Julian Cope presents JAPROCKSAMPLER.COM

Recent Posts

Kazuo ‘Flash’ Takeda – guitar
Fumio Nunoya - vocals
Takayuki Noji – bass
Shinichi Tashiro – drums

Blues Creation was formed by guitarists Kazuo Takeda, Koh Eiryu and singer Fumio Nunoya, in early 1969, after the dissolution of their Group Sounds outfit The Bickies. Highly influenced by Cream and The Yardbirds, Takeda joined forces with school friends Takayuki Noji, Shinichi Tashiro, and lead singer Fumio Nunoya. Formerly vocalist with Taboo, a heavy band led by future Happy End guitarist Eiichi Otaki, Nunoya was also searching for an even heavier sound, and the results of the new American-influenced experiment were released in October 1969, as BLUES CREATION, on the Polydor label. Nowadays, the results sound fairly tame and typical of the time, and though their versions of ‘Smokestack Lightning’ and ‘Spoonful’ feature some nice slurred vocals from Nunoya, it’s difficult to find any 1969 Japanese band that did not attempt the latter song at one time or another. Singer Fumio Nunoya soon found himself edged out of artistic decisions by the supremely confident Takeda, and thereafter left to form his own band Dew. Whilst searching around throughout 1970 for a new singer, guitarist Takeda heard the new even more strung out music of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Eric Clapton’s solo LP CLAPTON, and Leslie West’s Mountain, and decided he should take the opportunity to start again from scratch. Takeda enlisted bassist Masashi Saeki and drummer Akiyoshi Higuchi for the new line-up, and eschewed the previous covers style in favour of his own compositions. With the new Blues Creation fronted by singer Hiromi Osawa, Kazuo Takeda recorded what has come to be regarded as his masterpiece in the form of DEMON & ELEVEN CHILDREN. Despite its obvious influences, this eight song barrage of sound was both complex and supremely individual, and showed clear influences from his fellow countrymen and free-thinkers the newly-formed Flower Travellin’ Band. Opening with the super stoner anthem ‘Atomic Bombs Away’, the LP included such other delightful song titles as ‘Brain Baster’, and featured a classic original ‘Mississippi Mountain Blues’, which mirrored the heaviness located within the grooves of Flower Travellin’ Band’s juggernaut ‘Louisiana Blues’. Later on in 1971, CARMEN MAKI & BLUES CREATION was released by Polydor, which utilised the massive (and unexpected) success of Blues Creation as a vehicle for the promotion of the beautiful young female blues singer Carmen Maki. The LP featured songs mostly by Takeda, plus covers of such standards as ‘St. James’ Infirmary’, and had been recorded during the sessions for DEMON & ELEVEN CHILDREN. This LP was also well received, but Maki’s cardboard and shrill pedestrian presence so detracted from the overall heaviness of the sound that each song became a plod-o-thon of brain crushing dimensions. Maki’s so-called Janis Joplinisms are even less believable than the reedy squeelings of her US contemporary Zephyr’s Candy Givens (if that’s possible), and nowadays sound wretchedly inappropriate and forced. Furthermore, elsewhere Carmen Maki sounds almost autistically restrained and Sade-like (yup, I’m not shitting you) compared to the brilliantly orgasmic and heart-stopping interpretations of Janis’ (and Jimi’s) work that Flowers’ singer Lemi Aso had achieved eighteen months before, on The Flowers’ excellent LP CHALLENGE! The end of 1971 saw the release of BLUES CREATION LIVE, the sleeve of which featured just the long-haired Takeda in a wide-brimmed floppy hat, re-inforcing the idea that this was really just a vehicle for the guitarist’s talents. This album was recorded at the Japan Folk Jamboree, and is a full-on gem of a record, but Takeda was now widely known as a true Japanese guitar hero, and – as ever – had set his sights higher and higher. He split Blues Creation the following year, before splitting for London in late 1972. Outside of his Japanese environment, Takeda played many guitar sessions and slowly began to gain confidence in himself as a lead vocalist, so much so that when he returned to the Japanese music scene, in 1973, to support Mountain, it was as the lead singer/guitarist of a new power trio called simply Creation. The urbane and gregarious Takeda hit it off with Leslie West and Mountain drummer Corky Laing, but became even bigger mates with bassist Felix Pappalardi and his wife Gail Collins, who had written most of the lyrics for Mountain’s hits. However, Creation did not release their first LP until 1975, by which time Takeda – nervous of his new role as lead singer – invited rhythm guitarist Yoshiaki Iijima to join drummer Masayuki Higuchi and bassist Shigeru Matsumoto in the new line up. Unfortunately, like Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi and Jimi Hendrix, Kazuo Takeda is the last person to require a rhythm guitar player to flesh out his sound, and so the recorded results of this debut were overall pretty bland and homogenised, despite the LP having been produced by legendary Flower Travellin’ Band producer Yuya Utchida, and featuring a classic sleeve that featured eleven young boys having a pissing contest! Takeda was unhappy with the production and was determined that the next LP should be recorded in the USA. Takeda contacted Felix Pappalardi and asked him to produce the second Creation LP. Pappalardi, temporarily deafened by the high volume at which Mountain always played concerts, had already decided to concentrate on studio production, and so he and his wife began to write songs with Takeda at their Nantucket home in Massachussets. In April 1976, the results were released in Japan as CREATION WITH FELIX PAPPALARDI and in the US as FELIX PAPPALARDI CREATION. Unfortunately, the international acclaim that Kazuo Takeda so longed for was still unforthcoming, although the record was once more a mighty success in Japan. The final Creation album PURE ELECTRIC SOUL was a live recording released in 1977, and its sleeve mirrored the band’s debut, again featuring a crowd of pre-teen boys crowding against the front windows of a bus.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Unknown to me, Agata is said to be a late '60s hippy folk musician and songwriter, who released several LPs during the '70s after the success of his 1972 single 'Sekishoku Elegy'. Formed a world music group in the 1990s.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
The experimental work of Gempei Akasegawa is essential to the fabric of Japrocksampler, and his name appears throughout Book One.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Kuniharu Akayima was a musicologist and music critic who, in 1951, founded the Jikken-Koubou Experimental Workshop, with his colleagues Syozo Kitadai, Hiroyoshi Suzuki and the composer Toru Takemitsu. His work is discussed in Book One, Chapter Two of Japrocksampler.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Yasuo Shimura – soprano sax, synthesizer, flute
Renkichi Hayashi – guitar, sanza
Nobuyoshi Ino – bass, synthesizer, percussion, cello
Hiroshi Murakami – drums, percussion
Yuji Imamura – congas, tablas, percussion

