1930 born Jimmy Takeuchi (real name Wasaburo Takeuchi, ジミー竹内) is no doubt one of the best known and most loved jazz drummers in Japan. In fact he’s often referred as the image of the jazz drumming in the post-war Japan. He started his drumming career as early as in 1948 and it continued over 50 years until his final retirement in 2002. Although he’s propably best known for his 12 years lasting Drum drum drum series that were usually about the cover versions of contemporary songs, he also played with a whole bunch of Japanese jazz cats including Nobuo Hara, Shigenori O’Hara, Shoji Suzuki, Susumu Watanabe, Yuzuru Sera, George Kawaguchi, Hideo Shiraki and many more. Since 1967 Takeuchi also had his own group called Jimmy Takeuchi & His Exciters.
In 1970 was released the album White X’mas - in the mentioned Drum drum drum series. It’s an album full of traditional Christmas songs with heavy arrangements by Kunihiro Suzuki. There’s tracks that appear on most of the Christmas song albums like “Jingle bells”, “Santa Claus is soming to town”, “White Christmas”, “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer”, “Here comes Santa Claus” and so on. Only this time they are not that traditionally arranged. The album is full of psychedelia, fuzz guitar, wailing organs and heavy drumming with breaks - and still with that certain Jimmy Takeuchi jazz feel. Even though the cover is bit cheesy I can humbly recommend this one to be a part of everyone’s Christmas soundtrack.
Compared to what he has done during his long career, Ankara based Turkish composer, arranger, conductor, producer and guitarist Mustafa Özkent is still relatively unknown to the big world. He started his career as early as in 1960 in a pop group called The Teenagers. At some point in the early 1970s he formed his own orchestra, simply named Mustafa Özkent ve Orkestrası (Mustafa Özkent and Orchestra). In 1973 the first album Gençlik Ile Elele (in English Hand in hand with youth) was released and the second album Elif was released in 1975. They also released two 45s (in 1972 and 1974). During that time in 1975 – 1976 Özkent was studying in the Academie D’e music D’ixelles in Brussels. For a short period in 1976 his close friend and a fellow Turkish musician Baris Manço was also spending time in Brussels. In 1976 he was also working in a big band for the Montreal Olympic Games as an arranger and guitarist. During his career Özkent has been an in-demand session guitarist, arranger and conductor and has worked closely with numerous Turkish musicians and band including his close friends Baris Manço, Okay Temiz and Mogollar. And he has still been active throughout the 2000s.
For his new orchestra, he called in organist Umit Aksu (later of Aksu Orkestrası fame), second guitarist Cahit Oben as well as two drummers and a percussionist (not mentioned anywhere). Özkent himself played the lead guitar naturally. In 1972 the freshly founded independent label Evren had heard about Özkent and decided to give him a shot to do an fully instrumental album wit mixture of jazz, psychedelic rock, funk, traditional Anatolian sounds and new stereo effects. The album was recorded with a live take but some effects were added later.
In those days, outside the core of Western musical culture, an instrumental album with somehow psychedelic improvisations was never called “psychedelic”, more labelled as A Go-Go, often dance rhythm related item. Acid jazzrock was more often one influence for such music.
Gençlik Ile Elele is clearly the funkiest of all anatolian rock albums that ever came to my ears. With it’s heavy drumming, hard grooving organs, funky Anatolian melodies and of course the large amount of breaks it belongs to my all time favorites. The album starts with a heavy midtempo funker “Üsküdar’a Giderken. It’s followed by the massive “Burçak Tarlaları” that starts with a huge break and continues as a heavy Anatolian funk track with some traditional melodies and psychedelic electric guitar work. There’s even an another heavy break in the end. Next one is called “Dolana Dolana”. It’s an uptempo heavy funker with some electric guitar and organ melodies and a huge break in the beginning. Then comes “Karadır Kara”, another midtempo track that starts with a percussive break and the same break pops up few times during the track. Next one is again a midtempo psychedelic funk track called “Emmioğlu”, starting with a break and having the heavy electric guitars there too. The first track on side b is “Çarşamba”, again a heavy midtempo funker. Next up is one of my favorites, “Zeytinyağlı”, an uptempo breakbeat funker with electric guitar melodies and short breaks every now and then. Then comes another midtempo one called “Silifke” with sound very similar to the rest of the album. Fourth track on side b is “Lorke”, another uptempo track with a slightly different and more straight forward beat than the others. Last one is the very hectic, almost batucada sounding “Ayaş”. And for the last words, the album cover.. what’s happening in there?
