Monday, March 23, 2015

Japanese Music I Bought in November 2014

In 2006, pop-rock group The Royal Guardsmen released Snoopy vs. Osama, 40 long years after their original hit, Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.  They didn't trouble to explain to everyone what they had been doing in the meantime, and I am no different. "Snoopy vs. Osama" was just what America needed in 2006 and this post about some records I bought from a day and a half digging in Tokyo last year is exactly what America needs right now.

Go ahead, press Play. You are in for a real treat.

I used to live in Japan but never got a lot of Japanese language records because:
a) I knew nothing, and;
b) a lot of Japanese record stores don't let you listen before you buy, and;
c) I had no damn money in the first place.

Nowadays we have YouTube, so with a couple of hours homework I was able to figure a few names to look out for and this mix is the result of me splashing my yens around Yokohama, Shibuya and Ikebukuro.

I only had about a dozen records to work with but I took a stab at making it into a proper mix anyway. Monkey apologizes for the bizarre transition into his theme song.

What a cocky, saucy monkey this one is!

Tatsuro Yamashita - Merry-Go-Round (1983)
Tatsuro Yamashita - Love Talkin' (1982)
Toshiki Kadomatsu - Take Me Away (1983)
Godiego - Monkey Magic (1978)
Pedro and Capricious - Carnival (1972)
Hiromi Iwasaki - Osharena Kanjyo (1976)
Hiromi Iwasaki - Kiss Again (1980)
Sandii - Zoot Kook (1980)
Kimiko Kasai - Use Me (1975)
Tatsuro Yamashita - Touch Me Lightly (1979)

Interludes and drops are taken from these two albums:

That's all, seeya next time!

Farewell from "Pedro and Capricious"! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Headband, "The Laws Must Change" (1971) - EDIT

Okay well I guess I missed NZ Music Month 2011 (AKA "May") by about a hundred and thirty years, but I've had this one waiting in the wings for a while so I figured I better just fire it out there before New Zealand itself finally succumbs to entropy.

Headband were an Auckland-based group that basically started out as a John Mayall tribute band playing in a club down on Durham Lane where I think there is a noodle house now. Like many bands in the '70s, on their first album they found themselves trying to spread twenty minutes worth of songs over forty minutes worth of plastic. To their credit, rather than throwing a perfunctory ten minute drum solo into their least favourite song, they went back to their roots and jammed out a cover of John Mayall's ode to politely-achieved marijuana reform: "The Laws Must Change"

As a live recording, this has a lot more slap to it than everything else on the album and is considerably more energetic than the original (albeit sloppier I'll confess). I've edited out eleven minutes of soloing to get it down to just the "song part" and Dick Hopp's incredible flute solo. Enjoy.

Headband - The Laws Must Change (edit) by doggziller

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bill Summers & Summers Heat, "Jam the Box" (1981)

I love hand-drawn album covers. Homeboy definitely got his roller-ruler out for this one.
For track 1 side 1, percussionist Bill Summers and his dream team the "Summers Heat" attempt to lay out a manifesto for the album, first addressing the question of "what is the box?" before proceeding to "jam" said box for the remainder of the LP. Naturally, this is accomplished over a crunchy drum machine beat and wonderfully nasty synth bass.

On the other hand, their thesis is not expressed with a great deal of conceptual rigour:

We gave you a beat, dance and call it what you want to
La la la la, this is what you're dancing to
It does have a name, after all
It's The Box, that is what we call it

We call it The Box,
Makes you jump right out your socks
Don't stop
We've got a lot to saaaaaay

Summer Heat, if it takes you eight lines to inform me that I'm dancing to a box, I'm not surprised you got a lot to say.

Bill Summers And Summers Heat - We Call It The Box by doggziller

This track is a heater but it does get a bit repetitive and I would normally mix out half-way. So if you get bored, do make sure you fast forward to the five-minute mark where Bill Summers at last gets down to brass tacks and defines the meaning of "the box".

I guess it's some kind of outer-space box? Bill doesn't explain it all that clearly, really.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sonik Omi, "Sawan Bhadon" OST (1970)

As the lady waits without enthusiasm, the gentleman, struggling against the after-effects
of a stroke, attempts to grab her tit.
Back there in the early '00s a fad sprung up for Bollywood soundtracks among record collectors with an ear for groove. I still remember being stunned the first time I listened to a Bollywood mix put together by this guy (who hasn't updated his site since 2003 I note). I had to stream it with RealAudio 'cos those were the times and I was gob-smacked by the incredible eclecticism and exuberance of the music from composer/arrangers like RD Burman and the brothers Kalyanji Anandji. (Later, when I actually got my hands on some vinyl, I was gobsmacked again to realize that the audio quality was exactly as bad as that turn-of-the-century RealAudio stream, but I can live with that)

One of the nicer things about collecting Bollywood soundtracks is that they're actually not that "rare" - these are mainstream films for one of the world's largest populations after all - so getting hold of the heaters isn't as hard as you might expect, though during the peak of the fad e-bay prices for some soundtracks did get pretty silly. When Method Man and Busta Rhymes spat over "Dum Maro Dum", us diggers thought we would be riding this Bollywood shit all the way to the Grammys -  but even in nerd circles, fashion is fickle and soon enough attention moved on to the likes of Turkish psych-rock, Welsh acid-folk and harmonica music recorded by meteorite-riding bacteria that scientists believe may hold the key to understanding the origins of life on earth.

