Osamu Kitajima (喜多嶋修) – Benzaiten (1974)

capa cópiaThe music of Japan includes a wide array of performers in distinct styles both traditional and modern. The word for music in Japanese is 音楽 (ongaku), combining the kanji  ‘on’ (sound) with the kanji  ‘gaku’ (enjoy). Many instruments, as the koto, were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries, the accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the 14th century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the 16th century. Western classical music, introduced in the late 19th century, now forms an integral part of Japanese culture. The imperial court ensemble Gagaku has influenced the work of many modern Western composers.

Notable classical composers from Japan include Toru Takemitsu and Rentarō Taki.

Biwa & Koto by Utagawa Kunisada, 1848
Biwa & Koto by Utagawa Kunisada, 1848

Popular music in post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European trends, which has led to the evolution of J-pop (popular music). Japan is the second-largest music market in the world, with a total retail value of over 3 billion dollars in 2013, dominated by Japanese artists. Karaoke is also the most widely practiced cultural activity, ahead of flower arranging (ikebana) or tea ceremonies. Traditional Japanese music is quite different from Western music as it’s based on the intervals of human breathing rather than mathematical timing. (!)

Toru Takemitsu
Toru Takemitsu

Let’s go to our artist:

Osamu Kitajima (February 3, 1949) was born and raised in the beach town of Chigasaki (Kanagawa Prefecture), as a young man he studied classical guitar and piano; his first band the Launchers, was led by pop idol and actor Yuzo Kayama, the group disbanded in the late ’60s, after Kitajima began to work on his own.

After graduating from Keio University, and already a successful composer of TV and advertising jingles, he moved for one year to the UK in 1971, which brought him in to contact with British folk and psychedelia. Inspired by The Beatles, T. Rex, and Syd Barrett, he dubbed himself Justin Heathcliff and issued a lone eponymous album.

Dr. Osamu Kitajima, 1972
Dr. Osamu Kitajima, 1972

His first solo album in 1974, Benzaiten, was a mix of modern pop and traditional Japanese music, and was well received in Japan and later released abroad (Antilles label in U.S.) where it received some underground radio airplay and sold moderately. Also in 1974 Kitajima relocated to the Los Angeles area and later opened East Quest Studios; the late ’70s and ’80s saw the establishment of its career, with more than a dozen Lp’s, he has become one of Japan’s biggest selling artist internationally!

During the decades, Osamu Kitajima expanded his work to include commercial and soundtrack work, he provided part of the music to the blockbuster mini-series Shogun and contributed to the soundtrack of Sharkey’s Machine. He also arranged the scores for PBS documentaries on Japan, Chinese/Japanese film Mandala and produced a number of artists. Nowadays, inside East Quest Records, he continues to release his own albums (new and re-issues), as well as works by countless artists.

Osamu's Portrait
Osamu’s Portrait

Let’s go to our album:

This is truly a melting pot of Western rock and Japanese traditional music, very few have pulled it off so well as Kitajima does here. Either they usually fall prey to new age sappiness or move towards amateurish exploitation, fortunately, it does not happen here, a real serious work, the type of rock-influenced world music that still hasn’t been much explored at all. The album also featured Haruomi Hosono and it utilized various electronics: synthesizerrhythm machine, and electronic drums.

A bit different from our previous entry Buddha Meet Rock, this is a more elaborate record, with brilliant musicians and cinematic feelings, being a cornerstone of Japanese folklore, be enlightened by Kitajima’s masterful work and Bono Trinus!

Benzaiten Goddess
Benzaiten Goddess

The ‘IM’ highlights are Taiyo (The Sun) and Benzaiten (Reprise).

