Σάββατο, 12 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

Samurai - Green Tea


This Samurai is not to be confused with the British band with Dave Lawson that existed at the same time. This Samurai was a Japanese psych/prog band that resided in England in 1970 and released this album, Green Tea on Philips. Not exactly an easy to come by album, and I had to get a CD-R of this, which they didn't even have the track listings in correct order, so there's a few songs that I don't know are the correct titles. Nor did the CD-R mention who was in the band (although there were band photos). Upon digging up further information of this band, I found out the band consisted of: - Miki Curtis: vocals, flutes - Joe Dunnet: guitar - Hiro Izumi: guitar, koto - John Redfern: organ - Tetsu Yamauchi: bass - Mike Walker: vocals, piano - Graham Smith: harmonica - Yuji Harada (I think they mean Yujin Harada): drums I have no idea which ones were actual members and which ones were just guests, but it looked like the band recruited some British musicians while they were staying in London. Looking at the list, three names are familiar to me. There's Graham Smith, who was later a member of String Driven Thing, before joining the final version of Van der Graaf Generator (when they were simply known as Van der Graaf). Of course, with Samurai he played harmonica, but later, with String Driven Thing and Van der Graaf, it was violin. Then you have Tetsu Yamauchi, better known as a latter-day member of both Free and Rod Stewart's Faces. And finally, Yujin Harada (sources called him Yuji, probably because they didn't hear it pronounced right), though probably totally unknown to most, was in the final version of Far East Family Band (that is after Kitaro, Akira Ito, and Shizuo Takasaki left) and appeared on their final album, Tenkujin in 1977. For a band so obscure (even more obscure than Dave Lawson's band that existed the same time) I am actually surprised to see the amount of familiar musicians who played in this band. Anyway, the music is a combination of late '60s psych, early prog, and some Japanese influences. For being a 1970 recording, I am rather surprised of some of the lyrics and mood of the album have that "flower power" feel to it, but if you're having nightmares of The Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Lemon Pipers (in which bands like that got away with writing "flower power" anthems because it was 1967, not 1970), don't worry, it's still a lot better than those American pop-psychedelic bands that came in a dime-a-dozen (especially from California), and as mentioned, early prog elements do surface. "Intermediate Stages" reminds me most of Syd Barret's Pink Floyd or perhaps one of the cuts off the Swedish band International Harvester's Sov Gott Rose-Marie. "Boy With a Gun" is a rather Japanese-sounding piece with koto. "Daffy Drake" (I believe) is a rather idiotic sounding piece I can live without, especially the squeely vocals. The album really starts getting adventurous with songs like "Four Seasons", "18th Century", "Eagles Eye" and "Five Tone Blues". Not knowing which is which, I think "Five Tone Blues" (or perhaps "Eagles Eye" - I really need the original LP, which is probably very unlikely given its rarity) is the side-length experiment that starts off as a pleasant late '60s psych piece before moving on to a bizarre percussion experiment. After that, it's more back to actual music like "Green Tea" and "Mandalay", the latter with some rather obvious Eastern-influenced lyrics. Judging by the length of the album, it was likely released as a double album set. Totally obscure album to say the least (despite future members of Free, Van der Graaf, and Far East Family Band playing) and if you like late '60s psych, early proto-prog, and the occasional Japanese influence, you're certain to enjoy Green Tea

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