If Prince really knew about The Future he would’ve warned us

November 4th, 2018

The world ended in 1990.

Prince
The Future (Remix)
Electric Chair (Remix)

These tracks are new to me. The original versions first appeared on the Batman soundtrack, which I still haven’t bothered to pick up, one of the more embarrassing Prince-sized holes in my record collection. I found this single for just a couple hundred yen so I figured why the fuck not.

As I’ve never heard the original versions, I can’t compare these remixes to them. If what I’ve read is any indication though, the mixes are pretty different from the album versions, especially “The Future” which is transformed into a straight-up house track thanks to the remix work of William Orbit. Geez, remember that five minutes when he was the hot shit producer? He did some great stuff with Madonna, but I don’t think his work has aged particularly well, especially his solo stuff. Although to be honest, I think a lot of it wasn’t all that great the first time around. I had a friend who kept a copy of one of his albums for years, specifically because there was a song on it that she thought was so bad that it was hilarious. That’s some cold shit.

Anyways, yeah, Prince. He was cool. Fuck. I sure miss Prince. I was just getting back into his music when he died. Yo, Plectrumelectrum is a damn good record. I really recommend it, especially if you dig this remix of “The Electric Chair,” it really reminds me of that album’s groovy guitar funk. I hope Donna Grantis, the guitar player on that album, goes on to do some more work soon. She fucking slays man.

As much as I dig Prince, I remember that Batman was one of the first times I wasn’t 100% up with what he was putting down. I didn’t really dig the Batman movies as a kid all that much, I guess. I mean, I liked them. But they were a little too dark for my tastes. God, if 10-year-old 1990 me thought that Tim Burton’s Batman was too dark, he probably would’ve pissed his pants and crawled into a fetal position if he had seen any of the Dark Knight movies. Burton’s Batman movies are absolutely day-glo happy fun times compared to those flicks, which I have kind of grown to despise because of their grimdark bullshit wankery And even my 10-year-old self could tell that Prince schilling for Batman wasn’t exactly cool. “Batdance” is a stupid, stupid fucking song. And the video is just as dumb. Holy hell, speaking of shit that didn’t age well.

Come to think of it, Batman kicked off my cold spell on Prince. While I dug “Gett Off” (not understanding what it was about) I didn’t like most of the other tracks off of Diamonds And Pearls, and when Prince went full symbol on us all I (along with most people) dropped off completely. Coming back to a lot of those albums now, I really do enjoy them. But I think they would’ve bored grunge-era teenage me to death. Best I avoided them at the time.

Whilst I was complaining that the Michael Jackson estate hasn’t given the fans what the want, the Prince estate seems to slowly getting their shit together. Did you know that earlier this year they put TWENTY-THREE out-of-print Prince albums on iTunes and various streaming services? Yeah, sure a lot of them aren’t exactly great (although Emancipation is fucking rad as fuck) but hey, at least they’re out there now. Prince’s estate even curated a special digital only best of that encompasses his 1995-2010 work, which has historically been very hard to dive into thanks to its eclectic nature. My next vacation I’m going to have to buy all of this and just spend a week in Prince World.

Prince World is great, everyone. It’s all purple (duh) and all the clothes are custom-made to fit out that day, just as Prince would’ve wanted. And absolutely nothing is on high shelves.

Because Prince was tiny.

Annie’s not okay, and neither am I – Smooth Criminal Remixes

November 3rd, 2018

Last time I posted Madonna. Let’s stay in the 80s for a while longer. It’s safer here.

Michael Jackson
Smooth Criminal (Extended Dance Mix)
Smooth Criminal (Extended Dance Mix Radio Edit)
Smooth Criminal (”Annie” Mix)
Smooth Criminal (Dance Mix – Dub Version)
Smooth Criminal (A Cappella)
I originally posted these nearly a decade ago but if you somehow were reading then and you’re still reading now, well firstly, thanks for not bailing on me like 90% of my audience did. Secondly, you should probably download these versions now. Those old ones were ripped from a scratchy record on a subpar turntable. These are fresh new CD rips, taken from a Japanese single that I scored last week, during the same trip that got me the previously featured Madonna single.

I’ve bought this on vinyl at least twice, and both sounded like shit in the exact same way, even with nearly identical scratches! I can only imagine there was some kind of problem with the original pressing. I’ve had that happen with other singles in the past. No matter how many times I buy “Right By My Side” by the Eurythmics, for example, I have the same problem.