Tracks Include:

A1 Benzaiten (The God of Music and Water)

A2 Taiyo (The Sun)

A3 Tengu (A Long-Nosed Goblin)

B1 Benzaiten (Reprise)

B2 Whoma (Immortality)

Credits

  • Acoustic Guitar, Synthesizer, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Koto, Biwa, Drums (African, Mexican), Electronic Drums (Rhythm Machine): Osamu Kitajima
  • Bass: Dennis Belfield, John Harris
  • Biwa: Masako Hirayama
  • Drums (African): Kinji Yoshino
  • Drums (Tsuzumi), Percussion (Narimono): Kisaku Katada
  • Electric Bass: Haruomi Hosono
  • Electric Guitar: George Marinelli
  • Flute (Hayashi-bue): Haruyoshi Hosei
  • Keyboards: Brian Whitcomb
  • Shakuhachi: Tatsuya Sano
  • Sho: Yosei Sato
  • Engineer: Kinji Yoshino
  • Engineer (Assistant): Yutaka Matsumoto
  • Producer: Kinji Yoshino, Osamu Kitajima
  • Distributed and Manufactured: Island Records Inc.
  • Antilles U.S. release of the album first released by Island Records (Japan) in 1974.

Recorded through Jan/Aug 1974 at Hit Studio of Jean Jean Theater, Tokyo

Whoma recorded live at Nikkei Hall.

Antilles ‎– AN 7016

Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival

Kim Jung Mi (김정미) – 이건 너무 하잖아요 (It’s Too Much Unfair) [1974]

capa cópiaThe music of South Korea has evolved over the decades since the end of the fourth Korean War (1953) and has its roots in the music of the Korean people, who have inhabited the Korean peninsula for over a millennium. Contemporary South Korean music can be divided into three different main categories: Traditional Korean folk music, popular music, or K-pop, and Western-influenced non-popular music.

The first evidence of Korean music is old, and it has been well documented by surviving written materials from the 15th century and was brought to heights of excellence during the Yi Kings of the Joseon Dynasty. Imperial Japan’s annexation of Korea (sic) eliminated Korean music from 1905 to 1945. (!)

Traditional Music Ensemble
Traditional Music Ensemble

A brief post-war period reawakened folk and patriotic music, by 1951, Korea was split into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North) and the Republic of Korea (South), from which emerged two completely different approaches to music.

Korean traditional music includes kinds of both folk and classical, including genres like sanjo, pansori, and nongak. The three types of Korean court music are Aak (oldest), Dang-ak (less known) and Hyang-ak (extant form). Today, the Korean Wave, or hallyu (한류), is the word used to discuss the influence of contemporary Korean popular culture on the rest of Asia, and also the rest of the world!

Traditional Dance
Traditional Dance

Let’s go to our artist:

T’onga guitar (tong guitar) is a form of Korean folk and folk-rock music developed in the early 60’s/70’s. It was heavily influenced by American folk music, artists in the genre were then, considered Korean versions of American folk singers, such as Joan Baez or Bob Dylan. Notable early Korean folk musicians include the American-educated Han Dae-soo and Kim Min-ki. Hahn and Kim recorded socially and politically conscious songs, and both had their work censored/banned by the (aforementioned) autocratic Park Chung-hee 1970s dictatorial government (sic).

Han Dae-soo
Han Dae-soo

Despite the government’s efforts to censor political music, popular folk songs increasingly came to be used as rallying cries for social change within Korea, leading to the term norae undong (노래운동), or literally, song movement, being coined to describe songs targeted at social change. In the midst of this turmoil, our today artist flourished thanks to the (irreplaceable) presence of Shin Joong Hyun.

At the dawn of the ’70s, South Korea’s rock music scene was at its zenith, much of the reason for this was the god-like musical touch of guitar wizard, songwriter, producer, and arranger Shin Joong Hyun. In 1971, he took a girl named 김정미 or simply Kim Jung Mi, and transformed her from a wallflower student into a (famous) folk-psych chanteuse in record time, like a Korean Francoise Hardy.

