Japanese Versions Of The Star Wars Theme

May 13th, 2016

The best thing about living in Japan is finding 1970s covers albums of sci-fi films.

Okay, maybe it’s not the best thing, but it’s definitely in the top 10.

Toru Hatano
Star Wars Theme
Toru Hatano (aka Toya Hatano) is somewhat of a minor player in the progressive/jazz/electronic scenes of 1970s Japan. In the early 70s he was a member of the psych-rock band Brush!?, who only released one record as far as I can find. In 1977 he released his solo debut, a soundtrack called Love For You followed a year later by a collection of movie themes performed on synthesizer entitled Space Adventure. Since then, he’s worked behind-the-scenes and runs a company that sells insanely high-end audio cables.

As synth cover collections go, Space Adventure is an odd one, and features not only 70s soundtrack standards like Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but also selections from lesser known genre material at the time including Logan’s Run, Capricorn One, Solaris, and even Flesh Gordon (not Flash, Flesh).

It’s not bad, although as someone who has listened to probably over a dozen synth cover albums in his day, there’s not much to make it stand out aside from its slightly oddball song selection. The cover is pretty rad though.

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Damn, it looks like they’re constructing the ELO spaceship.

Jun Fukamachi
Theme From Star Wars
One thing that I was surprised to learn about the 1970s music scene in Japan is how intermixed the jazz, funk and electronic music scenes were. Look into the discography of nearly any major guitarist or keyboardist from the era, and you’ll find that he or she probably got their feet wet in all three genres, if not more. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s first release as a collaborative free association jazz album, and both of YMO’s most prominent guitarists, Kenji Omura and Kazumi Watanabe, were accomplished jazz musicians before, during and after their work with the legendary synthpop group.

The same goes for Jun Fukamachi, digging through his back catalog I’ve found everything from J-pop, funk, folk, jazz, experimental avant-garde, synth-pop and pure electronic music. He even worked on a few of those “Digital Trip” anime soundtracks that I wrote about a couple weeks ago. His main focuses seemed to be jazz and funk though, using synthesizers in way that could be compared to the 70s output of Stevie Wonder, much more organically and with other instruments than his purely electronic counterparts.

And if you know anything about live jazz, with its heavy use of improvisation and free-association jamming, is why this live take on the Star Wars theme lasts over seven minutes. It goes places, man.

I’m crediting this to Jun Fukamachi because it’s listed under his discography at Discogs and I found it in among his solo records at the record store, but it’s really a collaborative effort. I think the band itself is called Space Fantasy. In addition to Jun, the group is also made up of Hideki Matsutake (aka Logic System) and the previously mentioned Kenji Omura. Joining them are Hiroki Inui, Shuichi Murakami and Shigeru Okazawa, all of whom have worked on countless albums in Japan as session players. So if you know anything about the jazz scene of Japan in the 70s and 80s, then this is kind of an all-star supergroup jam session.

To be honest, the album as a whole diverges into free-improvisation a bit too much for my liking, but their take on the Star Wars theme the only improvisational jazz/funk version of it I’ve ever heard, so they get points for originality if nothing else.

Adventures From The YMO Family

May 1st, 2016

I’m tired, I’m working six days in a row this week and I have to be up to go to work in about seven hours. So of course I decided to randomly write 800 plus words on releases by various Yellow Magic Orchestra associates.

Kenji Omura
Seiko Is Always On Time
The Defector
Maps
Kenji Omura was a longstanding associate of YMO, whose work with members from the group actually pre-dates the band itself; he’s credited as a performer on Yukihiro Takahashi’s solo debut Saravah!, which came out in 1978. Throughout the 70s and 80s he continually popped up on various YMO associate releases, including albums by Akiko Yano, Susan, Logic System (more on him in a second) and Sandii. During YMO’s biggest years he also served as the band’s touring guitarist, performing on their seminal Live At Budokan release.

He was primarily a jazz guitarist (a lot of YMO people have jazz backgrounds) and it shows a lot in his solo work, more than his work as a contributing artist. His 1983 album Gaijin Heaven even goes as far as to have a Steely Dan cover on it, showing that while he was working in the synth-pop field, he was just as interested in rock and jazz fusion as anything else. But, me being me and my interests lying where they are, I’m going to focus on his more synth-pop focused work, specifically these three tracks from his fantastic 1981 album, Spring Is Nearly Here.

While that album is listed as Kenji Omura record, it’s more or less an unofficial YMO release. Not only does it feature all three members of YMO performing their respective instruments, they also contribute as songwriters alongside Chris Mosdell, who served as the group’s English language songwriter for some of their biggest hits, including “Behind The Mask.” The album also features contributions from YMO accomplishes Akiko Yano, Hideki Matsutake and Kazuhiko Kato.

