Seductive poses with synthesizers and Japanese covers of classic tunes

January 26th, 2016

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A few months ago I posted some tracks from  イエローマジック歌謡曲 (Yellow Magic Popular Music), a collection showcasing tracks from Yellow Magic Orchestra associates. That album proved to be a revelation to me, and it served as a means for me to discover several other great Japanese electronic artists that I would’ve never known of otherwise, such as the wonderful Cosmic Intervention and the amazing Susan.

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This week I made an even bigger score that I suspect will lead me down an even more comprehensive (and no doubt, expensive) rabbit hole of Japanese electronic music when I stumbled upon four compilations of late-70s/early-80s dance music. Each one focuses on a different record label, and there are apparently nine in total, with the ultimate chapter dedicated to Alfa Records, the home of YMO.

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I was elated to find these CDs because up until now the overwhelming majority of 80s Japanese electronic albums I’ve discovered has been, in one way or another, related to YMO. Many were released by YMO’s own vanity label Yen Records, and even the ones that weren’t often featured various members of YMO performing on the albums. Sometimes YMO’s involvement was so strong that the albums were basically YMO albums in all but name, with the group serving as the backing band, producers and songwriters for various singers and idols of the era.

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While YMO’s influence can be found on these records, with even individual members Sakamoto and Hosono getting a few tracks on a couple of the compilations, I was happy to discover that most of the music on them is from outside their influence. Don’t get me wrong, I am utterly obsessed with everything even remotely associated with YMO, but it was nice to finally branch out and discover some new stuff.

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As you can probably expect, a lot of this stuff is lesser-known for a reason, and since I’m not interested in sharing tracks that are mediocre or bad without being interesting, I’m not going to share these records in full. However, I do suspect I’ll dip them from time to time to showcase any highlights I find from them, especially as I branch out and hunt down the other albums in the collection.

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Anyways, I know that Japanese electronic music from the 80s is kind of a niche interest, so I thought I’d start out by sharing some remixes/covers of tracks you’ll no doubt recognize. I hope that you can enjoy them and that you stick around and give the more obscure and unknown tracks a chance when I share them as well.

Paul Hardcastle
Nineteen (Japanese Version Extended Remix)
So, some 400 words talking about obscure Japanese remixes and I start things off with a track by a Western artist. I know, I don’t always think these posts through.

Regardless, this is a hell of a thing, and something that I had no idea even existed until this Monday. In case you haven’t heard the original version of “19,” (which I suggest you do) the track is an odd hybrid of early-80s dance music and anti-war protest song, combining a catchy dance beat with a sampled news program detailing the effects of post traumatic stress disorder suffered by Vietnam vets. It was a big hit in Europe, but it didn’t catch on so much in the states outside of the dance charts.

The original version’s narration is comprised of samples from an American news program, but for this version, those samples are removed and replaced with original Japanese narration by newscaster Kango Kobayashi. Apparently Hardcastle did this for several countries in Europe, but Japan was the only Asian country to get a unique version.

Aside from the new narration, this mix is a little different than the original version (or the equally known “Destruction Mix”) and features some additional sound effects in the beginning.

Kenji Haga
The Neverending Story
I don’t know if The Neverending Story was a hit film in Japan. I would imagine it must’ve been though in order for this to happen, a completely translated version of the film’s hit theme song. Haga is no Limahl and the production pales to Moroder’s original, but it’s still a catchy tune nonetheless.

Far more interesting than this cover is the life of Kenji Haga, a half-Japanese/half-American entertainer who worked as a voice actor in the 90s and 2000s, even voicing Ken in the Street Fighter II: V animated series. Apparently he fell on hard times after that though, and in 2007 he was arrested for blackmail and is currently behind bars.

Limahl would’ve never done such things.

The Targets
E.T. Theme
Yes, a cover of the theme to E.T., because why not?

There are countless disco covers of John Williams themes thanks to Meco, but I think this might be the only synth-pop interpretations of one of this compositions. It features original lyrics, but they’re in Japanese and sung over a vocoder-effect, so don’t ask me.

