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 styleandthe (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. (!)
Let’s go to their history:
Jazz and blues vocalist, lyricist, composer, and orchestrator Maki Asakawa was born in 1942 in IshikawaPrefecture. 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-garde, she 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
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’saesthetics 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!
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.
All lyrics: 浅川マキ (Maki Asakawa) except B-2 by 山内テツ (Tetsu Yamauchi)
Seattle, 1988. Before the worldwide mass exposure created on the so-called grunge scene and its characters, a genre that suddenly was self-proclaimed the soundtrack of Generation X (sic), there was a short-lived band who certainly opened the gates of stardom to all, this band was Mother Love Bone!
The first one to draw national media attention to the region, a contract with a major record company (PolyGram), putting the early Seattle scene definitely on the map. Alongside with Soundgarden, Melvins, Mudhoney, Nirvana and Alice in Chains, this prominent quintet had only a two-year living, with a full length (posthumous) album and an Ep. With no more than 20 shows held, one west-side mini-tour, two videoclips and a lot of hype around them, MLB was a comet of love.
Led by a flamboyant Andrew Patrick Wood(January 8, 1966 – March 19th, 1990), who previously created with its first band Malfunkshun, an alter-ego stage persona called, L’andrew the Love Child, a response to the Satan worship metal cliché, Love Rock 333 (their sound) was the title that Andy glimpse, much based on its personal rock faves: Kiss, Queen, Elton John, and Marc Bolan. Andy’s exuberant personality, outlandish clothes, and funny lyrics helped bring attention to the band.
But the path the band was predestined to follow was subtly interrupted by Andy’s od on March 19th, 1990. He had historical problems with cocaine and heroin since 1985(its first rehab), after the tour opening for The Dogs D’Amour, on mid’s 89, he checked himself into rehab and passed the last four months of the year sober. Their full-length album was recorded during this time. With the turn of the decade, high expectations on Apple began to arise, as its three remixes and a certain pressure.
A righteous future was broken when its fiancée Xana la Fuente, found him on a comatose state lying on the bed of their apartment. After three days in Harborview Hospital, living on life support, Andy was diagnosed with hemorrhage aneurysm; together with it’s family and band members, with A Night At The Opera playing, holding hands around the bed, they decided to plug out the life support and let him go.
Six months later the basis for Pearl Jam was formed and started to rehearse. Temple of The Dog was recorded on the end of the year, with two songs made directly to Andy (Say Hello 2 Heaven and Reach Down) it was Chris Cornell’s last homage to his friend, they also lived together for six months. Both Ten and TOTD releases happened in early 1991 and hits the musical charts in different ways, yet Seattle’s scene had already been paved by Andy, the love child. (RIP)
Let’s go to their history:
We will let Malfunkshun and Andy’s complete story to a dedicated post on the future, however, there is a very nice documentary about them directed by Scot Barbour.
By 1987, Andrew was living in Seattle and hanging out with Jeff Ament(bass) and Stone Gossard(guitar), members of Green River. It wasn’t long before the three of them were writing together, and as time went by they became closer. In late 87, early 88, Lords of the Wasteland started playing occasional shows, with the inclusion of Bruce Fairweather(guitar), though the repertoire was composed of covers.
By the time of their last show, Andy, anxious for success, left Malfunkshun and started to dedicate all his time for the new band. Stupid names like Dum Dum Boys or Daddy Long Legs were suggested, but it was from Andy’s mind that the band would be recognized: Mother Love Bone.
Regan Hagar (Malfunkshun’s drummer) was replaced by Greg Gilmore(10 Minute Warning) and the band changed their name, after a week of persuasion. They got into the studio as soon as possible and recorded 10 songs including, Holly Roller, Stargazer, Lady Godiva Blues and Capricorn Sister. The demo was received by Kelly Curtis (later the manager of Pearl Jam). Kelly made it possible for the band to record another demo, this one was sent to Geffen records who paid for them to make a third demo. With songs like Bone China, Crown of Thorns and Captain Hi-Top.
The demos made it out to a bunch of different companies, so the band waited through the summer and it paid off; they got a lot of calls from labels that heard the demo and they finally decided to signed with Polygram. They even got there on label on the company, Stardog Label. This process took place during February / August 1988.
