Julian Cope’s JAPROCKSAMPLER top 50 albums. Author: RamonesIstKrieg. Julian Cope’s top 50 “Japrock” albums, from his totally rad book. Julian Cope, eccentric and visionary rock musician, follows the runaway underground success of his book “Krautrocksampler” with “Japrocksampler”, a cult. Michel Faber tunes in to Julian Cope’s Japrocksampler.
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Review: Japrocksampler by Julian Cope | Books | The Guardian
There’s also a brief addendum on must-to-avoid clunkers, Cope astutely noting how collectors gull themselves to feel better about having shelled out so much dough, starting an inflationary cycle whereby ‘deadly rare foreign albums often become classed as classics merely because no one outside an elite few has even heard [them]’.
What he’s looking for is “the kind of unsignposted music with neither peaks nor troughs that still sounds relevant today”, ie music that resembles Krautrock. Passionate, pithy, and portable, Krautrocksampler was wittily styled as a pocket-sized field guide along the lines of the Observer Book of Birds.
Or did he just develop a taste for research while working on his highly-regarded japrocisampler circle’ histories The Modern Antiquarian and The Megalithic European? One larger idea he does grapple with is the Japanese talent for mimesis. Japrocksampler is a flawed but welcome reminder that there are musical worlds beyond our ken.
Less adventurous readers may simply enjoy the anecdotes about a host of chancers, mad idealists, Buddhist gangsters, Monkees clones “Are We Not Crazy Cats? The Krautrocksampler equivalent would be kicking off with the Franco-Prussian War! As a work of scholarship, Japrocksampler is slapdash and error-strewn. Japrocksampler is a far more substantial work, juliah better and for worse. In parallel to the way Amon Duul were involved in Germany’s commune-dwelling counterculture and allegedly had ties to Baader-Meinhof, one member of Les Iaprocksampler Denudes participated in the Japanese Red Army’s hi-jacking of a Boeing With a mixture of aff ection and condescension, Cope relates the attempts of Japanese wannabe “refuseniks” or even “uberrefuseniks” to ape the lifestyles of their American and British idols in a society where strict codes of honour still ruled and where the hippie musical Hair was closed down by the authorities.
It’s a heavier book more than twice the page count of Krautrocksampler and heavier-going, too. Inhe published Krautrocksampler, an evangelistic overview of Germany’s greatest gift to the modern world, that immensely charming genre of 70s music known as Krautrock. The way he tells it, his psychedelic renegades were central to the violent unrest that gripped Japan in the late s, whereas in fact most of the clashes were between riot police and an army of Dylanesque protest singers.
Context-setting is just dandy, but was it really necessary to start with the arrival of US vessels on Japanese shores, thereby ending centuries of cultural isolationism? His lack of affinity with folk or the subtler forms of jazz causes him to ignore or sideline many of Japan’s most distinctive artists. The sad truth is that very few people are interested in unusual “foreign” sounds. Krautrocksampler sought to rekindle an interest in music that was once widely appreciated in Britain but which had fallen into neglect due to changing fashions and fickle journalism.
By contrast, the music discussed in Japrocksampler has made almost no impact outside Japan, partly owing to the barrier of an undecodably alien writing system.
Indeed, his potted history of post- Tokugawa dynasty Japan strikes a formal tone not far removed from that of a Victorian essayist: He raves about the ‘fascinating and wildly eventful’ multi-generic pastiches created by theatre score composer JA Caesar mostly only released as cassettes sold at stalls in the theatresand the bizarre jazz-rock tangents spawned out of the Japanese cast of Hair Shedding the ‘proper historian, me’ persona, his true voice breaks loose with the closing section, his all-time Top 50 Japrock LPs.
No, We Are Spiders!
This consumer advice is the fruit of much labour and expense, Cope reveals, japrocksamplsr sifting process being ‘an arduously hit-and-miss affair There are moments in Japrocksampler that will make more sceptical readers wonder if that very syndrome isn’t going on in Cope’s own text.
Fortunately, the story itself is sufficiently fascinating and untold to keep the reader gripped.
Big in Japan
Experimental violinist Takehisa Kosugi takes time out from japrpcksampler avant-garde to compose music for the children’s cartoon series Atom Boy. The Taj Mahal Travellers hit the road in their runeinscribed Volkswagen minibus, searching for windswept beaches where they can provide musical accompaniment to the waves at dawn.
New Crimson Petal Stories is published by Canongate.
Shedding the ‘proper historian, me’ persona, his true voice breaks loose with the closing section, his all-time Top 50 Japrock LPs. Although it contained lots of little-known information, the earlier book didn’t belabour the back story but focused on Cope’s rabid enthusiasm for the music.
The incident where sword-waving members of Japan’s Red Army Faction including the bass player of the Radical Music Black Gypsy Band hijack a plane “to Cuba”, eventually landing to a heroes’ welcome in North Korea, is retold as a wacky caper, but the complex griefs and tensions that led to such gestures cry out for deeper analysis. All have become prized by Western record collector fiends this past decade, especially now the Kraut Kosmiche seam has been mined beyond exhaustion.
Japanese Independent Music, issued in by Sonore a French publisher is out of print. Strangely, though, Cope doesn’t make much of the parallels between Krautrock and Japrock: His ultra-vivid and hilariously over-the-top descriptions of a legion of German post-psychedelic records suggested that this prolific musician he’s just released his umpteenth solo album, You Gotta Problem With Me might have missed his true vocation as a Lester Bangs-style advocate.
Especially early on, there’s a self-conscious air of scholarship.
Cope himself is not a Japanese speaker, but his omnivorous LPcollecting and his friendship with some of Japan’s current rockers make him a credible candidate to write this book.