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9 Apr 2017

The Mops "Psychedelic Sounds in Japan" 1968 Japan Psych Rock










The Mops  "Psychedelic Sounds in Japan" 1968 Japan Psych Rock
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“The Mops” were formed in 1966 under the influence by “The Ventures” and performed instrumentals only.In 1967 the band began to perform in Tokyo and its suburbs.At first the band played in beat style according to their contract.When contract ended the band went in psychedelic style.As loud it was said-“The Mops” called themselves as the first psychedelic band in Japan!In November 1967 the band released debut single with great song “Asamade Matenai”,which had success in Japanese charts.Then this song will open their debut album. As for me-this song is most powerful in album. And the debut album was released in April 1968 and called “Psychedelic Sounds In Japan”.Album mostly consists of songs covers on “The Animals”,“Jefferson Airplane”,“The Doors” and others’ hits.Sound in album pure western.Vocal is slightly ruff,but all together is nice to listen!……………

Among hardcore 1960s rock collectors who have an interested in Japanese bands of the period, the Mops are one of the biggest acts in the genre, even if that genre is barely known to English-speaking listeners due to some linguistic barriers, and its general obscurity outside of Japan. Their 1968 album Psychedelic Sounds in Japan is certainly the Mops LP that’s gained the widest international exposure, as it’s the one with the most garage-psychedelic style and has rewarded the efforts of avid collectors around the world. In fact, the Mops were even marketed as “the first psychedelic band in Japan” in their homeland, though as psychedelia goes, it’s pretty raw, verging on garage-punk at times. In truth, it’s more attractive for the crazed energy of the performances – and the odd juxtaposition of the earnestness of the singing and playing with the unhinged bent of the arrangements – than for the originality of the music. It’s distinguished from other sounds of its sort, perhaps, by the manic fervor of youngsters discovering British and American psychedelia without quite having the vocabulary (musical and otherwise) to execute it with nearly as much polish as their inspirations. On the Japanese-language songs in particular, this leads to some melodic angles, anguished vocals, and rudimentary fuzz guitar blasts that can sound fairly exotic to Western ears, though they’re not exactly catchy. The English-sung tunes comprising more than half the album are mostly covers of foreign hits (the zany self-identifying anthem “I Am Just a Mops” being an exception), and while there’s a charge to be gotten by hearing them tackle classics by the Animals and Jefferson Airplane with naive zeal, they’re not exactly stunning interpretations, let alone close to being on the level of the originals. They also make an ambitious foray into raga-rock with “Kienai Omoi,” complete with sitar. As a whole, the record’s an interesting if flawed relic of a time when Japanese rock was just finding its feet, with a clumsy yet endearingly passionate force. [The 2010 British CD reissue on RPM (with English-language historical liner notes) marks the first time it’s been licensed outside Japan, and includes two bonus tracks from their 1968 non-LP single “Omae No Subete O”/“Atsuku Narenai,” both of which find them getting into dissociative distorted-guitar-fueled sounds far freakier than anything on the album. Note that this reissue does not include one of the tracks from the original LP, “Blind Bird,” which has never been made available for any reissue of the album due to its controversial lyrics.]…by Richie Unterberger ………..
Digitally remastered and expanded edition of this 1968 album from the Japanese Psych-Rockers. The Mops debut album Psychedelic Sounds in Japan was the country’s first self-declared Psychedelic record. Even though they sported kaftans, beads and Sergeant Pepper jackets, The Mops were too tough, too jagged to be true flower people. Original songs like ‘I’m Just a Mops’ were fuzz guitar driven stompers that revealed The Mops were at heart garage punkers. In their hands, on Kienai Omoi, even the sitar sounded deranged. This essential, fun and historic album is supplemented by an intense non-album single from 1968………….

The first and most famous LP by this Japanese band is a pretty nice package of original material and covers. The covers are quite nice but their own material is stronger. For example “Bera Yo Isoge” and “Asahi Yo Saraba” are wonderful psych rock tracks. 

