buzzing, hard-hitting batch of pychedelic rock from Japan's The Mops --
featuring some groovy, echoey tunes penned by the group and sung in
their native language -- plus a nice choice of passionate covers! The
sound is a little bit like Love in their early rawness -- and the Mops
obviously have a great feel for psychedelia at its fuzziest and most
tuneful. Great stuff!
Tracks : 1. Asamade Matenai 2. San Franciscan Night 3. I Am Just A Mops 4. Inside Looking Out 5. The Letter 6. Blind Bird 7. Somebody To Love 8. Bera Yo Isoge 9. White Rabbit 10. Asahi Yo Saraba 11. Light My Fire 12. Kienai Omoi
Bio~by Keith Cahoon : The
Mops are one of Japan’s best know "group sounds” bands, particularly
noted for their psychedelic period. The group was founded in 1966 by
high school friends Mikiharu Suzuki (drums), Taro Miyuki (guitar),
Masaru Hoshi (lead guitar) and Kaoru Murakami (bass), playing mostly
instrumental rock ala the fabulously popular Ventures. Suzuki’s older
brother Hiromitsu joined in later and became the group’s main vocalist,
sharing the job with Hoshi.
The Mops started playing clubs and
discos early on, but did not immediately distinguish themselves. In the
summer of 1967 their manager visited San Francisco, and was very
excited about the hippie movement that was booming there. He brought a
copy of a Jefferson Airplane album back with him to Japan, which he
impressed the Mops with. The band became enthusiastic about the new
sounds, and singer Hiromitsu Suzuki especially became a big fan of
Animals singer Eric Burdon. In what seems a fairly commercially driven
decision, the Mops, prodded by their manager, became a "psychedelic
band”, and signed with JVC Records. In November 1967 they released
"Asamade Matenai”, which went to #38.
The Mops album of April 1968 Psychedelic Sound in Japan,
was full of flower power flourishes, including cosmic artwork, ethnic
clothing, fuzz guitars and sitar playing. It included covers of the
Airplane’s hits "Someone To Love” and "White Rabbit”, the Doors' "Light
My Fire”, the Animals' "San Franciscan Nights” and "Inside Looking
Out”, as well as the Mops theme song "I Am Just A Mops” (which later
became a cult favorite after being included on the obscurities album Nuggets 2). To complete the band’s hippie vibe, at their album release party they passed out banana peels to journalists.
was made of the band being Japan’s first psychedelic band, and they are
sometimes credited as pioneering new studio effects, or at least
introducing them to Japan. The band also performed with lighting
effects, and sometimes blindfolded, supposedly to simulate the
influence of drugs. Despite being widely considered a psychedelic band,
their original songs were more garage band sounding. Also while most GS
bands were playing love songs, the Mops had a song called "Blind Bird”,
which contained the lyrics "please kill me”, which led to the song
being left off some re-issues (but included on the obscurities
collection Boulders #7). In 1969 Murakami quit the band and Miyuki took over bass duties.
just one album with JVC, the group switched to Toshiba/EMI, where they
changed their sound to more of a blues rock sound, it seems trying to
change with the times. While not as warmly recalled, the band did
moderately well after their psychedelic period. Their biggest hit was
in 1971, "Gekko Kamen (Moonlight Mask)", which they recorded as a joke,
but which became a novelty hit. Their hard rock number "Goiken Muyo (No
Excuse)" charted in 1971, and the following year they did well with
"Tadoritsuitara Itsumo Amefuri”, which was written for them by popular
folk singer Takuro Yoshida. Before finally breaking up in May 1974, the
Mops released a total of eight albums on Toshiba/EMI, a long career
compared to most of the GS bands. Hoshi continued in the music business
as an arranger, and Hiromitsu Suzuki became a TV "talento”. Mikiharu
Suzuki today runs a major artist management company.
The Mops, however remain best remembered for their landmark psychedelic first album.