Japanese Acid House Disco Funk And Pet Shop Boys

March 26th, 2017

How’s everyone living? Everyone still living? Guess that’s good enough for now, right?

Been a rough week or so, but I’m glad that the forces of non-evil out there can at least chalk up one win for the increasingly marginalized masses out there. I had severe anxiety that Trump and his shitball league of fuckfaces was actually going to dismantle the least worst American health care act passed in my lifetime. So color me surprised that they actually managed to fall on their collective shit-eating faces for no other reason other than the fact that they couldn’t agree on how evil their revised bill had to be.

It’s been said by others, but I feel the need to say it myself; this was a big deal. If the people of America hadn’t been so outspoken against the evils of Trump(no)Care, then it probably would’ve passed. So while it is easy to be depressed and feel utterly hopeless all the time about the current state of affairs that our world is facing, this should give you some hope. Don’t give up. If we all work together as a team then we can achieve some victories.

So get out there and raise hell in whatever way you see best. Here’s some dance music to help you do it.

Denki Groove
A.C.I.D.I.S.C.O.
I’ve been writing about Japanese electronic dance music for a long time now, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned Denki Groove once. But if name recognition is anything to go on, they’re probably the biggest electronic dance group in Japan. Every Japanese person I talk to knows of them, and most like them. They’ve seemingly been around forever, and have released what feels like countless singles and albums. This summer they’ll be playing Summer Sonic, Japan’s equivalent of Lollapalooza, and will also be opening for the J-Pop megastars Perfume at their own Perfume Fes (that’s not a typo, don’t ask me why the “t” is absent). They’re a big deal.

Here’s the thing; I don’t like them very much.

I’ve really tried. Honestly I have. I have a greatest hits CD and a couple of other albums, but I just can’t get into them. They have plenty of decent tracks, no doubt about that, but something about them always rubs me the wrong way. I think its their vocals. Whenever they use vocals I just zone right out. But whatever, I’m sure they have dozens of amazing songs I just haven’t heard yet. They have to be big for a reason.

While I don’t like much of what I’ve heard, I can vouch for this track, my favorite off their 25 EP that they released a few years back. It combines two of my favorite things, 90s acid house with 70s disco. It’s ridiculous, but pretty amazing.

Pet Shop Boys
I’m With Stupid (PSB Maxi Mix)
I’m With Stupid (Abe Duque Mix)
I’m With Stupid (Melnyk Heavy Petting Mix)
I’m With Stupid (Max Tundra Mix)
Let’s Kickstart a Trump/Pence/Putin porno and make this the title track. I’m sure the Pet Shop Boys would be down.

 

Disco Sulk

March 20th, 2017

Last week I posted my all-time favorite song of all-time and I didn’t get a single comment and that makes me sad. I don’t normally go fishing for comments but c’mon you motherfunkers, let me know what you all think of “Radio Junk.” That song is my mantra, creed and motto all rolled into one.

Pet Shop Boys
Home & Dry (Blank & Jones Dub Remix)
Home & Dry (Radio Edit – Blank & Jones)
Home & Dry (Ambient Mix)
Home & Dry (Acappella Version)
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously (Momo Mix)
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously (Reggae Zone Mix)
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously (Def Mix)
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously (Eclipse Mix)
I haven’t posted Pet Shop Boys remixes in three fucking years! How is that even possible? This blog was (unofficially) founded solely for me to post obscure remixes by super-gay synthpop artists from the 80s. I feel like I’ve really slipped up here.

It’s really not all my fault. I just don’t see that many Pet Shop Boys singles out here in Japan. Maybe they aren’t really all that popular out here. Or maybe they’re so popular that every 12″ single has already been taken. Who knows.

I actually bought these two singles a while ago if my file history is anything to be believed. I scored the “Home & Dry” single last November, and I got the “How Can You…” 12″ sometime in March of last year. Don’t know why I never got around to posting them. Maybe I just didn’t take them seriously.

