Thursday, January 31, 2008

Raiding The Archive.

The past couple of days I've been digging out CDs I haven't listened to in a while. Good thing too, as they deserve to be played.

Shoukichi Kina, Bloodline-1980 album by Kina and his group Champloose, featuring Ry Cooder on several tracks. Kina was a pioneer in fusing the traditional music of his native Okinawa with rock music and instruments. The album features the original version of the song "Hana," which is considered somewhat of a classic in the Far East, and was even recorded by Madagascarian musicians on David Lindley and Henry Kaiser's classic first volume of their A World Out of Time Madagascar music series. Bloodline also features contributions from Japanese guitarist/producer Makoto Kubota, who is sort of Japan's equivalent of Ry Cooder in working with "roots" musicians from all over the place. The album would prove highly influential in exposing musicians in Japan and elsewhere to the interesting rhythms and sounds of Okinawa.

Kawachiya Kikusuimaru, Happy- 1991 album by the traditionally trained singer of Kawachi ondo, festival music from what is currently the southern part of Osaka prefecture. Kikusuimaru has combined Kawachi ondo with various modern styles, and this album has sort of an early '90s electronic reggae sound, although the album concludes with a long traditional style cut. It includes his big hit "Kakin Ondo," which brought him national attention in Japan when it was used in a TV commercial for a job recruitment service. Also includes a cover of "Hana" which in my opinion is rather weak.

Shang Shang Typhoon, 3- (Bet you're seeing a theme here.) The third album by one of the mainland groups that owes a debt to Kina, although they're hardly imitators. Shang Shang Typhoon throw in influences from all over the place, and the songs on this one range from the multilingual pun of "Sanma Song," a samba about sanma(Asian mackeral pike fish), to the electric guitar driven tip of the hat to the Beatles "Revolution Ondo." The primary vocals are from the female duo of Emi and Satoko, one of whom has a rather amazing high voice.

Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, Sport Fishin'-Third and final album from Canadian instrumental rockers, perhaps best known for the use of their "Having An Average Weekend" as the title theme for The Kids in the Hall TV series. A great album if you like twangy guitar, and a lot of folks will appreciate any album that includes a tune called "Off Our Back Conrad Black." I'm not sure how many times I saw them at Amigos here in Saskatoon in the late '80s, but it was several. Their bassist Reid Diamond was just a short guy, maybe 5'6" at most, yet he played a big ole Gibson Thunderbird bass. Diamond unfortunately passed away of cancer in 2001.

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