The whole album doesn’t sound like a YMO record (that jazz influence is pretty strong throughout) but the tracks that do sound like YMO really sound like YMO. “The Defector” could have easily been on Naughty Boys, its a pop masterpiece, the kind of track that sounds like it was purposely constructed to be a Top 40 hit and is all the better for it. Unsurprisingly, it was written by Takahashi and his English songwriter, Peter Barakan, two fantastic pop craftsmen.

“Seiko Is Always On Time” is a purely electronic jam, co-written by Sakamoto and obviously channeling “The End Of Asia” with its Eastern influences morphed together with a synthesizer-heavy sound. It’s semi-ambient totally beautiful.

But YMO fans should really take note of “Maps.” If that track sounds familiar, that’s because it’s actually a YMO tune, appearing on both the Budokan and World Tour albums. Those records were recorded in 1980, a full year before this record was released, but close enough for it to be difficult to say if the song was as YMO song first that was later handed off to Omura, or if it was intended for Omura all along. Either way, it’s a great track, and stands up equally with any other classic tune by the group.

Hideki Matsutake & K.I. Capsule
The James Bond Theme
Goldfinger
Hideki Matsutake served as YMO’s programmer, and also worked with electronic music pioneer Isao Tomita in the mid-70s. In the early-80s he went solo under the moniker Logic System, releasing a pair of beautiful albums in the early 80s as well as several…less good albums throughout the remainder of the century (one has a rap track, it’s bad).

For me though, his crowning achievement away from YMO is Digital Moon, a 1979 album composed entirely of James Bond theme covers. I’m not going to say that it’s the greatest album of all time, but it might be the greatest album of all time. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Goldfinger” sung through a vocoder. The only way it could’ve been better is if they had gotten Shirley Bassey herself to do it. This is dope shit. If you like dope shit you’ll like this.

Jun Togawa
Suki Suki Daisuki
Late Blooming Girls
An artist so unique that she’s nearly impossible to describe. I think the best I could come up with was “a cross between Madonna, Patti Smith and Klaus Nomi,” thanks to her pop presence combined with her predisposition for violent screaming fits and the occasional foray into operatic bellowing.

Between her solo discography, collaborative efforts and side-projects, she’s released countless records, which makes diving into her discography rather daunting, not to mention incredibly expensive. Any greatest hits compilation is a good jumping off point though, as it will probably feature one of, if not both of these, tremendous songs.

Both of these songs are highlights even if you can’t understand the vocals, thanks to Jun’s amazing vocal range. But if you do know what she’s singing about, they’re even stronger. Thankfully, for “Suki Suki Daisuki” you can find the translated lyrics on this fan-subbed video. As for “Late Blooming Girls,” I don’t have an exact translation with me, but the song is about a woman who’s scared to lose her virginity because she heard it might hurt, only to find the experience quite pleasurable once it happens. You can probably point out the point in the song where that unfolds solely based on how she changes her singing voice.

Jun Togawa is still recording today, and recently released a collaborative noise rock album that includes a new version of “Suki Suki Daisuki.” It’s something else.

Purple Pain

April 23rd, 2016

Fuck this year.

As I’ve commented on this site many a time, I’m a pretty lousy Prince fan. I only have Purple Rain, the three-disc edition of Hits, and a few of his newer albums. I don’t own 1999, Sign ‘O’ The Times, Lovesexy, Parade, Come and so on. I’ve often mentioned my desire to fill this rather egregious gap in my record collection, and I think now I might finally get around to it.

That being said, I own a shitload of Prince singles, both on CD and vinyl, and many of them are among my most prized musical possessions. Sometimes I just need nearly half an hour of “My Name Is Prince” remixes, and thankfully I can indulge in such ridiculousness.

I just wish more people could.

When Bowie passed away, I shared a few of his rare tunes here, and I was happy that doing so such was a chore. The overwhelming majority of Bowie’s discography is not only in-print, but incredibly easy to get in pretty much every format available. Most of his single-only tracks have been collected in one form or another, and his rarer B-sides and remixes have made their way to digital storefronts or in box sets. You want to hear the Mandarin version of “Seven Years In Tibet?” Yo, you’re covered.

But if you want to hear the 12″ remix of “My Name Is Prince,” you’re out of luck. Ditto if you want to hear the beautiful 10 minute versions of “Mountains” or “I Would Die 4 U,” countless remixes of “Gett Off” or filthy rarities like “Lubricated Lady.”

It’s hard to say what will happen with Prince’s back catalog now that he’s passed away, we’ll have to wait and see. But I hope in the years to come that Prince’s vast army of released material will get a proper remastering and re-release campaign, all of his music, even the eight minute Purple Pump remix of “Gett Off,” for example, deserves to be heard.

Let’s hope they crack open that legendary vault too.

And someone put that album by The Family back in print for fuck’s sake.

Prince
Erotic City (Full Length Version)
Let’s Go Crazy (Extended Remix)
In the massive pantheon of out-of-print Prince classics, these to spectacular remixes are probably some of the best. I can’t believe you can’t buy them today.

