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Friday, Dec. 14, 2007


Longhaired freaks read this

Special to The Japan Times

"Japrocksampler" By Julian Cope (Bloomsbury)

Cult U.K.-based musician and globe trotting musicologist Cope follows up his previous musical tome, "Krautrocksampler," for a tour of duty in the Far East with "Japrocksampler: How the Post War Japanese Blew Their Minds On Rock 'n' Roll." The result is a head trip through a uniquely Japanese take on rock, jazz, psychedelica and heavy distortion, played by longhaired freaks (AKA "refuseniks") that Cope clearly feels a deep affinity for.

The little-documented career trajectories (especially in the English language) of mega-obscure bands such as Les Rallizes Denudes, Speed, Glue & Shinki and Flower Travellin' Band make up a gripping history of Japanese counterculture before the book climaxes with a roll call, a la Nick Hornby, of the top 50 "Japrock" records that is certain to become a shopping list of sorts for fans of this sort of thing.

A few factual errors (which could have been cleared up in seconds with a Google search), and Cope's decision to freeze the march of time around the late '70s, fails to stop "Japrocksampler" from being a major work — like it's cover depicting rock band members motorcycling naked through the countryside, it's a wild ride.

Patrick Macias pens the "Otakool" column in The Japan Times, a regular exploration of the worlds of anime, manga and other Japanese obsessions.

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