BOOK TWO: Chapter 5



Only barbarians are able to rejuvenate a world in the throes of collapsing civilisation.
Frederick Engels
The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884)

Heralds of Astonishing Change

Book Two of our musical odyssey commences in 1969, when the cultural barriers that had long separated Japan's many artists and entertainers were - through the arduous process described in Book One - finally removed, allowing rock'n'rollers to work with classical composers, poets with easy-listening entertainers, experimental musicians with free-jazz fanatics, or any permutation of the above. The results of these experiments brought forth incredibly highly charged works, many of which defied attempts at categorisation, having been created during this unique period's mass celebratory orgy of grand holistic statements and hitherto unheard-of cultural unions. In the chapters of Book One, we learned of the post-war routes navigated by each of Japan's many and disparate artistic and musical factions, and of those characters involved in successfully bringing them all together in 1969's bizarre but cosmically righteous marriage of creative ideas. The history contained in Book One should, therefore, have equipped us to sit here in 1969 and enjoy the swift unravelling of Japan's most intensely fertile musical period, that is, the years 1969-75. But before we embark on a chapter-by-chapter study of the careers of my favourite artists, we should first remember to view all of these happenings in a worldwide context.

Stomp 'em! Stop 'em! Get 'em under Control!

In 1969, the world outside Japan's still-conservative society was undergoing astonishing changes. Indeed, 1968 had seen civil disobedience in Paris, Warsaw, Rome, Beijing, Prague, Mexico City and nearly every major US city with a large black population. If radicalised student youth culture had finally mobilised itself against the stasis of the ruling classes, then it was only because they had been spurred on by alienated racial minorities and the overworked underprivileged classes. Here in 1968, everything about the current social and political order was wide open to Question. The Vietnam War and the segregation policies of America's openly racist southern states were making a mockery of the USA's claim to be at the heart of world democracy. No one was free from this time of extreme change, and even the previously self-serving Rolling Stones found themselves goaded into singing songs to 'The Salt of the Earth' and the 'Factory Girl', while Jim Morrison - with typical braggadocio - claimed to be all for slugging it out with the Man on the Doors' brazen anthem 'Five to One'. For other rock'n'rollers, however, evidence of civil insurrection had been brewing on their doorsteps for three long years. In the USA, despite the Nobel Peace Prize that Martin Luther King had won in 1964 for his deeply moving 'I Have a Dream' speech and sustained policy of non-violent protest, Frank Zappa had, in August '65, witnessed the fallout from the riots in nearby Watts, where anger boiled over at the federal government's cynical decision to block the fair-housing section of the Civil Rights Act with its insertion of the controversial 'Proposition 14'. Holed up in his LA studio working on the Mothers of Invention's debut album FREAK OUT, Zappa poured out his feelings in the song 'Trouble Every Day', his lyrical portents of gloom accompanied by Dylan-alike protest-song harmonica. 'I'm not black, but there's a lot of times I wish I could say I'm not white: he concluded.

But the injustices were not just about colour of skin. Some of this shit was tribal too. In March 1966, three black Muslims from America's Nation of Islam were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of black activist Malcolm X, whose defection from the party had incensed its leader Elijah Muhammad. That same spring, it was also tribalism that lay at the heart of Chairman Mao's desperate and misguided attempt to regain power from rivals Liu Shauqi and Deng Xiaoping via his so-called 'Cultural Revolution'. The move caused a national calamity, as Mao's Red Guard youth-militia movement had sought to prove its dedication to the cause by turning in neighbours, even their own families, killing millions of Chinese between '66 and '69. In Hong Kong, between May and October 1967, while the Monterey Pop Festival was showcasing performances by Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane, Communist extremists sympathetic to the chaos of mainland China had embarked on a policy of randomly bombing capitalist institutions and murdering all media figures who dared speak out against them. In January 1968, Czechoslovakia's brave President Alexander Dubcek instigated a period of liberal reforms that were in direct opposition to the wishes of his Moscow bosses. But whilst the Czech reforms appeared to be holding, further antagonism towards the Soviet Union occurred in mid-March when 3,000 Polish students demonstrated on the streets of Warsaw. Over 200 were injured in the riots that ensued, as eleven university faculties were temporarily shut down.

On 6th April, further US race riots exploded in Baltimore, Washington DC, Cincinnati, Chicago and Los Angeles, when black Americans learned that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. Less than one week later, German students took to the streets to protest at the attempted assassination of their leader Rudi Dutschke, whose would-be assassin had been provoked into shooting the activist in the head by a particularly inflammatory right-wing-press headline that declared 'Stop Dutschke Now!' The following month, over-zealous riot-policing by the French authorities caused such outraged protests from student activists that General de Gaulle felt compelled to seek refuge in neighbouring Germany as a national strike by sympathetic workers brought the country to a standstill. That same May, in New York, on the third anniversary of the murder of Malcolm X, the Last Poets came together to tell the plight of black Americans in song. Inspired by Huey Newton and Bobby Sea le's Black Panther Party, whose formation eighteen months previously had included a programme that called for 'Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Justice and Peace', the Last Poets set about politicising their brothers and sisters with such cultural broadsides as 'Wake Up, Niggers', 'When the Revolution Comes', 'Run Nigger' and 'Niggers Are Scared of Revolution'. Also acutely aware that Malcolm X had taken up the same Muslim religion as the Arab slavers who had sold his ancestors to whitey, and that Martin Luther King had preached the Christian gospel as taught to his family by the same white plantation owners who had imprisoned them, the Last Poets attempted to break this vicious cycle of oppression by choosing also to celebrate the Yoruba nature religion of .their Nigerian ancestors.

But whilst the world's underprivileged were up against it that summer of '68, neither the Beatles nor the Rolling Stones appeared committed enough to describe through their art the extraordinary events taking place around them, preferring instead to deliver songs with pretentious titles that suggested unity and brotherhood - 'Revolution' and 'Street Fighting Man' - but which were in reality all mouth and no trousers. And in a righteous double blow against their pop-star political fence-sitting, the Stones' single 'Street Fighting Man' failed to hit the Top 40, and John Lennon failed to get 'Revolution' released as the first Beatles single on their new Apple label, losing out to McCartney's rousing but la-de-da anthem 'Hey Jude'. However, as the cringe-worthy chorus of 'Revolution' ('Don't you know it's gonna be all right?') stood in direct opposition to all current evidence, perhaps it was best that Lennon was offered more time to adjust his political position.

And, thus, the torture and chaos continued unabated. On 21st August, Soviet tanks invaded Czechoslovakia, bringing to a bloody end the country's brief period of liberalisation that would become known as 'The Prague Spring'. On 2nd October, just weeks before the Mexico City Olympics, thousands of Mexican students in Tlatelolco gathered in La Plaza de las Tres Culturas to protest against social injustices. With many women and children in their throng, the protesters had planned to march peacefully through a suburb of their city, but found by early evening that the square had been surrounded by the military. The ninety-minute massacre that followed killed over 200 people, and was later shown to have been instigated by the CIA who, nervous of the protest's proximity to the athletes in the Olympic Village, had sent extra weapons, ammunition and riot-control materials to the Mexican authorities. Two days later, on 5th October, a civil-rights march through Londonderry, Northern Ireland, was brought to a violent conclusion when police from the Royal Ulster Constabulary used water cannon against the Catholic protesters and beat with batons those at the head of the march, including two MPs. Eleven days later, on 16th October, seven people were killed in riots that erupted in Kingston, Jamaica, in protest against the white government's treatment of Guyanese lecturer Waiter Rodney, The African-history lecturer had been banned from returning to his position at the University of the West Indies for having attended a black writers' convention in Montreal, Canada. Rodney was an avowed socialist and had travelled to Cuba and the USSR in the past, but his dismissal caused severe rioting among Jamaican university students, who marched on the prime minister's home. In Mexico City the following day, in a 'silent protest' against black oppression, America's Olympic 200-metres sprint champion Tommie Smith and bronze medallist John Carlos raised their black gloved right fists in a Black Power salute, as they stood on the podium at the medal ceremony. It was against this burning backdrop of almost worldwide lunacy that the Japanese underground was formed.

Barricades-a-Go-Go - Enter Les Rallizes Denudés

By the beginning of 1969, the Tokyo streets around Shinjuku had filled up close to bursting paint, as other cities also reported huge rises in the numbers of long-haired teenage futens arriving from across rural Japan. Despite the Tokyo authorities' natural tendency to attempt to disperse all of these unwanted itinerants, the Japanese government's recent implementation of a programme known as 'Understanding among Youth' forced the authorities to accommodate them all by opening up a disused US Army camp at Fukuzumi, where a commune began in earnest. This hazing of the rules had caused much hesitation and head-scratching among council officials, enabling other futens to set up their own communes in Tokyo's Kokubunji district without hindrance. Moreover, certain educational establishments - acutely aware of the rioting on European and American university campuses - had decided to enter wholeheartedly into the spirit of the 'Understanding among Youth' programme. And so, despite being apprehensive about this decidedly non-Japanese way of behaving, lecturers were encouraged to allow students to speak their minds in order to forestall any unnecessary outbreaks of Gakuen funso, as the Japanese press termed campus riots.

