Maki Asakawa (浅川 マキ) – Cat Nap (1982)

Capa

Japan. Today, we’ve got a point outside the curve of someone’s discography, nothing less than Asakawa Maki (Maki Asakawa, January 27, 1942 – January 17, 2010) the major female precursor for folk, rock and pop audiences in the country. Her hoarse and deep voice, hypnotic eyes and persona, all black style and the (always) cigarette in tow, managed to capture national and foreign fame throughout an extensive famous career. Much based on folk-rock, blues, and some jazz, these previous albums and characters will entry along with our galaxy. A rare live presentation it is available (for now at least) and can be seen here, check it out!

Today we’ll start with a twist overview. Different from its first releases and acclaimed developments through the ’70s, Cat Nap has its unique blends from Jazz, Rock, Funk, Reggae, Ska, Post-Punk and Pop in a solid experience direct from the early ’80s. (!)

Promo 76'
Promo 76′

Let’s go to their history:

Jazz and blues vocalist, lyricist, composer, and orchestrator Maki Asakawa was born in 1942 in Ishikawa Prefecture. After a short stint working at the town office in her small village, she headed for Tokyo to pursue music. She started by playing at U.S. military bases and cabarets, where she refined her style, which was largely informed by Billie Holiday and Mahalia Jackson. Asakawa released her first Ep, Tokyo Banka, on the Victor imprint in 1967. In 1968, Maki got her big break when she appeared for three days running at the Shinjuku underground theater known as Sasoriza, a project of underground playwright and controversial movie director Shuji Terayama. Shortly thereafter, she signed with Toshiba (currently EMI Music Japan), making her official major-label debut in July 1969 single’s: Yo Ga Aketara / Kamome.

Since then, Maki Asakawa has consistently released music and appeared live, garnering praise for her unique interpretation of jazz, blues, and avant-gardeshe has also collaborated with Yosuke Yamashita and Akira Sakata, and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto among many other legends!

Sadly, she died of acute heart failure in her hotel room in Nagoya on a Sunday night and later pronounced dead. She was 67. (RIP)

Years Active: 1967 ~ 2010

Live
Live

Let’s go to our album:

At the time of its release (October 21, 1982), Cat Nap received this type of commentary from the Japanese press:

‘A splendid work, with new horizons that Maki challenged, colored by improvisation, honed melody and stand out performance.’

Fact. Along with its trumpeter, composer and partner Toshinori Kondo, Maki sails free among a beautiful kaleidoscope of modern sound; once again (as JAGATARA), the 80’s aesthetics that prevailed through, were as revolutionary as those from previous decades. This is a very uptempo one with incredible experimental moments.

The ‘IM’ highlights are for: Shinkyoku B, a monster groove-reggae with crazy harmonics, fuzz and sexy vocals from our bluesy queen. A perfect song for a tropical panorama, good energies, friends and a cold drink! And Machine (an instrumental one), probably the pinnacle of the album. With its own avant-garde atmosphere, mimicking the functioning of some real machine, speaking of a Pop artist, this is quite something! We got dissonant woodwinds, atonal guitar solos, multiple sound effects and a constant pace beat that last until the final second! Crazy, crazy, crazy. 良い旅!

Writing
Indefectible Cigarette

Tracks include:

A1 暗い眼をした女優 (Kurai Me Wo Shita Joyuu)

A2 忘れたよ (Wasureta Yo)

A3 こころ隠して (Kokoro Kakushite)

A4 むかし (Mukashi)

B1 新曲“B” (Shinkyoku B)

B2 夕暮れのまんなか (Yuugure No Manaka)

B3 マシン (Machine)

B4 今なら (Ima Nara)

Maki Asakawa: Vocal

Toshinori Kondo: Trumpet, Percussion

Toshiyuki Honda: Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute

Shigeharu Mukai: Trombone

Kiyoshi Sugimoto: Guitar

Kazuo Tobita: Guitar

Tamio Kawabata: Bass

Hiro Tsunoda: Drums

  • Yoshino Kimutsugi: Recording & Mixing Engineer
  • Tatsuya Sakamoto: Second Engineer
  • Nonaka Lily: Front Cover Art

Recorded at July 19, 20 and 21 1982 at Take One Studio.

Produced: 寺本幸司・柴田徹

  • All lyrics: 浅川マキ (Maki Asakawa) except B-2 by 山内テツ (Tetsu Yamauchi)
  • All songs composed by 近藤等則 (Toshinori Kondo)
  • Label: Express
  • Toshiba EMI (Japan)
The Inseparable Cigarette

JAGATARA (暗黒大陸じゃがたら) – Nanban Torai (南蛮渡来) [1982]

Nanban Torai
Nanban Torai

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.

Early Formation
Early Formation

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.

Punk Samurai
Punk Samurai

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!

Final Formation
Final Formation

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 JapanNanban 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.

God Tur!

Track include:

A1 でも・デモ・Demo

A2 季節のおわり(End of Season)

A3 Baby

A4 タンゴ (Tango)

B1 アジテーション (Agitation Vagina)

B2 ヴァギナ・Fuck

B3 FADE OUT

B4 クニナマシェ (Kuninamashe)

Music, Songwriting: Edo Akemi /////// Arrangement: Dark Continent Jacatra

Members:

Akemi Edo ~ vocals /// SAMMY ~ drums /// Pan ~ (bass)

Ebby ~ guitar /// OTO ~ guitar

Guest musicians:

  • 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
Edo Akemi
Edo Akemi