I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised by that fact though, as they seemed to have barely been in print in the first place. Both the extended remix of “Let’s Go Crazy” and the full uncut version of “Erotic City” first appeared on a 12″ single in 1984 at the height of Purple Rain mania. In the years that followed, that single was only reprinted on CD once, in 1990, but that hard-to-find European release excised the uncut version of “Erotic City” and instead only included the album version of “Take Me With You” as a B-side.

“Erotic City” has made its way to a few other releases over the years, but always in some sort of abbreviated form. The full version that first appeared on that 1984 12″ single is over seven minutes in length. The version that is included on the Hits compilation is only a little over half that, clocking in at an all-too-brief four minutes. That’s three minutes of funk stripped away from people who need to hear it.

It’s a damn shame because, and yes I know that my Prince knowledge is criminally lacking, I think that the full uncut version “Erotic City’ is one of Prince’s best tunes. A sparse, ferociously sexy electronic funk jam that sounds just as sexy now as it did over 30 damn years ago.

Like I said, I have a ton of Prince singles, and I may share more in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t in the best shape, so I need to do some sorting first. Until then, enjoy this small offering and remember Prince in all his purple majesty.

And then buy HitnRun Phase One and Two, and Plectrumelectrum. Critics destroyed that album when it came out, but they were crazy. Even after I absorb the rest of Prince’s discography I imagine that one would still make my top 10 list. It’s raw as fuck and completely in your face. It has a song that compares a threesome to a pretzel. And it works.

Because Prince could even make pretzels sexy.

Note: The “Let’s Go Crazy” mix was removed as you can buy that on the Prince compilation Ultimate.

My Spirit Animal is Synth Bass

April 19th, 2016

How is everyone? I’m okay. Had a pretty busy work week, found some good records from some out-of-the way record stores that I can’t wait to write about (both the stores and the records), got a good workout in yesterday.

Oh, and I totally shook Ryuichi Sakamoto’s hand last weekend.

Y’know. The usual stuff.

Osamu Shoji
Airport In South Islands
THIS IS MY NEW JAM.

Okay, you probably don’t know who Osamu Shoji is, and I understand that. I put up an album of his a few months back, an all-synthesizer covers album of music from Lupin the 3rd. You probably didn’t download that one (and I understand that too), but I behest you, please download this song. This is the funkiest, craziest and silliest Japanese synth-funk jam you’re going to hear this year. And while I’m sure you’re saying to yourself “I doubt I’m going to hear many Japanese synth-funk jams this year” well, you don’t know what other crap I have planned for this blog in the coming months.

Cosmo Wave and the Space Cadets
Star Trekking
Hall Of The Mountain King
Everyone knows about Meco’s amazing discofied rendition of the Star Wars theme, but a hell of a lot less people know about this disco cover of the Star Trek theme.

That’s probably because it’s not nearly as good, but hey, space disco! And a disco version of “Hall Of The Mountain King,” because why the fuck not. I have metal, prog and techno covers, what’s another genre?

In case you’re wondering, I have zero idea as to who the fuck Cosmo Wave and the Space Cadets are. The single I got only credits the original songwriters and not the new arrangers. The credited producer is one Elaine Lane, and that sounds like a fake name if I ever heard one. So if anyone out there has any information as to who this actually is, let me know!

Madonna
Love Profusion (Passengerz Club Mix)
Nobody Knows Me (Above & Beyond 12″ Mix)
Between obscure Japanese synth-funk and unknown disco covers of TV theme songs I thought I should throw in something tonight by someone people have actually heard of. My Madonna backlog is getting intimidating, I really have to get around to posting them.

In case you’re wondering why I haven’t, it’s because most are remixes to “Love Profusion.” I mean, I like that song, but I don’t think the world needed eight remixes of it damn.

Remixes from Needless Purchases

April 15th, 2016

Thanks for all the kind messages celebrating my 10th anniversary, means a lot to me.

Now, onto new and (hopefully) bigger things. It’s been a busy year for me so far. I got a big update to my guide to Tokyo record stores in the works, and I should have another piece of YMO up sometime relatively soon, hopefully by the end of the month. In the meantime, I recently wrote a piece over on my other blog about the insanity of Robot Restaurant which I hope you’ll find fun and entertaining. I also wrote a piece on the current state of gaming, which I hope you’ll find soul-crushingly depressing.

Sorry. Here’s some pop music to cheer you up.

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Haruomi Hosono Special Message
Rydeen (Live 2-6-80 Yoru No Hit Studio)
I have what I would consider to be a rather expansive YMO collection. I have every proper album on CD, as well as more than a fair share of compilations, remix albums, singles and other miscellany. I also own several of their albums on vinyl, some multiple times over. For example, in America I have the regular black LP edition of Service, but here in Japan I have a copy on translucent yellow vinyl. I also have every re-issue that Music On Vinyl have put out to date.

However, that didn’t stop me from buying this.

