1, and all contained within a super inspired pop art album sleeve with an African elephant on the front - so how could it possibly have failed?Well, brother and sisters, it just did. It sounded about as hip as Ten Years After’s STONEDHENGE, and it don’t come much lower down the rock social order than that, kiddies. Unfortunately, A SOCIAL GATHERING turned out to be no more than a chance for organist Hiro Yanagida to hang out with a few other so-called New Rock prime movers and not much else. The Foodbrain LP allowed these future Japrock legends to test out their chops on one another, but each one was still caught in thrall of their previous rock’n’roll experiences and there was no producer to buck their ideas up, or cut through the crap, of which there’s plenty on this record. As is evidenced by Shinki Chen’s reticence on his own solo LP SHINKI CHEN & FRIENDS to cut loose like the Japanese Hendrix he was always purported to be, the guitar playing here is limp-wristed and indecisive, and utterly subservient to the organ of Hiro Yanagida. Indeed, Yanagida’s big top organ dominates the proceeding to such an extent that it could be a solo LP. Like Chick Churchill or somesuch forgotten ‘60s no-mark, Yanagida charges up and down the keyboard willy-nilly, with the emphasis most emphatically on the ‘nilly’! And all throughout, Shinki Chen dutifully riffs along in the background. The eternally gauche organ often stumbles into that horrendous early-1960s Blackpool Pier variety club territory of the early-Deep Purple BOOK OF TALIESIN variety, and never rises above the aforementioned Chick Churchill level of merely-achieving. Worst of all, the 15-minutes long free rot LP closer ‘The Hole In The Sausage’ is tiresome at best and abject at worst, and features the unreasonably loud bass clarinet of Uber-hip art director/sleeve designer/Taj Mahal Traveller musician Michihiro Kimura, whose presence at least made this goal-less draw offensive rather than merely an irritation. As a final comment, I will admit that Kimura’s cover is epic and brilliant, but how I wish the LP within was not the biggest rock disappointment ever.

Footnote:

* According to producer Ikuzo Orita, the Foodbrain LP was borne out of time limits based on drummer Hiro Tsunoda’s jazz schedule: “The idea was to have all original songs at all costs, and the songs, well, even though it is Tsunoda, he was busy with the other one (Watanabe Sadao Quartet), so we had to do it without songs. And then when we were creating the schedule for the recording, it ends up Tsunoda had to go to Montreal, so we were tight. I think we said lets do it in three days. Well, it was actually just two days. We spent one day with overlapping sound. Because back then it was four-track. So it ends up being Tsunoda’s schedule. So we do it with the four. That was the start. And the guest artist, the one who was the designer for Taj Mahal Ryokoudan, if you will, or artist, but the man who did good work in collage, his name is Kimura. I think it was Michihiro Kimura, but we asked him to do everything. And then his friend, Nakai of the Tigers (their manager), and also Eiju Kimura who was in Kyoto, people like that. Kimura, who was in charge of jacket design, well, he jumps in with I think it was a bass clarinet. That was the attitude. (laughs) There wasn’t anything to say, you know, it was like a convention for hobbyists, or at least it was that everyone did as they pleased.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
See Japrocksampler, Book Two
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007