First & Last: Japanese Private Press, Vol. 7

The seventh installment of First & Last is brought to you by guest curator, Johan Nilsson. Johan and I became friends through our shared loved of collecting rare and unheard 70s records from Japan. Earlier this year we started our own record label together under the same moniker as this mix series; First & Last Records. The label will focus on reissuing private press records from Japan …our first release will be announced soon, with many more to follow.

First & Last: Japanese Private Press, Vol. 7

本田大助 (Daisuke Honda) – 夏 (1977)⁣
ババロア (Bavarois) – 貴方が瞳を閉じた時に (1973)⁣
ジョニーアップルシード (Johnny Appleseed) – 私は感じやすい女 (1973)⁣
佐崎潤一 (Junichi Sazaki) – 心 Part I (1978)⁣
百舌 (Mozu) – そんな暮し (1977)⁣
劇団・無頼派 (Gekidan Buraiha) – Untitled (1975?)⁣
ふくやまゆきお (Yukio Fukuyama) – スミのいれずみ (1973)⁣
Love Orphan – このドアを開けたら (1972?)⁣
吉野明彦とザ・シャーマン (Akihiko Yoshino & The Shaman) – 酔いどれヘリコプター (1973?)⁣
フォーク・キャンディーズ (Folk Candies) – 黒いカラス (1973?)⁣
Yokohama – 恋する乙女 (1972?)⁣
卒業生と在校生 (Sotsugyousei & Zaikousei) – 松本通り (197?)

Johan’s notes: In trying to write about these records, or as Tyler and I are trying to do, reissue them, the biggest hurdle is trying to obtain any useful information. This mix starts out with a song by Daisuke Honda, from his 1977 album Love Songs, which is one of my favorite private press records to come out of Japan. We tried hard to find him in hopes of reissuing the album but unfortunately, we’ve had no luck. Like most copies, mine has no cover, let alone an insert. Many of these records were only made in 50-100 copies and often much fewer covers were created because they were handmade or because of budget limitations. We only know a cover for the Honda LP exist because it’s pictured in the book Rock Diving Magazine vol. 7 (1999), from a copy supposedly scored in a dumpster. Missing information can also lead to misinformation, as has happened with the duo Mozu on the mix. Their first album was commonly mistaken to have been made by a band called Age (and referred to as such in the Wonder Ground Record Guide Book (2020)) until a collector uncovered a copy with a cover and shared it. I’ve listed the penultimate track on this mix as being by an act called Yokohama but that’s only because the single has no cover and that’s all it says on the labels, and I’ve never seen another copy.

But that’s also a part of what makes it entrancing to collecting this music, it’s an endless mystery, from finding something unknown to trying to learn more about it. Most of the records on this mix were bought on a whim or because of some vague connection that could be made. I bought the Akihiko Yoshino & The Shaman EP based the fact that it was made by the collectible Nihon C.A.C Record label (who the same year put out the wonderful Yuji Ikeda album) and the Folk Candies EP caught my attention because of the insert where one of the members lists Happy End, as I think his favorite band. Most of these tracks have stories like that, loose threads wrapped in enigmas, pressed on polyvinyl chloride.

This mix is a bit heavy on the folky side, what’s often called ‘acid folk’ in Japan even though it is not really psychedelic. Feels right for the season though and fitting for a nation that rejected daylight savings time, imposed by the American occupiers post-World War II, to remain in constant wintertime.

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