Kim Jung Mi, 1972
Kim Jung Mi, 1972

Born on April 23, 1953, they worked together intensively in six albums until the fateful year of 1975 where the Korean rock was shut down! Only to reinvent itself with the entry of San Ul Lim in 1977. Kim Jung Mi came back that same year with a different sound style and the last effort in 1978, to finally retire from the music business.

I really would like more information about her, like interviews and curiosities, about its life, or even recent news, but so far i (still) haven’t had much success reading and translating in Hangul, could our Korean friends give us any help?!

Let’s go to our album:

The rockier side of her, again thanks to Shin Yung-Hyun’s participation along with the Yupjuns, this certainly defined the Korean psych-rock sound; plus the addition of horns, organ, and even a string section. Still owing a decent reissue, unlike the recent hyped Now (1973), pressed by Lion Productions, and distributed by Light In The Attic, this groovy folk-funk are possibly her best work! With a famous cover from Janis’s Move Over (!), this one sprinkled pepper along with her folk, trot work!

Korean Gipsy
Korean Gipsy

Lastly, this rip comes from the Korean cd re-release, but believe me, the sound is identical to the few versions we have available in Soulseek, etc, terrible!!

But in any matter, this will disparage the appreciation of a beautiful B side from South Korea, let us enjoy another great artist and Udhëtimi i Mirë!

The ‘IM’ highlights are 너와 나 (You & Me) and 너를 갖고파 (I Want You).

Tracks Include:

1 이건 너무 하잖아요 (This Does So)

2 생각해 (Think)

3 난 정말 몰라요 (I Do Not Know Really) – Move Over

4 담배꽁초 (Cigarette Butt)

5 너와 나 (You & Me)

6 갈대 (Reed)

7 당신이 (You)

8 나는 바보인가 봐 (I’m Like a Fool)

9 너를 갖고파 (I Want You)

10 셋방살이 (Living in a Rented Room)

11 너를 보내고 (Send You)

Credits

Performer: Kim Jung Mi

Performed, Composed: Shin Joon Hyun & The Yupjuns

Jigu / JLS 120920

World Psychedelia / WPC6-8499

Psych Foxy
Foxy

Ramasandiran Somusundaram – Skinny Woman (1974)

ramasandrian

Hello everyone! Today’s entry will be very short due to the lack of information available from this curious artist. An Indian (raised?) in Italy, who played with important members of the progressive scene from there. We thank our colleagues from Boxes of Toys for the rip and remember that this is an obscure album, the supposed lack of sound quality should be tolerated. Many of you may already know the funky Skinny Woman, but this album has much more to offer, let’s check!

Let’s go to our artist:

In 1974 a new incarnation of Garybaldi was formed by Bambi Fossati along with old cohort Maurizio Cassinelli, bassist Roberto Ricci, and Indian percussionist Ramasandiran Somusundaram as Bambibanda & Melodie. The percussionist previously active as a session musician also released an album and no less than three singles (in a more commercial vein) between 1974 and 1976 on the Magma label.

Single Cover, 1973
Single Cover, 1973

Let’s go to our album:

The A-side have a funky (non-stop) party atmosphere, with heavy percussion, cosmic keyboards, insane flutes, lo-fi brass, all wrapped in an exploitation feel. On B side things slow down a little bit, we see some influences of Ramasandrian homeland, with oriental tingesmelodic ballads, in a very peaceful Hindu atmosphere. (!)

It’s strange to imagine that this is the same artist from the beginning, the songwriting, a bit iffy on side A, convinces us in B-side, along with the tight band that accompanies him. The overall feeling at the end of the album is of surprise and contentment!

The ‘IM’ highlights are Electronic Heart and Chan.

यात्रा मंगलमय हो!

