BOOK TWO: Chapter 8


The edge? The only people who
really know where it is are the ones
who've gone over.
Hunter S. Thompson

Who's Nicked My Paint Thinners?

Speed, Glue & Shinki ... now, there's a name to conjure with. Talk about wearing your influences on your sleeve, this lot named their band after their drug habits. Put crudely and succinctly, which is the only way to talk about anything to do with this bunch, Speed, Glue & Shinki were a drug-addled early-'70s Japanese free-blues power trio whose eulogies to snorting speed, shooting heroin, taking marijuana and sniffing paint thinners and Marusan Pro Bond glue manifested in such songs as 'Sniffing & Snorting', 'Stoned out of My Mind' and their debut single 'Mr Walking Drugstore Man', which concluded with the unaccompanied voice of the singer hissing at his audience: 'Hey, d'you wanna buy some speed? I mean ... d'you wanna buy some speed?' Starting as they meant to go on, or what? Indeed, with just a few notable exceptions (degraded sex, glimpses of nirvana, alcoholic oblivion) there are only three recurring song themes that emerge from Speed, Glue & Shinki's entire canon of work, namely: 1) I'm taking too many drugs; 2) the Man is a Bitch so I'm taking too many drugs; and 3) my Bitch is a Man so I'm taking too many drugs. Moreover, Speed, Glue & Shinki's overall sound was the sloppiest and most unrestrained garage noise of its time, bringing forth an Ur-klang of extremely abrasive and repulsively degraded rock'n'roll riffs played in the grindingly trudgeful style of the Move's 'Brontosaurus' and 'When Alice Comes Back to the Farm' via the Beatles' 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)'. With the single exception of the almighty land almightily underrated) Leigh Stephens-period Blue Cheer, heavy blues never lent itself much to free rock until Speed, Glue & Shinki came along three years later and reduced the blues' three chords to just one, snottily flouting all of the tense white boys' rules so painstakingly amassed by the likes of Mountain's Leslie West and Cream's Eric Clapton. Indeed, comparing Speed, Glue & Shinki to heavy contemporaries such as Mountain and Cream is pointless because, whereas those guys - even at their lowest ebb - at least always remembered to repeat their riffs the same every time, Speed, Glue & Shinki were far too wayward and, urn, individual to muster up such consistencies. And seeing as they were powered by a Filipino singing drummer with a bad amphetamine habit and a propensity for setting his kit on fire with paraffin, inconsistency became the band's byword, their benchmark, their modus operandi, their raison d'être, as the ecstatically disjointed moves of their brilliant but erratic percussion powerhouse informed the rest of the band and everyone who worked for them. It was as though even the recording technicians involved with the band became temporarily zombified with that same inconsistency malaise, recovering only long after the session was over. A typical Speed, Glue & Shinki track would not only speed up and slow down radically during the same song, but it could also become extremely loud at points, tailing off just when you least needed such an effect. If ex-Iguanas drummer Iggy Pop had remained behind the drums when he became lead singer of the Stooges, you'd probably have already heard something close to Speed, Glue & Shinki. But then, even 5'1" Iggy would have fitted in with the Japanese rock'n'roll scene better than these barbarians. For, in a society where 5'7" is considered tall for a guy, these three rizla-thin loons were each well over six feet tall. Yup, these Joey Ramones wuz born to stand out. There's a town in southern Spain which shoulda been the home of Speed, Glue & Shinki. It's called Moron de la Frontera, and these guys were truly morons at the frontier of rock'n'roll. [1]

To reinforce their mystery, Speed, Glue & Shinki loved to portray themselves on record sleeves and posters as other people entirely. And while the front cover of their second album represented them with a sepia print of three bare-knuckle fighters of the Old West standing in a line, on their debut LP the band's alter egos are three late-Victorian children in an absolute picture of innocence; three 'ickle kiddies with bad doper withdrawals. Curious, huh. However, it's for precisely these umpteen contradictions that the barbarian music of Speed, Glue & Shinki still sounds remarkably fresh to most twenty-first-century fans of underground rock'n'roll, our ears having long since been re-tuned, de-tuned and tweaked into submission by the punk movement of 1977, the post-punk and No Wave scenes of the late-'70s, and all of the other so-called lo-fi, no-fi and shoe-gazing noise-rock micro-phenomena that have been forced through our melted plastic brains since these three gentlemen first discharged their explosive ideas on to magnetic tape three-and-a-half decades ago.