Sonik Omi - "Ankhen Meri Maikhana" by doggziller

Ah my darling, I tire of putting our faces real close but never actually kissing.
Let us consummate our love at last, by dancing together in front of a spurting fountain! 

Bollywood-style vocals are maybe an acquired taste for newbies - I built up an appreciation over long exposure when I owned a used car that had a radio locked on Hindi AM radio (also that car had but the one tape in it, which was Kool G Rap and Polo "Live and Let Die" - formative years for Yours Truly!)

The singer is of course Asha Boshle, because it is always Asha Boshle. I'm going to make up a statistic which is probably true - Asha does lead female vocals on 99% of all Bollywood songs from 1970-1990, which is also 14% of all songs, ever. She's now a granny and doesn't record quite so often - maybe only 50% of all Bollywood releases - but she still makes time to pop up in tracks like this one in which she displays a matronly concern for Aussie fast bowler Brett Lee's love life (shame for Brett that he was just a couple of years too early for AutoTune by the way - ah-cha!)

Finally, because we live in the Age of Wonders, you can also watch the pretty amazing scene that this song is used in:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Elvis Presley, "Change of Habit" (1969)

This is the title track from Elvis' last movie, in which he plays an "idealistic ghetto doctor" who unwittingly employs three undercover nuns and, in the original draft of the script, attempts to enslave them Enter the Dragon style with daily doses of methadone-laced chitlins (hence "Change of Habit" - the scriptwriter was furious after the studio removed the drug-slavery sub-plot to achieve a general audience certificate, stating it had "ruined a pun that had undoubtedly been the highest achievement of my career").

Like all successful pop artists, Elvis moved with the times and this track is very much on the vibe of '69, a surprisingly tough-sounding effort from normally countrified backing band the Jordanaires, with fuzzed-out bass and frenetic drums hit hard to tape and bursting almost obnoxiously out of the left channel.

Elvis Presley - Change of Habit by doggziller

By extension, I suppose had Elvis lived to sip our modern air he would probably be doing weird remakes where Justin Bieber is skate-boarding around the city and when he looks up at a billboard, old-ass Elvis is inside the billboard, shuffling around singing an Autotuned version of "Suspicious Minds" and then there's a rap verse. The Reaper takes each at his appointed time and though the King suffered the small embarrassment of gasping his last upon the toilet he was perhaps spared the greater indignity of living on to suffer celebrity in the 21st Century.

He also missed the corny and overdone 2003 remix of "Rubberneckin'", another song from the Change of Habit soundtrack - I like to imagine that a surviving Elvis might've been grumpy enough not to authorize this but then again, it did make a lot of money and a guy who shoots televisions always needs some spare change.

The entire film is up on YouTube - I gave up watching shortly after Elvis mistakenly assumed the nuns all wanted illegal abortions and then said some pretty marginal stuff about rape, but I did stick it out long enough to witness Elvis and his apartment full of inauthentically "ghetto" buddies somehow perform "Rubberneckin'" on three acoustic guitars and a tambourine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Merryweather and Carey, "Five Days on the Trail" (1971)

Neil Merryweather and Lynn Carey shall live long in my heart for releasing this album containing the absolutely incandescent slab of treacle-thick fugitive blues that is "Five Days on the Trail", a song that damn near breaks my neck any time I drop a needle on it:

Merryweather & Carey - Five Days On The Trail by doggziller

Merryweather and Carey have both had long and varied careers in music (mostly independent of one another, though they were apparently lovers when this album was released) - and with more than a few brushes against  giants of popular culture. For instance, one of Neil Merryweather's earlier bands, the Mynah Birds, was fronted by a young Rick James (not sounding much like his Cold-Blooded era self back in the mid-60s).

Lynn Carey belted out vocals for fictional group "The Carrie Nations" in the Russ Meyer/Roger Ebert collaboration Beyond the Valley of the Dolls - very loosely dubbed over actress Dolly Read's lip-syncing (Roger Ebert - these days notorious for his endorsement of 1997 Jamie Foxx vehicle "Booty Call" - would later claim this and all other flaws in the film were intended for comic effect).

Although Russ Meyer evidently considered her "too flat-chested" for the silver screen, Lynn Carey nevertheless appeared in Penthouse a couple of years later to promote her and Merryweather's new band Mama Lion (a band most famous for a minor scandal surrounding the cover of its first album - Lynn seemingly not especially shy at this point in her life)

A number of young men were to profess a keen interest in Isaac Asimov's article on immortality.
Penthouse December 1972 is also notable for containing "Xaviera Hollander's first advice column", which was to run for about 35 years. Xaviera will of course be familiar to you as the author of the best-selling saxophone sex mystery, Yours Fatally!

Oh Fausto! Your legacy lives on.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Song Chang Sik, S/T (1976)

I'm always wide open to foreign-language LPs, possibly because the capability to understand the lyrics of most songs often reveals how silly they are. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a couple of heaters on this suspiciously weepy looking album from South Korea.

The "sad clown" outfit was nearly a deal-breaker.
Production and mixing is a bit ropey but the bass at least sounds thick and that first moment after the "Slow Jam" intro when your boy's voice floats in is just haunting. Some nice progressive elements pop out of left field on these tunes also with unexpected synthesizer chirps, fuzz guitar and flute soloing all thrown into the mix.

Song Chang Sik by doggziller

I have no idea what the real names of these tracks are I'm afraid nor any clue to the content, but given that South Korea was under military rule at this time I like to imagine these songs circumspectly criticise the regime  through allegorical ballads about the shy, pretty girl-next-door being curb-stomped by riot police.