20160415_225125

That massive box is the YMO LP Box set, a huge 13 LP box set that includes every YMO album proper that was released on vinyl, including both the Japanese and American versions of their self-titled debut and ×∞Multiplies.

I got it for a pretty good deal, less than $100, which is how I justified buying it despite owning nearly everything on it on CD and LP already. It was nice to buy and fill in the remaining holes in my YMO vinyl collection.

To my surprise, when I got home I discovered that it had a bonus record, a bonus record that is literally titled “Bonus.” See?

20160415_225148

Bonus.

What’s the bonus? Well, sadly it’s not much. Most of the record is an interview with Haroumi Hosono. I’d love to offer you a complete transcript of what he’s saying, but my Japanese is garbage, and my boyfriend has better things to do than feed my unhealthy obsession with YMO and translate it for me.

The real treat, however, is this exclusive version of “Rydeen.” From what I read online, it’s apparently a live version that was performed on a Japanese TV show, although to me it sounds more like a remix. Regardless, it’s a pretty radical version, deviating from the original in some subtle, but great ways, such as a slightly more analog-sounding synth and a more pronounced sequencer rhythm. The guitar work is a bit more noticeable too. All in all, it’s a stellar version, and while I wouldn’t go as far to say it was worth the money I paid for the box set, it sure as hell was a pretty nice bonus, so I guess that 13th LP was named properly.

Filter & The Crystal Method
(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do (Danny Saber Remix)
(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do [Instrumental]
This is the second-best Filter song. The first is obviously “Hey Man Nice Shot.”

There is no third-best Filter song as Filter is not a very good band.

I got this off of a strange EP called Spawn The Album 2nd. Obviously a sequel to the fantastic Spawn soundtrack, it also included a remix of Marilyn Manson’s “Long Hard Road Out Of Hell” and a track by Apollo 440 and Morphine that was probably cut off of the original soundtrack because it’s not very good. I’ll probably share these soon though, so all your Apollo 400 and Morphine completists (I assume those groups don’t overlap all that much) take note!

10 Years Of Being Lost: Ill Trax

April 5th, 2016

This past month or so I’ve written about songs that meant a lot to me personally, songs whose stories I found interesting, and songs I feel that have been unjustly lost to time, just to name a few.

But tonight, I’m going to close out this 10th anniversary celebration by sharing and writing about some of the illest tracks I’ve ever shared on Lost Turntable (that are still out-of-print).

I want everyone reading this to know that I appreciate all of you. I don’t have a ton of readers, but I’m always happy when I get a nice comment about something I’ve shared, or when someone tells me they’ve found my writing entertaining, illuminating or funny. These days I keep this blog going mostly to keep me sane when I’m feeling a bit down, and knowing that even a few people out there still enjoy it really means a lot to me. Thanks, and mark my words, I’ll keep this thing going for as long as I can listen to music and type.

Edgar Winter
Frankenstein 1984 (Monster Version)
Frankenstein 1984 (Human Version)
Frankenstein 1984 (Monster Rap)
AN ELECTRO VERSION OF FRANKENSTEIN. This shouldn’t exist. No wait, scratch that, I meant the opposite. Out of everything that has ever existed on Earth, in the solar system and throughout our vast cosmos, this needs to exist the most.

I don’t know what that means either, but I’m right.

Edgar Winter should’ve remade “Frankenstein” every 10 years. In my ideal world there’s a version of “Frankenstein 1994” that features hella hard acid house samples. And “Frankenstein 2004” would include one of the best examples of auto-tune in the history of pop music. “Frankenstein 2014” would be dubstep, obviously.

Someone get on this already.

The B-52s
Good Stuff (12″ Remix)
Good Stuff (Remix Edit)
I’ve honestly tried not to do too much overlap with these “best of” anniversary posts and the best of posts I did a few years back when I moved to Japan. But if I’m going to put up a post dedicated to the grooviest, illest and raddest shit ever put on Lost Turntable, then I’d be a fucking monster if I didn’t share these mixes again. Best. Remix. Ever. There, I said it. I wanna go where the good stuff flows, and I don’t care how gross and/or how much of a drug reference that sounds. Fred, please take my hand and lead me to the love honey. Down right.

I wanna wear go-go boots and dance to this until my heels bleed.

Eddy Grant
Electric Avenue (12″ version)
In Pittsburgh there is an actual Electric Avenue and if I ever steal anything in my life it will be that street sign I swear to God.

Foxy Shazam
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
In the distant future, when a new civilization digs through the disastrous ruins of our failed society, eventually they’ll find a Foxy Shazam record and play it. And the sheer power of that recording might destroy their civilization and start the cycle anew once more.

Foxy Shazam is the greatest band of all time. Yes, I know they’re on indefinite hiatus, but as I said in a write-up I did about them some time ago, I refuse to talk about them in the past tense. Foxy Shazam are now and forever, they have always been and always will be. Their power unequaled in all of popular music. In the list of travesties of the 21st century, Foxy Shazam failing to capture a hit single is right up there with Donald Trump’s presidential run, climate change denialism, and the Patriots’ win over the Raiders in the 2002 AFC Championship game.