With all of this in mind, it's easy to imagine that each member of Speed, Glue & Shinki was making his first-ever statement in the music business, that they'd spent their childhoods together sagging off school, hunched over a pool table or a jukebox for long periods of their adolescence. But that's where we'd be most mistaken. For, although still in their early twenties during their tenure in Speed, Glue & Shinki, each member was a seasoned veteran of the Japanese rock scene. Yes, two of the three had spent brief time together in their formative years of playing adolescent rock'n'roll. But the two had soon parted company in the quest for bigger things. Furthermore, and most peculiarly, this band was to a great extent a construct created as a useful vehicle for showcasing the talents of the new band's lead guitarist by his own biggest fan, record producer Ikuzo Orita, who also just happened to be in the process of leaving his previous position as head of Polydor Records to take up a similar role over at Warner Brothers' enormously successful Atlantic subsidiary. In other words, these three gentlemen dudes had money - and plenty of it - backing their miscreant muse. Kinda puts a different perspective on their howling, don't it? Bass player Masayoshi 'Glue' Kabe had enjoyed huge '60s chart success with Group Sounds heroes the Golden Cups. Lead guitarist Shinki Chen had even made his own Polydor Records solo LP before the formation of Speed, Glue & Shinki. Only singing drummer and chief songwriter Joey 'Speed' Smith of the Philippines was still an unknown at the time of this band's formation, and even he had long been a workaholic rock'n'roll Singer, dutifully to-ing and fro-ing between Tokyo and Manila bringing money to his young family. Let us now go back and give some context to this bunch, shuffle through their medical records, leaf through their school reports, and do whatever we need to do in order to make sense of these three most intuitive of non-career movers.

Everybody's Courting Shinki Chen

The Speed, Glue & Shinki story centres around the aforementioned lead guitarist Shinki Chen, a six-foot-tall haystack-headed Chino- Japanese nutcase whose clamorous guitar style had, throughout the late '60s, eclipsed all comers save for future Flower Travellin' Band axe-wielder Hideki Ishima, and whose formidable height and dusky half-Chinese ancestry oozed Western rockstar charisma to the rest of the 'too short' Japanese. Coming on like Slash from Guns n' Roses twenty years too soon, a perpetual ciggie drooping from his sullen gob, a low-slung Gibson Les Paul around his neck, and even the occasional top hat rammed down upon his shoulder-length thatch, Shinki's effortless virtuosity drew countless bigwig admirers and mentors from within the Japanese music scene, all of whom believed him to be Japan's answer to Jimi Hendrix. Unfortunately for these legions of admirers, however, Shinki was a child of Yokohama City, a place where making an effort was considered uncool to the point of outright gaucheness. Indeed, by the time Speed, Glue & Shinki formed in the late summer of 1970, Shinki Chen's many and various patrons had been trying to help their boy make it to the top since 1966. But every time, Shinki would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and move on to the next poor music-business sap, who, driven by an unquenchable belief that he alone could do what others had failed to, would pour yet more money and more time into just one more Shinki project, until the whole cycle would begin all over again.

And yet, by the time Speed, Glue & Shinki recorded their debut album in January 1970, Shinki Chen was still barely twenty-one years old. Born in May 1949, Shinki had begun life as a drummer in Yokohama's Midnight Express Blues Band, an outfit whose own bass guitarist was none other than the same Masayoshi Kabe who would join him in Speed, Glue & Shinki five long years hence. Of Franco-Japanese extraction and blessed with movie-star looks, Kabe was already famous in the city for his swooping descending bass runs performed on a futuristic Eko Rocket, and his capacity for inhaling vast amounts of paint thinners and thick purple Marusan Pro Bond, a notorious industrial glue with a reputation among teenagers for inducing comatose oblivion. Besides briefly sharing the same girlfriend, however, by late '66, Shinki and Kabe had parted company, as the latter's stylish Golden Cups stormed the burgeoning Group Sounds scene with 'Jizabel', the first of an uninterrupted run of hits.

