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|Discovolante's Best of 1982 (Japan Edition)|
From the beginning of the year to the end, via the Sputnik release calendar.
Do You Like Japan?
Often being compared to bands like Talking Heads and Japan (with the bassist of the latter, Percy Jones, working with the group), Melon was a clusterfuck of the numerous genres that were popular in the early 80s. Their debut "Do You Like Japan?" is without a doubt their crowning achievement, and is undoubtedly one of the best Japanese albums of the decade.
Zouroku no Kibyou
Hijokaidan is one of the earliest noise acts in Japanese music history, and alongside Merzbow, are widely regarded as one of the most groundbreaking as well. The group struck gold right off the bat with their brilliant debut "Zouroku no Kibyou" which relishes in its piercingly, disjointed insanity and splattered soundscapes. While absolutely not for everyone, Hijokaidan's album is unquestionably ahead of its time and sounds like something that would have come out 2 decades later, and remnants of it can be heard in later acts like Boredoms.
|3||Chage and Aska|
Tasogare no Kishi
Pop/rock/folk duo Chage and Aska would eventually become one of the most successful acts Japan ever had to offer, finding success all over Asia and even scoring their own MTV Unplugged special in 1996, being first Japanese act to do so (which is phenomenal, by the way). At any rate, it was on "Tasogare no Kishi" that Chage and Aska really honed and expanded upon their emotional sound. There's less of a folk influence on this one than other records, which would start a trend where the folk element was completely gone by the mid 80s. But with how the slight remaining folk sound collides with the bolder rock sound is stuff of legend, and that specifically makes "Tasogare no Kishi" one of their best efforts.
By the time 1982's "Perspective" came out, P-Model already had a solid reputation for being one of the most daringly original new wave acts in Japan, alongside fellow musical wacko extraordinaires Hikashu. But in my opinion, it wasn't until "Perspective" that P-Model really solidified the delicate blend of artistic new wave and cutting edge avant-garde. Gaining a reputation for being one of their more difficult listens, "Perspective" represents the band embarking toward wilder and even more abstract frontiers. A quintessential crossroad in the discography of one of Japan's most groundbreaking bands of the era.
Niagara Triangle Vol. 2
Usually, a band reuniting and making a new album can be a pretty risky gamble. If not a financial disappointment, it has the potential to be a critical one as well, and completely stain that band's credibility. The super-trio Niagara Triangle, however, had the very rare outcome of producing an album that eclipses even their original from several years before. The aptly titled "Niagara Triangle Vol. 2" shows a more updated sound and takes the light, breezy sound that they laid down on their first effort, and adds very slight experimental sounds to it, which ends up being the ingredient that makes "Vol. 2" the absolutely superior release.
Boowy is one of the best rags-to-riches stories in Japanese music history: a band struggling to make ends meat and playing small clubs to suddenly catching on in a ginormous way and becoming perhaps the biggest and single most influential Japanese rock band that ever existed. "Moral" represents Boowy in their earliest, rawest stage, and is a pretty stripped down punk album. Although it is the group at their snottiest and unsophisticated, it still produced some of their most beloved classics, and shows a rowdy side of Boowy that would never be seen again.
The legend of Jagatara is one that has thankfully garnered more awareness overseas throughout the last few years, and it all started on this very release: the infamously screwball "Nanban Torai". The album broke down many barriers by introducing a more no wave-like style to Japanese music with an apathetic punk sensibility that dazzles its way to new listeners who come across this underground masterpiece to this day. Deceptively simple with so much depth that it feels like you're falling off of the pits of oblivion.
"Philharmony" is Haruomi Hosono's first real solo album in four years, released when YMO mania was temporarily drifting off. It is, in my opinion, the finest and most solid solo album among the YMO members, as well as the magnum opus in Hosono's legendary solo career. It's mesmerizingly addictive from a listenability stance, and impressive from a technical one as well. Probably the biggest example I'd use for why Hosono is my favorite YMO member.
Although already riding high on the charts at this point, Seiko Matsuda finally releases her first solid album, "Pineapple", which is an album of peach-fuzz and snuggles. Harmless stuff, yet really quality pop from an interesting transitional period in Japanese pop.
What, Me Worry?
As much as I love Hosono (I also like Ryuichi Sakamoto from a compositional standpoint, but his solo albums never really did much for me unfortunately), Yukihiko Takahashi has the distinction of releasing two fantastic solo albums one year apart from each other. Similarly to "Neuromantic", "What, Me Worry?" is a new romantic-inspired shooting star of an album. It is actually so similar in vein to "Neuromantic" that it sounds like an extension, which is just fine with me.
27 Bun no Koi
Juicy Fruits continue their barrage of signature pop with the release of their fourth album "27 Bun no Koi". Somehow even more out-there than "Pajama Date", the album proves just how much depth Juicy Fruits had as a straight-up band without any frills. Ultimately their final fantastic release before their initial split in 1984.
I've been saying for years that Zelda is the best all-female band of all time. Wildly switching between bleak avant-garde, post-punk, glam rock and plain new wave pop, Zelda during their heyday was untouchable in terms of quality. In 1982, Zelda released their first full length album, which has reached icon status for its rapid moodswings: being happy and upbeat one second, to grim and haunting the next. It also features the controversial track "To-ra-wa-re", which caused a stir at the time due to its S&M overtones, sung by Sayoko Takahashi, who was only 17 years old when the song was recorded. Without a doubt one of the best debut albums not just of the 1980s, but of all time.
After 3 years, Moonriders cease the strong potential of "Modern Music" with "Aozora Hyakkei". Complicated yet very mainstream friendly, "Aozora Hyakkei", along with the almost as good "Mania Maniera" proved that 1982 was the year of Moonriders.
"Beat Pops" was the album that formally turned RC Succession into struggling rockers to countrywide superstars, and it boasts some of their most solid material as well. It has a lot more of an upbeat sound than their "Blue" EP, and is a total riot to listen to. An album that unabashedly maintains the soul and spirit of traditional rock'n'roll.
Possibly the name that is most synonymous with 80s Japanese pop overseas, Akina Nakamori's legacy stretches long and wide. And it didn't take her long at all to really hit her stride as evidenced by her 1982 album "Variation", which was her second album after her first one, "Prologue", which was released less than 4 months before. With "Variation", Nakamori shows conspicuously vast improvement than her rather lackluster debut, boasted by the iconic smash single "Shoujo A" which put her on the map for good among 80s idols. While it does sound oddly reminiscent to Momoe Yamaguchi at times, "Variation" was the album that shot Nakamori to the top of the idol world, and officially set her on track to be a pop icon.