Buy a Foxy Shazam album today, do God’s work. And then listen to this dope B-side.

Syntech
Byt&e
Reaction
This stuff is timeless. If you told me it was a light-years ahead of its time late-70s/early-80s electro track I’d be likely to believe you. If you said it came back last week and it was a retro throwback to 80s synthpop and dance ala Kavinsky I’d probably buy that too. It’s acid house meets electro meets ambient meets oh my god.

As it is, these two tracks actually came out in the late-80s, by a dude whose real name is Edwin Van Der Laag. Unfortunately the album in which is came from is woefully out of print and goes for a mint online. You can buy some of his newer stuff on iTunes and Amazon though, so maybe check it out.

Stefano Pulga
Love Taker
Italo Disco is the best disco.

Thanks again for sticking around for 10 years!

10 Years Of Being Lost: Berlin’s Information

March 21st, 2016

berlin

Berlin – Information

“Hey cool, Berlin. I like Berlin and this is cheap I’ll buy this” I thought, as I stumbled upon this LP in a record store nearly a decade ago.

Berlin remains one of my favorite new wave acts, and I’ve always thought they’ve fallen through the cracks of history for no good reason. They’re usually dismissed as a one-hit wonder, but that’s not the case at all. Sure, “Take My Breathe Away” was a mega-hit that made any other success they had seem minute in comparison, but before that Moroder-penned tune launched them to super-stardom, the group scored a few minor hits with awesome tracks like “No More Words,” “Dancing In Berlin,” and the incredible “Metro.”

All those songs are from the group’s 1982 major-label debut Pleasure Victim. And if you check them out on iTunes, any record store, or even on Berlin’s own webpage, that’s usually regarded as their full-length debut. But that was not the case, as I discovered when I bought this record. Turns out that Information was Berlin’s first album, recorded and released in 1980.

Although to be fair, it’s barely a Berlin album. Most notably, Terri Nunn is nowhere to be found here, having left the group for a short time to pursue an acting career. Replacing her is one Virginia Macolino, whose vocal stylings are notably different than Nunn’s. While Nunn dipped her toes in a more detached and robotic vocals to match her band’s all-electronic sound, she was never afraid to let herself go and really belt it out when needed. Macolino, on the other hand, is full new wave, almost punk rock, in her approach. Her style reminds me heavily of Patty Donahue from The Waitresses, detached with an aura of irony throughout.

Macolino isn’t the only change. This early incarnation of the group also features a different bass player by the name of Jo Julian, who also served as the album’s primary songwriter, alongside guitarist Chris Velasco (who did stick around for the band’s more well-known records) and original vocalist Toni Childs (!!!) who is credited as a songwriter for four of the album’s tracks. Keyboardist John Crawford, who served as the primary creative force for the band’s biggest years, only contributes to a handful of tracks here.

The result is a drastically different sounding record when compared to what would come just two years later. While Pleasure Victim is clearly influenced by the poppier side of synthpop that was just beginning to make itself known thanks to acts like The Human League and Flock of Seagulls, the Berlin of Information is far more robotic and futuristic. Again, comparisons to The Waitresses could be made here, as well as Gary Numan and pre-Dare Human League. Pleasure Victim was all about sex and romance, Information is far more of a socially conscious record, touching on themes like nuclear war and the drollness of middle class life, while bouncing back and forth sci-fi themes like robots and mind control as well. The only song on Information that sounds like the Berlin we would come to know is “A Matter Of Time,” which actually was a pre-Macolino track that was originally recorded with Nunn, with that version appearing on their greatest hits album.

Aside from that one track, everything on Information remains woefully out-of-print and hard to track down. It was only released in 1980, and from what I can tell it only got a single pressing. Turns out that I was lucky to score my copy for less than five bucks, good copies online usually go for between $20 and $40. Not a buried treasure by any stretch of the means, but a bit on the pricey side.

Equally hard to come by is information by the band members who left after Information. According to Discogs Jo Julian went on to work with some metal acts, including Alkatrazz and Samson, but that’s a pretty big geographic/style switch, so I suspect that might be another Jo Julian.

As for Virginia Macolino, for someone who never broke through to the mainstream she certainly got around. Before Berlin she fronted the punk act Virginia And The Slims, of which you can find an incredibly in-depth write-up on by a former band member here. After Information she returned to her punk roots with the hardcore act Beast Of Beast. They never made it anywhere either, but they did manage to record one album, 1983’s Sex, Drugs and Noise. It pretty rare now and goes for a mint online and one listen will tell you why – it’s a pretty damn great hardcore punk album, totally revolutionary and ahead of its time. More people need to hear that one.

After that, I can’t find much else. Apparently she dated Joey Ramone for a while in the 90s, so even though she wasn’t recording music professionally she was probably still involved in the scene at that point. Sounds like she’s had one hell of a life.

