Tuesday 26 April 2011

Yesterday Was... A Flying Nun Compilation 1980-2002

For many fans of independent music, the 80s were about record labels such as Creation, Rough Trade, Homestead, SST etc.. For me, it was the Flying Nun label from New Zealand. It took about 3-4 years for their early releases to filter through to the UK, and when they did I was gobsmacked that so much good music was coming from a country I'd never really recognised before on the musical map. From 1981 to the mid 90s this label was, for me, at the forefront of exciting, new, independent music.

You had the lo-fi, and way ahead of it's time, experimental band Tall Dwarfs (people should check out their Hello Cruel World compilation), the classic pop of The Chills (Pink Frost is down as one of my favourite tunes of all time). Then there was The Gordons, making the kind of music in 1981 which took at least another 3 years for Sonic Youth to even come anywhere near emulating. Check this description of their debut album: "This is a jugganaut of a record . When you put it on not only will your lawn die, your Motorhead albums will shrivel in their sleeves, leaving only a sticky black gel ..".

You had the jangly pop and wonderful harmonies of Sneaky Feelings (also the first Flying Nun band I ever heard), the snotty brat-punk of Bored Games/Doublehappys (both fronted by Shayne Carter who went on to front the seminal Straitjacket Fits). Then we have The Verlaines: "noted for their angular, 'difficult' song structures, wordy and downbeat lyrics, unusual subject matter all contained in often frantic up-tempo playing."

There have been many Flying Nun compilations released over the years, but I thought I'd add my own personal slant here. A lot of the tunes I've selected aren't the "obvious" classic songs, many are songs that tend to get overlooked on the aforementioned compilations. So while this isn't neccessarily a "greatest" of Flying Nun, I hope this comes across as a well balanced mix of the more familiar songs amongst some total obscurities.

Disc 1
Snapper Buddy (3:40) 1989
Goblin Mix  - The Water (4:23) 1985
JPS Experience - Into You (remix) (3:43) 1993
The Great Unwashed - Yesterday Was (2:04) 1983
King Loser - Misirlou (3:17) 1995
Look Blue Go Purple - Year of the Tiger (2:33) 1988
Bailter Space - X (4:47) 1994
Alec Bathgate - Your Heavy Dream (Won't Fly) (3:31) 1996
Betchadupa - Supa Day (4:02) 2002
Bike - My Love My Life (3:39) 1995
The Chills - Wet Blanket (2:37) 1988
12. 3Ds -
Sunken Head (3:45) 1992
Tall Dwarfs - This Room is Wrong (3:21) 1983
The Terminals - Mothlight (3:03) 1988
Straitjacket Fits - Down in Splendour (3:38) 1990
The Clean - Point That Thing Somewhere Else (9:17) 2000

Disc 2
Superette - Killer Clown (3:53) 1994
The Bats - For the Ride (3:45) 1995
DoubleHappys - Others Way (3:32) 1984
The Jean Paul Sartre Experience - Own Two Feet (3:23) 1986
Toy Love - Death Rehearsal (3:22) 1980
High Dependency Unit - Amino (5:49) 2000
Sneaky Feelings - Maybe You Need To Come Back (4:14) 1990
David Kilgour - Crazy (2:56) 1994
Pop Art Toasters - Go Ahead (2:07) 1994
Chug - Witches (2:37) 1994
Able Tasmans - Hold Me (4:32) 1990
Bored Games - Joe 90 (4:25) 1982
The Gordons - Laughing Now (4:10) 1981
The Exploding Budgies - Sunflower (2:23) 1985
Bird Nest Roys - Ain't Mutatin' (2:45) 1985
The Verlaines - Doomsday (4:02) 1986
Chris Knox - Laughter (3:32) 2000

   FLAC:  Part 1  Part 2
   MP3:  Here!