Anyways, that’s a problem no more thanks to the wonders of digital music. CDs are underrated! Seriously! This vinyl boom is getting ridiculous. Why you wanna buy music on vinyl? What’s the point?

I know that sounds funny coming from me, proprietor of Lost Turntable, but I’ve long said that the main reason I got into vinyl wasn’t out of nostalgia, but because a lot of what I buy just isn’t easily available on CD or digitally. Of course, that was much truer when I started this blog 12 years ago than it is now. Truth be told, I buy a hell of a lot more CDs these days. And the vastness of iTunes digital library has literally saved me hundreds of dollars on formerly out-of-print CDs and LPs. Did you know that Prince’s Crystal Ball is on iTunes now?! Thirty songs for twenty bucks! You know how much that fucker goes for on CD? More than twenty bucks, I’ll tell you what.

But these remixes still aren’t on iTunes. Hell, most MJ remixes remain insanely out-of-print. A decision that is just utterly baffling. It’s not like the demand isn’t there. Why they hell are they sitting on these? Are they waiting for another anniversary so they can re-sell us all Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous again? I mean, I’ll buy them, I don’t mind. Assuming the remixes are included and sound good.

“Smooth Criminal” is the best shit. A while back Todd In The Shadows did a hilarious video profiling Alien Ant Farm and their cover of the track. In that video, he posits that, as dopey as that cover is, it helped cement “Smooth Criminal” in the popular lexicon as one of Michael Jackson’s best. He might be right, it certainly gave it a boost. But to me it’s always been one of his best, if not his absolute best, track. Everything about “Smooth Criminal” is just as on-point now as it was all those years ago. Top-notch production, dope AF bassline, and, of course, some of the best vocals that Michael ever graced the world with.

And of course, there’s the video another of MJ’s best. And definitely an early inspiration for my…*ahem*…interest in men in suits. That video just gives me the vapors I say.

All of these remixes are ass-kickular fan-fucking-tastic. Even the dub, which is really just a pure instrumental, is killer. It lets you hear just how dope that bass is. And the “A Cappella,” whilst not really an a cappella mix (it still has the drum beat), serves as an absolutely stellar showcase of MJ’s amazing voice. You put this shit on at a club and people would dance to it. You don’t even need that bassline (dope as it is).

More MJ soon. And some Prince too. Fuck it. Let us worship our fallen 80’s idols so they may be resurrected and save us from our accursed reality.

Madonna’s Hot Seven Inch Record

November 2nd, 2018

Madonna
Burning Up (Japanese 7″ Mix)
Physical Attraction (Japanese 7″ Mix)
This is really why I moved to Japan. Okay, not really, but I’d be lying if “finding Japanese only remixes” wasn’t in my top ten.

Of all Madonna’s early singles, “Burning Up” has the most convoluted release history. The song was originally released in the states as a 12″ single in March of 1983. That version is a 12″ remix, about six minutes long. The album came out a few month later, and featured a 4:48 version that is similar to the 12″ remix. But at some point, there was a switch, and the album version was replaced with a different version that’s 3:45 long and sounds drastically different, with different synthesizer and guitar parts.

But in addition to those versions, there’s also at least one 7″ single version. While America never got a 7″ single for “Burning Up,” other countries did. It’s nearly the same length as the replacement album version, and is actually an edited version of the 12″ single version.

I don’t know how many different 7″ edits/versions there are. According to some, the Japanese single is different than the European one. I have no idea one way or the other, as the Japanese version is the only one I have. I would hazard to say that if there are any differences between the Japanese version and 7″ versions found elsewhere, they’re probably minor.

The story of “Physical Attraction” is a lot more simple. It served as a B-side to the original US 12″ single, but that version was just the album version with no changes. This version is a 7″ version that was exclusive to 7″ singles. Neither of these versions have been made widely available since, save for a massive 40 CD singles collection that came out in Japan a few years back. So finding this single for less than ten bucks was a pretty good score for me.

I almost went an entire calendar year without posting a Madonna remix! Thank god we were able to avoid that.

Shohjo-Tai’s Happy Fun Synthpop Fun

October 21st, 2018

My neck is killing me and my brain is broken but if I don’t write about stupid Japanese synthpop that literally no one on earth cares about, WHO WILL?

