Reissue of Akiko Yano's debut album Japanese Girl from WEWANTSOUNDS. First released in 1976, Japanese Girl mixes together elements of Japanese folk music with 70s rock and funk to create something hypnotic. Yano's vocals dance around the instrumentation with a sense of joy and yearning, providing an emotional anchor for the album.
Staff note from Daoud :
Akiko Yano's voice is so athletic and precise, it bounces like a giddy child over instrumentation full of funky piano and BIG drums. Word round the office is it sounds something like if Kate Bush was Japanese but I'm not enough of a Bush expert to agree or disagree. What I do know is that it's completely wonderful.
CD £12.99 WWSCD17
Reissue CD on WEWANTSOUNDS.
Vinyl LP £23.99 WWSLP17
Reissue LP on WEWANTSOUNDS. Comes in tip on sleeve with insert.
- Includes download code
In 1976 Akiko Yano released one of the greatest left-field pop albums ever made. Sorry, I needed to get that out of system. You see, Japanese Girl is an utter marvel. It’s catchy and clever and serious and silly and it never falters once across its 10 tracks.
Yano makes this album so easy to like. Her vocal performance is utterly joyous, as her voice skips and bounds around like a ballet dancer. Of course there is always physicality to singing but the sheer dynamism with which she uses hers is completely enchanting. She manages to commit so much character to every song: she yelps, she growls, she just sings really beautifully. And all this within incredibly irregular song structures that she guides her band through with complete ease. Amazingly she’s also on keys while she does all this, and just like her singing, her work here is elating. On album highlight ‘Funamachi-uta Part II’ she plays a funky jazz, indebted to Japan's own musical heritage, that hits hard and doesn’t let up. There are key changes on this album that I don’t think will ever stop my knees from giving out.
It’s not just Yano though. Her band have to work very hard to keep up with her and they do. Particularly her drummers who, as well as drum kits, play those monumental taiko drums, provide a rhythmic backing capable of supporting the weight of what Yano does here.
If you’re interested in jazz, in funk, in rock, in pop, in what was big in Japan in the mid 70s, Japanese Girl is a must listen. It’s a masterpiece.
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