Some of Geino Yamashirogumi captured in performance.
Named in English 'Yamashiro’s Performing Arts Group', Geino Yamashirogumi was a massive vocal ensemble comprised of up to 70 singers at a time. The ensemble was joined on side one of their 1976 debut LP by the Spiders' organist Katsuo Ohno and 'Monsieur' Takayuki Inoue on some particularly incendiary electric guitar, along with bass player Takanori Sasaki and drummer Jiro Suzuki, conspiring to create a thrilling and soaring hybrid of Krautrock, Gospel and swampy Cajun music. Side two's bizarre early Residents-like vocal chimping and LORD OF THE FLIES prattle was almost (but not quite) as great. Named OSOREZAN after the legendary sacred mountain on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, this debut LP is a spectacular achievement and appears at number 8 in Japrocksampler's Top 50. Thereafter, Geino Yamashirogumi unfortunately lost 'it', their muse being substituted instead for a series of bizarre 'genre' LPs. The second LP CHI NO HIBIKI was merely an accurate reading of several Georgian, Russian and Bulgarian folk songs, most likely without interest to anyone still on this mortal coil, and certainly back up on ebay just two days after our postie had delivered it. Five years later, the third LP AFRICA GENSHO was released, though the title freaked me* out so I've never attempted to search it out. In conclusion, we rock'n'roll frontiersmen just have to accept that in order to find the greatest lost Japanese music, we're gonna have to become ever more open-minded about the places where we search. A further tour of underground Japan will undoubtedly bring forth umpteen more lost classics from the most unlikely places, as evidenced by the unexpected classics lurking within theatre music, street music and the like.
* In the early 1970s, Japanese attitudes to Africans can best be illustrated by the behaviour of Murahatchibu's lead guitarist Fujio Yamagauchi, who went to such lengths to emulate his hero Chuck Berry that he appeared in blackface for one press shot.
Posted by judan-maiku, Jun 02, 2010