Sorry.

 

Sylvester
Mutual Attraction (7″ Edit)
Mutual Attraction (Extended Edit)
True story.

A few weeks ago I was at HMV (aka my second home) and they had a 12″ disco sale. Skimming through it, I found a 12″ single of “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” featuring an extended remix. Snagged it immediately.

Two weeks later, I was at another store and found that they also were having a sale on 12″ singles. At which point I bought the exact same single of “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” for a second time, completely forgetting my purchase from just a couple weeks prior.

The kicker? I already had that remix of “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” It was on a box set I bought years ago. I guess I should be upset or at least annoyed with myself, but whatever now I got that remix on both continents and that’s pretty dope. The only reason I’m not sharing it here is because you can get it easily and legally on most online music stores. I suggest you do so. That song is dope.

Not as dope but still dope in many ways is “Mutual Attraction,” from Sylvester’s 1986 album of the same name. That album was re-issued a few years back with some bonus remixes thrown in, but neither of these were included for some reason. There are actually very few “rare” Sylvester remixes right now, nearly all of his albums and singles are easily available on iTunes.

So, what I’m saying is, if you don’t own “Do Ya Wanna Funk” you have no funking excuse now, there are five different versions on iTunes right this minute waiting for you.

 

Radio Junk and Other Garbage To Distract You

March 13th, 2017

I just finished the latest chapter in my ever-growing guide to Yellow Magic Orchestra. This one covers the side-projects. It was a lot of fun to write so I hope you all check it out when you have the time.

You’ll also need to read it to understand who I’m writing about tonight. I just wrote a few thousand words on these guys, I’m not doing anymore! Go read that and then come back here to enjoy the tunes.

Takahashi/Jansen
Memory Without Consequence
Memory without Consequence (Extra Polated Mix) [Remixed by Reflection]
Memory without Consequence (Reflection Confused Bits) [Remixed by Reflection]
These tracks are from the Takahashi/Jansen releases that came out in the late 90s, PulseXPulse, and its remix record. I actually put off buying these for a long time because I just assumed they weren’t very good. Takahashi’s first collaboration with Steve Jansen was back in the 80s, and it was a three-song EP of boring sonic wallpaper that I forgot as soon as I finished listening to it. I just figured their later effort was more of the same. Now I’m wishing I had bought them much sooner. While neither are gobsmackingly great, both are very good records that feature some great, hella catchy tunes. Of them, “Memory Without Consequence,” and its remixes are also great, although they have very little to do with the source material.

Metafive
La Femme Chinoise [Live]
Radio Junk [Live]
I cannot possibly express how much I like Metafive and how much I highly recommend all of you pick up their self-titled studio debut, which came out last year.

But that wasn’t their first album. The group actually started as a live project, one that was almost solely dedicated to playing previously recorded Yukihiro Takahashi tracks. They must’ve meshed well enough on the tour to go into the studio.  Whatever the reason, I’m glad it happened. Like I said, that album is wonderful, such a perfect synthpop record. You can also buy it in America on iTunes! So please go do that!  You can’t find their live albums there though, which gives me a good excuse to share a few tracks from those albums tonight.

Like I said, their first live album is comprised almost entirely of Takahashi material, and mostly his solo work. Most of the YMO tracks they do perform aren’t the big tracks, and are instead album cuts or lesser known cuts like “Cue” or “Ballet.” The only big number from his YMO days that they do pull out is “La Femme Chinoise,” and that’s probably because he wrote it. Although he also is the sole songwriter for “Rydeen” and they didn’t play that live, so what do I know.

After their first studio album came out, their live shows shifted gears to feature, not surprisingly, material from that record. But on Metalive, the live album documenting that tour, they still threw in one cover from Takahashi’s past, and I couldn’t be happier with the one they chose – “Radio Junk.”

