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Discovolante's Best of 1988 (Japan Edition)

From the beginning of the year to the end, via the Sputnik release calendar.
1Salon Music
O Boy

Salon Music was a band that was so far ahead of the curve, that it took the Japanese music universe several years until they began to really appreciate them. Case-in-point: their fourth album "O Boy", which is still their crowning achievement today. Blending a jangly take on dream pop with shoegaze, which was absolutely unheard of in Japanese music and was just becoming a thing at the time of the release of "O Boy", the album shows a band with their finger on the pulse of alternative music.

Widely regarded as godfathers of the visual kei movement, Color released their first album in 1988, "Geki-Totsu!!", which took over the underground music scene like wildfire. Mixing hard-edged rock with playful punk rock and topped off with the signature growly vocals of frontman Dynamite Tommy, "Geki-Totsu!!" ends up being one of the very best punk albums in Japanese music history.
3New Rote'ka
Drinkin' Boys

Japanese punks New Rote'ka finally made their big splash with the release of their first widely available EP "Drinkin' Boys". An album that serves as a great backdrop to a rowdy night with the boys, "Drinkin' Boys" is 6 tracks full of high quality playful punk rock, and would become the release that put New Rote'ka high up on the Japanese underground punk food chain.
4Kyoko Koizumi

Already considered to be one of the leading idols in Japanese music, Kyoko Koizumi never released anything of substantial re-listenability. That is, until she released "Beat-Pop" in 1988, after already releasing 10 albums. While "Beat-Pop" showed Kyoko Koizumi at one of her lower commercially successful periods (the album, although it reached number 8, was a farcry from her chart topping streak a few years prior), it would end up being hailed as one of her best albums critically speaking for its highly addictive, proudly dated sound, with a noticeably tighter and livelier production than a lot of her previous albums, in part of its involvement of cutting edge musicians Tomoyasu Hotei (who just left Boowy) and Hoppy Kamiyama (formally of Pink). In short, one of the most beloved and sacred Japanese 80s pop albums despite its odds.
Sonna Toki Onna wo Suki ni Naru

In 1988, Tulip released an album so brilliant, it is only rivaled by their 1972 debut "Mahou no Kiiro Ikutsu", out of seemingly nowhere. Consisting of some of their most musically superb songs, including the perfect track "Room #1022", it is an album of very high caliber, with vocalist Kazuo Zaitsu delivering his most passionate vocal performance in his career.
6Kinniku Shojo Tai
Buddha L

I won't dwell on this addition too much as I'm sure many of you already know how high I hold this one. Kinniku Shojo Tai's debut full length "Buddha L" is the best Japanese heavy metal album ever made, period, in my eyes. Always was, and always will be.

Unique Japanese pop duo Psy-S released their most significant moment in their catalog, "Non-Fiction", which boasts their two biggest singles "Parachute Limit" and "Angel Night", with the latter being used as an opening theme for the legendary anime series City Hunter. A nail-biting, gripping Japanese pop drama on wax, and an absolute undebatable classic.
Modern Boogie

New wave legends and female-fronted rock pioneers Personz finally made their presence felt with the career defining "Modern Boogie". It contains some of their greatest tracks, including the phenomenal "Be Happy", and played a pivotal role in Japanese music history.

High adrenaline with just the right amount of heart added into the mix, De-Lax splashed onto the Japanese masses with their brilliant first album "Sensation". Just an ass-kicking post-punk album of great stature.

Releasing their magnum opus right out the gate, Katze went from being total unknowns to the voice of 80s Japanese youth with the release of their debut "Blind". Blending elements of passionate sleaze and total innocence, it is an album that was the soundtrack to many Japanese coming-of-age stories, and is now a fantastic and fascinating relic of 80s Japanese teen life.
Hermit Complex

Dynamic rockers Up-Beat, after a few years of scratching the surface of mainstream popularity, finally reached their big moment in 1988 with the release of their fourth album "Hermit Complex" which was not only their first album to crack the Oricon top 10, but also is perhaps their best effort as well. It manages to connect the dots of catchy new wave pop and meaningful, heartfelt melodies that eluded their previous three albums. A true 80s Japanese rock masterpiece.
12Tomoyasu Hotei

With "Guitarhythm", Tomoyasu Hotei successfully manages to break out of the massive shadow of Boowy, and officially kick off his own illustrious solo career. His debut remains his best moment, in my opinion, due to its perfect balance of feelgood rock and brilliantly crafted pop. A total classic and a major breakthrough for one of Japan's future rock icons.
13Chisato Moritaka

1988 was a huge breakthrough year for Chisato Moritaka as she went from burgeoning pop idol to superstar status thanks to the consecutive releases of her second and third albums "Miha" and "Mite". And while it is still debated today as to which one is her best one, my vote goes to "Mite". It has a more sincere, substantial variety to it over "Miha", in my opinion, although they're both great in their own different ways.
14Elephant Kashimashi

It took Elephant Kashimashi eight long years on a major label to finally catch on in the Japanese mainstream, perhaps largely due to their change of sound. See, originally they were an unhinged, passionate band influenced by the likes of RC Succession (which is particularly evident in the vocals of frontman Hiroji Miyamoto) which combined the soulful rock-n-roll influence of the previously mentioned RC Succession with a mad, grungy flair. The best example of their early sound is their second album, the appropriately titled "The Elephant Kashimashi II". Definitely an acquired taste, but an album that remains viewed as miles ahead of everything else around at the time, and certainly one of their best albums.

A compilation containing some of Boowy's best cuts. Of course it's phenomenal!
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