JAGATARA (暗黒大陸じゃがたら) – Nanban Torai (南蛮渡来) 
JAGATARA (Jacatra, romanized), is an exclusive 80’s band from Japan, so they didn’t participate the 60/70’s Avant rock scene as their eldest predecessors, like Happy End, Sadistic Mika Band, Speed, Glue & Shinki, Haruomi Hosono, Jacks, Maki Asakawa, and Yoshiko Sai. Thus, our usual background for Japanese rock, early context, and its characters’ stories will appear throughout our galaxy, not today! Further that, this is an odd kind of rock, especially for an oriental one.
Japanese rock is primarily founded on folk and blues, later, southern rock and psychedelia, all these wisdom, are set aside to give chance for a new wave aesthetics! Like all great band, they deserved a continuous rewriting and rediscovering of its sound, live performances, and biography, all CD re-releases made by BMG Japan are quite new, ergo, all digital archives found on the net today. This fact, made them formerly unknown worldwide, also, the original Lp’s (released on an independent label) are rather expensive treasures in today’s heated market of vinyl. Hereupon, welcome to the outstanding world of JAGATARA!
Let’s go to their story:
Having on its key figure, your deceased singer, writer, and composer, Edo Akemi (July 1, 1952 – January 27, 1990), JAGATARA, are an incredible mix of genres, backed on a punk rock basis (drums, bass, guitar). They moved away from the usual rock that was being made back then, to debut as one of the greatest bands from Japan, audience and commercially speaking. Edo’s performances are a separate chapter in their history, his visceral punk anima, shocked the public due to extreme actions, such as constant injuries, bleed out, golden showers and live defecations! (!!)
But it’s the music power combo and its lyrics, their greatest development. Coming from a restless hyperactive frontman, themes like loneliness, madness, life in the big city, drug abuse and satirical social issues were present throughout his short career.
Born in Nakamura, a Kochi prefecture, near Tokyo, Edo Masataka (birth name) was the fourth from a five sisters family. Since childhood, an intelligent, fastidious and sore loser used to play tricks with its friends and learned early to question authority. A famous episode was a discussion with the priest from his Junior High School, he doubted and alleged some ‘big mistakes on the bible’, horrified the cleric expelled him from the church. That event was his Christian withdraw!
During the period of 1971 until 1979, he entered at Meiji University, on Tokyo, to attend on Letters and History course, the fact that it took twice as long until his graduation, shows us a loosely mind not so fitted with the common and boring status quo. But it was there, that the embryo from JAGATARA would be formed, more precisely in his eight and last admission, on august 79, together with Ebby (guitar) and Pan (bass) they debuted on live stages.
Thenceforth, the band began his ascent to the mainstream, their anarchist live performances on April 1980 at Shinkuku Theater called the national media attention: Akemi’s tearing up and eating in the raw a live chicken and a Shimahebi (sort of snake) (!!). The season concerts extend sold out throughout the year with dozens of publications from specialized magazines and even a Playboy famous interview.
An Ep (Last Tango in Joku) is released in April 1981, the live exposures continue. Due to mass media coverage plus high expectations from the audience (only) for Edo’s freak shows, with months, they realize the monster that they birth: a ZERO interest in their music! The band had become a fancy bourgeois product. Aware of it all, later that year comes the shift that would transform the band’s whole proposal. Alongside with OTO‘s (guitar) entry, the pure punk sound is left a bit aside, gaining new colors with the funk and afrobeat. During September/October they began the production of their first full-length album, that would take until April 1982.
With Nanban Torai release, they consolidate their status as real musicians and composers, from that on, the band entered in another suicidal domestic tour, by the end of 1983, Edo was diagnosed with a harsh mental disorder. Hospitalized and later discharged with his parents in Shikoku, simultaneously on Tokyo, the Dark Continent Jacatra band would see a two-year hiatus (1983-85) caused too, by many quarrels among its members and multiple charges for drug possession.
A live release occurs in the interval and in 1986 the band returns with a new formation, on the same basis, but more close to the big band formula: horn sections, keyboards, percussion and female choir dancers!
Until 1990, more than 6 albums hits nihonjin music charts, unfortunately, in early January 90, Edo is found dead at his home, the Mortis causa: accidental drowning while bathing. The astonishing news suddenly hits all band members, though he had offered to leave the band just before death, JAGATARA broke up instantly due to lack of its central figure. As if not enough on April 8, 1992, Pan dies of acute pneumonia, eight months later Shinoda (sax) passes by myocardial infarction (!).
Let’s go to our record:
Considered the 22nd greatest album by Rolling Stone 100 Japan, Nanban Torai (Barbarian Introduction) is a contagious mix. Ranging from diverse personal genres, such as Frank Zappa, southern rock, funk, afrobeat, reggae, punk rock and post-punk. The album, released on May 1982 for Dr. Records, an independent label, got a strange live feeling and it was an instant success on Japan, being aired on Tokyo Channel 12 and transmitted by NHK-FM.
For instance, during a live TV performance the vocalist from a punk band called Gism, entered underhand and had an aggressive struggle with Edo. That would cause one of the greatest disagreements, the band didn’t even try to mend the fight, on the contrary, the song was played until the end, with both on the floor!
The ‘IM’ highlights for today will be straight: End of Season, an urban post-punk, with lots of fuzz, dancing uptempo, singing way manifesto and dissonant ending. A direct shot! And Baby, simply the greatest groove so far, an homage to everything that jumps: soul, funk, disco, boogie. Nile Rodgers swing guitar feels, heavy solos and the greatest mantra chorus for your party time, please enjoy.
A2 季節のおわり(End of Season)
A4 タンゴ (Tango)
B1 アジテーション (Agitation Vagina)
B3 FADE OUT
B4 クニナマシェ (Kuninamashe)
Music, Songwriting: Edo Akemi /////// Arrangement: Dark Continent Jacatra
Akemi Edo ~ vocals /// SAMMY ~ drums /// Pan ~ (bass)
Ebby ~ guitar /// OTO ~ guitar
- Yoshida (Yoshida Tetsuji) (trumpet) 1, 3
- Smiley (baritone sax) 1
- Shinnosuke (alto sax) 1
- Beginning Band (Chorus) 1
- P · C · E & C (Aso Rabbit) (chorus) 1
- Jacatra Girls (Chorus) 1, 3, 7, 8
- Yutaka Fukuoka (Chikada Haruo & Biburatonzu) (percussion) 1, 5
- Benkei (Tokyo Grand Guignol) (alto sax) 3, 7
- Masashi Yamamoto and Oblique Eye Patch (chorus) 3
- Kenji Ono (trumpet) 7
- Sadagawa Aya (voice) 7
- George Kawabe (Kawabe Noriyuki)
- Kai (drums) 8
- Kid in The Neighborhood (chorus) 8