page 1 : introductions
"Evolution of Japanese underground scene :
developments from Japanese psychedelic music from 1966-1996" :
After a short "twist" boom and a few unsuccessful Beatles inspired groups (Tokyo Beatles) groups with a Ventures sound became more popular (Takeshi Terauchi, Blue Jeanes, Yuzo Yakama, Launchers) leading to thousands of instrumental rock groups, mostly schoolstudents. However when The Beatles came to Japan in 1966 these groups played a more vocal styled (the first vocal hits were by the Blue Comets, Spiders, followed by formations like The Tigers, The Carnabeats, The Jaguars, The Golden Cups, The Bunny's). This new style was called the "Group Sounds" or simply G.S., had its peak from 1967-1968 with hundreds of professional bands, like The Dynamites, The Floral, The Golden Cups, Happenings 4, Helpful Soul, Mops, Powerhouse, and thousands of amateur teen bands. Beside bringing covers of Rolling Stones, Monkees, Bee Gees the groups had also their own songs. Most gigs were in "jazz kissa's" and American airbases and some groups became popular because of youth program television performances. There was also an underground scene lead by The Jackswith a more radical sound and lyrics.
By the end of '69 this style disappeared with the appearance of Jimmy Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Some tried to copy Eric Clapton or Paul Butterfield. This was the beginning of psychedelic and hippie influenced groups (like Flowers, later Flower Travelling Band). The psychedelic music in Japan never was under the influence of drugs, but by assimilation of just musical psychedelic effects. These effects were at first the uses of fuzz guitar effects (for the first time by The Blue Comets), backward tapes (firstly used by the Wild Ones) , eastern instruments like the sitar (firstly by the Flower Pop Group and later by the Mops), wah-wah effect pedals (firstly by the Phoenix), use of cymbals, gongs (firstly by the Rangers), radio voices (firstly by Folk Crusaders). The term "psychedelic" was first used in Japan by The Mops.
All new groups (lot of hardrock, but also American West Coast sound, to singer song-writers) were categorised in the media as "new rock". April Fool later Happy End- were a pioneering Japanese rock band, Blues Creation played hard rock blues,... Most influence came from the English scene, some of it fom the American scene. Some more progressive bands came into existence like the Far East Family Band, Cosmos Factory, Far Out, Flied Egg, Flower Travellin' Band, Food Brain, Taj-Mahal-Travellers, Yoni Bayashi, Zoni Keisatu, and later Magical Power Mako, .. Also interesting was the theatre group Tenjosajiki lead by J.A.Caesar (as a combination of No theatre with progressive rock).
Because of a lack of contracts little of the groups survived. Yellow Magic Orchestra and Tomita received good contracts.
In the eighties new music styles were evolved : punk, industrial and new wave.
At the same time the underground scene recieved its foundation. SM, noise were introduced and became popular with bands like Merzbow.
Gerogerigegege accumulated sounds from masturbation, Hantarash once destroyed even the concert hall with a bulldozer. Many groups in the extreme and controversial genre came into existence. A part of what happened since then can be found can also be read/found in detail in the other book beneath.
Luckily some independent Japanese labels helped develope an independent music scene in Japan.
A few last remarks :
* Japan had a parallel development of early Electronic music with Germany. Not much correct information has been published about it yet.
* Some other genres besides prog or rock or wave are best not to be enied. Even some of the mainstream music, has some pearls of beauty . Within the genre of Enka (chanson) -surely among the darker text based Enka- and Kayokyou (popular songs) - are some beautiful examples, but that's a work for specialists to find that out.
* -(Thanks for using some information from J.W.)-
A first book I read was : "History of Jap's Progressive Rock 1970-1990" by Numero Ueno. Review next.