Information isn’t Berlin’s best, I still think that would go to Pleasure Victim, but it’s a great time capsule showcasing the pre-MTV era of synthpop, a darker, more eccentric sound that was still a couple years away from the shine and polish that acts like Duran Duran would give it. Of all the out of print albums I’ve found by accident while writing this blog, it’s one I treasure the most.

10 Years Of Being Lost: Fish Story Will (Still) Save The World

March 18th, 2016

A lot of these posts to celebrate my 10th anniversary cover genres, themes and other overarching threads that have been present on my blog for the past 10 years. But tonight’s post is just one song, one that’s really important to me.

Gekirin
Fish Story
Fish Story (Silence 1975 Version)
No movie has ever moved me as much as Fish Story. I think I’ve seen it over 10 times now, and each time a scene near the beginning of the film nearly brings me to tears.

The world is doomed. A comet is due to smash into Earth in mere hours, destroying all life on the planet. Tokyo is deserted save for three souls inside a record store. One man is a fatalist who is eagerly awaiting the planet’s demise. Another is a customer still in denial. But the clerk is still convinced that earth will be spared because, “Music will save the world.”

I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

It’s hard to stay optimistic these days, isn’t it? Seems like in the 10 years since I started this blog the world’s been nothing but bad news peppered with false hopes and dashed expectations. We stand on the verge of America’s most terrifying general election to date, and the world is still on the cusp of utter destruction, as serial killers disguised as CEOs pump millions of dollars into misinformation campaigns to delay action on climate change.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep your head in the light. Things get dark. Things got so dark for me a couple years back that my anxiety went into overdrive and fear of the unknown nearly crippled me into a soul-crushing depression on the eve of my move to Japan. I managed to get myself out of that funk (thanks to Yes) but I still sometimes come dangerously close to sliding back into it. I read the news, I think about the future, and I just want to crawl into a hole and bury myself inside.

But then I remember, music will save the world.

How?

Yeah, so that’s the thing. I don’t know. But I believe it with every fiber of my being. Music has the power not to just change the world, but to literally save the fucking planet. It has the power to save the environment, stop terrorism, cure cancer, eradicate crime and make puppies even cuter. You name it. Music is life. Music can save the planet and music can save you.

“Fish Story,” and now I’m talking about the song, not the actual movie, is in Japanese. But the lyrics honestly don’t matter. As the movie explains, they’re pretty much gibberish. But the song saves the world. And when I listen to the song, I reminded how it saves the world, and that gives me hope for my world. No matter how silly that sounds.

Fish Story will save the world.

If you want to watch Fish Story, I highly recommend skipping the horrendous Region 1 DVD and instead grabbing a UK copy. The Region 1 edition by Pathfinder Pictures is not anamorphic (meaning there are vertical and horizontal black bars on the screen at all times) and the subtitles are burned in, making them hard to read. Additionally, from what I’ve read they’re also occasionally inaccurate and omit some key details during the film’s amazing conclusion.

If you can’t get that, then look for a torrent or check Netflix, it occasionally pops up there. Just don’t give Pathfinder Pictures your money, they’re idiots who bought the film off a Korean distributor instead of going the right (aka more expensive) route and getting their hands on a proper master.

I believe that music will save the world from most disasters currently facing us, but sometimes theft and public shaming are the only ways to save the world from bad media distribution.

And for more songs from Fish Story and more information on the song and its composer, check out this post.

And don’t forget, Fish Story will save the world.

10 Years Of Being Lost: I Like Bad Music

March 15th, 2016

If there is one thing this blog has taught me, it’s that  I have bad taste in, well, just about everything.

I guess that’s not entirely true, but in my search to find weird and hard-to-find records, I’ve discovered that I’m more likely to enjoy a substandard piece of entertainment that does one unique thing than I will a by-the-numbers, well-executed work that everyone falls head over heels for. Why else would I own the complete discography of Fireballet?

And it goes well beyond music. For example, one of my favorite movies of all time is Pretty Maids All In A Row. It’s a comedy about a womanizing high school guidance counselor; his favorite student’s affair with a hot teacher; and a series of grizzly murders taking place on campus. It stars Rock Hudson, Telly Savalas and Roddy McDowell, and was written by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

It’s great.

Just kidding, it’s a fucking mess. But it’s fascinating mess! And it’s filled with situations, sub-plots and characters that you just don’t see in more polished work. I love it because its rough around the edges. Ambition, originality and just plain eccentricity goes a long way with me I suppose.

And I think that shows with tonight’s music, a selection of some of the…lesser tracks I’ve shared over the years that I still unapologetically love, no guilt with these pleasures.

Okay, maybe a little guilt.

Billy Idol
Heroin (Durga Trance Dub)
Heroin (Durga Death Dub)
Heroin (Don’t Touch That Needle Mix)
Heroin (Smack Attack)
Heroin (VR Mix)
Heroin (Needle Park Mix)
Heroin (Overlords Mix)
Heroin (Nosebleed Mix)
Heroin (A Drug Called Horse Mix)
Heroin (Ionizer mix)
Was this in the soundtrack to Hackers? I feel as if it should’ve been in the soundtrack to Hackers. Or at least The Net.

