Wednesday 24 April 2024

In a post Record Store Day week of re-issue frenzy (for some), here's a chance to catch up with something retro but brand new to most of us, apart from eminent musicologist Nick Lusombe with CITY MUSIC TOKYO. 

I best declare an interest (albeit some years ago) I first met Nick after winning a Bestival Competition on his XFM radio show 'Flo-motion' when he'd be playing all the best in the underground scene of Jimpster (still going, see review HERE), Solar Apple Quarktette (sort of still going, see review HERE), One Deck &  Popular (half is still going, see review HERE) and Break Reform (now more of a record shop in Launceston as Crates Is High!)

From these beginnings, Nick  moved up in the world having been very active as a producer/presenter on BBC Radio 3 & 4 with jazz and other things leftfield before move to Japan working with field sound recordings and more - most recently the excellent tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto (see link below: Sony Award material)  So, you'd think, why is this compilation, CITY MUSIC TOKYO, focus on J-pop; or as Nick would call it, City Pop.

Mostly sung in Japanese, this compilation has tracks dating back to the late 70s but to the non-expert ear it kind of sound generically 80s pop-soul with elements of soft rock, jazz-funk, easy listening (some great strings on here), synth-pop/new wave, R&B/hip-hop and anything else that was going at the time.

And for that reason, this is a great album as you never know quite what's coming next from Jodoes' 'Stardust Night' (sounds a bit Kid Creole/Dr Buzzard), 'Futari Bun No Atsui Yume' (Yasushi Nakanish) has a cracking Stevie Wonder type harp solo or the Deodato-ish jazz-funk of Escalators 'Fly High' and the post-Spandau Ballet cool of 'Samugari' (Tomoki Kikuchi). 

Don't get me wrong, this is far from a mish-mash, it's all got the Japanese electronic precision that you'd expect from the archives of Nippon Columbia and a culture that produced the top high end Hi-Fi, the Jazz Kissa and Karaoke!  And, in truth, there's a touch of the 'Baker Street'/'Moonlighting' with the Crescent Moon track and smooth jazz Nanako Sato's track is super dreamy with full on strings.

Clearly, this isn't in competition with the BBE J-Jazz Series, the latest release in the Masterclass series by the ski Takase Trio, 'A Song For Hope' (see review HERE with 'the' book, 'J-Jazz - Free and Modern Jazz Albums from Japan 1954-1988' with a forward by Terumasa Hino coming soon) but if you thought that the home grown market was not worth investigating beyond YMO, Sadistic Mika Band, Koyto Jazz Massive, Soil'n'Pimp "Sessions" and United Future Organization - think again.

BBC Radio 3 - Nick Luscombe presents "Sakamoto - Art Is Long, Life Is Short"

Artist: Various Artists 

Title:  CITY MUSIC TOKYO [Curated by Cunimondo Takiguchi]

Release date: 4th April, 2024

Label : Gearbox Records

Catalog Number : GB1593

Format: 2xLP with OBI strip / CD / Digital / Bandcamp 


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