The Targets are a rather mysterious band. They released just one album in the 1980s (this song is not on it) and apparently that was it. I’d love to find out more about them so if anyone has any info, pass it along please. They seemed pretty good.

I’m Still An Alligator

January 24th, 2016

Turns out I have a lot of David Bowie on my hard drive(s) and digging it all out/organizing it is proving to be a task better suited for some sort of digital archaeologist. Just counting songs that are properly tagged as David Bowie/Tine Machine I have about 1,300 tracks in my iTunes library. I know I have more buried somewhere though. And I’m fairly certain that I have some singles back in the states that I never got around the properly recording. That’s a real shame because there are a few gems there, including a weird 10+ minute remix of “Fame ’90.”

I continue to be amazed at how much David Bowie is in print now. If you want the 12″ remix of “Magic Dance” then you can go on Amazon and fucking buy it right now. AND YOU SHOULD BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME. You can even go online and get remixes to “Loving The Alien” if you so desired.

So basically I’m repeating what I said in my previous all Bowie post, if you like David Bowie’s music then you should really be buying his music.

Of course, this blog exists because that’s not always possible. So here’s some shit that’s worthwhile yet unavailable.

David Bowie
Fun (Dillinja Mix)
Dead Man Walking (This One’s Not Dead Yet Mix)
Under Pressure (Live)
Moonage Daydream (Live)
Some real oddities tonight.

First up is a remix of “Fun,” which is doubly weird because the non-remixed version of “Fun” was never commercially released as far as I can tell. I have no idea when it was recorded, the story behind it, or if any other remixes were ever made available in any way shape or form. I got this remix off of the Davidbowie.com exclusive Live And Well 2CD compilation. Most of the remixes from that set were made available when Bowie’s mid/90s output was re-released in 2CD sets, but it didn’t make the cut.

After that we have a unique remix of “Dead Man Walking” which I found off of a CD single to the song. Another mix that didn’t make the cut when Bowie’s 90s records were re-released. A real shame too because it’s one of the better ones. While most of the song’s remixes play the dance angle and crank it up to be a club banger, this one puts Bowie on the forefront and tones it down a bit, all while keeping its beat. It’s a cool take on a great track.

Finally, there are two live tracks, both taken from the CD-single to “Hallo Spaceboy.” The live version of “Under Pressure” is relatively faithful to the original save for the fact that the vocals are shared by Bowie’s amazing bass player Gail Ann Dorsey.  However, the live rendition of “Moonage Daydream” is an interesting departure from the original, stripping away a lot of what made it a glam rock tune and replacing it with some industrial/90s’-rock overtones. Bowie would do this a lot when he toured in the 90s, sometimes to more drastic degrees than others. The changes he made to this track are tame compared to how he totally re-worked “Andy Warhol” into batshit crazy drum and bass track during his “Outside” tour.

By the way, does anyone have high-quality MP3s of this 90s tours that they’d feel like sharing?

Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom…..Boom

January 17th, 2016

Oi what a shitball week last week was.

Still not entirely over Bowie’s passing. A few days ago my boyfriend came over and we watched highlights from the Best of Bowie DVD set. I was doing okay until I played “Life On Mars” and, just like I thought I would, I lost it for a bit. Never actually got emotional over a celebrity’s death before. It felt weird. I’m glad I never besmirched anyone for mourning the loss of a celebrity before. At least, I don’t think I ever did. Shit, I used to be right prick, so I won’t rule it out.

I’ll probably post some more Bowie this week or the next. But I’ve been pretty much drowning myself in Bowie since his passing, so I thought I’d mix things up tonight.

Boom Boom Satellites
Dub Me Crazy (Ver.02)
Bike Ride To The Moon
Low Blow (Instrumental)
Here you go, obscure remixes of songs you don’t know by a Japanese band you’ve never heard of. And I wonder why more people don’t read this blog anymore.