At the forefront of this liberal attitude was Doshishi University, in the ancient city of Kyoto. As one of Japan's first universities, Doshishi had long enjoyed a rich and deserved reputation as a place of free-thinking and idealism, and many of Japan's greatest minds had completed their educations there. On 12th April 1969, the university authorities even organised their own rock'n'roll festival, playfully entitled 'Barricades-a-Go-Go', in the basement of Doshishi's anonymously named Building A. The festival was sponsored by a local Kyoto newspaper and featured four Kyoto bands, Mustapha, Wax, Mustang and a mysterious headlining act known as Les Rallizes Denudés, whose members attended the university. Playing to a packed house of 500, the festival was a huge success for all of the musicians involved. But while the first three bands mentioned had roots in something approaching standard rock'n'roll (the ultra long-haired sextet Mustang having even enjoyed an Oricon Top-40 hit the previous year), Les Rallizes Denudés was an entirely different kettle of piranha. They were smart, they were idealistic, and they were Communist sympathisers out to overthrow the established order. Dressed all in black and led by songwriter and guitarist Takeshi Mizutani, all four band members considered themselves to be true revolutionaries. On stage, rhythm guitarist Takeshi Nakamura played bar chords high up the fretboard, his hands a blur, as drummer Takashi Kato hammered his floor- and side-toms, with no thought for a snare or cymbal crash. On bass was the uber-refusenik Moriyasu Wakabayashi, whose mind always appeared elsewhere as he stood motionless, from time to time delivering painfully slow epic blasts of sub bass then staring out into the audience making no sound at all. Rallizes's most famous song of the time, the near-twenty-minutes 'Smokin' Cigarette Blues'' had been known to empty concert halls, but for their hardcore following it was an orgasmic experience.

Billing themselves as 'The Radical Music Black Gypsy Band', Les Rallizes Denudés believed in 'total sensory assault of the culture' in the dark style of Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the unfathomably dense ramalama of early Blue Cheer, the so-called 'loudest band in the world' (and by whom leader Mizutani was obsessed). Indeed, by deploying incessant strobe lights and excruciatingly high volumes the previous year, Les Rallizes Denudés had even managed to alienate their own revolutionary theatre troupe Gendai Gekijo (Modern Arts Society), whose seven members had accompanied the band's songs with radical dances and theatrical moves until the feedback had driven them all up the wall. Despite their refusal to appear on stage any longer, however, the idealistic members of Gendai Gekijo had continued to bring their lighting rigs and smoke machines to all the shows in order to facilitate Rallizes's belief in 'total cultural assault'.

Dr Acid Seven, Futen Tora, [circle triangle square] & the Folk Guerrillas

Talking of total cultural assault, the whole long-haired lifestyle received a further credibility boost in mid-1969, when Shinji Nagashima's Futen cartoon was made into a full-length feature film entitled Otoko Wa Tsuraiyo (It's Hard to Be a Man). Starring the well-loved actor Kiyoshi Atsumi as 'Futen Tora', the movie was a huge success across Japan, sending even more young disillusioned Japanese kids on the road in search of some of that same footloose freedom they'd just seen propelling Futen Tora from adventure to adventure.

But in this acutely competitive and hierarchical Japanese society where status was everything, there was still, even among the Shinjuku futens, a perceived pecking order, and the fascinated media soon homed in on four particularly controversial and long-haired futens who went by the mythological names of Gurriba (Gulliver), Kiristo (Christ), Barbara (the Barbarian) and Julius Caesar. And when Japan's own Playboy magazine ran an extended piece about the four, the article's author hit upon the idea of calling them The Four Longhaired Brothers of Japan', declaring that the futen lifestyle was the last word in cool among the burgeoning hippie population, and intimating that there had even been turf wars between the four.

On the teeming Shinjuku streets, meanwhile, refusenik singers and musicians played their songs of rebellion and idealism, whilst it became commonplace for improvised theatre and revolutionary dance to occur right there on the pavements in front of the coffee houses of Ogi and the Go-Go-Café. The first band to stage street concerts appears to have been the improvisational freak-out ensemble Jigen, whose name meant 'zero dimension'. Jigen had originally formed in late '67 and were a loose aggregation of that same first wave of Shinjuku futens that had spawned the Four Longhaired Brothers. But although Jigen swiftly became the other Shinjuku futens' rave of choice, their itinerant lifestyle and tendency to hop between Tokyo and Kyoto ensured that the ensemble made no records, though it is claimed that later recordings were made in Kyoto by several of the original members, who had by that time adopted the splendid name Sakenomido (Drunken Kid).

Of the other commune bands, probably the most legendary was [circle triangle square], a freaked-out quintet led by the drummer Sakuro 'Kant' Watanabe, who'd attended many of the mid-'60s actions by Hi-Red Center. Taking his name from Germany's eighteenth-century rationalist philosopher Immanuel Kant, the drummer and his bizarrely named cohorts - Tôhchan, Reek, Chiko-Hige and Juno - always appeared in face paint and wild clown outfits. Although the band also admitted to the name Maru Sankaku Shikaku (Circle Triangle Square), Shinjuku futens always learned of any impending street concert by the band via their simple advertising tactic of spraying [circle triangle square] upon the walls with a date next to it. Like Germany's commune group Amon Düül, [circle triangle square] were to avoid the historical oblivion suffered by most of these Shinjuku street groups through the legacy of three homemade freak-out LPs, all recorded at the height of the futen scene.

On 7th August 1969, however, the honeymoon period between the futens and the government came to an abrupt end with the passing of Law No. 70 (Daigaku no Un'ei ni Kansuru Rinjisochihou), which defined 'urgent measures to normalise management of universities disordered by student activism'. Throughout the hot summer of '69, TV footage of seemingly endless university-campus protests and hairy hippies frolicking in City-centre water fountains had, for most of Japan's government and other authority figures, been evidence enough that their softly-softly approach was not working. Within the futen scene, a tough new activist type had started to appear on the streets. They called themselves Foku Gerira (Folk Guerrilla) and modelled themselves on America's Black Panthers, the German militant student factions and Tokyo's situationist action groups of the mid-1960s, such as Team Random and Hi-Red Center (see Book One, Chapter Two). And when, two days after the passing of Law No. 70, the actress Sharon Tate was murdered by loopy hippies in the Hollywood Hills, it appeared to the authorities that the legislation had been passed in the nick of time. To the Japanese media, who were themselves simultaneously repelled and fascinated by the unfolding story of this increasingly lawless underground, the most infamous and subversive of Japan's activists was Or Acid Seven, a came-clad longhair who organised underground events and dispensed psychedelics openly throughout this previously drug-free society. Dr Seven's radical freak-out ensemble Acid Seven Group was not a street group but a burning electric free-rock band whose riffless barrages of chromatic distortion were suffused with Seven's own shamanic proclamations and fist-raised pleas, nay demands, for unity.

The Revolutionary War Manifesto of 3rd September 1969

Between 15th and 18th August, outside a small town in upstate New York, the Woodstock festival passed off entirely peacefully despite attracting crowds of close to half a million kids. But here in Japan, the authorities' inclination towards paranoia and suspicion of their own teenagers was beginning to cause big problems. While most of the Shinjuku street groups had always had sympathies for the Foku Gerira, many now chose intentionally bizarre names to reflect the times in which they were living, consciously aiming to alienate all members of straight society with their Communist manifesto-style chanting and stomping.

Among the media, the most infamous of these bands was the Communist duo Zuno Keisatsu (Brain Police), whose songs bore such ominous titles as 'Sekigun Heishi No Uta' (Song of the Red Army), 'Ju o Tore' (Pick up Your Gun), 'Kanojo Wa Kakumeika' (She's a Revolutionary), 'Senso Shinka Shiranai Kodomotachi' (Children Who Know Only War) and 'Iiwake Nanka Iraneyo' (We Don't Need Your Bloody Excuses). Taking their name from Frank Zappa's song 'Who Are the Brain Police?' Zuno Keisatsu's minimalist chants were similar in style to New York's street activists David Peel & the Lower East Side but delivered with a threatening darkness more akin to Notting Hill revolutionaries Third World War; always the same driving acoustic guitar of songwriter Haruo 'Panta' Nakamura, whose yelping and barked vocals were urged along by the congas, bongos and equally yelping vocals of sidekick Toshi Ishizuka. But, on 3rd September, the whole underground scene climbed up a couple of rungs on the ladder of notoriety when the so-called Communist Allied Red Brigade Committee delivered their thirteen-paint manifesto to the Japanese press. The manifesto - aimed primarily at the bourgeoisie of Japan, then Asia and the whole world - was a public declaration of the organisation's intention 'to throw you into a revolutionary war and wipe out all of you all over the world'. Aware that they should be taking all this stuff seriously, but not sure quite how seriously, the authorities began to send undercover agents to observe these so-called street bands, as Panta and Toshi quickly added the entire manifesto (word for word) to Zuno Keisatsu's song repertoire, renaming it 'Sekai Kakumei Senso Segen' (World Revolution War Declaration).