I actually just re-watched the video of this and to “Shock To The System,” the other single from Idol’s Cyberpunk, his failed 1993 album that all but completely destroyed his career. I like a few tracks on that record and I think it’s underrated, but even I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a lost classic. Reading about its release sure is interesting though. Did you know that this album was controversial? Apparently, many of those involved in early online communities, such as the the WELL, thought of it to be bullshit an Idol to be poseur. This was even though Idol went out of his way to seek advice and guidance from those in that community during the production of the album. It seems that some just couldn’t get behind the idea of a celebrity using the Internet as a means promotion.

I bet none of those people are among the 40+ million who follow Kim Kardashian on Twitter.

Dolby’s Cube
Hunger City
Howard The Duck
It Don’t Come Cheap
Don’t Turn Away (Lea Thompson Vocal)
Howard The Duck (Mega Mix)
I’m On My Way
Vinyl re-issues of movie soundtracks are hot shit at the moment. I blame/credit Death Waltz for starting the trend. And while I think it’s really starting to get out of hand (I just bought a glow-in-the-dark re-issue of the Fright Night soundtrack), I don’t think we’ve reached maximum saturation yet, mainly because the soundtrack to Howard The Duck hasn’t been re-released yet. And that’s a fucking shame.

BECAUSE THE SOUNDTRACK TO HOWARD THE DUCK IS FUCKING GREAT.

Thomas Dolby. George Clinton, Stevie Wonder. Joe Walsh. They all perform on this album, and they’re fronted by Lea Thompson, who is a shockingly good rock singer. I want to hear her sing “Cherry Bomb,” I bet it would sound incredible.

My favorite of the Thompson-fronted tracks from Howard The Duck isn’t the theme song (although it’s rad), instead it’s “Hunger City,” an intense, 80s pop rocker that really channels the anger and energy of pop-rock like Pat Benatar or even some early Joan Jett. There’s a desperation to the lyrics, and to Thompson’s powerful delivery, that have a surprising aura of honesty to them. This song feels like it was written about someone’s real struggles, and not the struggles of a duck trapped in a world he never made.

The other songs are good fun, but “Hunger City” is a lost classic.

Bell & James
The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (12″ Remix)
The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (Instrumental)
I love this song so much that I almost typed this entire section in all caps with every sentence ending in exclamation points. THAT’S HOW GOOD THIS SONG IS!!

This is the title track to the film of the same name, and it more or less just tells the story of the film. So not only is this song a funky masterpiece of 70s soul, it also does you the service of saving you from having to watch The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, because that is a bad movie that’s not good. I know I said that I like a lot of things that other people consider to be bad, but this is one instance where I share the critical consensus: that movie is a pile of dog shit.

The song is dope though, some might say it is the second-best song ever written with the word “fish” in the title.

10 Years Of Being Lost: Gone But Forgotten

March 7th, 2016

When I started Lost Turntable my goal was to shed light on lost music, but I was primarily concerned about lost songs by well-established bands.  But over the years some of the most fun I’ve had writing has been when I’ve covered acts that have fallen through the cracks completely. Sometimes they were acts that were big for a minute in their native countries and then vanished. Other times they were cult acts with a few minor hits before calling it quits. But every once in a while I’d find an act that seemed completely lost in time, having never scored a hit when they first formed and never found any sort of following since.

I’ve always been most interested in these acts. We all know what life for mega-huge rock stars is like, that’s been covered to death in film, TV and even in songs by mega-famous rock stars (thanks Joe Walsh). We also have some idea as to what life is like for the has-beens and one-hit wonders of the pop world. If it wasn’t for them, the entirety of the British reality TV landscape would dry up overnight.

But we never hear about the never-wases. Makes sense I guess, no one wanted to hear about them when they were attempting to be around, why on earth would anyone care about what they had to say now?

Well, I care! I want to know. I wonder how many people from failed bands manage to parlay their broken dreams into something at least tangentally related to the music biz. A lot of one-hit wonders and cult acts end up working as song-writers. The dude from Semisonic helped write Adele’s 21, y’know. But what about the guys in Radioactive Goldfish or anyone who was in a group like Spizz or Fischer-Z? Maybe they have hella interesting stories too. I bet the saga of nearly making it, while not as personally fulfilling for those involved, is probably more interesting than a lot of the rags-to-riches stories we usually here.

Here are songs by people and bands who never made it, or made it for about five minutes. May they one day be well-known enough to be forgotten.

Apollo Smile
Let’s Rock
When I first posted this track back in 2009, I wondered aloud, “What ever happened to Apollo Smile?” The “real life anime girl” was a mainstay of my teenage years, I frequently would see her name on the guest lists of comic-cons, and she would occasionally pop up on Sci-Fi Channel to host some random anime show. In the late-90s she even made her way to video games, lending her voice to Ulala, the groovy protagonist of Sega’s Space Channel 5 games.