One thing about Bowie’s passing that struck me was how in line I was with the feelings of those I knew. We were all fucked up by the news. I feel that rarely happens this day and age. I almost never feel like I’m connecting on a pop culture level with the masses, let alone anyone I know. And I’m not saying that as a “boy people sure do like dumb shit these days” kind of thing (although sometimes I do feel that way), I’m more saying it in regards to the fact that media is more fragmented than ever before. In addition, my tastes these days tend to skew to hyper-obscure shit that doesn’t even score me cool kid hipster points.

Well, if anyone out there does dig on Boom Boom Satellites, I hope they enjoy these remixes. BBM is easily one of my top five favorite groups who are currently making music. Their insane blend of hyperactive rock music, pulse-pounding electronica, and the occasional foray into acid jazz (not that often, just enough to make it interesting) is still unlike anything I’ve heard in recent memory. If you enjoy these tunes, check out To The Loveless or On. Both are wonderful records.

Trans-X
Living On Video (’85 Big Mix)
Living On Video (Dub Mix)
There are approximately 8,504,321,459 remixes of this song, give or take a million. So I may have posted these before. Or they may be available legally under different names. It’s so hard to tell with b-grade dance acts like this, who seem to lease, sell or rent their back catalog to the highest bidder on a moment’s notice.

I first posted a remix to this track nine years ago. Which is another reminder to you all that I’ve been doing this blog for 10 years come this March. I’d like to do something to celebrate. Haven’t figured out what that might be though. So if anyone out there wants to drop a suggestion it would be appreciated. Be reminded that while I would enjoy reposting some old material, some of it is lost and/or of such bad quality that doing so might be impossible.

I also plan on purging my sidebar of dead links soon. So that’s something.

If I listened to Life On Mars right now I’d probably cry

January 11th, 2016

I share rare and out-of-print songs. So it’s what I’m going to do tonight. I don’t know what else to do. I’m not going to eulogize David Bowie. Others, those who knew him, will do a better job at at that. Writing about his music, and sharing the tunes that people can’t easily get, is my own way of dealing with his death.

David Bowie’s discography was massive, and throughout the years many of his recordings fell through the cracks. In fact, my very first post on Lost Turntable was one such song, his theme to the largely forgotten animated nuclear war drama When The Wind Blows. Thankfully, that song is in print now, as are the remixes for it. You can buy them all on Amazon and I suggest you do. It’s a tremendous track.

In fact, in recent years many of Bowie’s rarer tracks have been re-issued in one way or another. His “greatest hits” compilation from last year featured rare and hard-to-find mixes of even his most popular tunes,  and even Sound + Vision was recently re-released, meaning you can find rarities such as the awesome U.S. single mix of “Rebel Rebel,” the radio edit of “Nite Flights” and the saxophone version of “John, I’m Only Dancing.” Bowie completists would do well to check them out. I also recommend picking up the David Bowie box set from 2007, which collects his albums from Outside to Reality, most of which were excellent (I still dig Earthling a lot).

So much work has been done to restore Bowie’s discography that there isn’t much for me to share here tonight. And make no mistake, that’s a good thing. David Bowie was a genius, and you should buy his music.

These are the only tracks I have that are out of print, not crummy sounding bootlegs, and worth sharing. I don’t feel that sharing a track like “Too Dizzy” a song that was so bad it was deleted from later pressings of Never Let Me Down (Bowie’s worst outing by many accounts, including his) would be a proper tribute to the man. I want to celebrate his legacy by showcasing the songs you might not know about, not dredge up stuff best left forgotten.

That being said, let’s start with a Tin Machine song.

Baby Universal
Baby Universal (7″ Remix)
Baby Universal (Extended Version)
I briefly mentioned Never Let Me Down a bit ago. Make no mistake, that is an incredibly bad record. Critics thought so, his fans though so, and in the years after its release Bowie thought so as well. Bowie took such a drubbing from the album’s release that he retreated from releasing albums as Bowie altogether, and instead formed a band called Tin Machine. They released two records, and although neither were particularly well-received by the public, perception on the Tin Machine material has improved over the years. I wholeheartedly recommend the band’s self-titled debut, and I even have fondness for their follow-up, Tin Machine II. It’s a bit uneven, but it does have the best song that Tin Machine released, the fast-paced punk/art-rock/dance hybrid Baby Universal, which I’m presenting here in all its forms. Be sure to listen to the lyrics, which include the classic Bowie line “Hello humans can you feel me thinking.”