Having successfully upped the ante by inducing paranoia across all strata of Japanese society, the Foku Gerira movement so inspired the street bands that many even increased their efforts to show contempt for accepted social mores. And in this society where honour and social position is everything, a couple of bands even chose names that suggested diminished social status. For example, Miyako-ochi took their name from a very specific type of Japanese job demotion, in which a businessman who was considered to be failing his employer's expectations was not sacked outright, but was instead removed to head a distant local branch in some forlorn part of Japan, to live out the rest of his workdays in ignominy and despair. [1] Then, there was Murahatchibu, whose name means literally 'social ostracism', cut off from the community, sent to Coventry, utterly ignored. Two hundred years ago and more, to be the victim of murahatchibu in Japan was to face ruinous disaster, and nobody dared stray out of line for fear of its being implemented. The name comes from mura or village, and hatchibu, which means 8-out-of-10. According to ancient Japanese farming laws, people in a rural community came together in ten different ways to help each other. Victims of murahatchibu lost eight of those ten social privileges. A funeral was still guaranteed, and your community would come to your aid if your house was burning down, but even that was only to prevent the fire from spreading to everyone else's houses. For the other eight things, victims were entirely on their own: 1) nobody could attend your family's weddings, 2) no one acknowledged your growing children at coming-at-age ceremonies, 3) no one helped if your family was struck down by illness, 4) there was no help in the building of a new house, 5) no aid if the house flooded, 6) you were not allowed in the local temple during the anniversaries of loved ones, 7) no help was given to those moving house, 8) and no help was given to women of your family when giving birth. In naming their band Murahatchibu, these guys were not taking the easy way out. But, then again, their other choice for a band name had been Nanashi No Gonbe (The Nobodies without a Name)...

Murahatchibu as a Metaphor for the Underground

It's essential at this juncture in the narrative that we examine in some detail the so-called career of Murahatchibu, not because they were musically important to our story (they weren't!), but because the vibrant and inflamed personalities in Murahatchibu have ensured that, as movers and scene-shakers at least, the band are deserving of an important place in Japanese rock history. For, in spite of their music being mainly monotonous crap, Murahatchibu hung around with so many other street musicians and important underground rock bands that their story is to a great extent the story of the Japanese underground.

Murahatchibu looked like utter rock'n'roll stars, and with reason... For, while four of the band had been living the futen lifestyle, lead guitarist Fujio Yamagauchi had been enjoying chart success with Group Sounds stars the Dynamites. But if ever there was a band destined to live the rock'n'roll lifestyle and get nothing out of it except for the simple reward of having played, then it has to have been Murahatchibu. For, despite their having appeared on the same festival stages as all the bands excellent enough to have demanded their own chapter in this book, long-playing records or 45rpm singles bearing the Murahatchibu name were rarely released, as line-up changes, cancelled shows and drug busts followed them everywhere. This was because their two main songwriters - Fujio Yamagauchi and lead singer Chahbo - were too out of it to bother writing much material, and just too obsessed with living the rock'n'roll life, so their set-list was to remain the same for years on end. But rock'n'roll has always loved a loser, and at least these gentlemen did it with disgrace...

Murahatchibu's story really begins on 6th December 1969, at the Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont Speedway festival, for this is where singer Chahbo had the life-changing experience that was to turn him from a rock'n'roll wanna-be to a rock'n'roll gonna-be. In truth, Chahbo had always acted like a rock'n'roll singer, but he'd done precious little about achieving any of it. Born Kasushi Shibata, in 1950, it had always been enough for Chahbo to swan through life being treated differently, for he was an exquisitely exotic longhair whose muse, ultimately, would always be his beautiful self. But when Chahbo's American model girlfriend Stephanie lost her Japanese visa in May '69 and was forced to return to the States, Chahbo followed her to the Japanese Quarter of San Francisco, where the gorgeous one found himself surrounded by other Japanese rock'n'roll wannabes all doing as little as he. However, when fellow Japanese futen and prospective drummer Shigeto Murase turned Chahbo on to LSD just before he experienced the Stones' death-trip fiasco at Altamont, Chahbo was never the same again. The '60s were coming to a close and so was Chahbo's former self. Thereafter, so friends say, his entire body language changed, his refusenik elements sharpened, his attitude amplified 2,000-fold, and from this time onwards Chahbo wanted only 'to dance like Mick'...

Meanwhile, back in Japan, Dynamites guitarist Fujio Yamagauchi symbolically quit his Group Sounds outfit on the last day of the '60s. While the Dynamites had been considered outrageous in 1967 for their Blue Cheer version of 'Summertime Blues', they were by now as anachronistic and obsolete as the surf bands had been when the GS groups had taken over. Many of the less career-minded Group Sounds guys had reached Fujio's conclusion earlier than he, running to audition for a place in Hair in the absence of anything better to do. Fujio, however, had far bigger plans - and swapping one guaranteed gig for another almost the same was hardly his idea of a rock'n'roll lifestyle. Like his good friend guitarist Shinki Chen, who had just quit the Yardbirds-inspired Powerhouse, Fujio had not got into guitar-playing for the guarantees that it offered. He wanted the glory, the drugs, the women and the same accolades as his all-time hero Chuck Berry. Er, don't hold your breath, mate...

The Birth of Foodbrain, Blues Creation Wows 'Too Much', so the Helpful Soul Become Too Much

By January 1970, a large percentage of Tokyo's rock'n'roll musicians - Fujio included - had become obsessed with America's so-called super-sessions LPs, two of which had been released during the previous eighteen months by guitarists Stephen Stills, Mike Bloomfield and organist Al Kooper, producer of the Blues Project. In August '69, an English equivalent featuring Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Family's Rick Gretsch had been released under the name Blind Faith, and the Japanese record companies were by now desperate for their own home-grown version. [2] Fujio decided to form his own super-session outfit in January 1970, and invited ex-Golden Cups drummer Mamoru Manu, keyboard player Shigero Narumo and bass player Shinishi Aoki to join his projected super group, to be named Fujio Dynamite. Completing the band with jazz drummer Hiro Tsunoda on lead vocals, Fujio was hugely disappointed when he learned from Tsunoda that the drummer had also been chosen to work on a Polydor Records 'super session' that was to be called Foodbrain. Named by Fujio's mad guitarist mate Shinki Chen and commissioned by Polydor's label boss Ikuzo Orita, the Foodbrain [3] project was going to be a wild affair precisely along the lines that Fujio had envisaged. Foodbrain's star-studded line-up was to include ex-Golden Cups superstar and paint-thinner fiend Louis Louis Kabe (now going by his real name of Masayoshi Kabe) on bass. With Polydor's financing, hefty production by Mr Orita himself, and the promise of a full gatefold sleeve with a pop-art design, Foodbrain was the underground project on which all envious eyes were to focus.

At the end of January, however, Fujio's disappointment was slightly cushioned when his new band was asked to play at the forthcoming 'Too Much' concert at Kyoto's 2nd Kaikan Hall, on 28th February. Still billed as Fujio Dynamite, his super-session quintet shared the stage with an amazing new heavy band called Blues Creation - whom ex-Bickies guitarist Kazuo Takeda had formed after hearing Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin - and the Helpful Soul, a really cosmopolitan and bluesy late GS band from the ultra-hip port city of Kobe. Although the Helpful Soul could in places devolve into a fairly pedestrian blues wank, they were nevertheless in possession of one truly superlative piece of gonzo genius that felled skyscrapers with its snotty nihilism. Hidden at the end of side one of their sole LP for Victor Records, 'Peace for Fools' was an eleven-minute drunken clodhop across the Doors' 'Five to One' as played by the inept Josephus during their 'Dead Man' phase. Crappy, autistic, strung out and loserish, 'Peace for Fools' was like Kim Fowley's OUTRAGEOUS LP played at 16rpm by farm punks with electric pitchforks and a gasoline habit. Unfortunately, Blues Creation's sheer professionalism and savagery totally destroyed everyone else who played at 'Too Much', as lead guitarist Kazuo Takeda copped whole passages of Tony Iommi riffs from Black Sabbath's then still-brand-new 'Behind the Wall of Sleep', interspersing each section between his own songs to create one Continuous barrage of guitar assault. Although still young, Takeda was a past master of rock showmanship whose long experience in Europe and the USA enabled him to pass off many Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page rock moves as his own. Moreover, with a dedication to rehearsal, dynamics and arrangements that few Western bands could muster, Blues Creation always sounded incredibly powerful, as evidenced from the countless amazing bootlegs available from that period. No one in Japan had ever heard anything remotely like it before, and everyone thereafter considered this to be the new way ahead. Indeed, watching from the side of the stage, the Helpful Soul's rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist Junio Nakahara was so utterly freaked out land simultaneously inspired) that he split up his band right after their performance at 'Too Much'. The next time anyone heard from Nakahara, he'd switched to lead guitar, changed his name to Tstomu Ogawa and formed a heavy band called... Too Much! The Japanese media soon caught on to this new rock coming from the underground and, with incredible inventiveness, hit upon a name for this unusual form... let's call it 'New Rock'!

The Hair Debacle

In Tokyo's Toyoko Gekijo Theatre, rehearsals for the Japanese production of Hair had been progressing rapidly throughout the latter half of '69. As we saw at the end of Book One's Chapter Two, the producers' decision to pick musicians from the jazz community was an enlightened one, for those involved were both professional enough to deliver what was required of them, free-thinking enough to infuse the proceedings with a uniquely Japanese approach rather than merely following the New York original. Moreover, the addition of the two much younger ex-Group Sounds musicians, former Apryl Fool organist Hiro Yanagida and former Out Cast lead guitarist Jun 'Kimio' Mizutani, to the otherwise all-jazz ensemble had been a stroke of genius. For the leader of the ensemble, drummer Akira Ishikawa, was so smitten by the open-minded attitudes of Yanagida and Mizutani that he had soon introduced both of them to his closest friends in the jazz community.

