Mar 29, 2010

Hikashu - 1978 (1996)

Hikashu - 1978 (1996)

1. Puyo Puyo
2. At The End Of The 20th Century
3. Confusion
4. Doro Doro
5. Thrill
6. Entenka
7. Rhetorics And Logics
8. A Vinyl Doll
9. Losing My Future
10. Yochu No Kiki
11. Proud Mary
12. Puyo Puyo (Karaoke Version)*
13. At The End Of The 20th Century (CR78 Version)*

Words - Makigami except Tobe on 3 & 8, Mitama on 9
Music - Makigami on 2, 3, 7, 9 & 13. Yamashita on 1, 10 & 12. Inoue on 4. Mitama on 5, 6. Inoue & Makigami on 8.
"Proud Mary" is written by John Fogerty.

Recorded on October 1978
Originally released on October 23rd 1996 from Toshiba-EMI
Remastered edition released on March 21st 2010 from Bridge, Inc.

* Track 12 & 13 are added as bonus tracks on the 2010 reissue.

Hikashu are:
Makigami Koichi (vocal, bass, cornet)
Mitama Masamichi (guitar, vocal on 5 & 11)
Inoue Makoto (synthesizers, mellotron)
Yamashita Yasushi (synthesizers, rhythm box)
Tobe Satoshi (alto saxophone, guitar, vocal on 3)

Raw, wild and unbridled.

In summer 1978, Makigami Koichi gathered his friends and produced an underground theatre performance entitled "Yochu No Kiki" ("The Crisis of Larvae" in English). Also, in the performance, Makigami used an instant-formed live ensemble called Hikashu for musical accompaniment instead of pre-recorded audio tape. The reaction was mixed. But they got some positive feedbacks on the music so they decided to try music. A band was born.

At that time, the members lived together in a small house located at residential area of west Tokyo. After the first live performance at Kichijoji on August, they started composing and recording demo tape. The tape was distributed through word of mouth, and soon became popular among the connoisseurs through the grapevine. Radio DJ Mori Naoya came to the house and witnessed their rehearsals. Rock critic Agi Yuzuru contacted the band and offered to make an album on his indie label, Vanity. Nakamura Naoya, a manager of the popular rock cafe called Nylon 100%, frequently played the tape at his cafe. Also the band started to receive live offers, and they did many dates with other new-wave acts or the bands of the rock movement called "Tokyo Rockers".

The 1978 album is a selection from those early demo tapes.

Actually, they recorded many demos and forgot many details themselves. The booklet of the original release has an discussion of the original members over the album (reproduced in the 2010 reissue) and it revealed they no longer remember the details back then. For example, "Proud Mary" was performed by Mitama, Makigami and an unknown musician they don't remember exactly anymore. Also, at that time many people visited the house, took part in recording sessions and no one kept a log. So many things seem to be lost forever.

However, it is certain that most things on the tapes were performed by the members themselves. And that's incredible. They are just a bunch of 23 years-old, never receive formal education on music. They were all self-taught musicians and started to play in public only a few years. In the case of the saxophonist Tobe Satoshi, he had been playing only for six months.

Why the inexperienced musicians like them could make such wonderful songs and recordings? That's quite an mystery. But they had tons of interesting ideas and were strongly motivated by a desire to express themselves. That made the things so fruitful, I think.

The performance quality of the tape is truly exceptional. That's why it was eventually released by Toshiba-EMI. Releasing an amateurishly-recorded 1978 reel-to-reel 4 track demo is out of the question for major labels back then. But it actually happened. I think that said it all.

Then why took it so long? I think that the progress of the remastering technology made it possible. Major labels of Japan were usually very strict about sound quality.

Speaking of quality of the sound, the 2010 reissue is *drastically* improved on its sound quality. I have never been an audiophile or such, but I could clearly say its sound is insanely great. You have to listen to it for yourself.

By the way, the 2010 reissue has two bonus tracks. There is no information regarding them on the booklet but I assume they were recorded later than other tracks, presumably on April 1979. The big difference was using Roland CR-78 for rhythm pattern (hence the name "CR78 version"). The 1978 demo was recorded with Ace-Tone instead. You could see those 1979 recordings are more "polished" and more similar with the versions on the first album. Interesting evolution, I would say.

On december 1978, Makigami went to see Chikada Haruo, the musician and producer, and passed the demo. Next day, he received a call from Chikada. Chikada said he was deeply impressed with the tape and wanted to produce the band, if possible. The rest is history.

Available via HMV Japan.

Related Entry:
The Little House They Used To Live In


  1. great post!I wish i could read japanese, i'm missing the wonderful booklets.It's nice you posting all these details.


    bob greece

  2. thanks bob. The comment like yours keeps me motivated for the blog.

  3. That was quite a nice read, I've only recently discovered Hikashu (About 2 months ago) but they certainly are great.