An interesting album released by Alchemy Records (first as an EP, then as a full album) in Japan, then reissued in the United States on Public Bath in 1995. The sound is essentially psychedelic pastoral folk -- with abrupt and unexpected bursts of shattering white-noise coming in from nowhere every once in a while. Bizarre but ultimately accessible (in a peculiar way), like a cross between Angel'in Heavy Syrup and Hijokaidan. Mineko appears here on vocals. This album has since been recalled (supposedly -- some copies may still be out there, although not for long) due to the threat of a lawsuit from Morita Doji (the band forgot to ask for permission to use all the songs, oopsie) and obviously won't be repressed, either.
Slap Happy Humphrey on this release were: JoJo Hiroshige -- Electric guitarMineko Itakura -- VocalFujiwara -- Acoustic guitar, violinThanks to: Sugisaku -- keyboards; Miyu -- piano
All titles by Morita Doji. Arranged by JoJo.Recorded at Omega Sound, 1992 and 1994.Engineered by T. KotaniWith special thanks to David Hopkins for Public BathDesigned by M. OhnoPhoto by Miyu
About Slap Happy Humphrey (by JoJo Hiroshige): Slap Happy Humphrey had its real debut on The Aiyoku Jinmin Battle Royal compilation, put out by Alchemy in the summer of 1992, with the song "Gyakkosen" ("Light My Eyes"). The concept of the band was to do noisy covers of the songs by Morita Doji, a singer active in the late '70s - early '80s. All of her works had gone out of print, and I never even heard her name mentioned anymore. It came as a total surprise when her song "Bokutachi no Shippai" ("Our Failure") was used in 1993 as the theme song for a TV series, becoming a hit, with sales of 800,000, and leading to CD reissues of her whole back catalog. Slap Happy Humphrey had recorded two more songs, "Chiheisen" ("Horizon") and "Sentimental Dori (Street)" for a PUblic Bath single in the fall of 1992 (it was released in April of 1994), and plans were made for a full CD, but in the midst of the Morita Doji "boom," it would have been overkill, so recording was put off for over a year.
The idea of performing Morita Doji songs in the middle of noise was actually something I'd been thinking about since the end of the '70s, when she was still performing. I knew her music from rock and folk coffee shops, common in the student sections of Kyoto, where I was a high school student. I had already started improvising, and my personal interpretation of Morita Doji songs had them leading out of a noisy environment. That was the image in my head. In 1990, when I first met Mineko, vocalist for Angel'in Heavy Syrup, a concept long suppresed inside myself came irresistably back to life. Of course, a similarity in vocal quality was one of the sparks for the rebirth of the concept, but quite simply, the delicacy and mystery of Mineko's performances with the band so amazed me that I became their producer. Through this connection, my long cherished dream finally came true.
There are those who say that music has ended, that there once was good music but that today there are only rehashes, a rather disparate view. While a producer of Alchemy Records there is some gap between what I say and what I do, I too, believe that there was plenty of good music in the past. I also believe that since I began the style known as "noise" in 1979, there hasn't been any original music. In my solo project Nishijin Saburo, when I sing, I always use words from others' songs, rather than my own words, and the reason is my recognition of the greatness of some old songs.
Morita Doji has always been my favorite Japanese singer, so if I choose to use her music, I hope my interpretation and expression can be excused. Mixing the desperation, resignation, nostalgia, sadness, lonliness, emptiness, and embrace in the songs with my noise moves them into another dimension. This is more than a loving cover version, this is a new style of expression.
I perfectly understand the reason why Morita Doji doesn't sing anymore. But there is also a reason for us, alive today, to sing her songs. If this CD is seen just as an induldgence on my part, it will be meaningless beyond meaninglessness.
P.S. The name Slap Happy Humphrey is a conflation of '70s English band Slapp Happy and giant professional wrestler Happy Humphrey. It has no meaning. [Translation by David Hopkins]
Nota: Link corregido.
Note: Fixed link.