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Friday, April 8, 2011

LISTENING POST

CD REVIEW

Various artists: "GO!GO! A GO!GO! — GO!GO!7188 Tribute"


Though they've never quite gone supernova, Tokyo trio GO!GO!7188 have always fared better than should be expected of such an unusual band, frequently loitering in the higher echelons of the charts with their curious blend of reverb-soaked rockabilly guitar, beefy beats, genre-busting tunes and soaring Japanese melodies.

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But while their complex and genre-straddling songs have leaned toward the avant-garde, their catalog is peppered with more straightforward, accessible songs that anyone can love — and these are the tunes mainly represented by friends of the band on tribute album "GO!GO! A GO!GO!"

The Neatbeats, who share GO!GO!'s manager, seem to grasp them the best: Their version of "Taiyo" ("Sun") cleverly repurposes those trebly guitar echoes into a vintage rock 'n' roll dancefloor smash. Detroit7 make short work of "Thunder Girl," a straightforward rock-out that sounds more at home in their hands than it ever did in GO!GO!'s. Meanwhile, Shonen Knife's cover of "Punk" takes a turn for the dark, the sort of stark melancholy that has only occasionally punctuated the Knife's otherwise gloriously Day-Glo output.

The rock-solid songwriting of GO!GO!'s guitar-vocalist Yuu Nakashima, bassist Akko Noma (who recently gave birth, placing the band on a two-year hiatus) and monster drummer Turkey is proven here by its pliancy. Transsexual chanteuse Ataru Nakamura fashions "Ame Nochi Ame Nochi Ame" ("Rain Followed by Rain Followed by Rain") into a jazzy torch song; TV entertainer George Tokoro gives "Tokage 3 Gou" ("Lizard No. 3") a natural Brazilian acoustic lilt; and Flower Companyz perfectly accent the Eastern twang of "Tobi Hane Machi" ("Hopping March") — a trick that GO!GO! themselves have used to great effect on dizzying epics such as "Ukifune," whose baffling absence is glaring here.

When GO!GO!7188 emerge from their time away, they'll doubtless show us how it's really done. In the meantime, this is a fine tribute to a weird and wonderful band.


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