Psychedelic Sounds in Japan is a pretty solid and enjoyable record which would be even better if there was more of their original songs instead of those covers. But all in all the record is a quite good package and a nice listen if you know you love this genre. Not a masterpiece in my opinion but worth checking out because there are some damn good songs on this album…..by….CooperBolan……

Much has been written about Japan’s “G.S.” (Group Sounds) scene that emerged shortly after the Beatles’ 1966 performance at Tokyo’s legendary Budokan Hall– so allow me to pound my fist on the table and exclaim, “They are full of shit!” I’ve heard most of ‘em– be it the Spiders, Tempters, Golden Cups, Bunnys etc., ad nauseum– and the sad but honest truth is that the majority of it is absolute swill. The “rocking” (I use the term very loosely here) stuff is stiff and soulless and those ballads… oh fucking man… those horrific ballads. We’re talkin’ the kinda tripe granny & gramps would have no trouble doing the chicken or stroll to, BUT NOT any self-respecting Rock ‘n’ Roller! You’re being sold a bill of goods by collector scum looking to jack up the prices of the original pressings– I don’t care how much of a Nipponphile you happen to be, stay away– much of it has more in common with pathetic schmaltz-meisters like Wayne Newton than the Pretty Things. Granted, I hate that mindset “if it comes from country A or B it’s gotta be good!” so mebbe I shouldn’t be so generous with my always sterling consumer advice. 

So, with some reservations I recommend the Mops. Like so many of their G.S. brethren, they were obsessed with their American & British beat/psych counterparts– padding out their albums with some completely unnecessary covers. Do you really need another version of “Light My Fire” (though the Mops’ version has a fiery guitar solo that stomps the balls offa Krieger)? How about “Somebody to Love”? Didn’t think so. On the other hand, their take on the Animals’ “Inside Looking Out” rocks quite righteously– too bad they stick to “locks & sand”; Grand Funk hadn’t introduced the infamous “nickel bags” line yet. Their original material fares far better– they stir some traditional Japanese folk melodies into their lysergic stew (the lyrics are in their native tongue as well for the most part), sounding like an embryonic version of the Godzilla-meets-Black-Sabbath crunch later taken to (much) loftier heights by Flower Travellin’ Band on “Satori.” 

Standout track: Undoubtedly their “theme” song, “I Am Just a Mops,” (sic sic sic!) which takes a dilapidated Diddley-beat, infuses it with some nice tremelo fuzz, and sadly confesses (I think) a tale of teenage trauma. In this case, the perpetual melancholy that awaits those who are… a Mops (sniff). Keep in mind that transcendent moments like this are the exception, not the rule. For the most part, this is music executed with polite professionalism– not inspired madness (but I know damn well you Japanese R&R freaks are gonna want it anyway)….by….TheePope ………….