Shohjo-Tai
Forever 2001
Flamingo Island
Space Magic
I’ve been working here in Japan for nearly five years now, time flies. But in that time, I’ve rarely had any of my students recommend any music worth a damn to me. Very early on, someone suggested Capsule, and I got way into them. But most of the time, in the rare cases that students do want to talk about Japanese music, they only bother recommending acts like Mr. Children or Yellow Monkey, who are both fine bands I guess, but just sound like bland rock to me: Japanese Coldplays.

But I was teaching an adorable housewife a few weeks ago who knew that I dig older music, and she was all excited to recommend to me this band. She explained to me that her friends who like “techno-pop” all like this group, even though they never registered any major hits. She assumed I would like them too. And she was very much correct.

Shohjo-Tai somehow released eight albums/EPs in just five years. The general consensus seems to be that their best release is From S, a mini-album that features an assist from Haruomi Hosono and Koshi Miharu. Of course, that one’s a bit harder to find so I haven’t picked it up yet. I did find some good stuff though, especially the tracks from this single, which originally came out in 1985. Both “Forever 2001” and “Flamingo Island” are hella fun, bouncy tracks that probably weren’t hits only for the fact that the Japanese singles market was absolutely flooded with tracks like them at the time. The instrumentation is fantastic on both of those tracks, synthesizer saturation all the way, but with some depth as well. “Forever 2001” features some pretty solid guitar, and “Flamingo Island” is booming with dope bass.

This single was produced by Akihiro Shigematsu, a person whose name I had not heard before. According to Discogs, he didn’t do much, but that might just be because his page lacks his full production discography. Hell, he’s not even credited on Discogs with this release. One fairly notable artist he did work with was Junko Ohashi, another lesser-known idol of the 80s whose work has vaulted back into the spotlight thanks to that strange “City Pop” resurgence.

The final track of the three, “Space Magic” is a bit different than the first two. It’s a dance track first and foremost, with the vocals almost secondary. When I first heard it, I was reminded of Koshi Miharu, so I wasn’t surprised to find that she did, in fact, write and arrange the track. It’s a fantastic tune, and could be mistaken for a YMO b-side thanks to its excellent production and electronic arrangements. The girls of Shohjo-Tai are actually barely present on it, just showing up for a smidge of vocals halfway through and then again at the end. It almost sounds like an instrumental remix of another track, but I can’t find one with more vocals anywhere, so I guess this is it.

If you dig this music and want more Shohjo-Tai, check out YouTube, people have uploaded a lot of their best stuff there. And if I can ever get my hand on From S, you bet your butt I’ll be sharing it here. Gimme that Hosono.

Forgotten Synthpop by a Has-Been

October 5th, 2018

Seona Dancing
More To Lose (Extended Version)
You’re On My Side

I can’t believe I found this in a used records bin for 300 yen. This thing goes for close to a $100 online these days.

That’s of course, not because of the song’s quality (which I’ll get to in a bit) but because of the new romantic looking dude on the right. That would be Rick Gervais. As I’m sure many of you know, Seona Dancing was Gervais’ early attempt at stardom, but they only managed to release less than a handful of failed singles before fading into obscurity (save for the Philippines, where they are legendary one-hit-wonders). Do a YouTube search of the group and you’ll uncover countless uploads of their few songs, as well as bits from various talk shows where the hosts drudge out clips from the group in an effort to embarrass Gervais, who has no doubt long gotten sick of the joke by now.

I wonder if any of the talk show hosts who play these clips realize that the few songs that Seona Dancing put out were, actually not that bad? Sure, they’re very dated and not entirely original, but that goes for a lot of fantastic music from that era. You’re going to tell me that “More To Lose” is somehow an embarrassing relic while songs of similar quality by B-tier acts like General Public, Spandau Ballet, or any other act featured on a John Hughes soundtrack are any better?

“More To Lose” should’ve been a hit. It has a fantastic feel of melancholy, the opening piano melody is a hell of a hook, and Gervais’ early-80s Bowie impersonation is spot on. For me, it’s evocative of “Don’t You Forget About Me,” only slightly less epic and far less annoying. (The only people who are more sick of that song than me are Simple Minds.)

“You’re On My Side” isn’t as good, and a far more obvious Bowie knock-off. It’s way too minimal, with zero hooks. It’s just some drum beats, two keys on a keyboard, and Gervais’ howling, which is where the faults in his voice become a bit more glaring. Still though, is it any worse than any other mid-level synthpop song of the time? Not really.

