Thursday, 5 July 2018

Vodka Collins (Hiroshi Oguchi-ex The Tempters,PYG) & (Alan Merrill-pre Arrows) "Tokyo - New York" 1973 Japan/USA Glam Rock


Vodka Collins (Hiroshi Oguchi-ex The Tempters,PYG) & (Alan Merrill-pre Arrows)   "Tokyo - New York" 1973 Japan/USA  Glam Rock
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https://ok.ru/rokarkheol/topic/65378834363758

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https://open.spotify.com/album/6dILBnLGqhzDYKQgly6pc9

Vodka Collins official website

http://the-aleecat.com/Vodka_Collins.html

Alan Merrill oficial website

http://www.alanmerrill.com/pages/discography/1973-1980.php



The effect on the current Japanese rock scene by the band Vodka Collins is enormous. Vodka Collins were the biggest glam-rock group in Japan in the early 70’s, and they started a trend of singing in Japanese with an English accent, and mixing Japanese and English lyrics together in the pop song, a first. This style is copied today by virtually every pop group recording hits today in Japan. Formed by Hiroshi Oguchi, the former drummer of the Tempters, the “bad boys” of the Tokyo rock scene, and Alan Merrill, the pathologically eccentric pretty-boy guitarist/singer, Vodka Collins rose to the top quickly. By 1973 they were the hippest group in the country. The album “Tokyo-New York” was released and had three hit singles on it. “Automatic Pilot”, “Sands Of Time” and “Billy Mars”. Their song “Scratchin’” was used as a T.V. theme song as well. The songs were written by Alan Merrill, with Japanese lyrics by Hiroshi Oguchi. Alan Merrill is a very catchy songwriter as evidenced by his later composition “I Love Rock'n Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Merrill actually recorded it first with his post-Vodka Collins group, the Arrows, in 1975 in the U.K. He sang the original RAK Records Arrows version! The music of Vodka Collins was as current as any of their foreign contemporaries T-Rex and David Bowie. Marc Bolan of T-Rex, and his wife June, loved Vodka Collins “Tokyo New York”! This band could have been competitive in the international music market but the recordings were never released outside of Japan until now, more than 25 years later. Bad management split up the band at its peak in 1973 as it was headlining a show at the world famous Budokan arena. Pity, as the music was in the true spirit of the times, and cutting edge 70’s glam rock. This CD is the real velvet goldmine. It’s clever, sexy, and it rocks. Unlike so many albums from this period here’s a recording that stands the test of time. Both thumbs up to Man’s Ruin Records for re-releasing it…..~



Rock & roll journeyman Alan Merrill has made a career of unique choices, and his early work with Vodka Collins ranks with one of the most bizarre. The band, a trio consisting of Merrill and Japan-born Hiroshi Oguchi and Take Yokouchi, was a mix of cultures that came together for one common goal: catchy power pop. Singing in both languages, the group was adept at both T. Rex-style rockers and gorgeous pop tracks, although the group’s strengths were emphasized by the latter. Merrill’s bluesy tendencies are reined in by the other two, while his smooth vocals put his distinctive stamp on the material. Although quite hard to find in the United States, Tokyo-New York is an inspiring meld of styles and cultures that speaks volumes for the power of rock music. The musicians’ blend of amateurish performance and obvious enthusiasm makes this a treat for fans of obscure gems, although be warned that this is very much a product of the early ‘70s. Those looking to enhance their collections of quality overlooked rock should give this a shot; it would be hard to think of any other bilingual pop/rock albums that are as catchy as this…..by Bradley Torreano …allmusic….~


Although they were together barely three years, Vodka Collins was Japan’s biggest glam rock band of the ‘70s, and remain legends to this day on account of their songwriter having written Joan Jett’s anthem ‘I Love Rock’n’roll’, and their drummer and lead guitarist both having been superstars of the Group Sounds scene. Formed as a trio in 1971, initially as a side project around ex-Spiders lead guitarist Hiroshi ‘Monsieur’ Kamayatsu, the two other original members consisted of ex-Tempters drummer Hiroshi Oguchi and ex-Four Leaves guitarist Take Yokouchi. However, whilst searching for a much younger frontman, the trio discovered the talented Eurasian model, TV actor and singer/songwriter Alan Merrill, whose American mother Helen Merrill was a national treasure to the Japanese, being a singer/actress in the Doris Day tradition. Alan Merrill, who had made his first solo LP whilst still in his mid-teens, acted in the TV show Young 720 and sung with Group Sounds act The Lead, delivered the band a whole bunch of T. Rex-styled songs, all of which would make it on to the first Vodka Collins album TOKYO-NEW YORK. The band signed a big deal with Toshiba/EMI Records and the powerful Watanabe Entertainment agency, immediately scoring massive hits with their single ‘Billy Mars’, ‘Automatic Pilot’ and ‘Sands Of Time’. However, when Merrill’s success brought him no increase in paycheck, he quit on the eve of a huge show at Tokyo’s Budokan and fled to England, where he signed with Mickey Most’s RAK label. Thereafter, Merrill formed the teen phenomenon Arrows, scored a major ITV series and hit the British charts with ‘A Touch Too Much’ and ‘I Love Rock’n’roll’. It was at this time that Joan Jett, while on a British tour with The Runaways, saw the Arrows performance of Merrill’s song and decided she should record the anthem for herself. ….Julian Cope  Head Heritage….~