Tracks Include:

A1 Skinny Woman

A2 I Am Afraid of Losing You

A3 Everybody

A4 Electronic Heart

A5 Leon Dance

B1 Swamy

B2 Bombay

B3 Hari Siva

B4 Shanghai

B5 Chan

Credits

  • Percussions, Congas, Vocals: Ramasandiran Somusundaram
  • Drums, Timbales: Gianni Belleno
  • Composer: Niliomi (Vittorio de Scalzi), Datum (Giorgio Usai), Gianni Belleno

Produzione Studio G – Genova

Magma ‎– MAGL 18006

Bambibanda E Melodie
Bambibanda E Melodie

Climax – Gusano Mecánico (1974)

capa cópia

In 1966, Bolivia was governed by a dictatorship directed by the general René Barrientos, that had overthrown to the president Victor Peace Estenssoro and position aim to nationalist-popular revolution initiated in 1952 (MNR).

The population was mainly indigenous peasants, while powerful Bolivian Workers Union (VOC), with base in the mining workers ahead, took an iron opposition to the regime that in 1965 expelled from the country it’s Secretary-General, Juan Lechín Oquendo. Generalized disturbances over the country led to a State of Siege state.

1952 Revolution
1952 Revolution

In the interim, The Ñancahuazú Guerrilla or Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia (ELN) was a group of mainly Bolivian and Cuban guerrillas led by the guerilla leader Che Guevara active in Bolivian Cordillera Province from 1966 to 1967.

After returning from Congo’s revolution flop, the guerrilla was intended to work as a foco, a point of armed resistance to be used as a first step to overthrow the Bolivian government and create a socialist state. With no more than 50 members, the guerrilla successfully defeated several Bolivian patrols before it was wiped out by more than 2000 men and Che Guevara captured and summarily executed. (!)

Guerilla Camp
Guerilla Camp

Only five guerrillas managed to survive and fled to Chile. The CIA had been active in providing finances and training to the Bolivian military dictatorship in the 1960s.

Félix Rodríguez was a CIA officer on the team with the Bolivian Army that captured and shot Guevara on 9 October 1967. Months earlier, during his last public declaration to the Tricontinental Conference, Guevara wrote his own epitaph, stating:

‘Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this our battle cry may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may be extended to wield our weapons.’ (June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967) / RIP Comandante!!

Felix & Che , 30 Minutes before its Execution
Felix & Che, 30 Minutes Before its Execution (sic)

Let’s go to our artist:

Climax formed in 1968 after its members returned from a trip to America, where they had been almost a year, been influenced by the bands and rock movement of that time. José ‘Pepe’ Eguino and Javier Saldías had separated from the Blacks Birds, while drummer Alvaro Córdoba had also left his naive (beat) band Las Tortugas.

In late 1968 and early 1969, they recorded ‘Born To Be Wild’ Ep which included versions of songs by Steppenwolf, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix. 1970, presents their second Ep, called ‘Born To Be Wild II’, in which Bob Hopkins, an American marine joins the band playing the harmonica and singing. These Ep includes their early compositions, ‘The Seeker’ and ‘Rhythm of Life’ successfully sung by Hopkins.

Climax Promo
Climax Promo

After extensive traveling the United States and Argentina, Climax launches in 1974 the most representative Lp: Gusano Mecnánico, one of the first concept albums and probably the greatest rock album of Bolivia. With ELP, King Crimson, Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Orchestra influences, it would also be the first full-length album from the band, released in a gatefold cover, based on M.C. Esher surreal etching ‘Relativity’, incorporating worms alluding the mechanization of the humanity.

Following the success of Gusano Mecánico, drummer Alvaro Cordero left the band. Although Eguino and Saldías tried to continue performing several shows with Nicolás Suárez (keyboards) and Felix Chavez (second guitarist), the band didn’t have the same success as the original formation. In subsequent years, there were several reunions, presenting the first formation in some festivals in the early ’90s and last in 2002. Other prominent Bolivian bands are Wara and Estrella de Marzo.