There are dozens of rips of these tracks online, but most are: A) On YouTube and B) sound overly compressed or scratchy. I’m sure I’m not the first person to provide high-quality rips of these online, but I must be the first person in a while, as I can’t find any right now. I doubt that it’s going to get re-released anytime soon. Someone I was talking to on Twitter suggested that Gervais’ is crazy for keeping this out-of-print. But I highly doubt that he owns these tracks. London Records (now part of Universal I believe) probably has better things to do than pull this one out of the cellar, even if they could find the masters, which I doubt. And maybe with Gervais’ recent move to “I’m going to offend you AAAAAH” style of comedy, maybe they just don’t want to deal with any baggage a re-release might entail.

Shame, it’s one of the best things that edgelord asshole ever did.

 

Update: Okay I know yinz mean well by pointing out the other blog that has these songs. And I’m not mad at anyone who did that. But that other blog posts often posts (not so good) rips of legally available music. Additionally, that other blog routinely PLAGIARIZES written content without proper attribution. I refuse to link to them, or name. I hope it burns to the ground.

Zygoat is G.O.A.T.

September 30th, 2018

I’m still waist-deep in my synthesizer/prog kick, and I expect I’ll be swimming in sequencers for quite a long time if I keep discovering lost masterpieces like this.

Zygoat
Side 1
Side 2

As I’ve no doubt mentioned before on this blog, most early synthesizer work was very simplistic because of the limitations of the technology. Early synthesizers were monophonic, they could only create one sound at a time. That means complex, well-arranged releases like Wendy Carlos’ legendary Switched-On Bach were comprised of seemingly endless dubs and layers, a terrifyingly complex process. While Carlos rose above these rather strict limitations, most others did not, leading to some two-dimensional, if still fun, recordings.

This is definitely not the case with Zygoat, a record filled with so many over-the-top and complex arrangements that it’s downright manic. It’s a good example of just how quickly synthesizer technology progressed in the six years between the 1968 release of Switched-On Bach and this record, which came out in 1974.

The sound here is just so unique that it’s hard to describe. There are definitely multiple synths at work here, some providing a fuzzy, distorted sound, while other give a cleaner, more symphonic, presentation. Most of the sounds themselves don’t sound entirely unique, I’m sure I’ve heard other records from the era using most of these settings and configurations. What makes Zygoat really stand out is just the tone of it all. It starts out rather basic, not too far removed from something you might hear from Tomita or even Carlos’ early work, but things escalate quickly, the pace picks up, and the record just explodes. Solos reminiscent of violin concertos (or classical guitar riffs) take dominance, as a barrage of out-of-this-world rhythms and backing harmonies accompany them. Fans of Stardrive might make a comparison with those legendary albums, but while Stardrive was funk, and while this certainly has funk elements, there’s a lot more going on here.

I guess what really gets me about this album is the pace. It has its slow spots, including an extended section where the tones are distorted and drawn out in a way that almost makes the synthesizers sound drunk (it’s pretty odd) the most memorable pieces of this album are the sections that work at a breakneck pace. When this album is firing on all cylinders, it’s just beyond words.

Zygoat is the brainchild of one man, a Burt Alcantara, but it’s nearly impossible to find out anything about him. According to Discogs this is the man’s only real release. The only mentions I find of him online are brief, and there appears to be no interview of him proper. What the hell became of this dude?

One of the few mentions I can find of Burt is in this interview with Brian Hodgson, who also worked on this album to some extent. Hodgson is a name that some of you might recognize, especially if you’re a Dr. Who fan. He was the man behind many of that show’s electronic sounds, including the iconic Daleks. After leaving the BBC, he went on to work on a few pioneering electronic albums, including fantastic works by White Noise and Wavemaker. He’s not credited by name here, but the album was recorded at his Electrophon Studios, so I imagine he was involved somewhat, if only tangentially.

I really wanted to pin down exactly what synthesizers were used in the making of this record, but that proved to be a bit tricky too. The back cover simply states that album was made using “ARP and RSE Synthesizers,” but it doesn’t go into any detail about make or model numbers. And, despite my interest in synthesizers from the era, I’m not very good at identifying them by ear. I would imagine that the ARPs that were used here were some variation of the 2500 though, as that was the big gun in the ARP line-up at the time. There might be an ARP String Ensemble at use here as well, which was one of the first polyphonic synths they produced.

