The Tigers were another band that appealed to me. Every country had at least one band whos life was so filled with drama and intrigue that you could write a book about – and the UK probably 10, well in Japan that group was the tigers. Not only because they had guys in the group with the names of Sally and Julie. This isn’t a biography however, its about the music. First I should warn you to avoid anything they did right up to 1968, they were a very popular group that made terrible imitations of british 60s beat and pop. And I mean terrible. Even by the standards of Japanese beat bands of the time. For this they were big hit in Japan. But all that changed with the release of their concept album “Human Renaissance.” It was the end of their reliance on outside writers and sometimes plagurised cover tunes. In their effort to do something original they succeeded in spades. A suprising album from the unlikeliest of sources. It was different to anything they (or any Japanese group) had done before. Most of the songs contained in this album spring from classical sources except for “Wareta Chikyu (Broken Earth),” which was inspired by Jimi Hendrix. There were a few groups in the UK who followed this sypmphonic psych come prog approach, but none quite like the Tigers. It certainly is a flawed album, but contains some fabulous ideas.. The tigers played to their strength utilising the varied vocal range from the low-pitched Sally to the high-toned Toppo and between them the sweet sounds of Julie (don’t forget we are talking guys here) and the music is almost beyond description. The highlight is undoubtedly The 730rd Morning which is hard to describe. It is operatic and grandiose, it has the extraordinary vocal interplay over a string section that stretches and judders behind it all. At times a tune or two almost breaks through, but not quite. It must be the finest moment in Japanese psych. The rest of the LP is more traditional string driven pop. There are some bright poppy moments (Glorious world, the Green Hill) and some poorer more sappy tunes especially towards the tail of the album. There is some guitar to remind you that this is a rock group but only on two tracks – the rest is really for those who like baroque flourishes or orchestral ballads. But its high points make an experience.
After the Album flopped things really began to fall apart for the Tigers in a truly comical way. The bizarre events surrounding Toppos leaving the group and the odd choice of replacement just drove the Tigers deeper into a pit. Their story could easily fit into an episode of the Monkees. But they kept going and managed a trip to London to film a film, and record with the Bee Gees before dissolving completely into varied careers.
They did have a interesting counterpart. The group Adams formed in 1968. They were described as a grand scale symphonic rock band, with choir and orchestra. I do not have the LP and but have heard a few tracks from compilations and from what I hear would be more aptly described as symphonic pop rather than rock. One track veers towards light psychedelia, That being their single 'Nemureru Otome' (Sleeping Girl), and I cannot say if they dabbled much more in it. In any case their Lp KYUYAKU SEISHO (‘Old Testament’) mirrored the apathy that greeted the Tigers Lp, but not having the fan base of the Tigers, the LP was a disaster and the record company dumped all their albums.