Before long, the corridors of the Toyoko Gekijo Theatre were heavy with the sweet stickiness of marijuana smoke, as cast, crew and musicians were visited by an endless stream of music-industry heavyweights, Shinjuku futens, jazz musicians and folk guerrillas at this counter-cultural rallying point. Romances soon flourished between the young hippie-looking women in the so-called 'Girl Tribe' chorus and the many ex-Group Sounds musicians in the 'Boy Tribe'. Or Acid Seven could be seen dispensing free samples of powdered happiness to all and sundry, while the members of Zuno Keisatsu (Brain Police) preached violent revolution to anyone who would listen. Former rock'n'roll singer Yuya Utchida explained the bizarre manner in which his new psychedelic ensemble the Flowers had been allowed to contribute an entire twenty-minute-long track of guitar freak-outs to the experimental opera currently being recorded by Yoko Ono's ex-husband, composer Toshi Ichiyanagi (see Book One, Chapter Two). Hair's drummer/leader Akira Ishikawa became fast friends with the two ex-Group Sounds guys of the ensemble - Kimio Mizutani and Hiro Yanagida - telling them of his plans to make an all-percussion LP based on field research that he intended to make in Africa. The drummer introduced the two to his old friend Masahiko Satoh, a pianist whose recent move into free jazz via German connection Wolfgang Dauner had made him determined to unite Stockhausen electronica with Hendrix-style apocalyptic guitar-playing.

Watching all of this with fascination and the money to facilitate it was Foodbrain producer and Polydor Records' label boss Ikuzo Orita, whose own dream had long been to create a uniquely Japanese underground culture, run with neither commercial restraint nor even expectations, just for the sheer pleasure of what could tumble forth. So inspired by his place in Hair's cast was former 491 singer Joe Yamanaka that he had recently jettisoned all remnants of his former Group Sounds past by transforming into a living, breathing representative of the Hair poster itself, his massive Afro dyed in rainbow colours. Smoking pot together every night and listening to each other's radically different influences, unlikely sets of musicians and artists from entirely different age groups and backgrounds enjoyed the Hair rehearsals as a glorious and intense period of bonding.

It was, therefore, a highly irritated Fujio Yamagauchi who overheard his drummer Hiro Tsunoda telling a friend about how well the Foodbrain 'super sessions' were going. Having missed out on Hair, Fujio was now also missing the super-session event of the season. However, when Fujio also heard ex-Apryl Fool organist Hiro Yanagida's name being mentioned in the same conversation, the annoyed guitarist questioned Tsunoda - how come Yanagida can find the time to do Foodbrain if he's so busy Working on Hair as well?

Haven't you heard? said Hiro Tsunoda. The whole cast was busted for marijuana last night... the whole show's been cancelled! It sounded unbelievable but it was true. After six months of exhausting rehearsals, endless auditions and endless heartbreaking rejections, the show, which had only just opened in late November '69 to standing ovations every night, was already over within its second month of performances. The cast, the chorus, the technicians, the musicians had all thought they would have guaranteed employment for at least the next two years. But with the authorities in their current ruthless and anti-youth-culture mindset, suspicious undercover police had been monitoring the presence of Or Acid Seven and Zuno Keisatsu at the theatre. Now, the whole Hair production had been thrown away when just a few joints had been discovered in the theatre during that unexpected police raid. The '70s were apparently well under way, and Fujio Yamagauchi was not about to be left behind...

The Return of Chahbo

Approximately two weeks later, in late March, Fujio was in Tokyo's uber-funky Roppongi district rehearsing for another outdoor festival , when he spied the most amazing long-haired guy dancing and laughing, surrounded by a gaggle of enthralled young futen women. Presuming from this guy's outrageous demeanour that here was some foreign rockstar crash-landed in Tokyo, Fujio strolled over and struck up a conversation. But no, this spaced alien was just the newly re-made Chahbo back on his own home turf. Despite all his rock'n'roll experience, Fujio felt out of his depth with this worldly androgyne, as Chahbo regaled the former Dynamites guitarist with incredible tales of LSD, cannabis, amphetamines, San Francisco all-nighters, Mick Jagger's dancing and the Altamont Speedway's infamous murder in the afternoon courtesy of armed Hell's Angels. But when the two extended their hang over at Chahbo's crash pad, a borrowed apartment belonging to his mate Kant from [circle triangle square] , they forged an intense friendship over mucho pot and multiple plays of the Stones' BEGGARS' BANQUET LP. Through a green haze, Chahbo informed Fujio that Takaya Shiomi, the founding father of Japan's infamous Red Army Faction, had been arrested the previous day, and that rumours on the street said the authorities were gunning for any long hair with a reputation for preaching violence. Panta and Toshi from Zuno Keisatsu (Brain Police) had temporarily split from Tokyo, and Or Acid Seven was getting so much grief that he was thinking of changing his name to just Dr Seven... like that would have made a difference. And so the pair crashed out late that night, little guessing that sunrise the following morning would herald incredible changes for Japan's underground culture...

In the very late morning of 1st April 1970, Chahbo came around gently from his evening of planning world domination through rock'n'roll and switched on the radio to find out the time. What he heard on the radio news, however, hardened even this stoner pixie. For in the early hours of the previous day, nine members of the self-styled Japanese Red Army had hijacked a Japan Airlines Boeing 727 and fled to North Korea. Events were still unclear - in Chahbo's borrowed apartment even less so - but rumours on the Tokyo streets later that day intimated that one of their own had been involved in this world event. They were not to be disappointed...

The Yodo-go Hijack Incident

The truth emerged piecemeal over the next few days, but all of it was utterly shocking. In the early morning of 31st March, nine members of the Japanese Red Army Faction, all aged between nineteen and twenty-one years old, had boarded a Japan Airlines Boeing 727 at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, on an internal flight bound for Fukuoka. At 7.33 a.m., soon after the aircraft had reached its cruising height, the nine terrorists had stormed the cockpit armed with pipe bombs and samurai swords, and screaming the fearful words: 'We are Ashitano Jeo!' From this first moment of the hijacking, many of the 129 passengers aboard, still bleary-eyed and expecting a 45-minute flight, had become hysterical with fear because their assailants were screaming longhairs who were aligning themselves with a famous Manga outsider TV hero who'd striven to win a boxing championship in a cartoon series of the same name. Like the Manson Family's daubing of phrases such as 'Political Piggy' and 'Helter Skelter' around their crime scenes, the Yodo-go hijackers decision to invoke the 'divine' power of cartoon hero Ashitano Jeo was way too far outside all frames of reference for the stricken passengers.

Demanding that the pilot take them all to Cuba, the hijackers were furious to discover that the Yodo-go had only enough fuel for its original destination, and they reluctantly agreed to land at Fukuoka's Itatsuki Airport. For three long days, the Yodogo sat on the tarmac as negotiations took place. Eventually, a compromise was reached. The authorities agreed that the airliner should be allowed to fly instead to Pyongyang, in Communist North Korea, if twenty-three women and children were allowed to leave the airline in return for a total refuelling and the substitution of the Japanese transport minister Shinjuru Yamamura as hostage. The aeroplane set off westwards, but the Yodo-go's pilot Shinki Iashida hoodwinked the hijackers into landing at South Korea's Gimpo Airport, at 3 p.m. Believing that the runway was a part of North Korea's Pyongyang Airport, the hijackers sought to confirm this by asking a member of the ground crew for a photo of dictator Kim Il Sung as proof of their northerly position. Denied this proof, the nervous hijackers then panicked and refused all food and drink. However, they eventually accepted that all the passengers - including many US nationals - should be allowed to leave the aircraft, in return for permission to fly to North Korea. The plane left Gimpo Airport and headed north, landing at the disused Minimu Airport, where the North Korean authorities hailed the nine as cultural heroes, granted them political asylum, and insisted that they remain in North Korea, where they received military medals and were given 'luxury accommodation' at the Village of the Revolution.

In Japan, the ramifications were massive, for the hijacking was both humiliating for the Japanese authorities, and disturbing to the wider world, which was then still reeling from the bombing of Milan's Piazza Fontana by right-wing extremists the previous December. Furthermore, the presence of so many US nationals aboard the Yodogo had brought the CIA to Japan and the names of the nine hijackers only emerged via the media in dribs and drabs. Slowly, the Japanese underground realised that this hijack had indeed been the work of their own people, many having been students from Osaka University or Kyoto's forward-thinking Doshishi University. But for Japan's burgeoning underground rock'n'roll scene, the strangest presence of all among the hijackers was that of Moriyasu Wakabayashi, [4] bass player with 'The Radical Music Black Gypsy Band' Les Rallizes Denudés.

Aftershock of the New & the Birth of Flower Travellin' Band

In the mixed-up, messed-up, shook-up world that was now Japan, two things were gradually dawning on both the authorities and the media. Firstly, the world was in chaos and, like it or not, post-war Japan was a part of that chaos. Secondly, some of the long-haired rock'n'roll children whose ways they'd tried to accommodate were, after all, as weird and as dangerous as they'd appeared on the surface. Furthermore, while many of those involved in the airliner hijack had given no clues to friends and relatives of their criminal intentions, many had blabbed long and hard about it to anyone who'd listen but just not been taken seriously. Like the murder of Sharon Tate and her friends the previous August, the uniqueness of the hijacking lay so far outside the imagination of even the most paranoid that the events could only be judged clearly with real hindsight.