Estrella de Marzo
Estrella de Marzo

Let’s go to our album:

As well as with their Latin American brothers, the development of the Bolivian rock occurred during the ’60s with the Nueva Ola, and their covers inspired by artists from abroad, styles were more like beat and garage. At this era, bands like Loving’s Dark, Los Grillos, Bonny Boy Hots, and Los Dhag Dhags stood out at juveniles clubs.

Then in the ’70s, a more mature scene unfolds with brilliant acts like Wara, Climax and Estrella de Marzo, mixing folklore rhythms with psychedelia and prog rock. A good chance to know the first phase of the Bolivian rock it’s a compilation of Discos Del Condor called Revolución Psicofásica from 2011, check it out!

Bolivian Rock
Bolivian Rock

There’s a slight jazz bent, crazed instrumental jamming, with fuzzy/freaky guitar solos played Avant style like Fripp, aggressive vocals and a tireless MONSTER drummer. Ranging from Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson these guys are no joke!

I was surprised with its technical ability, it’s not often common to see a power trio as solid as them, especially in Latin American bands, a pleasant surprise mis amigos.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Transfusión de Luz and Cristales Soñadores.

Hyvää Matkaa!

Tracks Include:

A1 Pachacutec (Rey de Oro)

A2 Transfusión de Luz

A3 Cuerpo Eléctrico – Embrión de Reencarnación

B1 Gusano Mecánico (Invasión, Dominio y Abandono)

B2 Prana (Energia Vital)

B3 Cristales Soñadores

Credits

  • Bass, Vocals, Lyrics: Javier Saldías
  • Drums, Percussion: Alvaro Córdoba
  • Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals: Jose A. Eguino
  • Composed, Arranged, Performer: Climax
  • Engineer: Wálter Santa Cruz

Notes

Recorded during 1974 at Estudios ‘LYRA’ La Paz – Bolivia.

Lyra MR Simbolo de Calidad, Serie Exito.

Lyra – LPE – 3067 (Discolandia)

Titicaca Lake
Titicaca Lake

Grupo Vocal Argentino – Chango Farías Gómez Presenta (1974)

chango farias cópia

Hola Amigos! Today is a special day, after a tour de force by the Middle East, let’s return to Latin America, our motherland and celebrate the memory, talent, and passion from one of the greatest Argentinian musicians: Chango Farías Gomez!

Characterized by his pioneering and innovative spirit in the way of interpreting the folk music roots and especially for being one of the first musicians who introduced polyphony in the Argentine and Latin American folklore. As we have done in other entries, his complete biography and interviews will be shown in future posts, as we intend to deliver MPA (Musicos Populares Argentinos) and La Manija soon.

Sadly, he died on August 24, 2011, following a cardiac arrest. (RIP)

Today we will focus on Argentinian Folklore!

Let’s go to our history:

La Chacarera
La Chacarera

The word folklore was created by the English archaeologist William John Thomas on August 22, 1846, etymologically derived from ‘folk’ (people, breed) and ‘lore’ (knowledge, science). The date coincides, in Argentina, with the birth of Juan Bautista Ambrosetti (1865-1917), recognized as the father of folk science.

Argentinian folk music has a century-long history which has its roots in the original indigenous cultures. Three major historical and cultural events were molding it: Spanish Colonization (XVI-XVIII centuries), European Immigration (1850-1930), and lastly, but no less important the Internal Migration (1930-1980).

El Pericón
El Pericón

Although folklore is just a cultural expression that meets the requirements of being anonymous, popular and traditional, in Argentina folklore or folk music it’s an author known music, inspired by rhythms and distinctive styles of provincial cultures, mostly indigenous and Afro-Hispanic colonial roots.

The projection folk music began to gain popularity in the 30’s and 40’s, coinciding with a large wave of internal migration from the countryside to the city and the provinces to Buenos Aires, to settle in the 50’s, with the boom of folklore, as the main genre of popular music alongside with the Tango!