Nippon Gendai Ongaku

01. Les Rallizes Denudés - Otherwise My Conviction (3:35) from "Yodo-Go-A-Go-Go", recorded 1967
02. Blues Creation - Sooner Or Later (5:16) from "Demon & Eleven Children", 1971
03. Yonin Bayashi - Omatsuri (11.14) from "Isshoku Sokuhatsu", 1974
04. Jacks - Gloomy Flower (3:22) from "Vacant World", 1968
05. Flower Travellin' Band - Satori Part 2 (7:07) from "Satori", 1971
06. Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalos - Pigmy (7:46) from "Uganda", 1972
07. Magical Power Mako - Jump To You (5:45) from "Jump", 1977
08. Speed, Glue & Shinki - Ode To The Bad People (5:00) from "Eve", 1971
09. Love Live Life + One - Love Will Make A Better You (4:23) from "Love Will Make A Better You", 1971
10. People - Prayer Part 2 (4:34) from "Ceremony~Buddha Meet Rock", 1971
11. Far East Family Band - The Cave (8:33) from "Nipponjin", 1975
12. Kuni Kawachi & Friends - Graveyard Of Love (4:12) from "Kirikyogen", 1970
13. Les Rallizes Denudes - The Night Collectors (8:32) from "Heavier Than A Death In The Family", recorded 1977

OK, I guess a few words from me about this compilation, inspired by Julian Cope's Japrocksampler book. It is an essential read, just like his other book Krautrocksampler, about the thriving underground German music scene of the 70s.

There have been many Japanese bands over the years I have enjoyed discovering, and until the past 10 years most of their albums were damn hard to find. Bands like Boredoms, Ruins, Zeni Geva or even Shonen Knife first alerted me to some crazy (and delightful) music coming from Japan in the 80s and 90s, but I knew very little about the thriving music scene they had in the late 60s/early 70s, which didn't spread to other parts of the world. I'd heard the odd tune, thanks to compilations like Pebbles which featured the likes of The Golden Cups and The Mops, but this was just the tip of the iceberg.

The band that really kicked off my obsession with the Japanese music scene was Flower Travellin' Band. About 4-5 years ago I was recommended their album from 1971, "Satori". To this day it is still my favourite album from a Japanese band, and I guess Julian Cope thinks so too, making it to number 1 in his all time top 50 Japrock albums. So I started doing a bit of searching, discovering bands like Speed, Glue & Shinki,  Les Rallizes Denudés and Far East Family Band. Very little information was out there about these bands (apart from on Cope's website, HeadHeritage.com of course), which is why I was delighted when Cope brought out his book, featuring not just the bands I'd already heard of, but dozens more.

The top 50 can be seen here: http://rateyourmusic.com/list/Internaut/japrocksampler
Of course I had to seek these out, but there are still a few bands mentioned which have so far eluded me. Anyone have Gedo's self-titled album? Or Itsutsu no Akai Fusen's "Folk - Volume 1"?
Anyway, here's just a few quotes from reviews about some of the artists included on my mix:

Blues Creation:
Your unworthy earholes will have an auditory orgasm as Lord of Hot Licks Kazuo "Flash" Takeda and his band of not-so-merry-men stomp all over those foolish notions you had about what comprised groovy Hard Rock.

Flower Travellin' Band:
Satori is a huge album in every way. From power chords to Eastern-tinged North African six string freak-outs and crashing tom-toms, the band flexes its collective muscle from start to finish. In short, this is a real rock classic of the type they simply don't make any more.

Artistically, the Jacks were miles ahead of their peers, in terms of both musical innovation and emotional depth. Singer Hayakawa Yoshio's wails resonate in a way that none of his contemporaries could achieve, exhibiting a heart-tugging pull that commands respect.

Les Rallizes Denudes:
 "The Night Collectors" pushes pop song to scandalous levels of distorted delirium where everything melts into a throbbing, hemorrhagic migraine. Two decades on, High Rise and Mainliner would "patent" this sound - not to mention Rallizes' magical combination of crippling distortion and cruddy fidelity - without really improving upon 1977's model. Sheer beautiful-noise overdrive of rarest pedigree, "The Night Collectors" points at a possibly unstated influence on Sonic Youth and their ecstatic kin.