SHOKICHI KINA & CHAMPLOOSE
Shokichi Kina & Champloose
In 1977, while the Sex Pistols or the Clash were changing the face of rock, in Okinawa Shokichi Kina and his family group Champloose were doing much the same. Their energy levels are up there with their British counterparts, as Okinawan tunes are speeded up with guitar and drums, yet the music keeps its Okinawan rootsy feel throughout with sanshin and high pitched hayashi backing vocals. Recorded in Kina's club in Koza, and has the best version of Haisai Ojisan.
Rinken Band's first album was originally released on their own label in Okinawa in 1987. The title track became a local hit after being used in a TV beer commercial. While Shokichi Kina was all about energy and courting controvery, Rinken Teruya prefered to stay in the background, write some great songs and work in his studio to create the Rinken Band trademark sound. Okinawan flavoured tunes and sanshin are mixed with keyboards and drums in a pop roots style. Vocals are shared between male unision with a comedy edge on the faster paced numbers, and his wife, Tomoko Uehara on the slower, plaintive ballads. Perhaps sounds dated, but there is undoubted quality and beauty here.
The success of Nenes first album in 1991, saw them become one of the big three in the bubbling Okinawan music scene. Brilliant songs written by Sadao China, textured layers of keyboards from Kazuya Sahara, and topped off by the crowning glory of the Nenes sound, beauitful unison female vocals. Highlights include the title track and Tege.
Ohshima's fifth album from 2002, and one of his best. His dramatic voice and sanshin are accompanied by mainly violin, guitar and percussion. However, there is little compromise to Western music, despite the songs being mostly Ohshima originals, they still sound deeply rooted in hundreds of years of tradition. Finally receiving some deserved recognition at home, and has successfully toured in the UK. Still in his early thirties, arguably the new standard bearer of Okinawan traditional music. Comes with excellent English liner notes and lyric translations.
Still in his mid 30s, Isamu Shimoji is from Miyako island and has gained a good reputation for singing his own Miyako influenced tunes on guitar. More pop than roots and as much image as substance, this was his breakthrough album in 2004.