Shinki's new band began to practise above a mod clothes shop called Bebe, run by a fey Malcolm McLaren-type clothes designer who promised to clothe and manage the band so long as they changed their name to the Bebes. But when the gigs offered to these too-cool Yokohama boys turned out to be at weddings, business functions and the like, the band split without recording a single session. By mid-1968, part of the band had re-formed as the heavy-blues outfit Powerhouse and signed to the Golden Cups' management Towa Productions. It was during this period that Polydor Records' boss Ikuzo Orita attended a Powerhouse show, thereafter booking Shinki to lively-up one of the Tigers' recording sessions by adding some lead guitar. In late 1968, Towa Productions signed Powerhouse to Toshiba Records, who insisted that the band record the Beatles' dreadful 'Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da' for a Japanese tribute album dedicated to the fabulous four. Powerhouse freaked out at the very idea and nothing happened for months. Eventually, when they reluctantly acquiesced and recorded the song as a blues(!), Toshiba Records cynically released their version as a single and Shinki jumped ship in frustration. Solo pop singer Katsumi Kahashi then offered to buy the guitarist a full Marshall stack if he agreed to join Kahashi's group, but Shinki had been secretly approached by an anonymous manager, who was attempting to form a new Japanese supergroup comprised of Apryl Fool organist Hiro Yanagida, future Strawberry Path drummer Hiro Tsunoda and future Flower Travellin' Band singer Joe Yamanaka. With typical Yokohama disdain, the unbothered Shinki adopted a temporary futen lifestyle and hitched around Japan instead. However, when he arrived back at his parents' home in Yokohama City, Polydor Records boss Ikuzo Orita tracked him down and petitioned him, suggesting they work together on whatever Shinki wished to try. 'Let's form a loose aggregation of similarly minded virtuoso rock'n'rollers, Mr Ikuzo: said Shinki (or words to that effect). 'We must name said ensemble Foodbrain,'

Foodbrain BC, Foodbrain AD

By this time, frustrated at the straitjacket that the Group Sounds scene had forced upon everyone, Masayoshi Kabe had quit the Golden Cups and was, after four years, back hanging out with the equally footloose Shinki Chen, who asked if Kabe wanted in on the Foodbrain deal. Natch, said Masayoshi Kabe. As the pair were most inspired by the ultra-loose so-called 'super session' albums that Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper had been making in the USA, they suggested to Ikuzo Orita that a 'one day/one album' Foodbrain 'super session' could best achieve their aims. Orita proposed they complete Foodbrain with former Apryl Fool organist Hiro Yanagida and jazz drummer Akira Ishikawa, both of whom were playing in the Hair musical ensemble, currently in production in Tokyo. But when Ishikawa proved too busy to make the date, Orita insisted that only a jazz guy could reach what they wished to achieve, and hired the Jacks' equally jazzy Hiro Tsunoda in Ishikawa's place. And thus Foodbrain's Sole album release A SOCIAL GATHERING was born.

I've discussed the limited appeal of this record elsewhere in the book but, suffice to say, despite its curiously archaic Ten Years After organ stylings and lack of tear-arse Shinki Chen guitar mayhem, Foodbrain's sole album was still an essential baptism of fire, a break with the past, and a real step into the unknown that justified producer Ikuza Orita's extravagant advertising claims: 'Finally in Japan a true heavy rock is born.' Just as Guy Stevens's brilliant but flawed Hapshash & the Coloured Coat freak-out project spawned Germany's Amon Düül, Italy's Le Stelle di Mario Schifano, America's Friendsound and others that easily transcended Stevens's original, so Foodbrain's A SOCIAL GATHERING wrote the road map for all subsequent Japanese experimental albums, opening the door to projects like Love Live Life +1's LOVE WILL MAKE A BETTER YOU, Masahiko Satoh's AMALGAMATION, Kimio Mizutani's A PATH THROUGH HAZE, Hiro Yanagida's MILK TIME, Kuni Kawachi's KIRIKYOGEN, People's BUDDHA MEETS ROCK and the many concept LPs released by Geino Yamashirogumi.

