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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
See Japrocksampler, Book Two
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Shigeru Marumo – guitar, keyboards, Moog, vocals
Hiro Tsunoda – lead vocals, drums
Masayoshi Takanaka – bass, acoustic guitar, vocals

Despite their brilliantly pop art/cultural statement choice of new name, for the two former members of Strawberry Path – Shigero Marumo and Hiro Tsunoda - their re-emergence as the heavy rock-styled Flied Egg, in 1972, with former Brush leader Masayoshi Takanaka as bass player, brought forth nothing but more of the same diluted and generic Western rock swill as they had generated in their previous guise. And although highly successful in Japan during their brief life span, Flied Egg’s records of the early ‘70s are – in the cold light of the early twenty-first century – just more of the same Strawberry Path-like hit and miss hotchpotch of cruddy clichés as before, plus lashings of the shrill Uriah Heep-like spewdo operetta copped from the Heep’s dopey 1971 SALISBURY LP overlain in order to give the impression that it was somehow up-to-date. Until now, however, the musicians have sustained a modicum of underground notoriety purely on the strength of their attractive LP sleeves, funny titles and general unavailability here in the West. The trio’s Philips debut LP, entitled Dr SEIGEL’S FRIED EGG SHOOTING MACHINE, opened with a swirling psychedelically-styled title track of the Banana Splits/Lemon Pipers ‘Snoopy Meets The Red Baron’ variety at least five years behind the time, thereafter running randomly and shamelessly from one pop rock cliché to another pop rock cliché like the Three Bears on a porridge tasting mission. One minute it was Michel Le Grande, next, Frank Zappa’s ‘Brown Shoes Don’t Make It’-period put in an appearance (no shit!), thereafter it was low-grade paraffin fuelled hard rock interspersed with lowbrow AOR balladry. And those ballads, oh, those fucking ballads… Had Japan been granted entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, Hiro Tsunada’s disastrous cheese-o-thons ‘Someday’ and ‘I Love You’ would have surely both been easy winners, while ‘Plastic Fantasy’ is yet another swirling sickening sub-Picketywitch sugarfest. The kindest we could be towards Flied Egg would be to call them ‘accessible’, for, beyond the AOR balladry and catastrophic yawn-o-thon psych moves, there’s certainly a little something even for the most tetchy hard rocker when the three finally down some caffeine and fire up ‘Guide Me To The Quietness’, a Vanilla Sludge rock ballad performed with all of Flied Egg’s best sub-sub-sub Mountain-meets-Cream ‘Theme From An Imaginary Western’-styled bombast. Flied Egg’s second and final album, the portentously titled GOOD-BYE FLIED EGG, was a far less eclectic and therefore much more artistically successful affair than their debut LP, but it still sucked major big ones overall. Introduced like a live album, complete with MC and audience applause, the record commences with a couple of hard rock gems in ‘Rolling Down The Broadway’ (re-recorded from their debut), Strawberry Path’s ‘Leave Me Woman’ and an artless and punky version of BB King’s ‘Rock Me Baby’ that ploughs the same adolescent furrows as America’s Kiss and Germany’s Tiger B. Smith. However, the listeners’ hopes are soon dashed when side one concludes with a twelve-minute drum solo. On side two, the record somewhat inevitably sinks into the same mire of eclectic Marmalade/Hollies/American Breed overly-orchestrated backwash that Strawberry Path was always guilty of. Indeed, ‘Out to the Sea’ and ‘Goodbye My Friends’ are trite sub-Supertramp sub-Manilow crimes against rock and Off Broadway abortions of the vilest kind, though the future solo career of drummer Hiro Tsunoda would plumb far greater depths (I know, it’s hard to imagine but believe me it’s the truth – if anything I’m being kind). Peculiarly, the final song on GOODBYE is an almost-nine-minutes organ, drums and guitar workout most reminiscent of ‘Rude Awakening’, the epic song that concluded Creedence Clearwater Revival’s PENDULUM LP. Entitled ‘521 Seconds Schizophrenic Symphony’, its overwrought playing and ridiculous title at least brought the curtain down on Flied Egg’s varied career in a manner befitting their lavish pretensions.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Masahiko Satoh – composer, arranger, percussion
Masahiko Togashi
Jo Mizuki – percussion
Hozumi Tanaka – percussion
Isamu Harada - percussion

