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Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Ventures - "Golden Pops" / "Pops in Japan" CD, Compilation, 1999 (See for Miles Records)


Not an easy CD to find, or the two original albums "Golden Pops" (1970) and "Pops in Japan" (1971). These two oddities or albums was a fascinating find for me when I lived in Japan, and I think I originally rent the original albums to listen to them around 1989.  Nevertheless, The Ventures were (and still are) an important band in Japan.  One of the first, if not THE first, bands to tour Japan with electric guitars.  Once can't undermine the importance of The Ventures for Japanese pop culture.  Due to the commercial marketplace or just something that they wanted to do, The Ventures made two albums focusing on Japanese Enka music.   Enka is an entirely unique pop music that is a big part of the Showa era in Japan.  Theme wise not that far from weepy country and western, but also is a version of the Japanese blues.  The ultimate bar music of loss, regret, and sadness. 

Weirdly enough, this is the only Ventures collection I have. I was never a fan of their music because it seemed water-down compared to the other great surf/instrumental bands of the early 1960s.  But "Golden Pops" and "Pops in Japan" are really unique albums, with some fantastic music within the disc.  I recommend this CD package for those who have a yen for Japanese pop culture or have an interest in the Showa era.  On one level it's totally marketing for The Ventures in a country that still brings them currency, due to their yearly tours of that country, but also eccentric listening experience as well.  American musicians interpreting Japanese pop music.  The hybrid is fantastic.