And then she seemingly vanished without a trace. No more anime specials, no more comic cons and no more video games. The scene that she helped to cultivate had seemingly outgrown its need for her. But I wanted to know what the hell actually happened to her. So much so that I even tried to track her down for an interview a few years back.

Thanks to her Wikipedia page, that was actually shockingly easy, as it listed her last-known place of employment as a dance teacher for a small private school. Emboldened with a sense of journalistic desire to share the world the story of what happened to Apollo Smile (I mean, c’mon, this could totally get on A.V. Club today) I sent out a few emails inquiring about the chance of an interview.

Never before had I been shot down as hard for an interview as I was for that one. I’m not going to go into details. But for anyone out there wondering, Apollo Smile does not want to be found.

If she had agreed to that interview, I definitely would’ve asked her if she got clearance to use the Led Zeppelin sample that’s in this song. I bet the answer would’ve been no.

Lisa Dal Bello
Bad Timing
I’m kind of cheating here, because Lisa Dal Bello was moderately famous in her native Canada, but for the rest of the world she’s probably a complete unknown. Fucking shame.

When I wrote about Dal Bello back in 2011, I focused on her 1984 powerhouse whomanfoursays, which was produced and co-written/performed by Mick Ronson of Ziggy Stardust fame. I still stand by that record. It’s great, and now that you can get it digitally on Amazon and iTunes, I suggest you do. It’s an amazingly unique record. And while parts of it sound dated, some of it still sounds remarkably ahead of its time. Her voice is really off the charts, and the songwriting is top-notch.

Whomanfoursays was a bit of a re-invention for Dal Bello. In the late-70s Dal Bello was a pop star with a disco/dance bent, kind of like a Canadian proto-Madonna. She had some success with that formula, got a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for her first record, but didn’t have much success in terms of sales. And by the early-80s I suspect that she was getting fed up with the pop world, letting her dissatisfaction manifest itself in this blistering track that takes aim on the facets of the music industry that screwed her over hardest. I hope someone sends this track to Kesha.

As I said before, Dalbello managed to salvage her career with whomanfoursays. It wasn’t a massive smash, but songs from it got covered by Queensryche and Heart, and she went onto record two more very well-regarded albums before moving on to what is no doubt the much more lucrative commercial jingle market. Utterly fascinating, and anything of hers you can find is totally worth checking out.

Havana 3 A.M.
Blue Gene Vincent (Live)
The big Clash side-project/off-shoot is of course Big Audio Dynamite, and I’ll be writing about them sometime this month. But there was also Havana 3 A.M., the oddly-named project featuring Paul Simonon, bassist for The Clash. Havanna 3 A.M. only released one album, and I’m going to level with you right here, it’s not particularly good. It’s not bad, but it sure as hell ain’t memorable.

Except for this track, a tribute to the late-great Gene Vincent, which is about as perfect an amalgamation of rock, country and rock-a-billy you’re likely to hear.  The album version is good, but this live rendition is even better, and injects an intensity and energy that the studio version is lacking. I found this on an I.R.S. Records promo cassette tape, a find so incredible that it single-handedly made buying that cassette deck worth it.

And it’s sure as fuck better than The Good The Bad and The Queen.

Slow Bongo Floyd
More Than Jesus (SBF Mix)
More Than Jesus (Irresistible Force Mix)
Open Up Your Heart (11 O’Clock Mix)
Open Up Your Heart (Piano Mix)
So far the acts I’ve featured tonight have some sort of following. Apollo Smile may be nearly forgotten today, but there’s a “nearly” there. Someone out there still cares about her. Lisa Dal Bello had a live album come out last year, so however small, there’s still a market for her work somewhere. And sure, Havana 3 A.M. might be the lesser of Clash off-shoots, but they’re still a Clash off-shoot, a fact that will forever grant them at least the curious Google search from time to time.

But Slow Bongo Floyd? No one gives a shit about Slow Bongo Floyd. They have a poorly-managed Facebook page, and it has a single, solitary “like” that was no doubt given by the person who created it. Slow Bongo Floyd is about as forgotten as a band can get.

And that’s a real bummer. While their album isn’t great, their singles sure as hell should’ve been more popular than they were. “More Than Jesus” is an especially awesome tune, and how it didn’t manage to at least be a minor hit during the time of The Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays is anyone’s guess. It’s a great psychedelic dance/rock tune, madchester all the way. It’s groovy as fuck, and “I Love you more than I love Jesus” is a hell of a line to build a track off of.

From what I can gather, Slow Bongo Floyd was really just one guy by the name of Michael Patrick Jones. As that’s about one step away from “John Smith” in terms of name popularity, I can’t find a single thing on the Internet about his post Slow Bongo Floyd work, so if anyone would like to enlighten me I’d be forever grateful.