Gradually, as the unfolding drama took on a life of its own quite separate from facts, Tokyo rock'n'rollers were disturbed but secretly delighted to discover that the bass player from Les Rallizes Denudés was now hiding out in Communist North Korea as an international outlaw. As a long-time friend of Rallizes's singer Takeshi Mizutani, Fujio Yamagauchi had met Moriyasu Wakabayashi several times, but had always suspected that beneath the whole Communist activist thing was a very posh guy from old money who might just have been play-acting. Now, however, in this post-hijacking world, to be a long-haired rock'n'roll musician was to arouse suspicion from the authorities. And Fujio's friendship with Les Rallizes Denudés ensured that, henceforth, undercover police followed him everywhere.

Chahbo's return to Japan now took on an air of greater significance to Fujio. It was as though this all-dancing/all-drugging Altamont renegade'n'friend of the outlaws had arrived as a herald of the burgeoning chaos. Now viewing Chahbo as a powerful totem, Fujio invited the beautiful one to become lead singer in the band. But as soon as Fujio mentioned this idea to the professionally minded Hiro Tsunoda and organist Shigero Narumo, both winced at it - wasn't that Chahbo guy just a bad'un destined to send Fujio down the hijacking route? With Hiro Tsunoda's connections in the music industry, the drummer and organist felt quite rightly that they didn't need Chahbo's weirdness, and drifted away to form their own dreadful power trio named Strawberry Path.

Forming bands was all the rage now that the Hair production had collapsed. Indeed, once cast and crew realised the implications of the drug bust, Hair's spirit of universal love and peace had imploded overnight into tantrums, finger-pointing and recriminations, whilst friendships forged over surreptitious taking in the theatre dressing rooms became hastily firmed up into future plans for rock'n'roll careers. Drummer Akira Ishikawa was immediately courted by his jazz friend Masahiko Satoh, who insisted that now was their perfect opportunity to unite free jazz with pop just as Satoh's German friend Wolfgang Dauner had done with the FREE ACTION LP. Commandeering the services of Hair's rhythm guitarist Kiyoshi Sugimoto, the sextet Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes was born within the week. Ex-Glories singer Fumio Miyashita was so inspired by the promise of the impending so-called Age of Aquarius during his brief period in the chorus of Hair that he formed his own hippie troupe Far Out, inviting the new Brain Police lead guitarist Eiichi Sayu to join him. Masumi Ono and Mamoru Hoiuchi - the two Hair actors who'd shared the lead role of 'Wolf' - formed the acoustic band Garo, who quickly signed with the mighty Watanabe management team. Garo's immediate future career was to spawn several huge chart hits.

Ever the opportunist, Flowers manager Yuya Utchida invited the rainbow-Afro'd Joe Yamanaka to sing Led Zeppelin's 'You Shook Me' with the Flowers at the band's forthcoming concert 'Rock'n'roll Jam '70'. Starring older Group Sounds acts such as the Happenings Four, the Mops and the Golden Cups, the Flowers were the only contemporary thing on the bill. For, while all of those bands still plied their mid-'60s trade with versions of songs by the Animals, Ray Charles, Dionne Warwick and the like, the Flowers' confident delivery of experimental material by blind saxophonist Moondog and heavy Led Zeppelin riffage only proved to Yuya Utchida how wide was the chasm between those already looking to the '70s and those stuck firmly in the beat era. Indeed, Utchida disbanded the Flowers immediately after the 'Rock'n'roll Jam '70', and invited Joe Yamanaka to join the re-styled band, now slimmed down to quartet and known henceforth as Flower Travellin' Band.

Mizutani's Rallizes? Chahbo Rallizes!

Back in the land of Murahatchibu, Fujio and Chahbo had been left to cobble together an entirely new ensemble in time for Kyoto's impending 'Floating In' festival just four weeks away on 30th June. But when festival time came around, all conversations would return inevitably to the single subject of the aeroplane hijacking. Kyoto is a small ancient city with no place to hide, and Rallizes's leader Mizutani had been compelled to run to the protective anonymity of Tokyo. The hijack - which was now popularly termed the 'Yodo-go Incident' after the nickname of the aeroplane itself - had been such an embarrassment to Japanese authorities that all longhairs were under suspicion. In early July, out of the blue, Rallizes's leader Mizutani phoned Fujio from his hideout in Tokyo. He was paranoid, depressed as hell and he had no band any more; they'd all quit when that lunatic Wakabayashi had stolen the plane. Rallizes had been booked to play the forthcoming 'Rock in Highland' festival, with the Mops and Yuya Utchida's brand-new Flower Travellin' Band - a huge event that was being billed as Japan's 'Woodstock'. But without a band, the aggrieved Mizutani was nowhere. As Fujio's band was still fronted by a guy who would only dance, the guitarist suggested to Mizutani that they become his new Rallizes for the festival. There were only a couple of weeks until the performance, but Fumio knew the Rallizes songs were even easier than his own, and now was a perfect time for an act of solidarity, especially as the Nobodies would be getting to play such a prestigious show. Mizutani was relieved and delightedly agreed. And so, on 26th July 1970, in the true anarchic spirit of the time, the Nobodies without a Name aka Murahatchibu played the 'Rock in Highland' festival billed as Les Rallizes Denudés and fronted by Mizutani. According to one local underground free newspaper of the time, Mizutani interspersed his songs with performances of the Stones' 'Midnight Rambler' and 'Gimme Shelter', whilst 'accompanying the Rallizes was the beautiful and mysterious man/woman Chahbo, who sung the same phrase over and over again'.

The 'Rock in Highland' festival was, however, a disaster for all concerned. The promoters were bankrupted when barely one hundred people attended, most absentees still reeling from the fallout of the Yodo-go Incident and scared by Rallizes's presence on the advertising posters. In an effort to vibe up the sparse audience, Chahbo had - without consulting Mizutani - invited the members of local band Haruophone-Biburasuton on stage. These actions, coupled with Chahbo's Yoko Ono-like screaming throughout Mizutani's performance, drove the Rallizes singer to distraction, and he took off back to his temporary Tokyo home straight after the show. With further Rallizes shows booked around Kyoto that summer, Chahbo and Fumio found themselves perceived by local Kyoto freaks as full members of the new Rallizes Denudés. They were, therefore, expected to fulfil these obligations. The two saw it as an opportunity to have some fun at Mizutani's expense. At Kyoto Sangyo University Festival, Kyoto Silk Hall, and a Kyoto disco called 'Catseye', Rallizes stalwarts were surprised to observe this bunch of out-of-towners posing as their hero's band. That summer, a despondent Mizutani told his old friend bass player Makoto Kubota that he was seriously considering making Rallizes into an acoustic band [5] after he'd even found himself on the same bill as the 'other' Rallizes, now billing themselves shamelessly as 'Chahbo Rallizes" A temporary respite in the Mizutani/Chahbo vendetta took place in late summer, and the bizarre ensemble was booked for a performance alongside Too Much at Kyoto's 'Maruyama Odyssey' festival, on 30th September. However, when at the last minute the freaked-out Mizutani once again failed to show, Fumio this time insisted that it was immoral to play under the Rallizes name now that the disagreement had been patched up. At the end of that month, Chahbo was picked up by police on the streets of Kanuma City and thrown in jail for possession of drugs.

By now, no one else wanted to touch Chahbo and Fumio even with a long bargepole. In a country that prides itself on punctuality, these punks had their own fiscal year. In a country that adjudges heroin, marijuana, LSD and amphetamines to be all the same, they were drug punks. All the favours that Fujio could have begged from his former GS colleagues had long ago been used up. Hell, these ne'er-do-wells had even tried to rustle poor Mizutani's band from under him. Furthermore, six Murahatchibu songs recorded at Osaka Studios during that time really captured the distilled essence of Chahbo and Fujio's characters - and it was not pretty. Over a generic backdrop of Fumio's punky Chuck-Berryized Everystones riffs, Chahbo barked out his arid world-weary comments in a forty-ciggies-a-day Yoko Ono voice. Never had a rock'n'roll band been so appropriately named as the social outcasts of Murahatchibu.

New Rock Emerges - Foodbrain & Flower Travellin' Band's ANYWHERE

By mid-1970, the decaying corpse of the Group Sounds scene was still refusing to be buried with dignity, as former scene leaders the Golden Cups struggled on in their umpteenth incarnation. With heartthrob bass player Masayoshi Kabe now ensconced in foodbrain and lead guitarist Eddie Ban fronting his own heavy band, the rest of the Cups were by now reduced to playing songs by Three Dog Night and Randy Newman. At least the Spiders had had the good grace to bow out in '69 while still at the top of their game, but the Jaguars and the Mops had made misguided attempts to incorporate the New Rock sound while still hedging their bets by continuing to pad LPs with sub-GS ballads and soft rock. The Happenings four attempted to update and modernise their keyboard-dominated sound by opting for a Procul Harum/Greenslade-like twin-keyboard-player attack, while Julie Sawada and Hiroshi Oguchi of the Tigers created the cynical 'heavy' band PYG, joined by ex-members of the Spiders and the Tempters. The Tigers' five years at the top of the GS scene had, however, only been sustained through Sawada's ruthless dedication to the sell-out, and this was by now the only route he knew. Most music fans were, therefore, too appalled by the Tigers' recent past to pay much attention to his cynical new PYG set-list comprising songs by contemporary heavies Deep Purple ('Speed King', 'Black Nigh!'), Mountain ('Travelling in the Dark'), Traffic ('Every Mother's Son'), Led Zeppelin ('Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You'), and free (Walk in My Shadow).

