Monday, August 12, 2013

An Endless Song

 Sooooooo, I apologize for the distance between posts recently.  Late in the summer has proven itself to be much busier for me in terms of projects and workload, and I have yet to balance that with also keeping up a consistent blog, so again, I apologize.  One such issue I have been dealing with is the matter of a beat automobile; it's not that it's an all encompassing matter, as I've been walking everywhere this season, but, in picking the right day to finally deal with the issue, there was the inevitable bit of revisiting the previous season's shit built up in the back seat of said automobile.  There was no greater gift to myself than finding my equally as beat CD copy of The Blue Hearts' self titled album from 1987 (I haven't had the album that long, I just wanted to put their work in some perspective), and as I pulled out of the repair shop parking lot, nothing made the annoying task feel more worthwile than the first few bars of the album's high-energy opener, Mirai wa Bokura no Te no Naka (未来は僕等の手の中 The Future is in Our Hands).
The Blue Hearts certainly aren't an unknown or niche band by any means, and I wondered whether or not an article on here would even be necessary, but I gotta think there are still some people out there unfamiliar with the legendary Japanese punk band, out of either being unfamiliar with punk rock in general, or just it's countless foreign interpretations, though I can think of very few as prolific as The Blue Hearts (there is a successful movie named after and built their most famous single, for shit's sake!).  Also, I just can't stop listening to them right now, and I like talking about things I like.
Formed in 1985 and officially debuting in 1987, The Blue Hearts, over their ten year career, managed to do what few punk bands were able to do; they were able to achieve both critical success and high album sales while still remaining relevant and credible within the punk scene in their native Japan.  In fact, their 1988 single, Chernobyl, a criticism of nuclear power, found the band in trouble with their label, Meldac Records, which was formed with funding from several large companies, one of which being Mitsubishi, who was also involved in the nuclear power industry.  Instead of dropping the song around the time of their third studio album, Train Train, the band instead decided to ditch Meldac records and released the single independently (along with it's A side accompanying track, Blue Hearts Theme, a personal favorite of mine) before eventually signing to East West Japan.
The Blue Hearts release eight studio albums and a ton of singles before breaking up in 1995, but soon after, members Hiroto Kōmoto, Masatoshi Mashima, and Mikio Shirai would continue playing music together as The High-Lows.  Similar in sound to The Blue Hearts, The High-Lows would last for another ten years before Kōmoto and Mashima would go on to form The Cro-Magnons (no, not the Japanese jazz-infused-funk band Cro-Magnon, but nice try) in 2006.  Former bass player Junnosuke Kawaguchi would even go on to be a record producer and studio bass player; more importantly though, he became a deputy propaganda director for the Happiness Realization Party in 2009.  I would suggest checking out that last hyperlink and then looking into the current state of politics in Japan before totally throwing that guy onto the crazy boat, though I will add that that doesn't diminish The Blue Hearts first album to me in any way.
 Lastly, I think it's also worthwhile to mention that 2005's Linda Linda Linda, by Nobuhiro Tamashita, is an excellent film.  Named after one of The Blue Hearts most famous songs, the film centers on a group of high school girls forming a band to play Blue Hearts cover songs for their school festival.  While that might not sound all too interesting to some, the payoff in that film far surpasses an easy explanation; and if anyone reading this blog has even been in a band or played music with friends, the central momentum in Linda Linda Linda is apparent from some of the earliest moments in it's still rather lighthearted plot.  It's also cool to mention that the girls in this movie even learned how to play all these songs together, and while no one really slouches in this film, it is of course Bae Doona (whos is actually Korean, and I'm pretty sure learned Japanese for this movie), who's performance as South Korean exchange student, Son, really shines and elevates a meager storyline into something both wonderfully heartfelt and hilarious.
Also, check out this awesome live performance by The Blue Hearts from 1987; they were pretty fucking rad.

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