Jump The Say (Rock Mix)
Tin Machine wasn’t that much of a critical or popular success, but it sure as hell served to revitalize Bowie creatively. After the group disbanded he went back to being a solo artist and went on a hell of a creative tear through the 90s, starting with Black Tie White Noise. A fantastic if somewhat dated record, much of the album dealt with Bowie’s then-recent marriage to Iman, but not this track. It was inspired largely by Bowie’s half-brother Terry, who lost his battle with mental illness and took his own life some years before.

Lyrically, its one of my favorite tracks on the record, but I always felt the funky production kind of beguiled the song’s dark message and somewhat angry tone, which is why I much prefer this rock remix. It’s still an early-90s dance-rock tune, so it’s pumped-up and overproduced, but the funky wah-wah guitars and more manic elements are removed and replaced with some hard guitar riffs. It gives it just enough edge for the lyrics to resonate a little more, just a bit more bite.

This remix first appeared on a few different singles. I got it from the two-disc edition of Black Tie White Noise. While that version of the album is out of print (for now) the single-disc release is easily available. It is very much an album of its time, for good and bad, but it has an upbeat vibe that’s hard to dislike. If you like this tune, check it out.

Cat People [Putting Out Fire] (Australian Promo Extended Version)
If I had to make a list of my top ten favorite David Bowie songs, I’d go insane – but I think this song would probably make the cut. A collaboration between Bowie and Giorgio Moroder (holy shit!) for an exceptionally bad movie, many consider it to be his creative swan song for the 80s. I wouldn’t go that far, I actually like a lot of Bowie’s 80s output, but this track is a motherfucking masterpiece, largely due to Bowie’s freakishly powerful vocals. He’s downright operatic here, with a bellow that rivals what he delivered on “Heroes.”

If this track sounds familiar to you, that’s probably because it was featured prominently in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. The version featured in the movie is the one from the soundtrack to Cat People. You can find that on the Sound + Vision box set. It is distinctively different than the version on Let’s Dance, which is also good but far too over-produced (this was a common problem with music from the era, not just Bowie). The version I’m sharing tonight was only included on the original Australian 12″ single, and most likely by mistake. It’s over nine minutes long and features a fucking rad as hell sax solo.

Disclaimer: This is not my rip, I found it on another (defunct) MP3 blog.

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (With Nine Inch Nails)
Okay, one bootleg.

This might be my favorite Bowie song. And this version with Nine Inch Nails (from the Outside tour) is just a (scary) monster. A powerful and intense burst of glorious thunder. This is how I choose to remember David Bowie.

As a motherfucking rock star.

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フォースと ともに あらん ことを。(May The Force Be With You)

January 5th, 2016

Star Wars is, of course, an international phenomenon, and during my time in Japan I’ve come to realize that the franchise might be even more popular here than it is in the west. Sure, in America you have much the mocked Star Wars fruits, but do you have a Star Wars vacuum cleaner? What about Star Wars chopsticks (that light up)? Can you buy a X-Wing inspired Star Wars pen and pen stand (for a combined price of over $2,000)? Star Wars dishes, high-end Star Wars doormats, Star Wars kimonos. You name it, Japan has it. It’s pretty dope.

In fact, Japan getting exclusive Star Wars goodies is not a new phenomenon, just check this out.

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The Story Of Star Wars (Japanese Edition)
Side 1
Side 2

This is the Japanese edition of the Story of Star Wars LP, a 1978 record that summarizes the…story of Star Wars (duh) by combining audio and dialog from the film alongside original narration that helps to cut down the running time to something that would fit on an LP (and work without the aide of visuals).