What interests me more is the “RSE synthesizer” part of that credit, as I’ve never heard of that line of synths before. A quick scour through Google doesn’t turn up much either. All I could find was a brief mention in the book Analog Synthesizers, by one Mark Jenkins, where he says that the RSE model was a custom build by someone named Ken Gale, who worked at Electrophon. Other than that, I got zilch on that dude. I wonder what other albums feature these custom units, and if they sound anything like Zygoat.

So we got an unknown by unknown artists featuring unknown technology. I live for this shit and I hope you do too. In a year where I’ve uncovered so many fantastic obscure records (at least, to me they’re fantastic), this one might stand out as the absolute best of the bunch. Damn essential work for any synth fanatic out there.

I really did try to break this one up into individual tracks, but, even the track times of this record are unknown. And since most of the tracks segue together pretty flawlessly, I couldn’t even begin to tell when most of them ended and began. I thought it would be best just to leave them as is. Hope that doesn’t bother anyone.

And, as is always the case with this bafflingly obtuse obscurities, if you know anything about anyone at all who even had a remote connection to it, please let me know! I’m dying to find out more about this one!

The Brain Solution: Part 2

September 23rd, 2018

Last week I covered half of the 1988 Japanese alt-rock compilation The Brain Solution by focusing on the songs from the album by the groups Joy and Bardo Thodol. While not pop acts by any stretch of the imagination, both of them had a sound that was at least partially rooted in the commercial. Joy’s tracks had a groovy psychedelic bent that would’ve fit in totally fine in the British 60s-revival scene of the time, or possibly in the Paisley Underground. And Bardo Thodol was just doing a damn good Cocteau Twins impersonation, and the Cocteau Twins are good so there you go.

These groups are decidedly less commercial in every sense of the word. While I’m bummed that Joy and Bardo Thodol never broke through into any mainstream success or got enough exposure to even warrant a full-length album release, I can get why these bands didn’t make it big. They sound odd, noncommercial and jarring now. I can only imagine how they came across in 1988.

Also, one of them has the worst band name I’ve ever heard, but I’ll get that in a minute.

Gakidou
Voice Of Psychoprogram
(G.K.D.) 0023
I don’t know what to call this type of music. As out-of-my-element that I was when talking about Bardo Thodol, I’m doubly so here. I’m going to go with industrial/goth. These dudes dug Skinny Puppy no doubt.

This is electronic rock music, focusing primarily on loops, drum machines and scary noises. “Voice Of Psychoprogram” has a groove to it. I could imagine myself dancing to that at a club’s goth night. But the second track is just a slog of a slog. The vocalizations literally sound like someone vomiting repeatedly. I don’t know what they were going for. But hey, it’s unique so I’ll give them that much.

According to Discogs, this group has released several independent albums, but I don’t know if I trust that page entirely. It says all their albums came out in 2014 and 2015, nearly 30 years after their first single release. I suspect that this might be a case of there being two bands with the same name accidentally getting lumped into one page. That, or the band never broke up and discovered the joys of independent distribution 30+ years into their career. Stranger things have happened.

Regardless, it’s kind of hard for me to dig into more information into this band, thanks to their incredibly generic name. (Gakidou is a Japanese word for a type of supernatural being.)

Katsurei
電話の悪魔 (Phone Devil)
Gakidou’s name is generic (especially for a goth band) but at least they didn’t go Katsurei’s route.

Katsurei is Japanese for “circumcision.”

Why the fuck would you name your band “circumcision?” Imagine the horrible sentences that band name generated:

“Hey, you guys wanna go see Circumcision tonight?”
“Yo, you should really check out Circumcision!”
“That Circumcision show was amazing!”

And would you want to buy a t-shirt that had “CIRCUMCISION” in a bold typeface?

Shockingly enough, out of all the bands on The Brain Solution, they’re the ones who have seemingly found the greatest success. They released five albums throughout the later half of the 80s and into the 90s. They’re 2010 reunion LP was released by the relatively big Japanese album P-Vine. They apparently are continuing to tour and make new music to this day. Say what you will about Circumcision, they certainly have staying power.

They’re actually not bad (kind of acoustic college rock), but unfortunately I am never going to hear any of their other songs ever. Because there’s no way in hell I’m walking into my local record store and asking for “Circumcision.”

People here already think I’m weird, I don’t need that.