“Radio Junk” is my favorite YMO song, although technically speaking, “Radio Junk” isn’t even a YMO song. It’s a Sheena And The Rokkets track that YMO wrote for them. It’s the “Nothing Compares 2 U” of YMO. A fantastic track that was cast aside and found new life in the arms of another artist. Despite the fact that YMO never released a studio version of the track, they’ve performed it live on multiple occasions during different tours. You can find them performing on several of their live albums, and other live takes have been included on compilation releases. They must have a soft spot for it. Because it’s the greatest song of all time ever.

Okay. Hyperbole. I know, but it’s really fucking great. Such a good combination of punk/new wave and synthpop. So simple, so effective, and with such great lyrics.

“Fill me with radio junk.”

I can’t breathe. I can’t move. I can’t even think. And I don’t to anymore.

“Fill me with radio junk.”

There’s just too much going on. Too much around me. Too much to handle. I need to drown it out.

“Fill me with radio junk.”

It’s all horrible. I know it’s all horrible. And I know I should care more and do more. But I can’t and I won’t because when I try to, it kills me. So pump me full of bubblegum pop, hair metal, and cheesy love songs. Make me forget. Make it all go away. Make it better.

“Fill me with radio junk.”

Friends Of Earth (FOE)
Total Eclipse
I think I might’ve downplayed how weird this group was in my guide. Because they’re really freaking weird. Maybe the awfulness of their hip-hop blinded me to the overall weirdness of the rest of their tracks. I said that this track was beautiful, and it is, but it’s also damned strange. Mostly because of the samples. The keyboards here have a very hard to describe effect running through them, kind of like a generic “eastern” sound effect, but run through a flange or something. They really set the song apart. I wish I was a better writer so I could describe it in more detail.

But for me, what really makes the song are the haunting, wordless vocalizing by Koshi Miharu. Her voice is just ungodly great. While I’ve had some of her albums for the past few years, I’ve only recently really begun to dig into her back catalog, and so far everything I’ve found has been amazing. Her range (both vocally and stylistically) is just completely incomparable to anyone else, both in Japan and in the West. She’ll definitely be a large focus on the next part of my YMO guide, which focuses on the greatest and most interesting of their associates.

You think Prince had a lot of disciples and proteges? He had nothing compared to the guys in YMO.

BONUS TRACKS
Radio Junk (Live At Budokan 1980) – Yellow Magic Orchestra
Radio Junk – Sheena And The Rokkets
Radio Junk – Yukihiro Takahashi 
Fill me with Radio Junk!

If we keep listening to gay music all together maybe Mike Pence will have a stroke

March 3rd, 2017

Been doing a bit of writing over on that other site in case you haven’t checked it in a while. I wrote a thing about the new Rez Infinite vinyl re-issue (it’s not good) as well as a review of the new Zelda 30th Anniversary Concert CD (it’s good). Additionally, I wrote up something on my recent run-in with Twitter abuse automation, and how I think it’s total bullshit that targets the wrong kind of abuse. Finally, I put something together on some Japan-exclusive David Bowie vinyl. Read and enjoy.

Then listen to disco.

Donna Summer
Melody Of Love (Junior Vasquez DMC Remix)
Donna Summer is one of those artists whose 12″ single discography has (thankfully) been mined almost to completion for various compilations and re-issues. It’s pretty hard to find a legit rare and worthwhile Donna Summer mix these days. But yo, I did it.

This is the B-side to the 1995 re-issue of “I Feel Love.” The A-sides are remixes by Rollo & Bliss and Masters at Work. You can buy those legally on iTunes and I suggest you do. They’re dope. Somehow this one didn’t get there with them. Too bad, it’s a great take on a fantastic tune.

Diebold & Cataluna
White Rabbit
This one surprised me. It’s off of a 1991 Megatone Records compilation called 12 by 12. I associate Megatone Records with the early 80s, thanks to banger like Sylvester’s immortal “Do You Wanna Funk” and the classic gay-as-fuck “Homosexuality.” I had no idea that they kept going into the 90s. Although after buying the album I did some research and found out they folded just a few years after this compilation came out.