Vodka Collins’ core band members are drummer Hiroshi Oguchi (ex The Tempters,PYG), singer-guitarist Alan Merrill (pre Arrows , composer of famous song “I Love Rock N Roll” ), singer-guitarist Hiroshi “Monsieur” Kamayatsu (ex The Spiders) and bassist Take Yokouchi (ex the Four Leaves backing band, High Society). ….~

Recording Tokyo-New York for EMI in 1972 Tokyo.


Vodka Collins was the first glam rock band that released recordings and performed in the Japanese market. The first phase lasted from 1971 until 1973, when they split apart over severe management problems. They had a very fast rise to fame and dissolved quickly in a situation at the time that was shrouded in mystery. 
The band was in fact a supergroup of sorts, consisting of Japan-raised pop star /singer/guitarist Alan Merrill, former The Tempters drummer Hiroshi Oguchi, former Four Leaves backing band guitarist Take Yokouchi (who in Vodka Collins played bass) and Spiders guitarist Hiroshi “Monsieur” Kamayatsu. All four members were known from their previous bands, Kamayatsu perhaps the best-known. The mischievous, fun-loving character from the hugely popular “group sounds” band The Spiders, was in fact, already a bonafide superstar when he joined the group. Merrill was the younger, more fashionable one, and made the band stand out, given that he wrote and sang songs in English. Merrill is the son of famed jazz singer Helen Merrill and Fatha Hines sax/clarinet player Aaron Sachs. Merrill literally grew up in the music business, and was playing in semi-pro rock bands in NYC at age 14. At 17 Merrill moved to Japan with his mother who married a journalist (UPI Vice President Don Brydon) stationed there. 
After playing with a short lived band called The Lead and recording with them in 1968, after they broke up he was soon signed by the famed production company Watanabe Productions and managed by Mr. Yokichi OhSato. Merrill was the first male signing to Atlantic records Japan, did modeling for fashion magazines and TV acting. In 1970 released his first solo album on Atlantic records, “Alone In Tokyo” and another album “Merrill 1” on Denon-Columbia in 1971. The seed for Vodka Collins was planted when Kamayatsu was putting together a band for live solo shows he was to do. He drafted Merrill and Oguchi as bassist and drummer, and hired on guitarist Masayoshi Takanaka , who would later go on to fame as founder of the Sadistic Mika Band and as a solo artist, best known for his international hit “Rainbow Goblin”. 
After these shows Merrill and Oguchi continued to work together, mostly on glam-leaning songs that Merrill was writing. Later they had guitarist Take Yokouchi join then and Monsieur Kamayatsu also joined. Vodka Collins was born. The band quickly signed to Toshiba/EMI, and released Tokyo-New York, which produced three hit singles - “Billy Mars”, “Automatic Pilot”, and “Sands of Time”. Another song, “Scratchin’”, was used as the theme song for a yakuza themed TV show starring former Tempters lead singer-actor Kenichi (Sho-Ken) Hagiwara. Despite all the positive things that were happening with the group, a busy schedule of TV, radio and live performances, Vodka Collins soon disintegrated. By all appearances the band seemed to be doing very well, but somehow they were not getting paid. On the eve of a scheduled performance at Budokan, Merrill dramatically left Japan and moved to London. 
In London, he soon formed The Arrows as lead singer/front man. Before long Merrill’s new group were recording with legendary producer Mickie Most (RAK records), and appeared regularly live and on TV. They soon had UK top chart hits with songs like “Touch Too Much” and “My Last Night With You” in 1974 and 1975. However it was an impressive performance of a single by the Arrows in May of 1975 that got the band their own weekly television series (the Arrows show, ITV UK) and it became Merrill’s biggest claim to fame. He wrote, recorded and sang the first version of a rock classic. The international anthem “I Love Rock N Roll.” Joan Jett, on tour with her band The Runaways in 1976, saw Alan Merrill and the Arrows perform the song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” on the band’s TV series which she later recorded as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. In 1982 the song was number one in the States for seven weeks. Joan Jett’s version of the Arrows song was an American smash, but many others have also since recorded the Arrows song, including Britney Spears & Miley Cyrus and the song has been featured in a number of major films including most recently Rock Of Ages (2012), with Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin singing the venerable Arrows song. The Rock Of Ages album was #1 for 6 weeks in the Billboard soundtrack album charts summer of 2012. The song resurfaces often in the charts, at different times in different countries. 
“I Love Rock N Roll” is currently #48 of all time according to Billboard magazine’s list of all time hits. Merrill has also written popular songs for artists like Lou Rawls, Freddie Scott, Runner, Phoenix, Felix Cavaliere, Chuck Jackson, Tiny Tim and of course his bands Arrows and Vodka Collins. 
“Monsieur” Kamayatsu meanwhile remains a well known celebrity in Japan. With his trademark rooster haircut and jovial manner, he remains a popular guest on TV shows, and still performs music live and makes new recordings. Hiroshi Oguchi studied percussion in Africa after the band broke up in the 70s, and after several successful reunions of the band and stints acting in popular films he sadly passed away of cancer in 2009. Take Yokouchi went on to form the band Tensaw, who re-recorded the Alan Merrill/Vodka Collins song “Automatic Pilot”, which was a modest hit for the band. In the '90s the band Vodka Collins reformed off and on, with Mayoshi “Mabo” Kabe from The Golden Cups taking over bass duties. (He is now with his own band ZZK). The group, in fact, recorded Chemical Reaction in 1996, Pink Soup in 1997, and Boys Life in 1998. A compilation of their material, Boys In The Band, was released in 2004. The debut Tokyo-New York (EMI) album was re-issued in April 2005 and October 2011. 
There was a re-union of all the members of Vodka Collins, a memorial concert for the late Hiroshi Oguchi in January of 2010 at the venue the Duo Exchange in Shibuya Tokyo with all the surviving members of the band and friends participating……~