Now, a lot of countries got this record, it was released all across North America, and also in several European countries. However, all those countries, no matter what their native language, got the album in English, even if the movie came out in their country dubbed.

This was not the case with Japan.

When the time came for the album to come out in Japan, Fox actually went out of their way to release a Japanese language version of the record, complete with all new Japanese narration, as well as the original Japanese dub of the film.

I don’t know what made Japan so special that they got a uniquely localized version of this record, but I think it probably had more to do with the LP buying habits of the Japanese people than the runaway success of Star Wars in the country. During the late 70s and early 80s, these “audio drama” types of records were oddly popular in Japan. In my time browsing the used LP bins here, I’ve seen audio drama LPs for countless TV shows, feature-length anime, sporting events and even wrestling matches. The releases dry up sometime in the mid-80s, I assume home video killed it.

I’m going to be real for a second. Even though I’ve lived in this country for two years now, my Japanese is still dogshit. In fact, calling it dogshit might be an insult to dogshit. So don’t ask me how loyal to the source material this translation is or anything like that.

So yeah, when I listen to this I can probably only pick up every 10th sentence, if that. But despite my ultra-limited understanding of the language, I still find this record an interesting listen. Not only am I using it to help with my Japanese, it’s also fun to listen to hear the dubbed voices and the stylistic choices they went with for each of them. Han Solo and Obi Wan sound like rough samurais (not surprising) while Luke still comes off like a whiny idiot. Most interesting, to me at least, is that C-3P0 still speaks with a British accent.

In case you’re wondering, R2-D2 remains unchanged. Bleeps and bloops are international.

Special thanks to the boyfriend for translating “may the force be with you” into Japanese. In case you’re wondering, you pronounce that “o-su to tomoni arankoto.”

Happy New Year with Madonna and White Zombie

January 3rd, 2016

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I hope no one’s cell phone was stolen in a hipster coffee house. I hope no one’s laptop was smashed by a wheelchair. Those would not be fun things to happen during one’s holiday break. Trust me.

Moving onto more upbeat news, this year will mark the 10th anniversary of Lost Turntable. This fact BLOWS MY FUCKING MIND.

I want to plan something special for the anniversary month, which is this March. Although I really haven’t figured out what that would be. So if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

This has to be one of the longest running MP3 blogs at this point, right? I mean, who the fuck is left? Every blog that inspired me to create this blog is either completely offline at this point or hasn’t been updated in years. Quitters.

White Zombie
Thunder Kiss ’65 (Finger On The Trigger Remix)
Thunder Kiss ’65 (The Remix That Wouldn’t Die Remix)
Thunder Kiss ’65 (The Diabolical Ramrodder Remix)
Thunder Kiss ’65 (Swinging Lovers Remix)
White Zombie reminds me of Ridge Racer.

Okay, so here’s the thing.

When the Playstation came out there weren’t that many good games for it. One of the best was the original Ridge Racer. Now, I don’t know if this was an advertised feature of the game or something I just read in a magazine, but since the game loaded entirely to the system’s RAM, once it booted up you could take out the PS1 game disc and put in any old CD you wanted, which would then serve as the game’s soundtrack. For some reason, my go to CD was Astro-Creep: 2000.

I have incredibly vivid memories of racing along to “Electric Head” and using the track as an audio checkpoint – if I could get to one corner of the track before the chorus kicked in, I knew I was doing good. Why the fuck this memory sticks in my head and not, y’know, my boyfriend’s birthday, I have no idea.

Anyways, these remixes are by KMFDM and they hella sound like remixes of White Zombie songs by KMFDM. So your enjoyment of them will probably depend on how appealing that sounds to you. They just make me want to play Ridge Racer.

 

Madonna
GHV2 (Tracy Young’s Shake & Stir Club Mix)
Madonna does not make me think of any video game in particular save for this obscure Japanese arcade game that features a brief chiptune cover of “Like A Virgin.” I guess I could also associate her with the Turbografx-16 game Vigilante, as the protagonist’s kidnapped girlfriend’s name is Madonna for some reason. I doubt she endorsed that cameo.