Not all of the post-Foodbrain projects worked out, though, and Shinki's Polydor solo album SHINKI CHEN & HIS FRIENDS proved to be yet another example of the guitarist's Yokohama lazyitis. With the nomadic Masayoshi Kabe temporarily out of the picture, Shinki delegated the arrangement and Clapton-alike vocal chores to former Powerhouse bassist George Yanagi and Quickly became a passenger on his own record, which promptly lapsed into Foodbrain territory. listeners awaiting guitar apocalypse and molten axe worship were confronted by a perplexingly eclectic hogwash of Delaney & Bonnie-period Eric Clapton, random experiments and backwards sound FX, Gustav Hoist's 'Mars' by way of Zappa's 'Call Any Vegetable', all held together by further dutiful bursts of generic sub-sub-Gregg Allman gospel drivel. Shinki's mentor Ikuzo Orita decided that an entire rethink was necessary.

A Short Hop from Polydor to Atlantic ... Enter Joey Smith

During Christmas 1970, Ikuzo Orita called up all of his close friends and announced that he had left Polydor Records to take over at Atlantic. Determined to ape the 'heavy' success of the American parent company, Orita quickly offered his good mate Yuya Utchida a three-album deal for Flower Travellin' Band. Securing this contract, the new label boss was now on the lookout for something similar with which to create a twin-prong 'heavy sound' for his new label. Despite Orita's success with Kimio Mizutani's Polydor solo LP A PATH THROUGH HAZE, the ex-Out Cast leader had by now built up his reputation as an amazing session guitarist, and had no desire to pursue a solo career. The only other worthy guitar maestro was Blues Creation's Kazuo Takeda, who'd already set his sights on a career in the USA. Feeling somewhat marooned that Christmas, Orita was justifiably hesitant when Shinki called up to tell him: 'Hey Orita, we found a good one. His song and drums are superb.' [2]

The 'good one' in question was an itinerant singer/songwriter named Joseph 'Pepe' Smith, whom Shinki had noticed by chance playing R&B in Yokohama's local Astro shopping mall. Born and bred in the Philippines, but with an American soldier father, Joey had spent his childhood flitting between his dad's San Francisco home and his mother's place in the Filipino capital Manila. Right there at Christmas 1970, however, Joey was barely scraping by in Zero History, a gaggle of Filipino ex-pats blasting out R&B covers for uninterested bargain hunters in anonymous shopping malls. With a young family back in Manila, and a love of wine, women and drugs, Joey smith was totally broke most of the time and slept on the floor of anyone who'd have him. In order to supplement his meagre vocalist wage, Smith had recently been taught to play drums by Eddie Fortuno of D'Swooners, the hot Filipino R&B band who'd become accepted as 'honorary members' of the GS scene. But Joey's wild performances caused so much damage to his hired drum kits that he seemed forever to be paying his wages back to his agents. [3] For Ikuzo Orita, however, Shinki's discovery of Joey Smith was a moment of destiny. Attending one of Zero History's daytime shows, Orita was mesmerised by the manner in which the singing drummer slowed the songs down in order to emphasise his vocal hooks, standing up during important passages, and even pretending to burn himself when pouring fuel over his cymbals and setting them alight. After years of struggling to find a Japanese drummer with a decent sound, Orita told Shinki that Joey Smith's drumming would 'make the band international'.