This is another extremely ellusive LP that I've struggled hard to find, even putting out an all-point bulletin in a 2005 Drudion and discussing it with Krautrock gurus Alan and Steve Freeman, who have also been after a copy for years. The only information thus far known is that it was an experimental album, entitled ETERNITY, and was recorded in January 1971 called ETERNITY. It was subtitled ‘4Ch Niyoru Dagakki to Okesutora No Tameno Konpojishon’ (Composition for Percussion & Orchestra in Quadraphonic).
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Shinki Chen – guitar, bass, drum, piano
George Yanagi – vocals, bass (Strawberry Path, Flied Egg)
Hiro Yanagida – keyboards (Apryl Fool, Love Live Life +1, Foodbrain)
Shinichi Nogi - drums
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Stomu Izumi – rhythm guitar
Hisashi Fuji – lead guitar
Toshikzu Taki – bass
Ryoji Oka – drums
Takashi Maki – vocals

Formed in 1970, in the ugly industrial city of Nagoya, from the ruins of GS outfit The Silencer, this progressive rock band was courted by a local rock critic who took the band under his managerial wing. They played the local scene for a couple of years before gaining anything more than local success. Cosmos Factory took their marvellous name from a wholly cosmic misreading of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s LP COSMO’S FACTORY, which has unfortunately led many to believe that they were a space rock band. Instead, they were just a fairly bombastic bunch with a good line in titles. Their best LP is the debut AN OLD CASTLE IN TRANSYLVANNIA, but even this is keyboard heavy in an Italian progressive style, and only the epic title track that closes the album enters the realms of real experiment. Otherwise, their work dwells in the same areas as The Nice, Arzachel and early King Crimson. The band finally made its name as support for The Moody Blues and signed to Columbia Records in 1973, releasing the aforementioned debut that same year. Thereafter, the band signed a better deal with Toshiba’s hip Express label, and embarked on the unusual policy of releasing EPs. First came FANTASTIC MIRROR, followed by THE INFINITE UNIVERSE OF YOUR MIND and DAYS IN THE PAST, each appearing throughout 1975. Their second LP A JOURNEY WITH COSMOS FACTORY was released the same year. Film soundtrack work altered their music somewhat, giving it a harder, more clinical edge, and the musical arrangements of their final LPs BLACKHOLE and METAL REFLECTION were more Spartan than the previously lush arrangements of earlier albums, and not heavy metal as the titles would suggest. Cosmos Factory’s name and fabulous album titles are the main reason for the band’s inclusion here.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Hiroshi Nar - vocals, bass
Masao Tonari - organ
Kei Yamashita - guitar
Shogo Ueda - drums

Included here as representatives of the early ’70s festival scene, Datetenryu was an obscure cousin to Communist agitator bands Zuno Keisatsu (Brain Police), Yellow, Les Rallizes Denudés and Murahatchibu. Led by organist Masao Tonari, the band on UNTO[album] played a frantic hogwash of soul-based progressive space rock that inhabited the same territory as The the Soft Machine’s debut- LP period (imagine ‘Why Are We Sleeping?’ or ‘Hope For for Happiness’ by way of ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’). Mainly instrumental, their music is a space trek through endless R&B riffs and classic soul moments, like some ever- unfolding medley. UNTO purports to be what the band members would have chosen had they had the opportunity to release an official debut album at the time, ie: a total barrage of lo-fi progressive garage rock. The 20-minute epic ‘Doromamire (Covered All Over In in Mud)’ is the killer, but really it’s all one insane 47-minute-long rush. Formed in May 1971, at Kyoto Sangyo (‘Industrial’) University, Datetenryu was a right bunch of refusenik longhairs. Masao Tonari set up sideways on to the rest of the band, while drummer Shogo Ueda played, head down, facing away from the stage pointing towards Tonari’s Yamaha organ. Indeed, guitarist Kei Yamashita appears to have been permanently out of proceedings in the same way that Yes’s Pete Banks and the Nice’s Davy O’List were forever being sidelined. Datetenryu’s biggest claim to fame, however, was the presence of bassist/singer Hiroshi Narazaki, who later became Hiroshi Nar and joined Les Rallizes Denudés, thereafter forming his own very excellent band the Niplets, who continue to perform right up to the present time.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007