This track is a megamix of tracks taken from her 2001 greatest hits album GHV2. There were several versions of this mix released, albeit none commercially – all were promo and DJ releases only. This one is one of the rarest, and is only on a handful of 12″ promo singles and CDrs. If I ever get around to finishing that mega Madonna singles guide, I’ll be sure to go into more detail there.

Have a Madonna Christmas

December 21st, 2015

I’m in America! Oregon to be exact. So if you see a giant man in a Run DMC shirt buying records in Portland this Tuesday, say yo.

Sorry if tonight’s post is poorly written and/or stupid. I’m suffering from severe jet lag and slightly drunk.

Madonna
Ray Of Light (Sasha Strip Down Mix)
Ray Of Light (Sasha Twilo Mix)
Ray Of Light (Sasha Ultra Violet Mix)
Ray Of Light (Victor Calderone Club Mix)
Ray Of Light (Victor Calderone Drum Mix)
Ray Of Light (William Orbit Liquid Mix)
Ray Of Light (William Orbit Ultra Violet Mix)
This is easily one of my favorite Madonna singles, probably in my top ten between “Music” and “Don’t Tell Me.” It’s a wonderful song, and one of the most perfect dance tracks ever constructed.

That being said, let’s talk about the lyrics for a minute.

Zephyr in the sky at night I wonder
Do my tears of mourning sink beneath the sun
She’s got herself a universe gone quickly
For the call of thunder threatens everyone

“Zephyr in the sky” is one of the strangest opening lines to any pop song outside of the 1960s psychedelic rock boom. The literal definition of “zephyr” in case you were wondering, is “a light wind.” So the opening line of the song is her pretty much saying “Hey wind, I have a question.” Or maybe she’s talking to a train. Who knows. I’m not even going to begin to attempt parsing the other lines of the chorus. I’m sure they’re not nonsense, but they definitely come off as such. I bet it’s deep and probably has to do with whatever religion Madonna was into that week, so I don’t want to knock them too much.

But that chorus.

“And I feel like I just got home.”

What does that even mean? Okay. Seriously. Let me think about how I feel when I walk in the door. These are the thoughts going through my head.

  • Ugh, I gotta take this tie off.
  • Oh my god I have to pee so bad.
  • I wonder if I got any mail.
  • When’s my boyfriend coming over?
  • Oh well, might as well play some Rock Band for a bit. Or maybe Pac-Man.
  • I want pizza.

Maybe the line means something like “I’m relieved” or “I’m at peace?” “I’m in a safe space?” Or maybe it’s like, she just got home after a long journey. But wouldn’t “I feel like I’m finally home” work better for that feeling?

It doesn’t really matter, of course. This is a rave track, and a late-90s one at that. And if “Blue” taught us anything, it’s that 90s dance music didn’t have to have any deep meaning behind it. In fact, it was probably better when it didn’t.

And these remixes are dope. I hope you all enjoy them and if I don’t get another post up before, I wish you all a merry Christmas.

International New Wave: Life In The Future – Swedish Post-Punk & Synth Wave 79-87

December 8th, 2015

Before I get to the music tonight, I want to share a few things I wrote over at that other site. I put up a review  of some recent game music releases, wrote a thing about how I’m done with horror movies for now, followed that up with a hella bizarre piece about Kiki’s Deliver Service, Amazing Grace and Chuck and the lack of human empathy (I was having a strange week), did a quick write-up of another Nirvana re-issue, put together a sadly relevant piece about a movie that predicted America’s mass shooting problem, and then closed out with a piece on STP.

Been busy. Anyways, some weird shit for the holiday season.

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I’m consistently impressed by the oddball shit I find in Japanese record stores.

This is Life In The Future, a bootleg compilation of obscure Swedish post-punk.

Quick, ask me anything about Swedish post-punk.