Last one on my “Japan week” is an album by Zunō Keisatsu (頭脳警察, in English Brain Police), a quite well known Japanese psychedelic rock band whose radical, politically provocative lyrics caused their music being banned from the radio and caused troubles on their gigs too. Zunō Keisatsu was formed in 1970 by the Japanese psych rockers Panta (Haruo Nakamura) and Toshiaki Ishizuka. The idea for their name came from (Frank Zappa’s) Mothers of Invention song “Who are the brain police” (from Freak Out! album released in 1966). Despite their relatively short career, they released six albums and several singles before being disbanded in 1975. Their fifth album was this one, 仮面劇のヒーローを告訴しろ (Kamen geki no hīrō o kokuso shiro), released in 1973.
Mostly the album is pretty strict midtempo psych rock like “ウイスキー・ハイウエイ (Uisukī haiuei)” (meaning whiskey highway), “恋のいらだち (Koi no idarachi)”, very heavy title track “仮面劇のヒーローを告訴しろ (Kamen geki no hīrō o kokuso shiro)”, “奴は帰らない (Yatsu wa kaeranai)” and “麗しのジェット・ダンサー (Uruwashi no jetto dansā )”. There’s also uptempo tracks like “イエス・マン (Iesu man), “プリマドンナ (Purimadonna)”, “間違いだらけの歌 (Machigaidarakeno uta)” and “まるでランボー (Marude ranbō)”. It’s hard to say what they’re singing about in the latter one, but at least I recognize they mention Voltaire, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Sebastian Bach, Marie Curie and Jeanne D’arc. Nice and catchy track I have to say. The standout track however - and propably the reason why non psych rock loving people want this album - is a midtempo funky rock song called “ハイエナ (Haiena)”. It starts with a nice break and has some rough but catchy lyrics. There also appears to be two acoustic guitar driven tracks included, “ホ短調の間奏曲 (Ho tanchō no kansō kyoku)” and “愛なき日々 (Ai naki hibi)”. I’m actually not a very big fan of psych rock, or rock in general, so basically this album was bought for the break only. It just appeared to be a pretty good album after several spins.
Japanese psychedelic rock band Creation was formed in late 1960s by guitarist-singer Kazuo Takeda. Back then they called themselves Blues Creation and played more blues oriented heavy psych rock. After four albums and constant changes in line-up they dropped blues off from their name in 1972. The first album, the self titled Creation, was released in 1975. Weirdly, it has a bunch of naked little boys on the cover, which is very disturbing. The same theme continued on their third album, Pure Electric Soul, but this time the naked boys were packed on front window of the bus. Between these two was released Felix Pappalardi and Creation, an album made with the former Mountain bassist and vocalist Felix Pappalardi. Creation was finally disbanded in the early 1980s.
This fourth studio album of Creation, called Super Rock in the Highest Voltage was released in 1978 and it’s sounds were somewhat softer than on the first ones. While the first three albums were more or less psychedelic rock, this album is pretty strict jazz-rock fusion. The album starts with a song called “Wild cat”, an uptempo fusion jam with a really hectic break in the beginning and some nice percussion work in the middle. Next one is called “Swamp boy”. It’s a downtempo, funky blues jam again with percussion and wailing guitars. After that is another uptempo track called “Fou-fou, gun-gun”. It’s much lighter than the first one, but still quite ok. First one on the flipside is “No problem”, a percussive midtempo latin flavored jazz jam. Next one, “Spinning toe hold part 2″ is yet another uptempo bboy friendly breakbeat track. And a quite strong one. It was originally released on the b-side of “Spinning toe hold” single (taken from Pure Electric Soul), and it was the theme song for the American wrestling superstar duo The Funks (consisting of brothers Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr.). I can only imagine the atmosphere when The Funks entered the ring and this was playing aloud. The last one on the album is a slow blues track called “Blues from Tokyo”. I must admit that Super Rock in the Highest Voltage is actually a pretty good one for a late 1970s album.