And so it came to pass that, less than one month after the release of Shinki's Polydor solo record, Orita was ensconced in Tokyo's Mouri Studio with Shinki Chen and Masayoshi Kabe, rehearsing the songs of Joey Smith with an Atlantic Records budget. The sound was deafening as Joey Smith took control of the sessions, performing each song as though he were playing at Budokan, exhibiting that same outrageous showmanship that he'd applied to rocking department stores. Urged on by Joey's pounding tom-toms, snarling punk bark, outta-control amphetamine habit and determination to tell everybody about it, Masayoshi Kabe's thunderous bass runs quickly returned to those heady days of the early Golden Cups - and then some - his bluesy bass licks often climbing right off the chart into chromatic free-bass territory, all of which conspired to goad Shinki Chen out of his too-cool Yokohama stasis and into Total Action. The recording session began with the hobbling proto-grunge of 'Mr Walking Drugstore Man', in which a horrible retarded sub-Standells blues riff introduces Joey Smith singing down a cassette-recorder mike with a truly Lou Reedian authenticity:

Hey, Mr Walking Drugstore Man, What do you have for me today? I've been feeling so ugly ... I'll just have to move around Try to locate my brain alright.

But poor Joey's got that post-amphetamine withdrawal so bad that his 'brain is kinda tight' and he needs Mr Walking Drugstore Man to give him 'some of your special speed, yeah, special speed'. Whenever Joey Smith has a particular point to make, he does a very singularly excellent thing. He slows the song right down with his drums and crawls the lyrics along. It's as if to say: 'And ... another ... fucking ... thing!' And it's in this strung-out state that the song pants to its conclusion and, in mute nostril agony, Joey calls out to no one in particular:

Hey, you wanna buy some speed Uh no, I'm paranoid No, peaceful.

That's what the libretto reads. It sure doesn't sound that way on record. I just hear the 'speed' reference. Next, please. Now it's obvious that someone like Joey Smith would attract the wrong kind of partner, and we discover this in a fairly big way on the second song 'Big Headed Woman'. The song starts off kind of hopefully and rocking, but soon gives itself to the sort of flaccid blues that causes dams to overflow. What a ghastly riff. What a woman you found for yourself, Joey. Get this for a lyric:

I gotta big-headed woman who talks about herself... She drinks all my liquor And she smokes all of my stuff.

What stuff is that, Joey? Could you qualify, perhaps?

Yeah, she smokes all my dope.

And as if this weren't enough for the poor sap, Joey then admits: 'at night she balls with another man.' Well, by this time Shinki Chen and Masayoshi Kabe are really delighted they don't speak English so good. They're happy to just play distended howling octopus rock and let Joey unleash his complain-o-thon. Next, Kabe takes the blues on a bass-run up the fretboard and just keeps on climbing like scales weren't never invented. Up and up like some steeplejack with a deathwish. Of course, Mr Joey Smith is so empowered by this sonic overkill that he declares to his big-headed woman that suicide could be a very real option for her:

I think you better do yourself in, do yourself in, Now take this, and ... blow your mind.

After these first two very long and very druggy and very slow and very bluesy opening songs, Speed, Glue & Shinki obviously think it's about time to give their prospective audience a bit of a break. So they speed up the proceedings about one notch and hit us with a six-minute garage-rock crawl known as 'Stoned out of My Mind', wherein a 'lot of straight people' keep staring at Joey. Hey, these motherfuckers are not only staring at his long Hair, but at his 'gear, too'. Whoa, looks like an excuse to get fucked up, baby, which Joey proceeds to do in a very big way. Joey's king of the snotty aside - 'Y'know, alright, hit it, hey!' - all those types of things pepper the recorded oeuvre of Speed, Glue & Shinki.

As song after obvious song cascaded from the drooling, bitten lips of Joey Smith, Ikuzo Orita and Shinki Chen knew that they had, at long last, discovered the secret combination. Space informed the new band's sound, space and a shattering slowness that only the ultra-confident can pull off. Cast to the four winds was the horribly rinky-dink Blackpool organ that Hiro Yanagida had foisted upon Foodbrain, replaced instead by ... nothing. No keyboard sound, just pure glorious emptiness, into which Joey Smith, Masayoshi Kabe and Shinki Chen could empty the contents of their melted plastic brains. During that first session, a lot of wine was drunk, a lot of Marusan Pro Bond was inhaled, a lot of amphetamine was snorted and a vast amount of pot was consumed. For this band was determined to make its mark not in spite of what they were, but because of it. On completion of their debut album EVE land true to the supergroup mentality of those Emerson, Lake & Palmer times), the new trio announced to the media that their name would be - with supremely screwed and skewed logic - Speed, Glue & Shinki. Right on...

