Saturday, February 19, 2005

Three generations of Japanese Pop

Continuing the now-no-longer-short-lived-nor-decaying tradition of The Weekend Download, we present you with three rather different versions of one same song.

We start with the original.

Good, by The Plastics (192kps mp3, 4.22Mb), was recorded in 1980 and published on their second album, Origato Plastico, where it followed a brief introduction titled No Good(192kps mp3, 0.8Mb). It would later have been re-recorded for US release, but this is the version i prefer: raw, disjointed, abstract.
The Plastics were a brief-lived "electronic" pop band formed in tokyo, active between 1979 and 1981. Their peculiar sound came to the attention of David Byrne, who helped them be signed internationally to Chris Blackwell's Island Records. However, after only one international release (Welcome Back) and a short US tour the band broke up. Their influence would be and still is strongly felt in contemporary japanese pop music, and to this we must now turn.

When Pizzicato Five recorded their cover of Good (187kps mp3, 5.35Mb), released on the Romantique 96 Ou Un Essai Sur L'Amour Par Pizzicato Five , they were already a duo but were helped out in this recording by Hajime Tachibana, original guitarist of the Plastics, who produces a solo extremely similar to the same one he had played fifteen years earlier. This version is followed by a short Variation (187kps mp3, 0.47Mb) on the theme.

And finally, the now ubiquitous Polysics included their own version of the tune in their live show. Their rendition can be heard on their 2000 Live In Japan album or, of course, here.
The Polysics have recently performed at what was sadly to be the last of John Peel's radio shows, and are currently touring the US.

Pizzicato Five broke up in 2001, having accomplished what they had set out to do.

The Plastics enjoyed a ten-year-reunion tour in 1989 and an excellent tribute album was published in 1999.

Some former members have recently teamed up with ex-Pizzicato Five singer Maki Nomiya, dubbing themselves Plastics Sex. They have already performed live in Shibuya, their live set featuring old Plastics songs and some rather unexpected covers such as Velvet Underground's Waiting For My Man and The Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog. An album is expected for early 2005.

More info on The Plastics here and here.


Good - The Lyrics.
(Sato - Tachibana)

How do you do?
How do you do?
How are you?
I'm fine!
What are you doing?
I am singing
What did you do today?
I did a soundcheck

Nice to meet you...
See you again...
Nice to meet you...
See you again...

Come again soon!
Yes, I'm sure
Say hello to mama
Yes I will
Oh what's the matter?
mmm, nothing
What's the problem?
It's okay,

I'm sorry...
See you later...
I'm sorry...
See you later...

Un, deux, trois, quatre...

meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow

Have a nice day
same to you
What time baby?
9 o'clock
Gonna have a good time?
I miss you
How do you think about it?
I don't know!

I'm happy...
How I love you...
I'm happy...
How I love you...

Puis-je fumer?
Oui, bien sûr
Bonjour, monsieur!
Comment allez-vous?
C'est combien?
Je ne comprends pas
Au revoir, monsieur
A bientôt!

Sil vous plait...
Merci beaucoup...
Sil vous plait...
Merci beaucoup...

Good, good, good, good,

1. None of the songs shared above have ever been released in these versions outside japan. The international release of the original was, as i said, a re-recorded version. The pizzicato five cover was published as a shorter edit on the Sound Of Music (Music is organized sound) compilation, and a remix is on the Combinaison Spatiale EP. The Polysics live album was never published internationally, at least to my knowledge.
2. "To this we must now turn" is copyright of Eric Hobsbawm, All Rights Reserved.
3. Yes, you should have imagined it was just a matter of time before i started posting P5 mp3s here.