NIPPON GIRLS 2-JAPANESE POP, BEAT AND ROCK ’N’ ROLL 1965-1970.

NIPPON GIRLS 2-JAPANESE POP, BEAT AND ROCK ’N’ ROLL 1965-1970.

It was five years ago, that Big Beat International, a subsidiary of Ace Records, released Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970 to critical acclaim. For many people, this was their introduction to the  groovy, eclectic sounds of sixties Japanese pop. What an introduction it was.

Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970 was hailed a truly eclectic compilation. Beat, bossa nova, go-go rubbed shoulders with lounge, pop and psychedelia. So did cover versions and new songs. As a result, Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970 whetted the appetite of many  Western music lovers. They eagerly awaited the followup to Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970. They’ve had to be patient

Five long years passed before Big Beat International announced the followup to Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970. That was Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970. It features twenty-four tracks from Kayoko Ishuu, Reiko Mari, Katsuko Kanai, Bay Beats, Akiko Nakamura, Ayui Ishida, Kiyoko Ito, Aki Izumi and Yuko Nagisa. These tracks are just a few of the delights on Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

The first track on any album is always important. It has to grab the listener’s attention. That’s the case on Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970. Kayoko Ishuu’s version of Bazazz No. 1 literally, bursts into life, showcasing a  quintessential groovy sixties sound. Atop this fusion of jazz, Latin, lounge and pop sits the sweetest of scatted vocals from session singer Kayoko Ishuu. She was a member of backing vocalists The Singers Three. Then in 1966, she covered Bazazz No. 1, which was released on Crown. A truly irresistible track, this is the perfect start to Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970.

In 1969,  Japanese singer and actress Mari Henmi released Daniel Mon Amour as a single. It  was released on the Columbia label, with Love Passes Like A Stomy Wind on the B-Side. Daniel Mon Amour sounds as if it has been inspired by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s J ‘taime. During two minutes of coquettish music, Mari’s “sexy  kayou” sound takes shape, and she becomes Japan’s answer to Jane Birkin.

Just like a lot of Japanese singers, in the early sixtes, Katsuko Kanai started out releasing cover version. Then in 1962, Bobby Vee toured Japan. His support act were The Ventures. They made a bigger impression, spawning a wave of surf rock groups. Five years later, in 1967, Katsuko Kanai released  Mini Mini Girl on RCA. It was penned by Japanese lyricist and composer, Kuranosuke Hamaguchi. In Katsuko’s hands, it becomes two minutes of energy and electricity, where surf and go-go combine head on, creating one of Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970’s highlights.

The tempo drops on Bay Beats version of Kizudarake No Taiyou. It’s a real find. This long forgotten track was was released as the B-Side to a Bay Beats single released on Polydor in 1970. Since then, it’s lain in Polydor’s vaults. That’s a great shame, as it’s a quite beautiful song. A slow, heartfelt vocal is accompanied by stabs of braying horns and crystalline guitars. They play their part in three minutes of beauty, drama and emotion.

As Akiko Nakamura’s Taiyou Ni Koi Wo Shite unfolds, it sounds like a homage to Herb Albert’s Tijuana Brass. It’s the percussion, braying horns and vibes. Then when Akiko’s jazzy vocal enters, the song starts to swing. Fool of hooks, it’s a truly irresistible track that was released as a single in 1967 on King.

Emy Jackson was a pioneer of the surf rock sound. A reminder of that is her 1966 single Namida No Go Go. It’s credited to Emy Jackson & Blue Comets. However, Emy Jackson was her stage name. She was born Emy Eaton in Essex, England, but spent her teenage years in Japan. That’s when she signed to Columbia. Her debut single, Crying In A Storm, was released in April 1965, and sold a million copies. Namida No Go Go was Emy’s fourth single and is a reminder of a musical pioneer, at the height of her career.

Chico Okumura was a model, who enjoyed a parallel career as a singer. She released her debut single in 1965. A year later, she released Koi Gurui, which translates as Love Crazy. It was released on Toshiba in 1970. In the intervening years, Chico’s releases had caused controversy. Her singles lyrical content, were sometimes, construed as lewd. Koi Gurui is somewhat tame by Chico’s standards. Featuring dramatic, string drenched backdrop, Chico delivers an impassioned, sassy vocal on what’s one of her best releases. 

Back in 1966, Kiyoko Ito was one of 300 Japanese hopefuls to audition for the Christy Minstrels folk group. This didn’t work out. However, when Kiyoko returned home, she signed a recording contract with CBS Records. Two years later, Kiyoko released the wistful and understated single Mishiranu Sekai. It’s another of  Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970’s highlights.

Pinky and Killers’ was one of a number of female fronted bands in Japan during the second half of the sixties. Their trademark look was to wear derby hats and suits. Each member of the group dawned an alias. Fronting the group, and delivering the lead vocal on the 1968, King single, Ore To Kanojo, was Pinky. She sings call and response with the Killers on another quintessentially sixties sounding track.

Actress and singer Akiko Nakamura released  Namida No Mori No Monogatari in 1969, on King. Her vocal is best described as a mixture of power, passion and drama. It’s delivered against a lush string laden arrangement, and chirping, wah-wahing guitar. This compelling combinations showcases one of Japan’s best known beat singers.

Kazumi Yasui wasn’t just a singer, she was one of Japan’s most talented lyricists. She wrote lyrics for the great and good of Japanese music. Then, in 1975, she penned Nigai Namida for The Three Degrees. In 1970, she wrote the lyrics to Warui Kuse. It has a beautiful, understated, jazz-tinged sound that’s the perfect showcase for Kazumi’s tender, wistful vocal. 

Yuko Nagisa’s Kyoto No Koi is my final choice from Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970. It was released as a single in 1970, on Toshiba. Despite being released in 1970, the song has an obvious sixties sound. Indeed, the guitars are still inspired by The Ventures. That’s no bad thing. Along with swathes of lush strings and an urgent rhythm section, they prove the perfect backdrop for Yuko’s impassioned vocal. So much so, that  Kyoto No Koi, reached number one in Japan.

Although five years was a long time to wait for the followup to Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970, it’s been well worth the wait. Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970, which was recently released by Big Beat International, a subsidiary of Ace Records, picks up where its predecessor left off. It’s a case of digging deeper, in an attempt to unearth the eclectic and obscure. 

This has worked. Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970 is a truly eclectic compilation. Beat, bossa nova, go-go and jazz rub shoulders with Latin, lounge, pop, psychedelia and surf rock. So eclectic is Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970, that you never know what’s about to happen. It’s a veritable musical feast. Indeed,  Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970 is a bit like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get.” Truly, there’s no end of surprises on Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970. No wonder. Look at the track listing.

Everyone from Kayoko Ishuu, Reiko Mari, Katsuko Kanai, Bay Beats, Akiko Nakamura, Ayui Ishida, Kiyoko Ito, Aki Izumi and Yuko Nagisa feature on Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970. They’re just a few of the musical delights on Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970, the long awaited followup to Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970. 

Although five years have passed since the release of Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970, it’s been well worth the wait. Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970 is the perfect companion to Nippon Girls- Japanese Pop, Beat and Bossa Nova 1966-1970. One listen to Nippon Girls 2- Japanese Pop, Beat and Rock ’N’ Roll 1965-1970, and you’ll surely agree.

NIPPON GIRLS 2-JAPANESE POP, BEAT AND ROCK ’N’ ROLL 1965-1970.

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R-5022298-1382374651-5707

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