Okay, I’m going to be honest and tell you that I don’t know shit about Swedish post-punk. I didn’t know the Swedes had post-punk. I thought they only had two genres in Sweden, ultra-poppy and cheery dance-pop and hardcore death metal. Shows you what I know.

But I wished I knew more, but because damn, this is a really great record. It does kind of get off to a rough start with the intentionally abrasive “Forlast Javel” by Hörförståelse, but it picks up soon after that, with all flavors of post-punk getting due mention here. Like dissonant, depressing post-punk ala Joy Division? Then check out “Vanda Inat” by Unter Den Liden. Into quirky dance-punk with an electronic bent? Be sure to play the utterly manic “Happy Funeral” by the wonderfully named Kitchen & The Plastic Spoons. If you like darkwave synth-pop with a touch of New Order you’re more than covered here with great tracks like “East People” by Vitality and “The Gift” by Reasons To Live. And if you like weird shit that would make most people’s head explode, skip straight to the utterly bizarre “I Throw Punches” by one Friz Be.

As I said before, most of the stuff on this record is incredibly obscure. Most of the acts here didn’t even release a full album, and instead just offered a single or two before vanishing completely. Of the acts on here, the most well-known is probably Cortex, who get their material re-issued on a semi-regular basis. I couldn’t tell you much about them though.

Keep in mind, this is a vinyl rip of a bootleg record that was in itself most likely sourced from vinyl. So don’t expect killer audio quality with this one. Still, good stuff overall, so if you’re like me and have exhausted nearly every post-punk act that England and America had to offer, check it out!

Complete Tracklisting (Download Link)

  1. Forlast Javel – Hörförståelse
  2. Tristess No. 3 – GPJ
  3. Happy Funeral – Kitchen & The Plastic Spoons
  4. Envy – Modern Art
  5. Jesus I Betong – Cortex
  6. Chinese Junkies – Njurmannen
  7. Dance – Odd Stories
  8. Rekordmagasinet – Mats Olofsson
  9. The Gift – Reason To Live
  10. I Throw Punches – Friz Be
  11. Vanda Inst – Unter Den Liden
  12. East People – Vitality
  13. She’s A Waitress – Elektriska Cellskapet
  14. Operator – Tres-Operator

Lupin The 3rd’s Synthesizer Fantasy

November 22nd, 2015

I think I’ve made it abundantly clear over the years that I enjoy buying really stupid records for no apparent reason other than the fact that I find them really funny.

Those are just some samples, dig deep into the “Complete Albums” category if you’re in the mood for some completely random nonsense (many of those posts’ MP3s are still active because I don’t think anyone is going to sue me over any of that idiocy).

Living in Japan has afforded me a whole new opportunity to find weird and wonderful (and wonderfully stupid) obscurities. Just a few weeks ago I shared a track from the Street Fighter: The Movie soundtrack, and now here I am about to write about an all-synthesizer compilation of Lupin the 3rd theme music.

Lost Turntable: Because If I don’t who will.

lupin

 

Lupin the 3rd Synthesizer Fantasy

I totally bought this for laughs and thought it would be a fun goof. While I love me Moog and/or synthesizer covers records, I’ve soured on them slightly over the years because so many of them are boring and usually nothing more than obvious cash grabs.

So for me to buy one now it really has to stand out. Or, in the case of this record, cost me less than five bucks.

Not a big investment, so I took the risk. And guess what? This record is fucking rad! Seriously, even if you don’t have any interest in Lupin at all (and if you don’t what the fuck is wrong with you, Lupin is dope), you need to check this one out.

This album came out in 1984, and as such it’s actually a pretty impressive considering that was still fairly early in the history of the all-digital synthesizer. The linear notes don’t mention specifically what type of synthesizer was used in the creation of this album, but if I had to guess I would say it was composed using a Synclavier, and probably one similar to the one used by Frank Zappa for Jazz From Hell. It certainly has that vibe, and even shares some of the sound effects found on that record (which I really recommend for synthesizer enthusiasts.