This track is not typical of what I associate Megatone with. It is not Hi-NRG at all, and is instead a pretty low-key/trippy take on the Jefferson Airplane classic. Strangely enough, much of the instrumentation is sampled from Madonna’s “Justify My Love,” which came out around the same time. Wonder if they cleared that sample.

Diebold is David Diebold, who contributed to a lot of Megatone releases in the later half of the 90s up until the label went belly up. Unfortunately I can’t find much on him now, there seems to be a lot of David Diebolds out and about.

Cataluna’s full name is Kim Cataluna. Looks like she released a jazz album a few years back, but other than that I can’t find much regarding what she might be up to today. I love finding out whatever happened to lesser known acts like this, so if you know let me know!

 

Filibuster with Synthesizers

February 17th, 2017

I managed to write a post comprised entirely of electronic music and didn’t mention a Japanese artist once! I’m surprised too.

Depeche Mode
Wrong (Magdas Scallop Funk Remix)
Wrong (Frankie’s Bromantic Club Mix)
Wrong (DIM vs Boys Noize Remix)
I’m not going to say much about this song, I feel as if I’ve probably written about this song before. I like this song. Good song. These are good remixes to a good song. Okay, now let’s move on.

Have you heard the new Depeche Mode song, “Where’s The Revolution?” It’s fucking great. The vocals by Gahan are on point and the production finds a nice middle-ground between vintage Mode and a more modern take on synthpop.

But the best thing about it? The lyrics. It’s like someone drilled a hole in my head and extracted my exacts thoughts on the current state of the world. There’s so little good political music these days, who’d of thought we’d get an incendiary political track from motherfucking Depeche Mode?

I think the only other political Depeche Mode track I can think of is “John The Revelator.” That was the first Depeche Mode single I heard as an adult that really go me into the group. So maybe I’m just biased towards the group being political. Regardless, I hope “Where’s The Revolution” gets some dope remixes. We need more politics on the dancefloor.

Mito
Droid
Mito is a pseudonym for Stefano Secchi, an Italian musician and producer who has over two hundred releases under his belt. Don’t know anything about him other than what Discogs tell me. What I do know is that this song is some dope shit. Classic Italian electro disco at its finest. Listening to this track puts me in a real headspace. I imagine a 1980s vision of what a 2020s nightclulb would look like, with everyone decked out in neon fringe and Mylar clothes. Robot bartenders serve glowing drinks and everyone has a jetpack for no reason.

I’m gonna run for President and that mental image is going to be my campaign. Vote For Lost Turntable – Neon and Jet Packs for Everyone!

If this song installs similar optimistic feels of a retro-future and you want more, then you’re in luck, you can grab several other mixes of this track on iTunes!

Telex
Moskow Diskow (1985 Version)
Moskow Diskow (French Version)
Moskow Diskow (English Version)
I posted a version of “Moskow Diskow” six years ago. In my continuing adventures of reading old posts of my own blog, let’s see what I was talking about on June 6th, 2012.

Hm. Nothing really all that special I guess. Just a call out for questions about recording vinyl. I must’ve been in a good mood that week. In fact, browsing that whole month I seemed to be rather content and chill. I guess that was the start of my run-up to my Japan visit, so I was probably focused on that. Good times.

But yeah, “Moskow Diskow.” None of these versions are the same as the version I shared all those years ago, they’re taken from a different 12″ single entirely. Telex is dope.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Techno

February 13th, 2017

Want a Life In Japan story? Feels like I haven’t told one of them in a while Have I talked about Valentine’s Day in Japan?

Valentine’s Day in Japan is kind of stupid.

So, in Japan Valentine’s Day is all about the dudes. Women are not supposed to get gifts on Valentine’s Day. For real. Instead, women are supposed to give chocolate to men. Then, men are supposed to return the favor a month later on March 14tth. That day is called White Day, and on White Day men have to go out and give chocolate to any woman who gifted them chocolate the month prior.