They returned home and signed Kelly Curtis as their manager. In early 1989 starts the process to their debut album Shine.The band went on tour for the album and then took a few months to break, by September they were recording their next album.
In 1990 they had played around Seattle and gained much respect from local bands like Soundgarden and Melvins. The band had finished making their upcoming album Apple when Andy checked himself into a rehab program to deal with his addiction.
They were set to make their debut, when Wood died of a heroin od on March 16th.
Temple of the Dog was formed in Andy’s memory. The band included Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Soundgarden’sMatt Cameron, and Chris Cornell, and the new guyEddie Vedder! After Temple of the Dog, Stone and Jeff got together with Eddie, Mike McCready, and Dave Krusen to form Pearl Jam. Bruce Fairweather joined Love Battery and Greg played with Blind Horse and Endino’s Earthworm.
Let’s go to our record:
Andy Wood, Jeff Ament, and Stone Gossard passed through the early’80s in Seattle with punk, hard, glam, arena rock bands, gigs, friends, shows and a whole scene of musicians. They’re one of the founders from the so-called grunge scene and it’s here that this record gets something special and reveals us another side. It doesn’t resemble anything from the heaviness or angst-filled lyrics and moods like Soundgarden, Melvins, Mudhoney, NirvanaorAlice in Chains.
With a heavy-tenor(like Robert Plant) sung by Andy, its lyrics, persona and a sharp band, they got all bases from the American Hard / Glam, with some mellow ballads on piano and funky uptempo. These ego imaginary dreamy lyrics ruled the short production of the band, yet they made also some mordacious, happy humor criticism, especially about catholicism, freedom of love, and the myth of commercial rockstar.
This is a small 5-track release, there are some proto-grunge, hard rock, funk, an epic ballad, and a blues. The ‘IM’ highlights are for: Crown of Thorns, their most famous song, much covered by Pearl Jam, got an 8-minute piece, here with Chloe Dancerintroduction, the touching preamble reveals us some brute biographical lyrics based on choices, love, death, and addiction. An almost forgot classic from a modern rock!
Cameron Crowe’s film about love on the early ’90s, Singles, was set in Seattle. On the very beginning of the film, we’re shown to a wall with Mother Love Bone name’s on it, still, Andy’s death interrupted any chance of a sequel or international recognition.
And Capricorn Sister: One of the first made, a nice blues with an over the top performance by Andy, remembering us those old blues singers from the South. This song also appears on Apple, but Shine’s version is much better, on the very final there’s a little funny hidden-track, Zanzibar, check it!
The Ep was recorded in November 1988, during ten days (or five?). Lastly, there is a revealing excerpt of Scot Barbour’s interview about Andy’s final moments:
Scot: ‘Andy was allergic to everything, well not everything. But a lot of different prescription drugs & foods. In fact, that’s the REAL theory of how Andy REALLY died. Andy actually survived the heroin overdose and it looked like he was going to pull it off and live. When he was in a coma he was given a few different drugs to help him come back from the coma. The back of his brain swelled up so badly that the top his spinal cord actually protruded his brain causing him to be brain dead.
That is when they decided to take him off Life Support. The belief is that his brain swelling was the result of an allergic reaction to at least one of the drugs that were administered to him during that time. Coincidentally, the patient records for the last 24 hours of Andy’s life are missing and have yet to be located. And Virginia Mason (?) Hospital in downtown Seattle has made no statement. (!)
He wasn’t into drugs as much as people are lead to believe. Andy had just gotten out of rehab recently. And the heroin dose he overdosed on was extremely small. Another very coincidental thing was the Hospital had reported four other heroin od’s that evening Andy was brought to the hospital, it was definitely a ‘bad batch’ that had hit the streets and wound up in Andy’s arm.’ (!) Drum Bun!
1 Thru Fade Away
2 Mindshaker Meltdown
3 Half Ass Monkey Boy
4 Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns
5 Capricorn Sister / Zanzibar
Released: March 20, 1989
Bass: Jeff Ament
Drums: Greg Gilmore
Guitar: Bruce Fairweather, Stone Gossard
Photography: Charles Peterson
Producer: Mark Dearnley
Vocals, Piano, Lyrics: Andrew Wood
Recorded at London Bridge Studios, Seattle. //// Mixed at London Bridge Studio, Seattle.