A well known Japanese pop rock group Godiego was formed in 1976. The original line up consisted of the band leader and keyboardist Mickey Yoshino, second keyboardist Yukihide Takekawa, guitarist Takashi Asano, bassist Steve Fox and drummer Tommy Snyder (who replaced the original drummers Hiroomi Harada and Ryoji Asano pretty early). They all handled the vocals too. Godiego did several soundtracks for example to the Galaxy Express 999 and Journey to the West II series. Their key to success was however the theme song for Monkey Magic in 1978, that also gained them name in abroad too. In 1977 they released a soundtrack for the pretty unknown movie called House.
Despite the weird “funny-tracks” and some mellow cheesy numbers, this one is still worth to get. There’s is actually quite a miscellaneous mixture of songs in this soundtrack. There’s one very deep blues track called “Hungry house blues”, an instrumental r’n'b/boogie track with some motorcycle effects called “Buggy boogie”, an uptempo jazz-rock fusion track called “Eat”, a haunting uptempo funky fusion track “Oriental melon man” and then there’s the best track of the album called “Eat eat”. It’s a midtempo funk jam. That’s about all I can say about it, listening tells you more than my hundred words. In my opinion House is worth to get if seen cheap enough.
Yuji Ohno (大野 雄二) was born 1941 in Atami, Shizuoka. Soon after his first public appearances he became very well known in his homeland Japan as a great jazz pianist and composer. In the mid 1970s he formed his own jazz band, called You & The Explosion Band (ユ－&エクスプロ－ジョン・バンド) - where You Refers to Ohno himself. Even though he has released a lot of records during his career, he is primarly known for his scores for the anime series Lupin III. Before Ohno started scoring the Shin Rupan Sansei (New Lupin III) series in 1977, there was only some occasional 45s released of the series within its original run in the late 1960s early 1970s. But with Ohno handling things, there suddenly started to appear a relatively great number of soundtrack albums during the years. Of course these were not all for the tv anime series that run from 1977 to 1980 and from 1984 to 1985, but there was a great number of other stuff aswell. Including direct-to-video releases, yearly television specials and full length anime films. And they were really popular. Even the legendary Studio Ghibli did their share with the feature film called Castle of Cagliostro (Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro) in 1979 (as directed by Hayao Miyazaki). Hayao Miazaki and Isao Takahata also directed a great deal of the original 1971-1972 series by the way, but that was a time before Studio Ghibli was even established. But anyways, when the second Lupin III series began running on NTV in 1977, the boom of soundtracks also begun. Totally 48 soundtrack albums were released and most of them were composed by by Yuji Ohno. Takeo Yamashita made his little share on those too, but it was really minimal compared to Ohno. Later on Ohno have even released 15 collections of jazz arrangements of the Lupin III series with his Yuji Ohno Trio, The Lupintic Five and The Lupintic Sixteen.
This soundtrack here, simply named Lupin III, is supposingly the first one of the new series. It was released in 1978. The album starts with “Theme from Lupin III”, the original take of the new series theme. It’s an uptempo disco’ish soundtrack with some jazzy feel and there’s some dialogue in the middle as well. Next two, “Silhouette” and “I miss you babe (yes I do)”, are a little cheesy ballads. The latter one has vocals sung by Sandra Hohn. Next one is “Red roses for the killer”, a midtempo jazzy track. Then there’s “Dangerous zone”, which is an uptempo chase theme with nice breakbeats, some percussion and strong horns but on the other hand, there’s some occasional cheesy synth strings too. Next one, “Sunset flight” is a mellow groover with a hint of latin in it. It’s followed by the well known downtempo groover “Magnum dance” and a little similar “Lonely for the Road”. Last two tracks are the love songs of the album, “Lovin’ you (Lucky)” and “Love theme”. First one sung by Tommy Snyder (of the Godiego fame). Overall this is a pretty decent album and a good start for the great series.