One of the best of all the Group Sounds acts, Tokyo’s The Mops actually came close to the Animals/Then-inspired garage sound of The Shadows Of Knight and The Blues Magoos, even injecting something weird and special of their own through vocalist Hiromitu Suzuki’s truly pained delivery and occasionally deranged lyrics. Indeed, even Western bands rarely managed lyrics as raw as ‘Please kill me’ as Suzuki beseeched on their fuzz epic 6/8 ‘Blind Bird’. It’s clear from their get up and instrumental styling that The Mops wanted to reach The Misunderstood’s braying stratospheric delivery and the mushied-3 a.m.-in-a-city-under-smog production that The Gonn achieved on ‘The Blackout Of Gretely’, but the record company and their own inexperience denied them those options. Inconsistent throughout their career, The Mops nevertheless hit real major peaks, even towards the end when they found their way into so-called New Rock via Grand Funk’s epic proto-metal version of ‘Outside Looking In’ by The Animals, one full year after The Mops covered the same song. 
The Mops began as yet another Ventures-styled instrumental group in the early spring of 1966. With most of the musicians still being of high school age, they rehearsed far more than they gigged, and drummer Mikiharu Suzuki resented his older brother Hiromitu’s constant admonishments that he was not doing enough schoolwork. However, when Mikiharu invited his older sibling to a Mops rehearsal to show that he was not just wasting time, Hiromitu was so inspired by their collective racket that he joined the group as lead vocalist. Although the musicians themselves were mainly influenced by The Yardbirds and The Stones, the new singer’s obsessions with Eric Burdon and Steve Winwood soon re-shaped their sound, as The Mops played more and more shows at jazz kissas around Saitama and the Tokyo area. Moreover, when they played Tokyo’s Go-Go-Kissa club in early 1967, The Mops were approached by a management team who agreed to look after their interests, but only on condition that they become a psychedelic band. Influenced by Steve Winwood’s recent move to the psychedelically-styled Traffic, the quintet agreed; signed to Victor Records and debuted in November 1967, billed as ‘First Psychedelic Band In Japan!’ However, by the time their first single ‘Asamade Matenai’ had charted at the lower end of the Japanese Top 40, other bands had caught up with their psychedelic stylings, pushing The Mops to all kinds of ruses in order to substantiate their claim as Japan’s premier psychedelicians – and in drug free Japan, this was not an easy task. Huge lighting rigs began to appear at Mops shows, and flangeing, wah-wah pedals and fuzz boxes saturated their live sounds, while the band themselves grew their hair even longer, adopted granny glasses, and played blind-folded in order to disorientate themselves and stimulate natural psychedelic effects. 
On their 1968 debut LP PSYCHEDELIC SOUND IN JAPAN, The Mops covered Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody To Love’ and ‘White Rabbit’ with a righteous abandon, injecting a 13th Floor Elevators Texan yawp into the former and using the quasi-Eastern nature of the latter to their advantage with wonderful Chinese strings and another fabulous vocal from Hiromitu Suzuki. However, The Mops’ version of The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ was just funny and had none of the junked out Philippino Catholicism that D’Swooners cleverly smeared all over their own Jose Feliciano version. To say the instrumental passage was enthusiastic is probably better than saying everyone just hammers along dutifully until the interesting vocal bit rescues them. The Mops’ obsession with The Animals peaked on their pointless version of ‘San Francisco Nights’, during which the band bored everyone for the duration of the 45 seconds explaining why they’d chosen to record the song (big deal, get over it), but the band did do ‘Outside Looking In’ justice. Their own songs were hot when they were being weird, but crap when they wrote ‘real’ songs. The ‘help-me-I’m-going-under-for-the-last-time’ nature of ‘Atsukunarenai (I Can’t Get Hot)’ is truly psychedelic and works better as the B-side of their single ‘Omae No Subeteo’ rather than buried at the end of side one’s seven song avalanche on PSYCHEDELIC SOUND IN JAPAN. 
When bassist Kaori Murakami quit for a place in university in Spring ’69, rhythm guitarist Tarou Miyuki swapped to bass, the lack of two guitars considerably opening up the sound and making for a spaciousness, allowing Masaru Hoshi’s excellent leads to cut right through. But the Group Sounds era was already coming to a close and, after three singles and the aforementioned LP, the band was dropped from the Victor Records roster. A as the prevailing trend for Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath began to kick in with a vengeance, many Group Sounds split during this time, but The Mops weathered the storm well. After hearing Grand Funk Railroad’s masterful ‘heavy’ adaptation of ‘Outside Looking In’ by their beloved Animals, The Mops re-styled themselves ‘New Rock’. If they’d gone all the way, it would have been fantastic, however, as was the way of most bands of this period, The Mops still remained true to their GS roots by accommodating too great a range of styles on LPs, sandwiching dutiful ‘contemporary’ sounds (ballads, comedy, you name it) between the slabs of moronic genius. From beginning to end, Hiromitu Suzuki remained fixated with The Animals’ Eric Burdon and Steve Winwood in all his Spencer Davis/Traffic/Blind Faith incarnations. Indeed, even as late as 1970, Suzuki continued to hop from Little Stevie vocal stylings to those of Eric Burdon often within the space of the same verse. However, the band thereafter actually gained a new artistic momentum from the new sounds they encountered and, signing to the Toshiba/Liberty label, continued until 1974, recording and releasing five more patchy covering-all-bases LPs and thirteen singles. ….Julian Cope………….

Yoshiro Hayakawa: vocals,guitar,piano 
Hitoshi Tanino: bass 
Takasuke Kida: drums,flute,vibes,sax,vocals 
Haruno Mizuhasi: guitar,vocals

Tracklist 
A1 Asamade Matenai
A2 San Franciscan Nights
A3 I Am Just A Mops
A4 Inside Looking Out
A5 The Letter
A6 Somebody To Love
A7 Bera Yo Isoge
B1 White Rabbit
B2 Asahi Yo Saraba
B3 Light My Fire
B4 Kienai Omoi
B5 Omae No Subete
B6 Atsuku Narenai

Discography: 
PSYCHEDELIC SOUND IN JAPAN (Victor, 1968) 
ROCK'N'ROLL '70 (Toshiba Liberty, 1970) 
IIJANAKA (Toshiba Liberty, 1970) 
LIVE (Toshiba Liberty, 1971) 
RAIN (Toshiba Liberty, 1972) 
GOLDEN DISK (double-LP compilation) (Toshiba Liberty, 1973) 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..