In the meantime, truly enlightened souls like flower Travellin' Band's manager Yuya Utchida and Polydor Records boss Ikuzo Orita tried their best to bring credibility to the so-called 'New Rock' scene. Unfortunately, the inventiveness of new Western bands such as King Crimson, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin was causing immense problems for Japanese musicians physically ill equipped to achieve such heavy statements. The foodbrain project had foundered initially because of the lack of a suitable vocalist to tackle the kind of barbarian spew currently emanating from white fiends like Ian Gillan and Robert Plant. Japanese drummers, too, were renowned for the lightness of their touch, and foodbrain's producer soon discovered that only seasoned jazz drummers like Akira Ishikawa and Hiro Tsunoda could approximate the levels of energy required to achieve the effects of a Keith Moon or a Mitch Mitchell. And John Bonham's primal thud? Forget about it!

It was for this precise reason that while the foodbrain debut LP A SOCIAL GATHERING was to achieve legendary status in Japan, it would mean bugger-all to the rest of the world. On its release, the Japanese media hailed the record as a masterpiece of free-flowing excursions into brand-new territory. In Western terms, however, it was nothing more than a jaunty mild'n'boogie posing as the real deal. Encased in a gatefold sleeve depicting a bull elephant in a pop-art style, A SOCIAL GATHERING was, nevertheless, a genuine break with the Group Sounds past and was, therefore, a first for Japanese rock musicians.

Far less experimental and all the better for that was ANYWHERE, the brilliant debut LP by Yuya Utchida's re-styled Flowers, now billed as Flower Travellin' Band. Never one to mince metaphors, Utchida's protégés delivered a mammoth driving album chock full o'rif15 and hell rides, devilish screams and divine utterances, and all delivered in the all-time greatest album cover Isee book jacket). For even Utchida surpassed himself this time with a sleeve photo depicting five butt-naked Japanese longhairs sitting astride Honda low-riders doing their Easy Rider thing. Where are we heading? ANYWHERE!

Ostensibly a covers album that included versions of such behemoths as '21st Century Schizoid Man', 'Black Sabbath' and 'House of the Rising Sun', ANYWHERE was actually a hugely inventive record. The Sabbath title track was reduced to a proto-Doom crawl more reminiscent of modern bands such as Baris or Reverend Bizarre than the original by Ozzy'n'Co. Flower's version of '21st Century Schizoid Man' lost its braying King Crimson sax, its prissy snare-led drumming and its la-de-da Greg Lake-in-a-washing-machine vocal, all replaced by a proto-metal power trio with a demented and shrieking ark on lead vocals. 'House of the Rising Sun' became an entirely different song with new chords and an arrangement that placed it firmly on LED ZEPPELIN III. Even better was Flower Travellin' Band's own sixteen-minute-long 'Louisiana Blues', a stunning epic in the tradition of the Doors at their most driving (MORRISON HOTEL meets LA WOMAN), complete with bottleneck guitars and wailing blue harp courtesy of singer Joe Yamanaka. Here at last was evidence that the Japanese could indeed do the hard-rock thing!

'Third World Head Rock' & the Rise of the Festivals

The spirit of intense musical experiment throughout this early 1970 period created bizarre festival configurations, as ex-Group Sounds musicians jostled with free-jazzers and underground street musicians for a place on the festival stages. Super-stars like the Tigers' Julie Sawada found themselves sharing dressing rooms with street urchins and experimentalists as all factions attempted to claim a place in the new hip underground. During that 1970 summer of rock festivals, tight-assed heavy-rock bands like Dew, Blind Bird and Slash would often be followed by the newly emerged Takehisa Kosugi and his wild new ambulant ensemble Taj Mahal Travellers, whose simmering stew of bowed cello and violin, rudimentary electronics and abstract woodwind would evoke the feelings of being not at some crummy urban festival site, but ecstatically out of it in some primeval oak forest.

Following the success of the Japanese-only 'Floating In' and 'Mojowest' rock festivals, promoters of the 'Hokone Aphrodite' festival that June asked Pink Floyd to play at the hot-spring resort of Hokone, near Tokyo. The promoters were astounded at the amount of PA equipment demanded by the Floyd, but when their trancelike workouts resounded around the spa town at previously unimaginable volumes, every Japanese rock musician in attendance took special notice.

The next big summer rock extravaganza of 1970 was 'The Third World Head Rock', which took place in Tokyo on 23rd July 1970. The three bands that closed the festival - Blues Creation, Zuno Keisatsu and Foodbrain - are typical of the diverse approaches then emanating from the underground. As has been described earlier, Blues Creation shows were an incredible live proposition, as guitar maestro Kazuo Takeda's heavy and highly organised hard-rock band methodically destroyed the rest of the opposition with the same thoroughness as Terry Knight's brutal protégés Grand Funk Railroad. Foodbrain, on the other hand, were an ever shifting unit whose erratic live performances bore no resemblance to the restrained weak-sounding jams that had passed for their recent LP A SOCIAL GATHERING. Ex-Golden Cups bass player Masayoshi Kabe had such a laissez-faire attitude towards Foodbrain that he didn't even own a bass. While this freaked out Foodbrain's ever professional jazz drummer Hiro Tsunoda, now also of Strawberry Path, at least all of Foodbrain's band members were united in their recognition of their absolute freedom to play just what they wanted. However, such concepts of absolute freedom were still so alien to the Japanese psyche that it was impossible to realise that freedom without taking the piss somewhat. Shinki Chen had proved this once and for all with his incredibly patchy solo Polydor LP SHINKI CHEN & FRIENDS recorded that same summer. With no songs written and no particular musical direction in mind, Shinki had taken up Ikuzo Orita's offer of a solo album and begun recording straight away. With a band cobbled together from anyone who was around, the sessions had unfolded in such a haphazard manner that most songs, most ideas, even most of the lead vocals had been provided by George Vanagi, the bass player from the Powerhouse ensemble that Shinki had only recently left. Rather than take any control, Shinki had simply adopted the same casual attitude as he had for the Foodbrain project. A genius guitarist Shinki might have been, but there was precious little evidence of it on his own recordings. Indeed, even on the festival stage with Foodbrain, Shinki was always a punk of the highest order, sloping off for a spliff mid-song and sitting down mid-solo. [6]

Ironically, despite having had their first two LPs banned by the authorities, it was the controversial acoustic duo Zuno Keisatsu (Brain Police) who most regularly headlined the outdoor festivals throughout this period. Panta's Simple two-chord protest mantras may have preached anarchy and insurrection, but the duo always showed a disconcerting ability to unite all the disparate factions of the festival audiences against 'The Man'. Furthermore, the unavailability of Zuno Keisatsu records further legitimised the band as genuine underground heroes, as Brain Police bootleg cassettes many generations removed from their original source were passed from futen to futen.

Gedo & the Rise of the Festival Bands

As Japan's rock festival era was inextricably linked to the '60s futen scene, so, even by the late '70s, the majority of the festival bands still held fast to the belief that they were - like Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies in the UK - itinerant upholders of anti-capitalist values and keepers of the old traditions of pre-Westernised Japan, even providing new traditions where nothing suitable could be appropriated from the past. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the music and lifestyle of Gedo, a power trio formed by ex-members of festival stalwarts Too Much and the M. Led by singer/ guitarist Hideto Kano, Gedo's success in the late '70s came only after years of endless festivals, live albums and courting Japan's biker fraternity, who turned each Gedo show into a hootenanny. Gedo LPs are full of in-jokes, mysterious crowd chants, and sudden bursts of sentimental balladry right there amidst the 'Born to Be Wild'-style guitar burn-ups. Indeed, to the outsider, the innate power of Gedo's bludgeoning music is somewhat undermined by the constant feeling that we're eavesdropping on a sacred gathering. Gedo's sense of cultural guardianship developed from the chaotic events of the so-called 'Sanrizuka Conflict' of August 1971, more commonly known as the 'Genya Concert' (see main text), which had attempted to reconcile the new rock traditions with the ancient past by holding the festival during Shinto's sacred period of Bon-odori, allowing the ancestor worship and archaic dancing of local rural people to mingle with the electric music of young political idealists. Thereafter, the format of the 'Sanrizuka Conflict' was adopted as a blueprint for future festivals by the ubiqujtous counter-culture guru Dr Acid Seven, whose own reputation among the prime movers of the underground had begun on Tokyo's Shinjuku futen scene back in 1968. In 1973, Acid Seven organised the now-legendary 'Oz Days' three-day festival , which included Taj Mahal Travellers, Les Rallizes Denudés and his own Acid Seven Group, and which gained mythical status via a bootleg LP that was widely distributed in the West. Acid Seven was the organiser of such '70s festivals as the 'All Night Rainbow Show' series, the 'Rainbow 2000' shows, and 'The Festival of Life', the last of which attempted to continue Japan's traditional 'Yuyake Matsuri' (celebration of the ancestors) in an updated form. These festivals starred Les Rallizes Denudés, as well as such forgotten names as Mentampin, Weeping Herp Seno'o & His Rollercoaster, Masaki Ueda & South to South, Sentimental City Romans, Makoto Kubota, Yuyake Gakudan (Sunset Band) and Orange County Brothers. Also in 1975, Acid Seven contributed music to the soundtrack of the snappily titled 1975 hippie documentary Dokko Nigenbushi-Kotobukijiyu Rodosha No Machi (Heave Ho Human Song & the Town of Free Labourers). Nowadays, Acid Seven performs poetry readings, and recently contributed sleevenotes to the UNDERGROUND series of historical CDs.