I’m not one to besmirch another culture’s traditions or customs, but it’s hella complex and confusing to anyone who hasn’t grown up with it. And a lot of Japanese people I know aren’t particularly fond of it. I’ve heard men use the term “Chocolate Abuse” to talk about women gifting them large amounts of chocolate only because they want to force the man’s hand and make him gift them a similar gift a month later. It’s not gifting out of love, it’s gifting out of obligation.

But that’s not why Valentine’s Day in Japan bothers me. No, Valentine’s Day in Japan bothers me because there’s not protocol for what us gays are supposed to do. My boyfriend and I both agreed to celebrate Valentine’s Day and tell White Day to fuck right off. And that’s all well and good, but that means that every February 13th I’m the only dude in candy store, surrounded by women who look at my giant white ass with bemusement wondering if I’m just an idiot gaijin who doesn’t know better or, y’know, the correct assumption.

Anyways, gender stereotypes aside, I love giving my boyfriend chocolate because every year he acts surprised and it’s just the cutest shit. So I guess I can’t complain too much.

Here’s some techno. Happy Valentine’s Day.

808 State
Lift (7 Inch Mix)
Lift (12 Inch Mix)
Lift (Justin Strauss Remix)
Lift (Metro Mix)
Lift (Lift Up Dub)
Open Your Mind (Sound Garden Mix)
Open Your Mind (Open Mix)
I originally posted these tracks on January 13th of 2010. Let’s look back at that post to see what I was rambling about at the time…

Boy, I was really angry about Jay Leno. Seems like so long ago (probably because it was.) Anyways, venting and petitioning for my favorite late night talk show to stay on the air sure seems mighty quaint now, doesn’t it? Nothing like the sudden and brutal rise of fascism to really put things in perspective.

But where was I? Oh yeah, “Lift.” Bought this single in Kichijoji a few weeks back, totally not realizing that I already had a copy back in the states. Oh well, saves me the trouble of trying to bring my original copy here and it also gave me the chance to re-record it with much better equipment than I had back in 2010.

Ken Ishii
Pneuma
Twist Of Space
Low
I wanted to share more of this man’s amazing work, but shockingly enough a lot of it is in print and easily available (and cheap) on iTunes in the states! So if you like what you hear here I really recommend you check out some of his albums proper. Future In Light and Jelly Tones are two solid picks to start with.

Close Encounters of the Funk Kind

February 5th, 2017

Some random covers of the theme from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

Because I just somehow accumulated all of these by accident.

I know, I have weird problems.

Hideki Matsutake
Theme From Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Hideki Matsutake is a genius so it’s not a surprise that his version of the theme takes the most liberties with it, using the technology available to him at the time to really expand and divert upon the original in interesting and fun ways. At times, all this version has in common with the original is the basic melody we all know, using that as a backdrop for some smooth funky jazz. If you removed it, the song would become entirely unrecognizable. Great instrumentation and sound effect choices on here as well.

Electoru Polyphonic Orchestra
Theme From Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Oh boy, this thing.

So I bought this record on a whim. Mostly for the cover, but also for the tracklist, which includes some severely oddball selections like the themes to “Zero Population Growth,” “Barbarella” and the cult classic, “No Blade Of Grass.” Although that one is spelled as “No Blade of Glass” because English is hard.

Was it worth it? Eh, not really. Humor derived from the cover and poor translations aside, there isn’t much to enjoy here. The covers far too faithful to the original versions. Instead of using the electronic technology to branch out from the originals, I feel like this album goes for mimicry far too often.

There is a bit to like in this cover though, the weird wah-wah bassline at the end is groovy as fuck.

Toru Hatano
Theme From Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Talked about Toru Hatano last year in my last Star Wars post, so I’m not going to repeat myself. I dig his cover of the theme, even if it’s not all that out-there when compared to some of the others. I really like the effects on the synthesizer in the last minute. Got some good space funk going on there.