During my research for Japrocksampler, I encountered the superb www.kosmigroov.com - a collective of funkonauts and '70s obsessives dedicated to locating lost rare grooves. They named this record by Air as one of the essential lost albums to fly the flag for Miles Davis's 1975 punk-funk ensemble. I have never found this record, though have occasionally seen it listed as being ‘By Yuji Imamura’. The proposed reissue at the end of the quote below has not yet happened but I'd suggest that the climate has changed and expect to see it surface soon.

This is what kosmigroov.com wrote:

“This Japanese quintet of Yasuo Shimura, Renkichi Hayashi, Nobuyoshi Ino, Hiroshi Murakami, and Yuji Imamura continued to preach the gospel of Get Up With It, years after even Miles himself lost the faith. Yessir, this is elevated music, pure in spirit and intention and absolutely mindblowing in effect. Air's sole (eponymous) album is two sidelong cuts of psychedelic electric jazz, testified by five heads who mix Eastern and Western instrumentation into a thick brew of prime Kozmigroov: ringmodulated guitar lines, windchime swirls, ARP dissonance, deep bass echoes, wood flute invocations, processed saxophone, tape effects, subtly assertive grooves, omnipresent layers of percussion... mercy! The brazen shuffle which seizes the last quarter of the record actually reaches the same jazz/rock peak intensity of Jack Johnson's "Right Off." Three Blind Mice are an audiophile label who've reissued an armful of their back-catalog titles on compact disc. Although this album still awaits aluminum rebirth as of May 1999, Takeshi "Tee" Fujii (TBM prez) has promised an XRCD version.”

Yuji Imamura plays congas on the LP TARO’S MOOD by Terumasa Hino.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Hiroyoshi Yanagida – organ, piano
Eiji Kikuchi – lead guitar
Tadaki ‘Chu’ Kosaka – lead vocals
Haruomi Hosono – bass
Takashi Matsumoto – drums

Led by prime mover and ex-Floral organist Hiro Yaganida, the extremely cool and longhaired Apryl Fool quintet was one of the few New Rock bands even to approach the power and originality of their Western equivalents. Still suffering from weak-as-shit drumming and an inability to let go of their eary ‘60s influences, Apryl Fool nevertheless hit a coupla real peaks on their lone self-titled LP, released in 1969 on Nippon Columbia. For, while most of the record is perfunctory bar-room post-Animals blues, their attempt at real psychedelia on ‘The Lost Motherland’ does approach genuine meltdown, in much the same way as late ‘60s American LPs such as St. Stephen were want to do. If only there had been more of that stuff within the grooves, though… who really needed versions of Dylan’s ‘Pledging My Time’? Well, bass player Hosono and drummer Matsumoto, obviously, for the pair of them went in precisely that obvious direction with their next Band/Little Feat-styled project Happy End. And mightily successful they were, too. Nothing more was heard from lead guitarist Eiji Kikuchi, but vocalist Tadaki Kosaka joined the chorus of the musical HAIR. Keyboardist Yanagida also worked on HAIR, but in the far more lofty position of keyboard player in the house band. Thereafter, he recorded two solo LPs, MILK TIME and a self-titled second effort, as well as contributing major to the sessions for Love Live Life +1 and Foodbrain.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Kazutaka Tazaki - synthesizer manipulator & sound designer
Motoaki Suzuka - composer & synthesizer manipulator
Akiro Kamio - composer & sound planner