The Brain Solution: Part 1

September 17th, 2018

 

Not much Japanese music has made an impact overseas, a fact that I will forever lament. The international obscurity of Japanese music makes researching it hard sometimes. Sure, if I want to read up on Towa Tei, YMO, or X Japan, there’s no problem. But dig just a little deeper and it becomes nigh-impossible. It’s really hard to find great English-language information on acts that were relatively big here, and finding info on cult or underground acts is just a freaking nightmare.

Which is where I am with the music I’m sharing tonight. All these tracks were taken from The Brain Solution, a compilation put out by indie label Transrecords in 1988.

Reliable, in-depth English information on these bands simply does not exist. If it does, it’s damn hard to find (the rather generic band names from the acts I’m featuring tonight sure doesn’t help things).  Heck, I’m having a hard time finding information on some of these acts in Japanese. Turns out this record isn’t just obscure overseas, no one heard of these acts in Japan either.

Japanese alt-rock is a hidden mine waiting to be plunged. As the hipsters, Soundcloud DJs and other culture vultures pick clean the dregs of the vastly overrated 80s “city pop” scene (seriously, what’s up with that), they’re missing out on a lot of amazing work from other genres and decades.

There were four bands on this release, tonight I’m featuring two. I hope to get the other stuff later this week or early next.

Bardo Thödol
Master Of Blue
Drowning In The Snow
Yo, do you like The Cocteau Twins because if you like Cocteau Twins I got a band for you. They sound a lot like Cocteau Twins.

That probably sounds like I’m being facetious but I mean that as praise. Sure, this band is entirely lacking in originality, but they chose a great band to rip-off, one that not many have even attempted to rip off. That’s something. Also, they do it damn well. If you told me that these were Cocteau Twins tracks with a guest vocalist, I’d believe you. This is amazing and ethereal in all the ways great Cocteau Twins tracks are. Music from another planet.

Like every other band on this record, Bardo Thödol didn’t do much. If Discogs is to be believed, they released just two singles and appeared on a few compilations, never putting out an album proper. I can find next to nothing about them online. Their name is a reference to the Book of the Dead, so that makes research a bit tricky. I did find one single MP3 blog that shared some of their music over a decade ago, but that writer didn’t know much about the group either.

Shit like this is why I need to study more Japanese dammit.

Joy
Arnold Layne
Pluto Metal Snow
Even more obscure than the previous act, Joy just managed to put out a lone 12″ single during their existence. Aside from that, they just have a smattering of tracks spread across four compilations to their name.

I bought this album because of their contributions to it, one of which being a cover of the Pink Floyd classic “Arnold Layne.” Joy’s sound is a bit hard for me to pin down, I’m a little out of my element here. I can definitely hear the psychedelic influence, but they also kind of have a goth/noise thing going on. I think? Like I said, this ain’t my scene. If someone could give these two tracks a spin and then give me a CMY style RIYL list that’d be really rad, thanks.

Same for anyone who can literally find out anything at all about this group. There are dozens of bands named Joy, including at least one other Japanese group. This is beyond my Googling skills.

Japanese Ambient Hardcore House Disco Glitch IDM for your weekend

September 8th, 2018

De De Mouse
Glass Of Heart
De De Mouse is a Japanese electronic musician whose been pumping out music for quite some time, but I only just recently discovered him. His past two albums Be Yourself and Dream You Up are fucking glorious dance records that seamlessly blend together glitch-IDM elements with four-on-the-floor disco beats and pure pulsing techno. Dude is my life right now.

Almost all of his music is available on the American iTunes store, look it up and give it a listen, I can’t imagine that you’ll be disappointed if you’re in the mood for happy-fun dance music. This shit is like candy it gets me going so much. They still make DDR here in Japan, if they put some of his tracks in it that would get me back in the arcade for sure.

I’ve been wanting to share his music for some time, but like I said, almost all of his music can be bought legally in the states, so I was hesitant to. Fortunately, his latest album came with an extra one-track bonus CD only available at Tower Records. You can’t grab that in the states, and I highly doubt that I’m cutting drastically into his sales by sharing it here tonight.

“Glass Of Heart” is a fantastic example of the De De Mouse sound, distorted vocal samples layered upon wonderful booming beats and an infectious upbeat energy that reminds me of the best late-70s disco and 80s house had to offer. It’s a mish-mash of everything that I love in dance music. Bombastic and beautiful all at the same time. God damn it’s good.