Three Classics Emerge from the 'Super Sessions' of 1970

Back in the studio world, the concept of the so-called 'super session' continued to obsess Japan's New Rock elite throughout the middle of 1970. Despite the many artistic failures of Ikuzo Orita's Foodbrain and Shinki Chen projects, so much had been learned from those sessions that the two LPs prepared the way for several similar and extraordinary projects during the latter half of 1970. Indeed, Orita was already planning similar solo album projects for his 'super session' stalwarts Kimio Mizutani and organist Hiro Yanagida. Moreover, former Happenings Four leader Kuni Kawachi had shocked everyone that summer with his amazing new LP KIRIKYOGEN, a song-orientated 'super session' that featured various members of the Flower Travellin' Band, which appeared to have come out of nowhere. True to past form, the horribly obsolete Golden Cups now jumped aboard the bandwagon with their unambiguously titled LP SUPER SESSION.

But the inconsistency of the Foodbrain and Shinki projects served also as a salutary warning to producer Ikuzo Orita that, however talented the musicians in the studio, no producer or engineer could merely stand aside and let them get on with it. There had to be a focus, a precise metaphor to be worked towards, as Frank Zappa had shown with the release of his own 'super session' HOT RATS the previous February. HOT RATS had upped the 'super session' ante considerably by introducing the jazz-rock violins of Jean-Luc Ponty and Sugar Cane Harris to stunning effect, something that Hiro Yanagida would hope to emulate on his own Orita-produced 'super session' MILK TIME. Combined with his Utopian belief in creating singularly Japanese rock statements, Ikuzo Orita's access to large studios, big budgets and the best session musicians would ensure that the period between the end of '69 and the middle of '71 would become the most iconoclastic period in Japanese rock history.

I shall now describe three of my favourite 'super session' LPs from this period. For each one united so many seemingly disparate (and apparently irreconcilable) elements into their sonic stew that these works extended the Japanese rock experiments forwards in a manner entirely outside the realms of the West:

I) Love Live Life +1

In the late summer of 1970, producer Ikuzo Orita began to bring together musicians for another 'super session' that he wished to name 'Love Live Life'. Inspired by the songs of sax player Kei Ichihara, Orita seemed to be obsessed with the idea of uniting free jazz Sun Ra style with stomping soul and heavy-guitar chaos, somewhere along the lines of Steve Katz's Blood, Sweat & Tears, but more rhythmically out there. Orita decided to retain ex-Out Cast lead guitarist Kimio Mizutani and ex-Apryl Fool organist Hiro Yanagida from the Foodbrain sessions, but the producer was looking for a tight-knit unit with a brass section to emulate some of the elements in Sly & the Family Stone's most recent LP STAND. Named after his favourite of Ichihara's songs, LOVE WILL MAKE A BETTER YOU was at first forced to remain an interminably long time on the backburner as no suitable musicians were forthcoming. But when Ikuzo Orita turned up at a theatre show by his old friend and national pop star Akira Fuse, Fuse enthusiastically suggested that Orita employ Fuse's own backing band as the basis of the ensemble. Fuse's band contained a hefty brass section that featured a couple of old-school jazz players just ripe for this kind of music. Ever open-minded and eager to kick the project off, Orita watched Fuse's show that night and agreed with his friend's judgement. Behind Fuse's endless MOR versions of Dusty Springfield's 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me', Stevie Wonder's 'For Once in My Life' and Spencer Davis Group's 'Keep on Running', it was clear that the Fuse ensemble would be able to deliver tight-assed soul and raggedy-assed free jazz with equal aplomb. Next, Orita summoned the services of jazz guitarist Takao Naoi, who'd spent most of his adult life jamming in New York, but who'd recently returned to Tokyo at the behest of Japanese jazzers Sharps & Flats. Over a series of thrilling rehearsals, Ikuzo Orita brought Kei Ichihara's songs to the Love Live Life ensemble and adored what he was hearing. One problem remained, however. There was no Japanese rock vocalist remotely equipped to deliver this kind of confident-but-searching style of song. The members of Fuse's band immediately suggested their boss take the role, but Orita was nervous about the public's reaction to a heavy LP fronted by a household name and Japanese icon along the lines of Britain's Tom Jones. However, when no other singers emerged from subsequent searches, Fuse was finally asked with immediate results - the LP an instant classic. Four of Ichihara's most carefully crafted songs were recorded in one day, the scorching title song coming over like a cosmic version of Sly's 'I Wanna Take You Higher'. In true Orita fashion, side one was then reserved for 'The Question Mark', an incredible eighteen minutes of free-rock blitzout that took themes from each of Ichihara's songs and augmented them with wild distorted guitars, chaotic free-form rock, and the questioning childlike vocals of Fuse at his most delicate. All of the blips and hiccups of the Foodbrain project were here banished to the outlands, as LOVE WILL MAKE A BETTER YOU raised the bar higher than even Orita had imagined was possible. In gratitude to Akira Fuse's contribution, Orita added '+1' to the band name. Delighted by his own good fortune, and quite unaware of the historical gravity of the moment, Fuse still dutifully delivered two further career LPs during 1971, AKIRA FUSE LIVE AT SANKEI HALL and FUSE LIVE IN NISSEI THEATRE, both of which were chock-full of such songs as Barbara Streisand's 'The Way We Were', the Carpenters' 'They Long to Be Close to You' and Perry Coma's 'Its Impossible'. Fuse would continue to sing the 'Love Will Make a Better You' long into his MOR career. To this day, no popular artist has so successfully straddled (nor wished to straddle) such cultural chasms.

II) Masahiko Satoh's AMALGAMATION

In autumn 1970, jazz pianist Masahiko Satoh embarked on the most remarkable and confounding project of his long career, the bizarre experimental LP AMALGAMATION. Celebrating the true spirit of the time, this record sounded (and still sounds) like nothing achieved before or afterwards. For AMALGAMATION was the wildest hybrid of them all, a truly mind-boggling synthesis of Stockhausen-influenced radio static and musique concrète, highly arranged brass sections, extrovert guitar noise, and all propelled by the incredible Detroit hard-bop drumming of Louis Hayes. For all of its jazz roots, AMALGAMATION is one of the greatest acid-rock albums ever made, containing the radically distorted guitar of Kimio Mizutani, violins, violas and cellos courtesy of the Wehnne Strings Consort, and rising and falling brass sections that enter and leave the mix in the manner of Tea Macero's late '60s and early '70s work with Miles Davis. Throughout all of this, here at the centre of the AMALGAMATION sessions, Louis Hayes's drumming remains the bubbling ever unfolding fundament on which the whole trip proceeds, as though the rhythm section is a magic carpet constantly being pulled out from under the feet of the other performers.

What else concerns us here is that something so considered, so carefully constructed and yet so breathtakingly inappropriate could have burst forth from the mind of Satoh, an artist not at the beginning of his career but over a decade into it. However, the real reason for AMALGAMATION's existence is far too prosaic to imagine, so I'll allow the composer himself to take up the story: 'The music magazine Guts asked readers to send in an essay about the kind of music I should create. None of the readers' ideas impressed me much, so we dropped the idea and instead agreed to pick from two essays and adapt from both. So this album that seems so conceptual and futuristic actually came from a magazine idea.'

Despite Satoh's attempts to defuse the lofty heights reached by AMALGAMATION, even this explanation does little to soften the cultural impact that the record contains. Indeed, Satoh was by this period of his career so experimental that, as a matter of Course, he purchased three Minimoogs for the recording sessions and had Roland build him ring modulators for his piano and electric harpsichord. Combine all of this information and it soon becomes clear that Satoh's attempt to reduce such a visionary work to being merely 'from a magazine idea' is disingenuous to say the least. Indeed, AMALGAMATION remains one of the greatest experimental records of its time.


In early 1971, inspired by the artistic success and high visibility of Ikuzo Orita's projects, Hideki Sakamoto, a director of the big independent label Teichiku Records, decided to create his own and so set out to find writers who might help him achieve this. Sakamoto was particularly impressed by the work of two men, keyboard player Yusuke Hoguchi and Buddhist poet and songwriter Naoki Tachikawa. The two agreed to create an inspirational rock album for Teichiku Records based on turning hip young Japanese rock kids back on to Japan's own version of Zen Buddhism, by making great play of its being similar to Western rockers' then current obsession with anything Hindu, Buddhist or Maoist. Being by now the king of the weird projects, as it were, Kimio Mizutani was immediately summoned to daub his enormous vibe all over it, and make it sound authentically Orita-esQue. In fact, Mizutani's electric, slide and acoustic guitar entirely inform the whole sound of the album, not to mention his electric sitar. Thereafter, four female vocalists injected a holiness to the eight tracks, whose names screamed spiritual and meaningful: 'Prologue', 'Gatha', Shomyo', 'Prayer Part One', 'Prayer Part Two' and 'Prologue'. Unfortunately, Teichiku's budget ran out before the project was completed, so producer/poet Tachikawa cleverly created a final track by asking his musicians to jam over David Axelrod's 'Holy Thursday' from his 1968 masterpiece SONG OF INNOCENCE. The results were startlingly beautiful, and came across like a collision of the Chocolate Watch band's most extreme extended orchestral instrumental songs, the more elegant passage of John Cale's THE ACADEMY IN PERIL and the marching stentorian orchestral themes from Frank Zappa's LUMPY GRAVY.


