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Happy End

(back cover of Happy End 1973 album)
Eiichi Otaki – guitar, vocals
Shigeru Suzuki – guitar, vocals
Haruomi Hosono – bass, vocals
Takashi Matsumoto– drums, vocals

Happy End occupies a lonely place in the Japanese pantheon of rock divinities, for the band’s members were the first to be brave (and percipient) enough to insist on presenting their songs in the Japanese language. This was at a time when such an idea was still considered un-authentic and slightly gauche, but the band persisted and ultimately won the day. Unlike most contemporary Japanese bands of the time, Happy End also refused to sweeten their albums with scatterings of Western rock covers, which has resulted in their work having long term homeland respect but precious little of musical value to the keen Western Japrock freak. For the truth is that Happy End’s music is most reminiscent of soft rock such as WHEATFIELD SOUL-period Guess Who, a slightly heavier CS&Y and Badfinger, and contains no real musical highs such as guitar or organ solos of merit. Happy End was formed in 1969 by Apryl Fool’s highly talented rhythm section Haruomi Hosono and Takashi Matsumoto, who were both songwriters of considerable note. The band signed to the experimental and visionary record label URC (Underground Record Club), which had set its sights on celebrating Japan-o-centric culture statements, many of which are too insular for most Western rock ears. The band’s first LP HAPPY END was to these ears their best effort by far, each subsequent release being slightly blander, although the second LP LAEMACHI ROMAN has its moments. Signing to the larger King record label, Happy End had Van Dyke Parks produce their third LP confusingly also entitled HAPPY END. A concert recording from 1972 was released posthumously in 1974 as the LP LIVE HAPPY END.
The band existed between 1969-73, during which time they enjoyed no major record sales, but were always darlings of the rock critics, especially when they collaborated with Little Feat’s Lowell George on the song ‘Sayonara America, Sayonara Nippon’. They also had the nerve to back acoustic folk singer Nobuyasu Okabayashi when he went electric, even though it was considered a Dylan-like act of treachery to traditionalists. Nowadays, with all of its band members having achieved a consistent level of success, Happy End is best known for the song ‘Kaze Wo Atsumete’, which was featured in the movie LOST IN TRANSLATION. Bass player Hosono later formed the highly influencial Yellow Magic Orchestra, while drummer Matsumoto would later direct movies and write Top Ten hits for Eastern stars Agnes Chan, Masahiro Kuwana and Seiko Matsuda.

Julian Cope
Discography:
  • HAPPY END (URC, 1970)
  • MACHIKAZE ROMAN (URC, 1971)
  • HAPPY END (King, 1973)
  • LIVE HAPPY END (URC, 1974)
  • Happy End - HAPPY ENDHAPPY END
  • Happy End - MACHIKAZE ROMANMACHIKAZE ROMAN
  • Happy End - HAPPY ENDHAPPY END
  • Happy End - LIVE HAPPY ENDLIVE HAPPY END

Images
Artist Information
Discography
Machikaze Roman should read Kazemachi Roman...
Posted by choan, Sep 08, 2007
Video Clips
Happy End - Haru Yokoi (Live 1971)
Posted by redeyeofthesea, Feb 17, 2008
Happy End - Kaze Wo Atsumete
Posted by redeyeofthesea, Feb 17, 2008
Happy End - Natsu Nan Desu
Posted by redeyeofthesea, Feb 17, 2008
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