Go on. Tell me. What are your favourite pop or rock songs of Japan?
Without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite is Deep Purple’s “My Woman From Tokyo”. A great guitar riff. Ian Gillan’s wailing voice. And a cute and catchy refrain of “My woman from Tokyo, she’s so good to me”. This song was the hit single from their 1973 album “Who Do We Think We Are”, but was released at a time when the band was disintegrating. The song never quite achieved the fame and popularity that it deserved.
Moving on, an unforgettable song is Turning Japanese by The Vapors. It is a zany and crazy dance number with an infectious chorus.
This brings us to Radio Tokyo by Marvelous 3. This is a really great rock number.
And if you enjoy rollicking Australian rock'n'roll, there is nothing better than Cold Chisel's Yakuza Girls.
Then there is Lovers in Japan by Coldplay. Unfortunately, despite the promising title, this is a typically insipid Coldplay song.
And I’ll close of this section of the article with three songs which are so silly and “kawaii” that you can’t help but sing along and enjoy them. First, there is “Harajuku Girls” by Gwen Stefani whose silliness matches the subject matter perfectly. Then there is “Tokyo Drift” by Terikaki Boyz which sounds to me like infantile Japanese rap. And lastly the list would not be complete without “Tokyo I'm On My Way” by Puffy Ami Yumi, a sort of modern Japanese bubblegum music.
I can’t resist finishing this article with a reference to one of the greatest live albums of all time, “Made in Japan” by Deep Purple.
Every rock band hits a high point in its career. For the Beatles, it was the time of "Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band". For the Rolling Stones, it may have been around "Sticky Fingers". In the case of Deep Purple, this band was really hot when it recorded the live album "Made in Japan".
It is difficult to understand now. But Deep Purple was a hard rock band that way very unique, creative and original, and way ahead of its time. On their studio music, we are all captivated by the voice of Ian Gillan, and the great guitar riffs. But on stage, they were brilliant (especially guitarist Ritchie Blackmore) at lengthy improvisations which were not the self indulgent rubbish of most rock musicians.
"Made in Japan" was recorded during their first tour of Japan, in 1972, and based on concerts in Osaka and Tokyo. It was released not long after. It has of course been since remastered and reissued.
Deep Purple are still touring. Like us all, they are not like they were. They came to Japan just one year ago. They will very soon be swinging back through Asia – Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. But they will be skipping Japan.
Although Deep Purple have mellowed with age, they are still a long way from the Harajuku Girls.
My Woman from Tokyo by Deep Purple
Turning Japanese by The Vapors
Radio Tokyo by Marvelous 3
Yakuza Grils by Cold Chisel
Lovers in Japan by Coldplay
Harajuku Girls by Gwen Stefani
Tokyo Drift by Terikaki Boyz
Tokyo I'm On My Way by Puffy Ami Yumi
Made in Japan by Deep Purple
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