From 1971 Japan comes this gleaming gem of classic rock, encompassing a myriad of American styles from rural rock and country to raw garage, blues, experimental, and blazing west coast rock – but contrary to prevailing trends of the time, the lyrics are not sung in English. If this poses a problem for your ears it is a great shame, for Kazemachi Roman (Wind City Romance) is a must-listen record, and #1 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums.

Kazemachi Roman owes its sound to many influences, but the band maintains an unmistakable originality while flawlessly running the gamut of American popular music. “Haikara Hakuchi” drives with the ferocity of a Moby Grape track, “Haru Ranman” combines byrdsian folk with a roaming west coast feel, while “Sorairo no Crayon” dabbles with country & western, replete with pedal steel and a yodeled outro. “Natsu Nandesu” and “Kaze wo Atsumete” have a soulful, bucolic charm, the latter finally getting its due via 2003’s Lost In Translation soundtrack. “Dakishimetai” sounds like a classic 70s rock anthem and “Hanaichimonme” grooves like a freight train, prodded along by rolling guitar licks and driving piano. “Ashita Tenki ni Naare” gets to funky rhythm and blues featuring a fantastic Beegees multi-falsetto vocal part. And then there’s “Taifuu” (typhoon), the clear alpha dog of the set. On this authoritative rocker the singer lets it all out with gnarly, gutteral yelps and grunts.

Even the slightest investment in this record should prove the attraction goes way beyond novelty. The sound is instantly recognizable feel-good rock and easily transcends the language barrier. Had these gentlemen hailed from California and sang in English, Happy End would have been a household name.

The lead man, Haroumi Hosono, would later form the sensational Yellow Magic Orchestra (titans of the pre-midi synth age) and continues to make music with his electronica duo, Sketch_Show. words/ b mcgrath

MP3: Happy End :: Hanaichimonme

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6 Responses to “はっぴいえんど 風街ろまん (Happy End “Kazemachi Roman”)”

  1. Per usual, great digs here. Real cool stuff.

  2. great one, and massively overlooked. maybe you’ll spur a reissue?

  3. That is really a great record. Deserves international recognition. I have a vinyl copy of that, found in a small city of Tochigi-ken.

  4. has been great achievement by JP fab four for years.
    believe Ei-ichi Otaki was another lead.

    btw, how come you got this?

  5. I’ve been looking for this record for ages. The only copies I can find are REALLY expensive Japanese import cds.

  6. I wonder if Dope Body has seen this cover.×608.jpg

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