Sunday, 28 September 2014

My favourite Japanese pop record turns out to have been created by a Frenchman - I am amazed

Look, I know everyone is agog to hear my opinions regarding the defection of Tory MP Mark Reckless to UKIP, yet another European Ryder Cup triumph, the discovery that our taxes have been wasted on something called a Minister for Civil Society, and whether it's a good idea to go to war ever so slightly hampered by not being able to bomb the psychopathic bastards you're fighting when they cross the border into the country where they have their main strongholds. But I've been concentrating on far weightier matters, namely how did I miss the fact that the 1971 pop record "Yamasuki" by the Yamasuki's (sic) was made in Paris by French people rather than in Tokyo by Japanese people. I still can't get my head round it.

I ran out and bought "Yamasuki" when I heard it on the radio in 1971. It was released on John Peel's Dandelion record label, in the wake of that label's only hit, Medicine Head's "Pictures in the Sky", which reached No.22 on the British charts. "Yamasuki" did not chart, which has always struck me as an injustice:

I can't tell you how often I've listened with enormous pelasure to that chap repeatedly bellowing "ooh! soh!" over the years. 

Turns out the record was produced by Daniel Vangarde (née Bangalter) as part of an LP entitled Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki. One of the other tracks - the catchy, vowel-tastic "Aieaoa" - appeared as the B-side to "Yamasuki", and was later covered by (among others) Bananarama, becoming their first hit under the title "Aie a Mwana". Here's the original:

Vangarde enjoyed greater success later in the decade as the producer of the two disco hits "D.I.S.C.O" by Ottawan and "Cuba" by the Gibson Brothers (you see, I haven't been wasting my time). He's also the father of Thomas Bangalter, a member of Daft Punk, and therefore he's indirectly responsible for this popular ditty, which - whether you realise it or not - you will probably have heard many times as background music on radio and television since its release in April, 2013:

Given Bangalter Senior's distinguished disco past, it sounds as if the apple didn't fall all that far from the tree. 

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