Spectrum
Close Encounters
Spectrum was a late-70s/early-80s Japanese funk/disoc/soul/electronic act who released six damn albums in just three years. Most of their stuff that I’ve heard is by-the-numbers disco and funk, with a slight jazz influence. Nothing all that special.

However, their second 1979 album, In The Space, is something else. Half of the record is your standard jazzy pop-funk, but the other half is made up of funky disco covers of sci-fi movie themes. They got Star Wars on here (of course) as well as the above version of the Close Encounters theme, but there are some oddities thrown in as well. There’s the theme to War In Space, a third-rate Star Wars rip-off by Toho, and also a cover to the theme of Space Battleship Yamato. Because holy shit that thing was popular in Japan. A take on “Also Sprach Zarathustra” aka “That song from 2001” is here as well. The best of the bunch is their version of “Close Encounters” though, good disco bounce.

But that’s not the best thing about this album. No, the best thing about the album is the DOPE AS FUCK art inside the gatefold.

Squad goals.

Techno for smashing fascists

January 29th, 2017

I get that in times of strife and hardship, distractions are important. They’ve certainly served me well this week. In light of all the horrible ills that have befallen us all, I find a great source of escapism in film. The boyfriend and I recent purchased an amazing Hammer Films box set, so I’ve been drowning my sorrows in copious amounts of Peter Cushing being a bad motherfucker.

I also have been absorbing a shitton of Giant Bomb content right now. They’ve seemingly always been there for me. When I went through a horribly painful fit of depression three years ago, the Bombcast was always a three-hour block where I could for sure keep away the demons and darkness.

So please, right now, do your best to stay sane. While it’s important to fight the good fight in any way you can, it’s important to take time to collect yourself as well. Whether it be video games, movies, music or just talking a nice long walk. Find something that can distract you, and hold onto it when needed.

Just don’t expect that thing to be this blog. Because fuck that orange assclown with a rusty crowbar.

Seriously, could someone do that? I’m sure Pence would like to watch.

The Art Of Noise
Instruments Of Darkness (All Of Us Are One People) (The Prodigy Mix)
Sometimes you stumble upon a track at just the right time. Right when I first read that Trump was instituting his curb-stomp earning racist ban on legal immigration, I was listening to this song for the very first time. An aggressive acid house track with a chorus consisting of nothing but the platitude of “all of us are one people” may be over simplistic and a bit on the nose, but it sure hit the spot for how I felt at that exact minute.

Nine Inch Nails
Capital G (Switch Remix)
The Hand That Feeds (Photek Ruff Mix)
Neither of these remixes are as good as the album versions. But they’re still quality, and good soundtracks to breaking shit and spray painting graffiti of Trump with a tiny dick and a klan hood on.

I mean, if you wanna do that.

Japanese Synthpop by Bands who aren’t YMO

January 22nd, 2017

I realize that this has been a stressful and/or depressing weekend for many of you, and I’m right there with you. However, I need some time to decompress before I talk about politics again, for my own mental health. I hope you’re all doing what you can do to stay healthy and fuck up Nazis. Try to do both in equal measures.

In the meantime, I finally finished part four of my guide to YMO! Yeah, it took me a year, sorry about that. Life got in the way at first, and then a serious case writer’s block regarding exactly how to cover the solo careers of the YMO members. I ended up changing it up quite a bit from the previous parts of the guide, I hope you all like it.

I still have at least three more sections of that guide planned. The next will cover side-projects, which I suspect won’t take nearly as long as there aren’t that many. After that I’m going to write on the multitudes of YMO associates out there. There are a metric shitload of those, but I have records by almost all of them, so it should’t be all that hard.

If that all goes well, I’ll close out with a special in-depth look at…something cool. Anyways, here’s some great music by Japanese new wave/synthpop artists who aren’t YMO.

