Regal Zonophone 2
For all of you looking for examples of classic pop psych songs from Japan I have compiled this list. There are still a few groups and albums I have yet to hear so its very much subject to change. But until someone comes up with a better list, this is something you can reference.
20 POP PSYCH MOMENTS FROM JAPAN
TIGERS 730 Morning This is a epic probably reminiscent of Arthur Brown but yet quite different. I raved on about this song enough last time.
HARUMI Hunters of Heaven To quote myself : a fabulous swirl of strings, horns organs and whatever else he could find all over a increscent beat which only gives way at the end.
THE MIKES released Ramblin' Man and it’s great. It features a sitar and a decent tune. At times it seems like a life and death battle between the sitar and the sitar player during the solo, and there is a bit of a pilfering of the stones with the guitar bits – but overall as good a piece of pop psych as any from Japan.
Wake Up by the LAUNCHERS The Launchers started off as a surf combo, but evolved into a beat/orchestral group and there to a pop psych band. They released a couple of LPs apparently embracing the later fashions much in this vein (I have yet to hear either) . They capture the heart of pop psych on this number from their second album. You can find this one on You Tube and judge for yourself how good they were. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HLPO-PoHANQ
Osamu Kitajima from this group later went on to release a solo Lp under the name Justin Heathcliff.
KIYOKO ITOH Kiken Kashira (Be dangerous or) A atmospheric and somewhat alluring song sung with all the class she would bring to her future as a Jazz singer .
SPIDERS Glass no seijo: This is late era spiders with a psych tinged ballad. It’s spooky and spikey, and way better than anything on Lets Go Spiders
Good Bye Baby The PHOENIX. A good hook and a bit of flash studio trickery on the vocals and during the guitar solo. A pleasant listen, especially if you ignore the lyrics.
CARNABEATS: Their Cutie Morning Moon is the star in their crown. It is a dynamic song which was a collaboration between the Carnabeats, Gary walker and scott Walker who co wrote the song and added bass guitar. It is a unique song in many ways.
MIKI CURTIS - Sekiyoh no Kettoh A string driven song with a lot of spacey whooshing especially during the guitar solo. Likeable and solid.
HARUMI . Sugar in your tea Phasing galore as this tune lets loose. Its great superficially but also contains some hooks underneath all the excess and pariphinalia.
BLUE COMETS Psychedelic man. The sound effects at the start are the most psychedelic part of this tune, but the rest isn’t too bad at all. It has a bit of melody and a bit of drive.
LIND & THE LINDERS Koi ni shibirete. Fast paced song that starts off with a unusual duel guitar and string opening, and then takes a breather before launching into full bodied choruses.
TEMPTERS Himitsu no aikotoba (secret password) A riff reminiscent of Joy Division many years later starts off this song as it lurches around topped by echoing chant of “3 2 1 “ A strong song that makes it on its own terms.
All of my life by THE WILD ONES. This is notorious as it contains the first use of backwards tapes in Japanese pop. In fact the only Japanese group to use it that I can remember. Of course the use of backwards tapes do not guarantee a great song, but this one is pretty good. .
BEAVERS Kimi naki sekai (A world without you) The Beavers did some of the best cover versions done by any Japanese groups but also had a few good originals and this is one. Not their most psychedelic moments but a great guitar riff and moody spacey vocals.
EAST Beautiful Morning A quiet piece with a shuffling beat that opens out for each chorus. Packed full of exotic instruments, it’s a upbeat folky number with commercial appeal.
JUSTIN HEATHCLIFF You Know what I mean A Pop psych classic complete with backwards tape.
KUNI KAWACHI Kazeyori Gokurousan Another grand dramatic piece that the Japanses are so good at. Impassioned vocals and blocks of orchestrated strings and light psychedelic touches.
FINGERS I am so in Love. Starts off with a sitar and than dissolveves into a ballad with strings. Than the sitar returns with a one string solo.
LAUNCHERS kanashimi ni sayyounara
Starts off as a standard pop tune with a melody, than it dissolves into sound effects – waves carnival sounds and birdsong.
Hitori Kaze MEIKO KAJI. This song rocks, not so much in the literal sense especially since the guitars are mixed so low in the mix, a real waste. However other instruments such as the flute are mixed to the front and sit alongside an assured vocal performance from Meiko.
HONORABLE (or slightly dishonourable) MENTIONS
PONIES Agana no otome (Madonna in Agana) The sitar dips in and out at all stops in this love song. It creates a bit of psychedelic atmosphere to otherwise a nice if unspectacular song.