'Floats away Like a String less Kite'

If getting Speed, Glue & Shinki together in the first place had been a somewhat protracted proposition, then keeping them together soon proved to be an insurmountable task. Throughout the spring, as Atlantic prepared for the summer release of the band's debut album, Speed, Glue & Shinki wrote songs for their second album and made their official concert debut on 20th May, performing alongside Murahatchibu and Takehisa Kosugi's Taj Mahal Travellers at the second annual 'Mojo-west' festival at Kyoto's Daigaku Nishibu Koudou (University West Auditorium But by 25th June 1971, the release date of the band's first LP EVE and debut single 'Mr Walking Drugstore Man', Masayoshi Kabe was already nowhere to be seen disappearing mid-recording-session for a quick take and last seen running down a river bank. As Ikuzo Orita commented later, keeping hold of Kabe was like being in charge of 'a stringless kite', and the Atlantic boss now opted to keep a close watch on his newest charge by having a bed set up in his Warner Brothers office for the itinerant Joey Smith. [4]

Seeing all this effort being expended on Speed, Glue & Shinki, Flower Travellin' Band's manager Yuya Utchida soon began to complain that Shinki Chen was Orita's pet project, but the truth was that Speed, Glue & Shinki had already begun to fall to pieces. Kabe returned briefly for a Beatles-inspired rooftop performance at Tokyo's prestigious Mitsukoshi department store, in Ginza, in which Speed, Glue & Shinki were joined by Fumio Miyashita's Far Out [5] and Atlantic label mates Too Much. But when Kabe disappeared yet again, Shinki bided his time by joining the 'super session' band that Yuya Utchida had got together to back former Flowers vocalist Remi Aso. Supporting Grand Funk Railroad at an arena show in Osaka, Remi was delighted to welcome Shinki to her all-star ensemble that contained Apryl Fool's organist Hiro Yanagida, Samurai's Yujin Harada and future free bassist Tetsu Yamauchi. Liberated from the pressures of their regular careers, this highly professional bunch enjoyed each other's company so much that they chose to continue backing Remi throughout the summer of '71.

In the meantime, Joey Smith had little time for Masayoshi Kabe's blasé ex-pop-star attitude. Indeed, the feisty Filipino made it crystal clear to Orita and Shinki that he intended to keep Speed, Glue & Shiki together with or without the ex-Golden Cup. He'd been starving too long to throwaway this opportunity at stardom and was not about to go down without a fight. In September '71, Shinki and Joey drafted in bass player Mike Hanopol from Zero History, Joey's shopping-mall R&B band, and the three immediately commenced recording the band's second album with brand-new songs by Joey, and a couple of Mike Hanopol's equally brutal sludge trudges. On 28th October, Kabe deigned to return for a big Tokyo show with Flower Travellin' Band at the legendary Sankei Hall, both bands appearing together at the end for an encore rendition of 'Give Peace a Chance', Kabe's unexpected return offered Orita and Shinki the opportunity to record with the original band line-up, and the producer opened Mouri Studios in the early hours after the show, facilitating the recording of Joey Smith's most sociopathic rant thus far, 'Sniffin' & Snortin''.

Coming on like Iguanas-period Iggy singing over Roky Erikson's pre-13th Floor Elevators band the Spades, Joey's 'Sniffin' & Snortin'' is garage rock's finest hour both musically and lyrically. Joey hips us to his quest over a tumultuous Texan riff, explaining how he's drinking wine and loading up his syringe on his way 'to a Sunday jam':

Well, I'll shoot it, I'll shoot it nice and clean, By the time I pull it out of my veins I'm gonna feel so strange.

No shit, Sherlock! Next thing, some street scruff accosts Brother Joey with an even badder proposition. The scruff reaches into his pocket and shakes it in the singer's face:

Let's snort it out of my hand, It'll make you feel like you've never been alive again.