Vodka Collins live from 1973

Vodka Collins is a Tokyo based Japanese-American rock band, formed in 1971. The core band members are drummer Hiroshi Oguchi (formerly of The Tempters), singer-guitarist Alan Merrill, singer-guitarist Hiroshi “Monsieur” Kamayatsu (formerly of The Spiders) and bassist Take Yokouchi (formerly of the Four Leaves backing band, High Society). In later reunion recordings in the 1990s, Yokouchi was replaced by Masayoshi “Mabo” Kabe (formerly of The Golden Cups) on bass guitar. 
All of the band’s released works are original compositions by the lead singer Alan Merrill. The band has made 5 albums, the most well known being the glam rock album “Tokyo - New York” released in 1973 on EMI records. Other album titles are Chemical Reaction, Pink Soup’, Boy’s Life and Boys In The Band. The band’s most valuable contribution territorially was recording and releasing the first single in the glam rock genre in Japanese, 1972’s double a-sided single “Sands Of Time”’ and ’“Automatic Pilot”’ on EMI records. 
Vodka Collins were the opening act on the Jackson 5’s first show in Japan on April 27, 1973 at the Imperial Theater in Tokyo. The show was broadcast live on Fuji Television. 
The band’s founding member and drummer Hiroshi Oguchi died January 25, 2009. There was a memorial concert for him with all the original band members performing on stage January 25 of 2010 at the Duo Exchange venue in Tokyo with Grico Tomioka taking Oguchi’s place on drums. The band’s rhythm guitarist, Monsieur Kamayatsu, died on March 1, 2017. Lead singer Alan Merrill did a memorial concert for Kamayatsu with star guests in Tokyo April 2017 at the Duo Music Exchange……~

Vodka Collins original lineup circa 1972, left to right Alan Merrill, Take Yokouchi, Hiroshi Oguchi, Monsieur Hiroshi Kamayatsu.(Vodka Collins)

Vodka Collins reunion lineup. Monsieur Kamayatsu, Alan Merrill, Hiroshi Oguchi, Masayoshi Kabe. Photo- Shinoyama Kishin, 1995 (Vodka Collins  circa 1990s)








Hiroshi Oguchi and Alan Merrill, Vodka Collins. 1972


Alan Merrill - electric, acoustic, slide guitar, piano, harmonica, bass, lead vocals, chorus 
Take Yoguchi - bass, chorus 
Hiroshi Ohguchi - drums, tambourine, congas, chorus, lead vocal (8)

lan Merrill on the Jikan Desuyo TV series (TBS). With Hiromisu Suzuki and Monsieur Kamayatsu, Japan 1973.

Tracklist 
A1 Automatic Pilot
A2 Billy Mars
A3 Terminal City
A4 Sands Of Time
A5 Pontiac Pan
B1 Diamond To Dungarees
B2 Monitor
B3 Vacuum Girl
B4 Scratchin´

Discography 
Tokyo – New York (1973)
Chemical Reaction (1996) 
Pink Soup (1997) 
Boy’s Life (outtakes compilation, 1998) 
Boys In The Band (greatest hits compilation, 2004) 

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