Sometimes the underground is a surreal place to be.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

VA - The Streets of Tokyo

A bit of vintage cultural tourism for tonight, another roommate request. Cigarette Blues (love that organ) and Farewell to Tokyo are the standouts to my ear, along with Black Flower Petal. Enjoy.

VA - The Streets of Tokyo (195?) (if anyone has any info on Capital T10250 let me know, it's nowhere to be found online. Mono LP.)

From the back:
Authentic Japanese pop songs and international hits in Oriental dress by Nippon's favorite singers... as you might hear them on THE STREETS OF TOKYO

TOKYO'S BUSY STREETS reflect the pulse of this modern metropolis of almost nine million. Besides being the economic and industrial center of the orient, Tokyo is also a fantastically active center of the lively arts.

Almost any evening in Tokyo you might choose your entertainment from many theaters offering traditional Japanese forms of drama and dance - kabuki, no, or bunraku - or lavish modern spectacles like the Takarazuka troupe; you might prefer to choose from some dozen nightly events of Western style symphony concerts or opera; or you might scan the brilliant marquees of the thousands of movie houses in the city, for the Japanese love both imported movies and their own fine dramatic and musical films.

Movies, radio, television, and especially long-playing records have stimulated the rise of many musical personalities. Splendid engineering facilities are producing records of excellent fidelity. Top stars compete for places on the best-seller lists, and the public is responding with devoted enthusiasm (and yen) for their favorites. Here are two girls and four young men who are among the very top artists in Japan today, singing a dozen of their hits that have won extreme popularity.

There's no international language like popular music, and just as American pops reflect many other countries - think of Morgen, Vaya con dios, and Gomen-Nasai - so Japanese pops are well up to date on European, American, and Latin-American trends. Some of these songs are characteristically Japanese, and others are Japanese versions of imported favorites. They are sung mostly in Japanese, with a chorus in another language now and then.

The older Japanese style, always fresh to Western ears for it's rhythmic brightness and its supple vocal style, is represented in this album by The Nikko Folksong and Farewell to Tokyo. The main current of Japanese pop music, with its characteristically "minor" keys and dark moods, is typified by Lullaby of the Birds and Cigarette Blues, while a strong American pops feeling is apparent in Black Flower Petal and Brown Leaves. Most of the other tracks are European and Latin hits subtly transformed by Japanese imagination and sung both in the original language and Japanese. Passion Flower is an even more fascinating transformation: it's based on the familiar piano piece of Beethoven, Fur Elise.

These then are the songs you might hear on the streets of Tokyo, piped out of the record shops and theaters. As crowds hurry by in kimono or Western style clothing they pause to hear their favorites, which belong to the world as much to Japan.

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