Hikasu
Rhetorics & Logic
Model
So I don’t know all that much about these guys other than the fact that they’re highly lauded among the more experimental types in Japan. They’re first album came out in 1980 and they’re still going strong today (with some major line-up changes along the way) they’ve released something like 20 albums I guess.

If their first album (the only one I have) is any indication, they were inspired by Kraftwerk and Talking Heads. So if that sounds good to you (and it fucking should), check it. A few of their newer albums are even on American iTunes, they’re…something.

Ippu-Do
Break Out Generation
Panic In The City
Of the three bands I’m featuring here tonight, I think Ippu-Do are the least known. They pumped out four studio albums and a live record between 1980 and 1984, but broke up soon after. I don’t think any of their studio albums proper have even been released on CD save for a limited edition box set that goes for a mint now.

As such, I don’t have much by them, just their 1980 sophomore album Normal. It’s good, but its much less of a synthpop record and much more a general “new wave” record, even with some fairly standard rock songs on it. It’s kind of uneven, to be honest, but considering the cult following the group has, I imagine their other records have more interesting stuff on them. I certainly dig the tracks I’m sharing here.

P-Model
Health Angel
(Love) Story
Art Mania
When P-Model started out they were a good, if relatively by-the-numbers synthpop act. Throughout the years they went through many line-up and stylistic changes, however, eventually covering everything from punk, psychedelic rock, experimental electronica and even prog rock.

So they’re kind of like Yes, but backwards.

Anyways, after finding three of their albums and absolutely loving everything about them, I’ve decided that they’re my new YMO project. Gonna hunt down everything. If it all ends up being great, except a multi-part guide on them on my other blog sometime this year. Give or take.

Somehow you can currently buy two of P-Model’s albums on the US iTunes store and I highly recommend you do as they are fucking incredible.

Cross Continental Divas

January 9th, 2017

Happy new year!

Let’s all work together to make this year less shitty than 2016. I know it’s going to be an uphill battle. But don’t worry, I have Japanese covers of classic TV theme songs to help us get through it.

Jun Togawa
Femme Fatale
Rawhide
I’M GOING TO SEE JUN TOGAWA LIVE THIS FRIDAY I’M FUCKING STOKED.

STOKED.

Ahem. Sorry. I’m a little excited.

I was taken completely by surprise by the fact that Jun Togawa released a new CD over the holidays, the amazing Watashi Ga Na Kou Hototogisu. It’s a covers album of sorts, featuring the legendary singer performing new versions of some of her best-known tracks. Usually, that’s the kind of thing that bores me to tears, but this record is special. Because the new arrangements were in part composed and performed by the Japanese post-rock/metal band Vampillia, and they really take the tracks to some crazy new places. “Suki Suki Daisuki” in particular is completely reworked, transformed into a heavy and dark nightmare that treat the song’s morbid humor with dire sincerity. It’s amazing.

But I’m not sharing that, because you can buy it on iTunes in America! So you should do that!

So instead, I’m sharing these two fairly rare covers that are on the singer’s three-disc greatest hits and rarities set. Yes, the second one is a cover of the TV theme song.

It’s great.

Eartha Kitt
I Love Men (Dance Remix)
I Love Men (Dance Remix Instrumental)
So I’m listening to this and I immediately think, “well, this must’ve been a hit in the gay clubs back in the day.” And while there’s no “gay club top 10” Billboard chart, there is the Billboard Dance Chart, which is pretty much the same thing. This track made it to number seven on that chart, which pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

I suspect this track was made specifically with gay clubs in mind. The fact that it was produced and co-written by Village People producer Jacques Morali and so-gay-he’s-made-of-rainbows writer/comedian Bruce Vilanch, I think my suspicions are entirely spot-on.

Everything about this track is great, from the by then retro disco production to the “vampire cat lady” vocal styling of the legendary Kitt. A hell of a dance classic that is ripe for rediscovery. It’s songs like this that make me almost want to seriously become a club DJ. Because if I’m not going to drop these banging tracks into the club, then who the hell will?