Boku No Ongaku Jinsei
3 CD set of the works of Ryoichi Hattori (1907-1993), thought of as the originator of Japanese modern popular songs who laid the foundation for post-war enka. The word blues became known in Japan when in 1937 Ryoichi Hattori composed Wakare no Blues (Seperation Blues) for Noriko Awaya included here, as well as Hamako Watanabe & Noboru Kirishima's "Soshu Yakyoku (Suzhou Serenade)" (1940), Shizuko Kasagi's "Tokyo Boogie-Woogie" (1947), Hideko Takamine's "Ginza Kan Kan Musume (Ginza Street Girl)" (1949), Ichiro Fujiyama & Mitsue Nara's "Aoi Sanmyaku (Blue Mountain Range)" (1949) and many others.
Original Best Hit Collection Vol.1
3 CDs, 45 tracks from Japan's queen of enka and arguably the most popular singer ever. Hibari Misora started her professional career aged 12 in 1949. Hibari had a distinctive voice, especially suitable for singing enka, sentimental ballads with melodies based on the Japanese minor pentatonic scale. She also sang pop songs influenced by jazz and Western popular music. This set includes all her greatest hits including 'Tokyo Kid', 'Ringo Oiwake', 'Omatsuri Mambo' 'Makka na Taiyo' a GS (group sounds) collaboration with Jackey Yoshikawa and his Blue Comets from 1967.
Big Artist Best Collection
Kyu Sakamoto is the only Japanese artist to ever to have a number 1 record outside of Japan with Sukiyaki (Ue o Muite Aruko) in the US in 1963. The song has since been covered by a number of artists in Japan and overseas including A Taste of Honey and 4PM. The song was also used recently in a UK TV ad campaign, regenerating more interest. None of his other singles quite duplicated the success of Sukiyaki overseas but in Japan he had a string of hits included on this CD of 22 songs. His music is a mixture of kayakyoku (Japanese pop) with a jazz/soul flavour. Kyu Sakamoto was among the victims killed in the world's worst ever airplane crash on August 12 1985 aged 43.
Past Masters 1965-1972
Blue Comets were one of the original, Group Sounds (G.S.) groups from the mid 60s influenced by visiting group such as the Ventures, the Animals and the Beatles. With the explosion of the Beatles music, a host groups with English names shot to prominence such as Tigers, Spiders, Jaguars and Blue Comets. Electric guitar (eleki) and long hair on boys was soon banned in schools. Unusually Blue Comets featured saxophone (modelled from the Kingsmen). Blue Comets were the only Japanese group to appear on the Ed Sullivan show. This comprehensive compilation features 2CDs and 49 tracks.
Kyohei Tsutsumi Ultra Best Tracks
Ayumi Ishida is known as much as an actress as a singer. She made her first record in 1964 and had her biggest hit, Blue Light Yokohama in 1969. Lyrics written by one of Japan's greatest lyricists, Kyohei Tsutsumi. Best of compilation from throughout her career. 2 CDs 38 tracks.
THE FOLK CRUSADERS
Folk Crusaders were the first stars of the "folk" scene. This is their only official studio album and contains their comical million selling hit "Kaettekita Yopparai' (The Return of a Drunk). The group consisted three members, Kazuhiko Kato (vocals, guitar), Osamu Kitayama (vocals, bass) and Norihiko Hashida (vocals, guitar). Many young people began to learn guitar in the wake of the folk boom, and the group helped to inspire 'new music' underground folk and even the rock scene of the 70s.
Sakuban Oai Shimasho
Yumi Matsutoya (Yumin) is the queen on so-called 'New Music'. New Music emerged in the early 70s influenced by US singers, typically solo or group vocals with guitar. Yumin became, and still is, a massive star of contemporary music. The boundary between kayokyoku and New Music gradually merged in the 80s, with kayaokyoku becoming more westernised. This is her classic album from 1981.
Seiko Matsuda is sometimes called Japan's greatest ever 'idol' singer, almost unique in the longevity of her career which has lasted from throughout the 80s to the present day. In the late 70s a succession of young teen singers came on the scene, and the term 'idol' was coined. Saori Minami, Mari Amachi Momoe Yamaguchi came before Seiko Matsuda released her first record in 1980. This album was released at the height of her popularity in 1983.
Momoe Yamaguchi was retiring in 1980 just as another idol star Seiko Matsuda was beginning. Whereas Matsuda has courted the press until today and has been involved in a number of scandals, Yamaguchi retired to get married and have a family and stays out of the media spotlight. For seven years from 1973 she was one of Japan's most famous people. Even today though she has a legendary despite leading a relatively reclusive life. Considered her best album, Manju Shage was released in 1978.
A best of compilation of songs released on the Moon label from 1984-92, plus her early tunes. Many of these tunes were used as theme songs to TV dramas, and her own versions of songs she had written for other artists. Produced by Tatsuro Yamashita released in 1994.
SCHA DARA PARR
Wild Fancy Alliance
Since their first record in 1991, Scha Dara Parr (Bose (MC) Ani (MC) Shinco (DJ)) soon established themselves as pioneers of Japan's burgeoning hip-hop scene. Supported De La Soul in Japan, they have a connection to the Beastie Boys, with whom they are sometimes compared with, as well as Jungle Brothers or A Tribe Called Quest. This is their third album from 1993. Click here to email for availability
Sweet 19 Blues
One of the biggest idol stars on the 1990s, Namie Amuro even created a new word - Amura- her followers. She is from Okinawa and went to the Okinawan Actor's School that also created the popular groups Max and Speed. She has proven to be more durable than most idol stars, arguably eclipsed by others now, but is still setting trends. Sweet 19 Blues is her second album including 'Body Feels Exit', 'Chase the Chance' and 'Don't Wanna Cry'.. All tracks written, composed and produced by hit machine Tetsuya Komuro, with his trademark programmed dance beats. Released in 1996.
CRAZY KEN BAND
Crazy Ken Band might have a wacky sense of humour but are equally talented musicians. They play a kind of 50s jazzy pop, with themes inspired by their native Yokohama. From 2002, the album that helped the band break away from their cult status into mainstream stars. Title track was one of their bigger hits.