The BUNNYS released a 11 minute song called Lento fantasy which has a number of psychedelic interludes. The lyrics through the whole song are Ba ba ba ba, and occasionally Baaaaaaaa It’s a bit of a hoot but the instrumental passages are quite good, and if you can get over the cheesiness its worth a listen. They also released a few shorter songs much in the same style
DAVIES Koi no Psychedelic A slow paced song which could be regarded as a bold effort to be psychedelic. It succeeds in everything but having a decent song to begin with. But included here for effort.
HAPPENING FOUR Otoko no nakano otoko (The man of men) Sounding more Red Indian than continental Indian this tom tom propelled song is driven in a style that could only be the Happenings.
BLUE COMETS Love Light Show. Sounds abound here.
12 POP AND POP SIKE PLEASERS - songs that were great but were not really psych
THE PEACOCKS - The Tale of the Nymphal Wood This is full of strings and harpsichords. Add more than a touch of melodramatic vocals and there you have it. A tantalizing period piece.
TIGERS The glorious world. A grand piece of orchestral pop opera, as befitting the title. Its carries a tune starting soft than and rolls in and out with mini climax’s.
MIKI CURTIS Kaizoku Gorugita I am almost ashamed to admit liking this. This is a song propelled by a piano rather than drums, and features a solid vocal line with some breathy female backing vocals, and a repetitive horn fade out. Shame shame.
I also like the next song on the LP – the very twee and relentingly catchy Oka no Kami no Kodomotachi. More shame. Some of us are just suckers.
TAXMAN Girl Like a canary. This is glorious, it’s like a sum of all the things that you hate about the Japanese bands and put it together into this irresistible slab of charm. The vocal interplay is to die for. Not so much Girl like a canary as Man like a mad hen.
THE SKELTONES Hoshi No Oujisama. (prince of star) This tune swings back and forth with the lead singer trying to sound as sweet as he can, but it is the flitting flutes that win the day here.
TIGERS The Green Hill A more subtle song with atmospheric vocals and sparse instrumentation mainly a harp. The tune is sweet and heartfelt. As delicate as any pop that ever came from Japan.
491 - Namida Mo Karete This is pure pop. It has a great hook and good harmonies. Ruined only by a little spoken bit in the middle.
THE FLORAL - Namida Wa Hanabira (Tears Are Flower Petals) Featuring Hiro Yanagida later of Apryl Fool The Floral only recorded one single. Its orchestrated pop – slow paced and soporific. Violins appear out of the woodwork in all directions, but always gently and romantically.
CARNABEATS. Sutikina Sandy: This could pass as Toytown Pop Sike. This starts with bells – always a good sign- and then into noisy guitars over pop music, finally towards end kids come in and sing very sweetly. Not a patch on Cutie Morning Moon but if you are a fan of toytown sike it’s worth a listen.
AYUMI ISHIDA – Taiyou wa naite iru. This is great Japanese Girl pop. What more need I say. JOY
YUYU UCHIDA & THE FLOWERS -Flowers : Slight country touches and off key vocals don’t stop the feel good vibes put out by this song.
THE EDWARDS Cry cry cry. Yes. That says it all.
SO there you are.
Phew. Great work Daniel.
yes. well done.
Daniel many thanks for going to the trouble of doing this list,i do have some of those you mention but most are new to me,and some sound real interesting!!Apart from the Love ,Peace and Poetry comp of Jap psych has there been other Japanese comps released,i do have 2 collections released by Big Beat whose titles i've completely been forgotten.I also have a collection from THe Spiders which has some good stuff on it.But would love to hear more!!Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!!
The problem is that there are no commercially available "all in one" comps on psych music apart from that Love peace and poetry CD. The GS I Love you compilations have very little psych. There are a number of other compilations which feature one or two psych styled songs mixed in with a pile of beat or pop. They mostly feature GS in their titles somewhere. (eg GS greatest Hits) There is one exeption which is a 6 cd box set which dedicates each CD one or two styles of music. That is the Cult GS box set. I got quite a few of my selections from that set. More for the pop list than the psych list however. As well as that the psych CD is half cover versions of well known psych standards, which is a shame. There is another interesting series called "Japanese Rockin Pych and punk" series which features the odd psych number amongst the rock punk and pop, this is interesting as it mostly draws from outside the big name groups, but a lot of it is filler. And they are hard to find outside amazon Japan.
We still await another definitive psych collection.
But I am happy to burn a few discs for you if you like. Just let me know.