Shrill as a motherfucker, Shinki kicks in an angular piercing solo and the band takes off like a Viet vet in a '69 Dodge Challenger. Joey's upside down hanging from the sky, determined to make this his everyday lifestyle:

Well, I know for sure that I'd never come back home again, And we started sniffin' and snortin' until we turned into skin and bones, Yeah, we been snortin' and sniffin' our brains away.

Following this incredible tale, Joey, Shinki and Kabe laid down another classic within the hour, Joey's Utopian 'Run & Hide' being another seismic rollercoaster that lambasted the Man for his planetary dumping over an MC5-ian Cresta Run of truly exhilarating proportions. But when the three parted company in the early hours, Kabe was already history in the mind of Joey Smith. [6] Besides, Mike Hanopol's song-writing had already taken considerable pressure off the band, showing that he was more than capable of replacing their stringless kite. Indeed, the band increasingly turned to the songs of Hanopol, who soon found himself in the strange position of chief song-writer.

And yet, despite the 'heavy' brutal nature of Mike Hanopol's songs, Speed, Glue & Shinki's overall sound became just slightly straightened out without Masayoshi Kabe's ceaselessly strange and atonal riffing. From the near free rock of EVE, the second album began to take on some of the elements of Black Sabbath and Grand Funk that Speed, Glue & Shinki had previously avoided. In Hanopol's near-nine-minute epic 'Search for Love', the strung-out fuzz bass and analogue synthesiser brilliantly conjured up a kind of VOLUME 4-style Sabbath epic, something like 'Snowblind' if it had been played by Germany's ragged sub-sub-Kiss Tiger B. Smith. Throughout the winter of 1971, as Mike Hanopol and Joey Smith's self-belief increased daily, the second album officially became a double-LP on Atlantic Records' 1972 schedule. But as the release date approached, Ikuzo Orita suspected that the two had run out of songs. When Hanopol proposed they record a new song of his entitled 'Wanna Take You Home', some in the studio convinced Orita that they'd heard the song somewhere else. [7] But as Hanopol was yet another six-foot Filipino addition to the band, the technical team diplomatically acquiesced. Besides, the finished song was a gloriously sludgy romp even if it was through somebody else's sewer, and 'Wanna Take You Home' made the list.

At this point, Japan's prestigious monthly magazine Music Life placed Speed, Glue & Shinki at number nine in their Top 50 International Artists of the Year, with Shinki gaining the number-five position in the Top 50 of International Guitarists. While Led Zeppelin, Yes and other international artists regularly topped the Music Life Top 50, Orita's Japanese acts had all, thus far, been ignored by the magazine. Delighted by the accolades and smelling a potential hit, Orita suggested they capitalise on this unexpected popularity and reduce the work to a single hard-hitting album. But Joey clearly had his heart set on a double-album and was having none of it. Feeling shut out of the creative process. Shinki invited his keyboard player mate Shigeki Watanabe from Wild Wand into Mouri Studios to record one of Shinki's own songs, a ridiculous flute-led instrumental that again undermined the guitarist's reputation. Worse still, Watanabe also recorded one of his own pieces, entitled 'Chuppy', a trite piece of pop fluff that Joey - without success - attempted to have banished from the album. Outraged by this interloper, Joey had a big Moog synthesiser installed in Mouri Studios, on which he began to 'write' his most outrageous work yet, a side-long experimental solo synthesiser medley entitled 'Sun, Planets, Life, Moon'. Coming on like Tangerine Dream's epic Moog album ZEIT, Joey's twenty-minute-long primitive weather-formation synth ramblings brought the protracted record sessions of this self-titled double-album to a conclusion.