Theme from Lupin III
Red roses for the killer
Another well known detective drama soundtrack composer is 1941 born Takayuki Inoue (井上堯之). He started his career in rock bands The Spiders and PYG before forming his own combo, the Takayuki Inoue Band (井上 堯之バンド), a band that would propably follow him for the rest of his life. Among some various soundtracks and regular albums, Takayuki Inoue Band got a job in 1972 of the theme song for the new Toho produced detective drama series called Taiyō ni Hoero! (literally Bark at the Sun). The series immediately become really popular. It ran 15 years from 1972 to 1986 and it’s one of the longest running detective series in Japan within its 718 episodes. It even spawned a sequel simply called Taiyō ni Hoero! Part 2 that ran from 1986 to 1987. But that’s enough for the series, let’s get back to the music. As said Takayuki Inoue got the job for the title theme and that along the series became extremely popular. As was the case with most of the other detective series, there was quite a big amount of different soundtrack albums released. And almost all of them were by Takayuki Inoue Band. Some of those were specially themed releases from different years and some were so called BGM Best -albums, that contained tracks from several episodes. One of these themed albums was called Sunrise. It was released in 1977 and it’s one of the best of the series.
There’s a lot of funky tracks on this album. Of course they are funky in a Japanese detective series way, so they do have that certain feel, but that’s only a positive thing. The a-side of the album is basically one suite, but still separated to different tracks. It’s better this way, since it’s always a pain in the ass trying to find the start of that one good song in the middle of a 24 minute track. And here the fourth part of “組曲 「太陽にほえろ！」” (Suite ‘Taiyō ni hoero!’ ) called “逃走と追跡” (Tōsō to tsuiseki) is the killer. It’s a three and half minute drum break with some horn stabs time to time. And it’s the getaway track of the album. There’s of course some other goodies her too among the basic dramatic mellow stuff. “スコッチ刑事のテーマ” (Sukotchi keiji no tēma) is a distant variation of the Taiyō ni hoero! main theme with all the basic elements. The third good one is “華麗なる情熱” (Kareinaru jōnetsu). Both are midtempo detective theme type of tracks and the latter being the better one. As a whole this is indeed one of the best albums of the series, but of course some of the other ones have good moments too. We’ll have to get back to them on some point later…
The other detective series Tatsuya Takahashi & Tokyo Union made music for, was Daitokai (literally Big City), that run three seasons from 1976 to 1979. Although TT&TU were’nt the only ones who did soundtracks for the series, they were responsible for Part III (season III) music. The first and the second season were mainly handled by the bands called Game and Microcosmos II, but that’s another story and we’ll come to them later.
Let’s talk about this one first. The opening track “大都会 Part III テーマ” (Daitokai part III tēma) starts the album quite frantically with it’s uptempo jazzy disco beats and hectic feeling. Maybe not the best theme around but acceptable. Second track “Dream of dream” is also an uptempo groover with also quite jazzy but discoish beats and some percussion works overdubbed with a slightly cheesy saxophones and occasional guitarwork. Next up is the very mellow but still groovy “And so in love” that would easily fit into the Love Boat soundtrack. After that comes another uptempo track “One floor house”. The first track on side b is “The Indian medicinman & g’uru”, despite the slow mellow start, it’s turns into a nice midtempo jazz track. Next one is “Midnight Tokyo special”, again very nice uptempo jazzy groover with its occasional disco moments. The last one on the album is a mellow love song called “Moon flower”. All the tracks are instrumentals. Although it’s nothing like the blaxploitation ones from the US, it’s still a pretty good one. It’s more like a typical Japanese detective soundtrack from that late 1970s - early 1980s era.
Daitokai part III tēma
The previous post was about some Filipinos hanging out in West Germany and doing music there. Now it’s time to introduce a bunch of Filipinos hanging out in Philippines and doing music there. Although I have almost nothing to say about these bands, this is still one magnificent compilation. And it’s most likely published in 1978. It seems that there has been a quite strong influence from American soul and funk music when it comes to the Pinoy stuff. I think the US troops based there during the Vietnam war were one strong influence in their special genre called Manila sound. Even the names of the bands reflect that. There’s Soul Jugglers, Frictions, Our Daily Bread, Poor Immigrants, Hangmen, Brown Sugar, etc. The music itself is very much western style, half of the songs are some sort of funky disco or disco’ish soul. And the rest are ballads and pop rock.