While all three of the albums discussed above contained the incredible guitar-playing of ex-Out Cast leader Kimio Mizutani, the guitarist himself ironically never managed to make that same kind of monumental statement under his own name, despite being given every opportunity by label boss Ikuzo Orita and having at his disposal the same hefty set of musicians who'd contributed to those aforementioned classics. I think this was mainly down to the weird choice of material that Mizutani chose to record for his own solo album. Not being a writer of any particular merit, the guitarist chose to showcase his talent by picking 'classy' and Quite conservative material written by ex-Happenings Four keyboard player Kuni Kawachi and jazz pianist Masahiko Satoh, who also contributed the title track 'A Path through Haze'. Listeners were in for a dreadful disappointment if they'd bought Mizutani's mid-1971 LP A PATH THROUGH HAlE hoping for a display of the same kind of bile that he'd contributed to the records of Masahiko Satoh's AMALGAMATION, Love Live Life +1's LOVE WILL MAKE A BETIER VOU and People's BUDDHA MEETS ROCK. Instead, by choosing to record material written by particularly fine keyboardists, Mizutani forced himself to play the material with the utmost restraint, never moving outside the confines of the themes them-selves. And so, despite being Quite clearly intoxicated by Frank Zappa's own 'super session' album HOT RATS, Kimio Mizutani has - like Shinki Chen - gone down in Japanese rock history as an incredible session guitarist with one highly average solo LP to his credit. Indeed, Mizutani's performance of Satoh's beautiful title track so underwhelmed the track's composer that Masahiko Satoh recorded his own version just five months later, for his collaborative album of the same name with German guitarist Attila Zoller. Unlike Mizutani's tightly wound six-minute version, the piece as played by Satoh and Attila Zoller was a majestic and hauntingly beautiful work that lasted almost a quarter of an hour. [7]

The Sanrizuka Conflict & the Making of the Underground

One particularly significant event in Japan's 1971 rock'n'roll social calendar serves to bring this chapter to a conclusion. For it was during August's three-day-long 'Genya Rock Festival ', an event which took place in the paddy fields outside Sanrizuka, a small town near Tokyo, that the concept of a refusenik consciousness was at last truly ignited among the wider Japanese intelligensia. Here, over three days of performances by Zuno Keisatsu, Blues Creation, Dew, Masayuki Takayanagi's New Directions for the Arts and several local folk groups were used to shine a spotlight on the plight of scores of poor farmers who were in grievous danger of losing their land and their livelihoods because of a proposed runway extension to nearby Haneda Airport. The runway project was especially controversial in those anti-US times because it shamelessly set the interests of the internationally minded capitalist community far above the interests of locals.

The brilliant decision to use a rock festival as a platform for the farmers' protest was made by the anti-establishment 'Seine Kodotai', a wing of the Communist Youth Action Committee. The committee cleverly chose to hold the festival directly in the middle of August's Bon-odori, a traditionally divine period when, according to Shinto, the ancestors return temporarily and the Japanese dance to celebrate and entertain these ancient spirits with traditional tunes known as Takeda-bushi. This decision allowed the committee to invite hundreds of Sanrizuka residents to perform their traditional dances at the rock festival, imbuing the occasion with a genuinely local flavour. The organisers next contacted Hi-Red Center's Genpei Akasegawa, whose controversial '1000 Yen' art statement of five years before had made the artist legendary among Japanese youth. Akasegawa was asked to design a special celebratory poster that the organisers could then use to promote the festival and subsidise their scheme by selling for 1,000 yen.

The festival was organised with such thoroughness that, even before it had begun, Communist activists from all across Japan descended on Sanrizuka to show unity with the farmers. But while the protesting farmers were surprised and delighted by this unexpected show of strength, the arrival of the hippies caused outrage among local Sanrizuka businessmen, who'd long aimed to gain considerably from the building of the runway. These disgruntled businessmen in turn summoned the strong arm of the local yakuza (mafia), whose bullyboy tactics only strengthened the resolve of the protesters to stand firm.

On the first of the three days, scores of members of Japanese TV's powerful Terebiman Union descended on the event, bringing with them broadcast-quality film cameras and tape recorders, in order to capture the atmosphere of this unique event and to provide evidence should the yakuza's tactics get out of hand. For the first two days of the festival, however, everything passed off peacefully, as Blues Creation delivered their typically brilliant and bombastic proto-metal set, followed by superb performances by the Toshi Ochiai Trio, free bass player Mototeru Tagaki, and the scruffy belligerent hard rock of Dew, led by ex-Blues Creation singer Fumio Nunoya. These sets were interspersed with various political speakers and performances of the aforementioned Bon-odori dances.

On the final evening, however, the festival organisers made their single (and almost fatal) error, by asking Zuno Keisatsu not to headline but to play as the penultimate act, therefore allowing people to begin to wend their weary way home while the final, less famous, band wound the event down. Of course, Panta and Toshi's revolutionary songs were received ecstatically by the entire crowd, especially such crowd-pleasing statements as 'Ju o Tore' (Pick up Your Gun), 'Kurayami no Jinsei' (life in the Dark) and the emotive 'Senso Shinka Shiranai Kodomotachi' (Children Who Know Only War). Those in attendance claim that Zuno Keisatsu's set was a righteous thing to behold, as farmers, hippies, locals and union men came together in one single stand against the grey face of capitalism.

Unfortunately, everyone had reckoned without the new festival 'headliners', a bunch of inexperienced free-jazzers doing only their second ever show. Led by drummer Hiroyuki Takahashi, this band, Lost Aaraaff, hit the stage with all the nihilistic attitude of the Stooges' infamous METALLIC KO show. Nineteen-year-old singer Keiji Heino told the blissed-out audience that he wanted to kill them, and proceeded to scream obscenities into the mike. The festival erupted as protesters, farmers, yakuza hard men, Bon-odori performers, organisers and union men attempted to avoid the vile noise emanating from the PA by killing those guilty of creating it. As the festival was taking place in a paddy field, huge rocks below the feet of the festival crowd were suddenly utilised as ammunition, which rained down on Lost Aaraaff and sent them scurrying for cover. The festival erupted into violence and the police, having hovered at the fringes of the festival throughout the past three peaceful days, finally found an excuse to break some hippie heads.

Genya Concert thereafter came to be known as 'The Sanrizuka Conflict', and the members of Lost Aaraaff were to spend much of the '70s as social outcasts for their reckless and selfish behaviour. Eventually, however, a transcription of the days' events was released, first on a heavily edited live LP, and thereafter as an unedited piece of cinéma verité in which was included all the 'speech, debate, confusion and chaos of the place, also boldly including the objections of the farmers, optimism of the activitists, and ultimate disappointment', making the whole GENYA CONCERT LP document essential, enlightening, 'more realistic, and not easy listening'. The actions of Lost Aaraaff were never forgotten, although their music certainly was. For the Japanese underground, however, their movement came of age during 'The Sanrizuka Conflict'.

Footnotes: (go back)

  1. The Roman Empire used the idea of social disgrace in a highly Similar way. One Roman general who lost a battle he was expected to win easily was removed from his position and made governor of the Isles of Scilly, twenty-five miles off the coast of Cornwall.
  2. The Japanese became so enthralled by the 'super session' phenomenon that the Rolling Stones' Japanese record label London/King Records invented and released a special 'Japan only' EP entitled SUPER SESSION, which featured the three songs 'We Love You', 'Live with Me' and 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'.
  3. According to producer Ikuzo Orita, guitarist Shinki Chen mistakenly entitled the project Foodbrain when he intended to say 'brain food'.
  4. The eight other hijackers were Takamaro Tamiya, Takeshi Okamoto, Takahiro Konishi, Shiro Akagi, Yasuhiro Shibata, Kintaro Yoshida, Yoshimi Tanaka and Kimihiro Uomoto aka Kimihiro Abe. Of the nine who boarded the Yodo-go, four of the group - including Wakabayashi - remain in Pyongyang. Two are in jail in Japan, and three are dead. The hijack was part of a series of worldwide abductions that continued right into the late 1980s, and it's believed that thirteen Japanese nationals are still stuck in North Korea. Red Army Faction leader Takaya Shiomi was jailed for twenty years for his part in the plot.
  5. Interview with Makoto Kubota in Mondo Music magazine, 2001.
  6. According to journalist Toreno Kobayashi's 2004 interview with Ikuzo Orita, the source of Shinki Chen's outward indifference lay in his Yokohama City punk attitude, which allowed no outward displays of emotion.
  7. A PATH THROUGH HAZE by Attila Zoller & Masahiko Satoh was released on the German label MPS Records.