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 punkanima, 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 Torairelease, 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 May1982 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)
Born January 2, 1951, in the city of Chuncheon, the youngest in a family of 5 sisters, Kim Choo-Ja (김추자) is considered the first sex symbol of Korean pop music. Despite being an unknown worldwide, she’s one of the most influential artist’s from the Republic of Korea. Born with a lascivious curvy body, something unusual for an Asian, she was not afraid to show off in her dances, performances, clothes and record covers, wearing tight jeans or mini skirts, tops with cleavage-boosting and tall boots, a real foxy! During her career, Choo-Ja passed through a lot of personas and attitudes, that not only reflected on her appearance but also on her sound and sexuality, like the early beat-girlie, the stoned-rock-hippy, and ultimate ferocious diva!
Even didn’t write her songs, as an interpreter, she was much helped by Shin Joong Hyun, the godfather of K-Rock, through her career, especially in her first steps. They met each other in 1969 after she had won the first prize in a festival of Arts at the University of Dongguk, where she graduated in Theatre and Cinema.
In October’s same year, debuts her first album: Before Its Late (늦기 전에), produced by Shin and accompanied by the band The Donkeys, the record reached great commercial success, introducing a new face in Korean pop music. Based on the psychedelic combo bass-drums-guitars-keyboards they Americanize traditional folk/trot music, until then, sung only in a high pitch by singers that looked like plasticized mannequins with their stern-tacky Hanboks.
With more than 30 (!) albums released between 1969 to 1975, Kim Choo-Ja completely dominated the70’s and has established herself as one of the greatest singers of an era. She had problems with the censors for her hit ‘It’s a Lie’, which was banned by the military dictatorship, on the allegation that it instigates distrust. The military government, ruled by the infamous Park Chung-hee, also suspected her dance moves to be a hand signal for North Korean spies. (?!)
There was a period of blacklists and stronger repression, motivated by Shin’s charge and arrest for marijuana possession, in December 75. During those years she was out of the charts, but it won’t last much, her big comeback took place in the series of shows Recital 78, released on 1980, the album brings her greatest hits on some different live arrangements, but it’s probably the cover, its most iconic and extravagant leap, an incredible Korean Power Booty!!
For a society that has lived under a dictatorship for decades, Choo-Ja suffered constant boycotts from the government until its fall in 1988.
With the ’80s, she launches more than 15 (!) discs from live shows (mostly) and romantic collections; due to their children, a remarriage and family reasons, she retires from the market in 1988. But the legacy of Choo-Ja can be seen, in parts, with all those never-ending pretty dolls who littered the Korean pop music scene today.
Let’s go to our record:
Today’s album is actually a Mixtape, organized by myself, traversing many records, trying to go through all periods from our Korean Bombshell!
It’s a pop-psychedelic beginning, the encounter with the Soul and its variations, the Latin accent, their romantic-modern versions of Trots and even a medley from the aforementioned ‘Recital 78’, with several successes, such as ‘Sgt. Kim’, ‘Regret’, ‘Rumour’, and even a version from ‘Ani Holem al Naomi’, single that sold more than 1 million copies in 70s Japan, from the Israeli duo Hedva and David!
We would be unfair to Choo-Ja if we just label her as an exclusively psych-folk singer, such as Kim Jung Mi (김정미) was. What we see here are Big Bands and their orchestrations, Brass Funk-Soul, Psych, Rock, Trots, Ballads and a familiar Korean tendency to put a few spoons of sugar into the romanticism: ‘Nangman’ (낭만)!
Unfortunately, the translation and reading in Hangul are extremely difficult, the content of the lyrics is still an incognita, as well some of the albums where the songs came out. A large number of compilations, pirate and collaboration albums, contribute to make this a HARD work, but in almost all themes the year is indicated on the mp3 file.
The ‘IM’highlights today are for: ‘No’ (아니) a megaton groove, with breakbeats, brass, and an outstanding guitar swing! This is a really infectious soul that could be covered by any funk masters, such as Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power or even the pope James Brown! The other one is ‘Rain’ (비), one of the few that I couldn’t retrieve any info, what a pity! I’ve got a sentimental keen on that, a standard ballad, with Big Band accompaniment and a blue finale, an instant CLASSIC!
Lastly, don’t forget to check our special gallery selection, with some personal and rare photos. Phew! Perjalanan Yang Baik!