Tango, La Boca
Tango, La Boca

In the 60’s and 70’s the popularity of Argentine folklore expanded and linked to similar expressions in Latin America, with the help of various musical and lyrical movements of renewal, as the emergence of the genre in major festivals, including the Festival Nacional de Folclore de Cosquín, one of the largest in this field!

After being seriously affected by the cultural repression imposed by the dictatorship installed between 1976-1983, folk music arose from the Falklands War of 1982, although more related to other genres of Argentina and Latin American popular music expressions, like the Tango, the so-called Rock Nacional, El Cuarteto, and Cumbia.

Atahualpa Yupanqui
Atahualpa Yupanqui

The historical evolution of folk music took shape in four major regions in Argentina: Cordoba-Northwest, Cuyo, The Littoral and Pampa-Patagonian Surera, influenced by, and influential in the musical cultures of border countries such as Bolivia, southern Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Atahualpa Yupanqui, Mercedes Sosa, and Andrés Chazarreta are unanimously considered the most important artists in the history of folk music of Argentina.

Let’s go to our album:

The Grupo Vocal Argentino is a folk music group created in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1966, composed by two stages with different integrations: the first between 1966-1970 led by Chango Farías Gómez and the second from 1974 onwards, led by Carlos Marrodán. In the first stage, the group was a quintet characterized by its modern and innovative style in how to interpret the folklore, being considered the best vocal group in the history of the folk music of Argentina. (!)

They recorded two albums, Grupo Vocal Argentino (1966) and Misa Criolla in (1968), the latter considered as one of the best albums from all-time.

In 1970 the group disbanded.

Carlos Alberto Marrodán
Carlos Alberto Marrodán

Simultaneously, in 1973 the musician Carlos Marrodán, an admirer of Chango Farías Gómez work had attempted to enter the GVA, forming an unnamed octet and invited Chango to witness the first results. Chango was so pleased that he offered the use of the name Grupo Vocal Argentino to Morrodán.

With this composition in the following year, he recorded the today’s album with the following formation: Carlos Heredia, Carlos Fanelli, Roberto Maldonado, José Bravo, Adrián Gómez, Eduardo Curetti, Raúl Bissón and Ricardo D’Agostino.

MPA, 1986
MPA, 1986

Chango has a curious statement that sums up everything we’ve seen so far:

‘I had to always struggle with the dichotomy of whether I do or not folklore. Accept the term folklore was one of the many misfortunes that befall us as a people at the cultural level. I always found that word shifted the concept of evolution possible in our music. All of our historical problems of whether or not this is the folklore was settling in musical terms. So I built the Huanca Huá, which was the foundation stone for the vocal groups were seen, over time, as natural within the genre. In the MPA I got with modern codes that arise in the world and proved that you can keep playing ours. With La Manija showed the excellence of the popular’

The ‘IM’ highlights are Debajo de la Morera and Cholita TraidoraBuen Viaje!

Tracks Include:

A1 La Finadita (Francisco Díaz, Julián Antonio Díaz) / Chacarera

A2 Torcaza, Paloma, Torcaza (Roberto Margarido / Angel Ritrovato) / Cancíon

A3 Debajo de la Morera (Virgilio Ramón Carmona) / Zamba

A4 Chacarera Santiagueña (Tradicional) / Chacarera

A5 Coplas Para la Pena (M. Antonia Barros / Carlos Marrodán) / Zamba

B1 Cholita Traidora (Tradicional) / Carnavalito

B2 Zambita del Caminante (Atahualpa Yupanqui) / Zamba

B3 Añorando (Hermanos Simón) / Chacarera

B4 La Tupungatina (Cristino Tapia) / Tonada

B5 Viva Jujuy (Tradicional) / Bailecito

Raúl Bissón, José M. Bravo, Eduardo Curetti, Ricardo D’Agostino

Carlos Fanelli, Adrián Gómez. Carlos Heredia, Roberto Maldonado

Arreglos y Dirección: Carlos Marrodán

Trova XT-80092

El Ateneu, Library
El Ateneu, Library