Monday, September 2, 2013

40 Year Itch: Prog Rock in Korea and Japan

The high artistic concepts of progressive rock infected the entire world by 1973. This month I'll take us around the world to check out what some of the most interesting bands were doing. Let's begin in South Korea where Psychedelic Rock genius Shin Joong Hyun and his band The Men released It's A Lie featuring the hypnotic 11:30 track "Beautiful Country"  which sounds like a Far Out Eastern take on what Can was doing in Germany. 

As breath-taking as It's A Lie sounds, Shin Joong Hyun's masterpiece is Now, recorded with chanteuse Kim Jung Mi. Again, be prepared. You will be blown away!

In Japan The Far East Family Band, featuring future New Age star Kitaro, released Far Out. Each side of the album has an epic prog/space rock track with "Nihonjin" being the highlight.Think Tangerine Dream meets Black Sabbath meets Pink Floyd. Meeting the Dream's synth master Klaus Schulze sent Kitaro on that solo career that included collaborations with The Grateful Dead's Micky Hart and Yes's Jon Anderson and a Grammy win for Best New Age album in 1999.

Kokkyou Junreika is a 1973 rock opera by J.A. Caesar (born Terahara Taka'aki) who also contributed to a lot of film soundtracks. There's something epic and creepy about this album which combines traditional Japanese folk music with trippy psychedelic guitar.

Imagine what might have happened if Japan hadn't denied Mick Jagger a visa. Already signed to Atlantic Records,  Flower Travellin' Band had been scheduled to open for the Stones entire 1973 Japanese tour. Instead, the band, who started out covering British and US psychedelic songs, put out the part live/part studio double album Make Up and then promptly broke up. The late singer Joe Yamanaka had one of the 70's great 'fros.

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