If I had to describe the sound of this record I would say it’s probably half Super Famicom video game music (those steel drums!), one-third background music for 80s commercials, and one-sixth (I think that math checks out) cheesy 80s pop music. Parts of it makes me think of Level 42’s “Something About You” although that comparison might be a little off-base.

(Unrelated: I just discovered I have an eight-minute remix of that song on my computer for some reason. So guess what I’m listening to right this minute.)

So yeah, it’s a bit on the cheesy side of the synth-spectrum. But it’s authentic, perfectly aged cheese like a nice gouda. I appreciate the real cheese. Fuck fake cheese.

This reminds me, and I’m sorry to go off on a tangent here, today I was in a cool little indie record store and they were playing this song by Aussie artist Kirin J. Callinan, and my god that’s the kind of shit that pisses me off the most. Look at those assholes. They think they’re better than the music they’re playing. An insult to a genre and time of music that had more influence and lasting appeal than anything they’ll ever try to force upon the public.

Fuck that and fuck them. Don’t discount an entire style of music just because it’s old and hasn’t aged entirely well. We’re 10 years removed from Arcade Fire’s first LP, and who’s to say? Maybe in ten more years people will be making ironic baroque-pop videos spoofing their style. And they’ll be inauthentic boring assholes too.

I wrote a whole thing about this. It’s an issue for me.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, synthesized covers of Lupin themes.

You can tell this record was made with sincerity. You can also tell, with it’s incredibly narrow focus and probably small target market, that it was definitely a product of Japan’s bubble economy.

The album was performed by Osamu Shoji. Apparently he started out in the 70s creating original electronic albums that appear to be very much like Tomita and other synthesizer performers of the era. But then he branched out into the covers arena, first releasing an all-synth Bee Gees album (HOLY SHIT) and then a synth/disco take on Star Wars.

I need to find that album.

Anyways, he really went into high gear with the synth cover albums in the mid-80s with the”Synthesizer Fantasy” series. In addition to Lupin, he also released all-synth versions of themes to animes such as Vifam, Gundam and Orguss. Additionally, he composed the original score to the acclaimed (and hyper-fucked up) anime Wicked City. The soundtrack of that was actually just re-released on vinyl by Tiger Lab.

Nearest I can tell, he’s still kicking it. Although he hasn’t released a new record in over 20 years. I definitely need to track down more of his work though, if this album is any indication it must be pretty damn great.

Sighing to Prog Rock and Writing About Blondie

November 17th, 2015

I have nothing to say in regards to recent events that I feel like sharing with anyone aside from this: when faced with crippling dread and/or anxiety related to world suffering I find that prog rock helps.

I recommend Yes’s third album. It’s a good one.

I wish I had prog rock to share with you tonight, but instead some post-new wave disco remixes and Japanese covers of German techno will have to do.

Blondie
Good Boys (Giorgio Moroder Extended Short)
Good Boys (Giorgio Moroder Single Mix)
Good Boys (Scissor Sisters’ Gyad Byas Myax Mix Extended)
Good Boys (Scissor Sisters’ Gyad Byas Myax Ya Mix)
Good Boys (A1 People Full Version)
These are remixes of a track from Curse Of Blondie, the Blondie album nobody bought. I include myself in that royal nobody, so I can’t comment on the quality of said record. “Good Boys” is a pretty dope track, and the Moroder remixes really channel the frantic and dark energy of their classic “Call Me.” It’s no “Call Me,” obviously, and the weird Queen-esque rap is a bit out of place, but it’s still pretty good.

I don’t know what the fuck “extended short” means in terms of remixes though. That’s not a thing, Blondie, don’t say that!

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Radioactivity
If you’ve been reading my massive all-encompassing review of YMO’s work, you’d know that this song opens their most recent live album, No Nukes 2012. It’s a good live album, but the only thing that makes it stand out at all is this somber and haunting cover of the classic Kraftwerk tune, which I feel that YMO have made their own with this fantastic take on it. I hope one day that I get to hear YMO perform live in person. Takahashi has a new studio album coming out this year so hopefully I’ll at least get to see him sometime soon.