Exit Speed, Pursued by Hanopol

Unfortunately, barely one month after the March '72 release of the band's double-LP masterpiece SPEED, GLUE & SHINKI, Joey Smith quit the band and headed for Manila, accompanied by bass player Mike Hanopol. The super-catchy second single 'Run & Hide' had failed to chart and the high price of the lavish album packaging had put people off the new record. Exasperated by Shinki's inability to supply his own heavy-rock riff age and frustrated by the slightness of the guitarist's few contributions, Joey Smith and Mike Hanopol formed their own Filipino power trio with former Zero History guitarist Wally Gonzales. Naming the band Juan De La Cruz, the new trio was brutal, sludgy, and somewhat inept. Gone was the bizarre free-rock of speed, Glue & Shinki, replaced instead by almost humorous Hispanic twin vocals sung mostly in Spanish, accompanied by minor-chord heavy ballads and redundant guitar licks from the artless Wally Gonzales.

Back in Japan, Shinki revealed his lack of vision by forming Orange, an organ-dominated trio featuring ex-Tempters drummer Hiroshi Oguchi and led by Shigeki Watanabe, the perpetrator of the fetid 'Chuppy'. By now, even the ever benevolent Ikuzo Orita was ready to give up on Shinki's chronic underachievements, pulling the plug on the guitarist's free studio time soon after the split. Orange performed at a Mojo-west festival later that summer, but fell apart without a single record release. Thereafter, Shinki joined Remi Aso's backing band and eked out a living doing sessions for Yuya Utchida. With hindsight, it became clear to the Japanese rock scene that Shinki Chen's potential would remain unfulfilled, and he disappeared entirely from the scene for over twenty years, returning briefly in the late '90s in a part-time retro-styled act called the Mojos.

Down in the Philippines, on the other hand, the incorrigible Joey Smith went from strength to strength with his Juan De La Cruz workhorse, and was soon filling huge stadiums throughout the islands. Even more bizarre is the fact that he's sustained his meteoric success throughout these past decades. Recent documentary footage of Joey showed the six-foot-two singer still rizla thin, still in possession of his hair and his blazing stare, striding Kim Fowley-like around the teeming streets of Manila high-fiving every ecstatic punter who crossed his path, undermining every 'Just Say No' commercial with that same sheer Will-to-Live personality that first drew Shinki Chen to his inflammatory shopping-mall performances. Just as D'Swooners' Filipino lawlessness had injected an essential oomph into the often too-tame Group Sounds scene, so Joey Smith's gargantuan capacity for drugging and gigging infused Japan's early-70s New Rock scene with a cavalier attitude all too often absent from their indigenous musicians. His heroic sensibilities, his mush-mouthed mike technique, his frankly outrageous lyric-writing and his Play Dumb clowning all conspired to make true legends of Speed, Glue & Shinki.

Footnotes: (go back)

  1. Moron de la Frontera really means 'beginning of the moor'. Indeed, even in English, a moron was originally nothing more than a geographical description of one who lived on the moors. However, as most urbanites associated 'moor dwellers' with rural stupidity, 'moron' quickly became a disparaging term.
  2. Interview with Ikuzo Orita. Black Shapes of Doom magazine, 2004.
  3. In a 2004 interview with Black Shapes of Doom magazine, Masayoshi Kabe commented: 'His drumming was amazing. There wasn't anyone like that ... you know fuel oil? He'd squirt it and put fire to it ... because he'd burn it while he's drumming, or banging the floor, drumming the microphone, while he bangs out he'd be squirting (laughs). And he'd act like he'd burned himself.'
  4. Interview with Ikuzo Orita, Black Shapes of Doom magazine, 2004.
  5. In a 2004 interview for Black Shapes of Doom magazine, Masayoshi Kabe commented: 'We performed with Far Out ... although they wouldn't share their [paint] thinner.'
  6. According to the same interview with Masayoshi Kabe in Black Shapes of Doom magazine: 'For Speed Glue's double LP I actually did only three or four songs. But then Orita called me and asked to use my name, so I complied.'
  7. Despite Mike Hanopol's claims to be author of 'Wanna Take You Home', the song was based on a 1969 UNI Records Single, 'Take You Home', written by American guitarist and vocalist Richard Fortunato, and released by his late-psychedelic band Fields.


1'Mr Walking Drugstore Man' (7")1971Atlantic
3'Run & Hide' b/w 'Calm Down' (7")1972Atlantic
4SPEED, GLUE & SHINKI1972Atlantic