Every so often on the World Music Show I like to tackle a certain geographical area, musically speaking of course. And on this week’s show (6/24), we’re going to do just that.
So after spinning my imaginary globe, my big ol’ finger landed on the island of Japan. Because it’s here that we’ll find some very interesting, engaging and experimental music. Now, if you listen to the show quite a bit or even so often, you may have heard me play a few of these musicians. However, at least in this instance, I’m going to try and stretch the bounds of what and who I’ve played before.
And don’t worry, the whole two hours will not only be just Japanese music. I’ll also be featuring new tracks from a bunch of artists, who I might happen to add, are also quite engaging.
Let’s first dig into what we’ve got going on for tunes from the Land of the Rising sun. We’ll do this by going back in time to the 1960s to hear from what was called Nippon Girls. Off a CD of Japanese Pop and Bossa Nova, circa 1966-70, we’ll hear from two female singers. One is Eiko Shuri, who tried to get signed by a record label called King, but failed. After that, she went to Vegas to work for a producer who also worked with Sergio Mendes. Two years later, she returned to Japan and was able to get signed to King and release 8 singles, including this one: “Ye-Ye.” I’ll follow that with the song “Peacock Baby” by Reiko O'Hara, who was an actress that was also encouraged to sing—which seemed to be the norm for many of the Nippon Girls.
If we fast forward a few years or decades but keep that 60s vibe, you’ll get an understanding of the trio Pizzicato Five sounds like. When they were a band, back the 90s—their heyday—they took that 60s groove, added humor, electronics and great graphics to create a unique force in Japanese music. From their much coveted CD called Overdose (I say that because if you search for it, it’s hard to find and/or it’s also very expensive), we’ll hear the song “Happy Sad.” Then from their CD called Made in USA, we’ll hear a very fun song called “Twiggy Twiggy/Twiggy vs. James Bond.”
Now, let’s go back a decade or so. It’s here that we get the start of another Japanese band who’s love of 60s Girl Pop and Punk ala the Ramones made them a force to deal with. However, after years of playing they took a break. But flash forward to now and we’ll hear from the female trio Shonen Knife. Off their new CD called Adventure, we’ll hear the songs “Hawaii” and “Wasabi.”
So far so good, right? Well, all these musicians seem to have a thread in common—they’re inventive. And at least two of them seem like to sing about food. I’m talking about Shonen Knife and the band Cibo Matto, who we’ll hear from when they sing “Know your Chicken.”
Another thread that’s similar is multi-instrumentalists. One of them is a former piano prodigy who decided to expend his horizons by crafting his own sound out a bunch of instruments and sounds. On his album 1 Billion Year Record, we’ll hear Matsuki Ayumu give his nod to Bob Dylan and the Beatles with his songs “Delusion Habit of Spring,” and the very sweet “Blinde Girl.”
The other multi-instrumentalist is the duo is Yokan System. This male/female team like to explore analogue keyboards, synth drums and mix in a lot of stereo spirit. We’ll hear their songs “Dream,” and “Teresa.”
But, to save you time, I’ll just break it down by giving you this routine office memo list.
* Imelda May
* Emel Ensen
* Forro in the Dark
* Juana Molina
* Nina Miranda
* Zap Mama
* Quiero Creedence (Creedence Clearwater Revival covers by Latin musicians)
* Monica Da Silva
Other Covers include tracks from Monica Da Silva and some nice Reggae musicians covering the Beatles. Plus, if you stick around you’ll hear a not-world-music in anyway cover of a Yoko Ono song.
I hope you join me for the World Music Show, heard Saturday at 8:00 p.m. on 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio. You can also stream the show via this website and get live, streaming track listings too. Follow the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music on WCVE.