Japanese Girl

A 10 track japan album (37m 47s) — released December 1st 2023 on Wewantsounds

When Akiko Suzuki left her home town of Aomori for Tokyo in the early 70s aged just 15 to become a professional musician, she quickly started making waves on the local music scene performing at the jazz club Rob Roy. In 1973 she released a 7" with the group Zariba and caught the attention of A&R man Koki Miura. She then recorded one song, "Oinaru Shiino-ki" with Haruomi Hosono on bass and drummer Tatsuo Hayashi (who features on many Hosono albums and also Hiroshi Sato's 1979 album Orient) with a full album in mind.

After a marriage with musician/producer Makoto Yano and the birth of her son (named Fuuta), Yano and her team resumed the recording of the album and decided to pitch Little Feat for a collaboration as she loved the group. Against all odds they said yes and Yano left Tokyo for Los Angeles in March 1976 to record a full side with them. The legend has it they found it so difficult to keep up with Yano's compositions they returned some of their fee. The Session was nevertheless stunning and Lowell George even compared Yano to Stevie Wonder. The Little Feat blend of New Orleans groove matched Yano's melodies perfectly, as witnessed on "Funamachi-Uta Part 2." Originally a traditional song from The Nebuta Festival in her hometown of Aomori (part I on side 2 gives a good idea of what the original form sounds like), the Little Feat version is a formidable slow-funk workout not dissimilar to their classic, "Spanish Moon", serving Yano's beautiful vocals and sense of groove to perfection. The whole side is a match made in heaven, showcasing the classic Little Feat line up at their funkiest with Yano's unique Japanese twist.

The Japanese side on the album gives a great snapshot of the Tokyo music scene of the 70s with many musicians gravitating around Haruomi Hosono (and present on his 1973 classic album 'Hosono House' including sound engineer Kinji Yoshino) and also several musicians from Japanese band, The Moonriders.

Recorded at the legendary Onkyo Haus studio in Tokyo, the sessions mix singer-songwriter sensitivity and pop with traditional Japanese sounds and instruments like the shinobue transverse flute, the koto string instrument or the Tsuzumi hand drum as played on "Hekoriputaa" by the legendary percussionist Kisaku Katada who was appointed Living National Treasure by the Japanese state in 1999; together they create a beautiful east-meets-west mix masterfully driven by Yano's creativity and unique talent.

A breathtaking debut album that made Akiko Yano one of the most important artists to emerge from the 70s, Japanese Girl has since become a milestone in Japanese music with a recent documentary on NHK TV telling the whole story behind this classic. Wewantsounds is now proud to present this essential album to the rest of the world.

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