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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kosuke Ichihara & Love Live Life, Japan

Kosuke Ichihara & Love Live Life - Datsu Nippon Minyou - Now Sound '75 (Japan, 1975, Victor)

The common misconception of Kosuke Ichihara's group seems to be that Love Live Life were a regular, comprehensive band in the Japanese rock scene, a la Flower Travellin' Band and the like, but that's not really the case. Ichihara came from a jazz background, and even the seminal "Love Will Make A Better You" was really more along the lines of the typical "band leader and revolving cast of studio hired guns" scenario that for the most part dominated the output of Japan's New Rock explosion. So it should come as no surprise then that their trail afterwards becomes more diverse and obscure. Most well known in the west is obviously the quirky "Satsujin Jissho", but around the same time there were also entertainingly silly exploitation cash-ins like "Rock In Bacharach", "Rock In X'Mas" and other less notable studio sessions and collaborations. But perhaps the most interesting of this little known latter-day output is "Now Sound '75", an attempt to cross traditional Japanese "minyou" folk songs with the then-rising genre of jazz-rock fusion. This concept had already been done umpteen times by this point in other styles, some of which have been covered on this very blog (Toshio Tanioka, Dosojin, etc.). However, as the title indicates, the difference here is that the "sound"  was very "now", as in funky mid 70s instrumental fusion. The traditional themes are woven in smoothly to create atmosphere in a well-produced set of tunes that would have made a good soundtrack for a classic Japanese cop/detective show. Oddly enough, I'm also reminded a bit of the contemporaneous French fusion sound. Smooth and funky, but with enough atmosphere and instrumental acumen to hold your interest. Recommended to fusion fans, and I'd wager it would also go down a storm with the rare groove crowd. Unfortunately, one of their harder titles to find.

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