There are several tracks to mention, so this is definitely not a one track album. Funky midtempo pop tune “Sabi-sabi, haka-haka” by Brown Sugar is one. Midtempo disco funk track “Hanggang magdamag” by Soul Jugglers is another. It’s a very nice groover in a strong BT Express or Kool & The Gang way. Downtempo funk track “Happening sa gapô” by We Inc is also a really nice one. Last ones to mention are strong disco funk track “Let’s boogie now” by The Hangmen and the funky pop rock track “Perwisyo sa lipunan” by Frictions. Latter has a break in the beginning, some electric guitar work and even a short harmonica solo in the middle. All the mentioned are vocal numbers and needless to say they’re all sung in Filipino.
Türkü, literally “of the Turk”, is a name given to Turkish folk songs as opposed to şarkı. In contemporary usage, the meanings of the words türkü and şarkı have shifted: Türkü refers to folk songs originated from music traditions within Turkey whereas şarkı refers to all other songs, including foreign music.
1941 born Erkin Koray is a very well-known figure in the Turkish music. Actually there’s no one like him in the history of Turkey’s rock scene and he is widely recognised as the first musician ever to play a rock n’ roll concert in Turkey. That happened in 1957 by the way, when his high school band played covers of Elvis Presley and Fats Domino. He was also one of Turkey’s very first electric guitarists, recording what is generally recognised as being the first rock’n’roll record ever released in Turkey. And, he is also acknowledged to be one of the inventors of the so called anatolian rock, a genre mixing traditional Turkish sounds with western rock and funk music. Therefore he has well earned his nickname Baba Erkin - that means of course Father Erkin - as the godfather of Turkish rock.
Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s he released a whole bunch of 7″ singles, but his first long play was released as late as 1973. And it wasn’t even a pure LP on it’s true meaning, but kind of a compilation of his single recordings from 1967 to 1973. In 1974 Koray changed label from Istanbul Records to Doğan Records and then he was finally able to present his true self in music. In a form that was contemporary, under his control and unrestricted by the short durations of singles. And what he brought up is widely considered to be his best album - the second LP called Elektronik türküler (Electric folk songs). On the album, there’s three original compositions of Koray, and as the title recounts, the remaining five tracks are contemporary versions of Anatolian folk songs from the past. And on this album Koray have his tight combo on fire. Along Baba Erkin himself on guitars, bağlama, piano and organ, there’s Ahmet Güvenç on bass and Sedat Avcı on drums and percussion. The additional session musicians Faruk Tekbilek on bağlama and kalem and Eyüp Duran on bongos rounded out the trio.
The album starts with a traditional Anatolian ballad “Karli daglar” (Snowy mountains), a midtempo groover with catchy vocals, nice funky rhythms and the hypnotic bağlama work of Faruk Teklebik. Next up is an instrumental written by Koray, called “Sir”. It starts with a telephone ringing before turning into a belly dance’ish track. In the middle Koray let’s loose his psychedelic guitar on a solo and then the track comes back in. Then comes an acoustic rework of a 17th century folk song called “Hele ya” (Especially), a six and half minute track with a strong Anatolian feel. A really short (one and half minutes) instrumental track “Korkulu rüya” (Nightmare) is a really haunting drumless track with mean organs and weird panting in the end. Last on on side A is “Yalnızlar rıhtımı” (Waterfront of the lonely ones), a very western sounding groover with a really tight rhythm, some nice guitar work in the middle, very hypnotic vocals and Koray’s guitar solo in the end.
The first one on side B is an acoustic guitar driven ballad, “Cemalim” (My Cemal), written by the early 20th century folk composer Urguplu Refik Basaran. It’s a nice little groover based on Koray’s acoustic guitar work, with some fuzz guitar overdubbed in places and Ayzer Danga on drums. There’s a psychedelic guitar solo in the middle too. In their live performances they didn’t act as wild as you can imagine. They seem rather being quite stoned as it’s shown in their live video on “Cemalim”…
Next one is a strong fuzz guitar driven proto-metal instrumental “Inat” (obstinacy) that starts really promising but never seem to really start before it fades away after two minutes. The last one - and my personal favorite on this album - is the nine minute psychedelic monster simply called “Türkü” featuring the lyrics based on the poems of the well known early 20th century poet Nâzım Hikmet. With the main theme played with bağlama by Erkin Koray, the snake charming licks of Ahmet Tekbilek’s kalem (a double reed Turkish wind instrument) and the stoned sounding drumming of Sedat Avcı makes it one helluva song. Great album indeed as a whole.