|Discovolante's Best of 1981 (Japan Edition)|
From the beginning of the year to the end, via the Sputnik release calendar.
A great compilation of some of the best tracks from one of Japan's biggest cult new wave bands.
Releasing a lackluster sophomoric album in 1980, Lizard return to pose in 1981 with their boldest album in their brief yet legendary catalog "Gymnopedia". It's a vast listen containing some of the longest tracks the group ever did, with a deliciously dense production. An album that proves why Lizard really were one of the best post-punk bands to ever emerge from the Land of the Rising Sun.
The last real punk album from The Rockers before they went off and explored rockabilly territory, "Come On" sort of feels like an expansion pack of their debut from a year before. Although if it isn't broke, don't fix it, and formulaically it still ends up being one of the best Japanese punk albums ever.
Around for only 2 years, it is hard to stress the sheer impact Inu had on the punk scene with their one and only proper album release, "Meshi Kuuna!". It's disjointed, loud, gritty and bleak, which made it stand out among the more generally upbeat early punk bands in Japan. If there was ever a Japanese band that could be accurately compared to Sex Pistols in terms of sheer influence (with an equally short run to match), it would be Inu.
"Ringetsu" was the album where Miyuki Nakajima finally ceased the enormous potential she was showing for years beforehand. The songs are beautifully smooth and rootsy, showing Nakajima really starting to hone her style for the first time. And it would just get better from here on for her.
Yukihiro Takahashi had a hand in concocting some of the most legendary moments in Japanese music history, including his role in Sadistic Mika Band and Yellow Magic Orchestra, and even tried his luck at a solo career. Releasing a few solo albums, his solo work ultimately paled in comparison to his fellow YMO members Haruomi Hosono and Ryuichi Sakamoto. That was, at least, until he released the electropop classic "Neuromantic", which proved he could more than hold his own with Hosono and Sakamoto on a solo level. It has a sound that is both sultry and admittedly heavily dated, which I believe only adds to its appeal.
Fight or Flight
The debut album of punk pioneers The Mods, "Fight or Flight", is not only regarded as a masterpiece punk album, but is thought to be their magnum opus. And with the way it grabs your attention with its driving aggression leaves little wonder why it's still so highly revered today.
Juicy Fruits' third effort, "Pajama Date", is the group at their best and most cohesive. While it still has an addictive corny pop styling to it, the works are noticeably a lot more mature, which adds a layer of depth to the music instead of perhaps being a novelty. Probably the album that offers the most examples as to why Juicy Fruits are so beloved today.
By the time 1981 started, RC Succession were on the road from being a painfully mediocre folk band with piss poor sales to developing a dynamic rock sound that would make them ultimate rock icons. Compared to the more bombastic sound they would become known for, the songs on their "Blue" EP are much more somber and laidback, harking back to their initial folk era, except doing it this time with such grace and heart that it ends up working hook-and-sinker.
Releasing three albums consecutively that showed a great dip in quality, Off Course finally made a comeback with the release of their ninth album "Over". The album showed a much needed change in sound for their folk sound, which honestly was indeed getting a bit tiresome by the time the 1980s started. With "Over", Off Course added a more rocky center, which collided with the emotional style of Off Course wonderfully. A rebirthing done perfectly.