 

Inoyama Land
Shuffer (Live 2018)
I’ve only written about this group once, all the way back in 2014. They’re an ambient duo who were signed to YMO’s Yen Records label back in the 80s. Their first album, 1983’s Danzindan-Pojidon is one of my favorite ambient records, very chill while still managing to hold my interest with enough melodies and hooks, a very delicate balance that most ambient acts can’t manage very well.

They’ve put out a few other albums since then, one as recent as this year. But I think that most of them are compilations of unreleased or live material, or reworkings of past tracks. Additionally, none of them really hold a candle to that first release, which is just light years beyond anything else they ever put out. Of course, of all their records, their first and their best was the one that was out-of-print the longest. In recent years I saw it going for well over a hundred bucks on either CD or LP. Thankfully, it’s back in print, and with a new remaster to boot!

Just like the De De Mouse record prior, some locations selling this CD are including a bonus CD with a single bonus track, this one a live rendition of the 1983 album’s opening number. Give it a listen, and if it’s at all something that you think you might be into, consider tracking down a that first album now that’s it’s a little easier (and a hell of a lot cheaper) to get a hold of. It’s even on iTunes too! All this Japanese music becoming available on US digital marketplaces…such a weird thing.

There’s so much horrible ambient music out there (shit, even Inoyama Land have released more of their fair share of it) so when honest-to-goodness great ambient music comes along, I always want to do my best to get the word out. As I get older and more stressed out, I find myself drawn to this stuff more and more. I guess that’s kind of a stereotype? I don’t know or don’t care if it is. I just know that my brain is broken and this stuff can be a band-aid on occasion. I guess they call it healing music for a reason.

I dunno, Motorhead can heal me too, it’s just a different kind of medicine.

 

Ride on That Freeway Of Love

August 30th, 2018

Aretha Franklin
Freeway Of Love (Rock Mix)
Freeway Of Love (Radio Mix)
Freeway Of Love (Extended Remix)
Like most anyone who grew up in the 80s, my first exposure to Aretha Franklin was in The Blues Brothers, quickly followed by this massive hit single from 1985. In the days after her death, I saw a few “best of” Aretha lists on various publications, but not many people mentioned this song. I assume they think it hasn’t aged well? I’m no Aretha expert, I own a single album of hers and a greatest hits. But this has always been one of my favorite songs of the era, it’s the type of fun, bouncy track that could’ve only been produced in the 80s.

It’s 80s synth funk-pop is the best. When you toss out that phrase most people (of course) think of Prince and Michael, but they were far from the only people in the 80s who successfully fused 70s disco and funk with 80s dance and synthpop. There’s Aretha here, and let’s not forget Tina Turner, who scored the biggest hits of her career when she melded her classic sound with uber-sleek 80s production. And what about The Pointer Sisters? Break Out, their synthesizer-fueled magnum opus, is one of the greatest dance albums of all-time, I stand by that.

This sound died quick once the 90s hit, and I feel like it only recently made even the slightest comeback. “Uptown Funk” tapped into it, but it was kind of a false start. Not much came in the wake of that, save for Bruno trying to replicate it with his solo work (which is alright I guess). I blame Trump. Yes. For real. We were on our way to a full-on dance-pop revolution and then that orange piece of rotten smegma got elected and pop music got horribly depressed (and hey…ditto). I guess most people don’t want to boogie when the world is on fire.

Well, I do! I need to boogie! I get that everything is shit and it feels like nothing is ever going to be good ever again. And in times like this, more emotional, downbeat music is of course going to be more popular. And protest or angry music is going to have a place too (I wish it had more of a place, to be honest). But let’s not forget to have fun, people! Pop music is so dour right now, hip-hop is emo as fuck, indie rock is tweeing itself to death, and mainstream rock is still stuck in a 2000s post-grunge slump that I think it’ll never get out of.

Fun music still has a place in today’s decidedly unfun world. You can fight the power, campaign for social justice, be aware of how shitty the world is and listen to fun music now and then. The 80s wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops y’know, but we still kicked it to dope jams like this.

Crank this tune. Listen to Aretha sing about men in tight pants. Take in that dope sax solo by Clarence Clemens, as well as the vocal harmonies of Sylvester and Jeanie Tracy, and remember that it’s okay to have fun once and a while, even if the music of today doesn’t always let you.