This avant-garde trio of heavyweight synthesiser operators were considered to be of such cultural importance that their LPs were released on RCAs prestigious Red Seal label. Their records are extraordinarily hard to get ahold of, and there are many 'auxiliary'-style releases featuring one or two members plus additional musicians.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Taisuke Morishita – guitar, vocals
Yoshiki Iwamoto – guitar
Furuchin ‘Balls Out’ - bass
Yu Toda – drums

Underground mover Taisuke Morishita played some fairly wild guitar and bass at times in the very early 1970s, his artistic height being reached as vocalist/bass player, in 1972, with the power trio Yellow and their astounding megajam ‘Watch Out!’ However, when Morishita formed the BE quartet, in 1973, as a vehicle for his own guitar talents, nothing of real importance seems to have been achieved. Two tracks only have survived, recorded at the 1975 ALL NIGHT RAINBOW SHOW, neither seeing the light of day until the 21st century release of the double-LP compilation UNDERGROUND TRACKS ‘70s. But, despite both clocking in at over five minutes and seven minutes respectively, unfortunately neither 'Yukino no Shojo' (Snow Virgin) nor ‘One Day There’ll Be More Light’ come across as nothing more than pretty country rock fluff. Of special note, however, is the name of BE’s bass player Furuchin, which means literally ‘genitals showing’!
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Kenji Todoroki – vocals
Kimio Muzutani – lead guitar
Mamoru Tsuchiya - organ
Hideaki Senhara – bass
Yukio Kawakami - drums

Formed in 1968 from the ashes of the Out Cast GS outfit, Mizutani and Todoroki formed Adams as a New Rock band. Inspired by the big post-psychedelic American outfits, Adams was really a grand scale symphonic rock band, with choir and orchestra, and were the first artists signed to CBS/Sony Records. Adams released the singles 'Nemureru Otome' (Sleeping Girl), 'Chikyu Wa Semasugira' (The Earth Is Too Narrow) and ‘Asu Naki Sekai' (World Without Tomorrow). Their debut LP was entitled KYUYAKU SEISHO (‘Old Testament’), but was such a disaster that the record company dumped all their albums. Adams broke up in 1969, organist Mamoru Tsuchiya going on to join Hiroshi Satomi & Ichibanboshi, whilst Mizutani became a guitar legend via his Super Sessions and solo LP A PATH THROUGH HAZE.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
The ubiquitous Dr Acid Seven was one of Japan’s counterculture mainmen being there for the beginning of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Futen scene in 1968. He ran his own freak out ensemble The Acid Seven Group, organised street happenings, befriended stranded young futens arriving from rural areas, and was highly respected by the ‘foku gerira' (folk guerrilla) extremists and commune leaders alike. Coming on like a mixture of Timothy Leary, Detroit’s acid guru John Sinclair and the British spy 007, from whom he took the number of his last name, Dr. Seven was one of the earliest Japanese on San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury scene, and claims even to have lived in a commune and hung out with The Grateful Dead. As a part of the scene that spawned les Rallizes Denudes, Murahatchibu, etc., Dr Seven was in constant confrontation with the authorities, who eventually caused him to drop the ‘Acid’ element from his name. In 1973, Seven organised the ‘Oz days’ three day festival that included Taj Mahal Travellers, Les Rallizes Denudes and his own Acid Seven Group, and which gained such underground legend through the bootleg vinyl LP that was widely distributed in the West. Seven was the organiser behind such legendary mid-70s festivals as the ‘All Night Rainbow Show’ series, the ‘Rainbow 2000’ shows, and ‘The Festival of Life’, which attempted to continue Japan’s ancient and traditional ‘Yuyake Matsuri’ (celebration of the ancestors) in an updated form. These were presented in 1975 and ’76, and featured Rallizes Denudes, Mentampin, Sheriff, Weeping Herp Seno’o & His Rollercoaster, Masaki Ueda & South To South, Idlewild South, Sentimental City Romans, Makoto Kubota, Yuyake Gakudan (Sunset Band) and Orange County Brothers, as well as The Acid Seven Group. Also in 1975, Acid Seven contributed music to the soundtrack the snappily-titled 1975 hippy documentary ‘Dokko Nigenbushi-Kotobukijiyu Rodosha No Machi’(Heave Ho Human Song & The Town Of Free Labourers). Nowadays, Dr Seven does poetry readings and public performances, and recently contributed sleeve notes to the UNDERGROUND series of historical CDs.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007