Friday, 30 April 2010

Generation XYZ

I've just been rooting around my collection of vinyl albums to see if they were getting musty in a little visited corner of my from room. There I came across an album that at the time of buying was the greatest single musical artefact I'd ever owned. Actually I'd still rate it up in the top half dozen. That album was Get Action! by a little-known but majorly loved Japanese rock'n'roll band called Teengenerate. Prior to stepping into the late lamented Replay records back in the middle of 1995, in an underpass just off the Homeless Donut in the centre of Bristol, I didn't know the band even existed. But while flicking through the racks after some other band beginning with T who sadly elude me now, I was dazzled in my tracks by what I still reckon to be one the best record sleeves I've ever seen. That's it over to the right. Cracking, isn't it.

Four Japanese mop tops in tight jeans standing glued on front of a Yakuza movie poster? What isn't to like. 

I've got a bad habit of buying an album for its cover alone - but have a pretty good hit rate. I figured and disc with a cover this good must surely belong to a right doosie of a band, but I wasn't prepared for the fabulous racket that belted through the stylus of my cheap old Matsui when I placed it gently onto the black shiny plastic.A stunning seventeen slabs of pounding garage punk noise hurtled off the record at me at breakneck speed - and every one of them under the magic three minute mark. Indeed, so quick were they all that I'd scarcely settled in my chair before I had to leap up and turn the record over (these were the old days, folks). After that I stayed on my feet and leap about a bit and kept turning and turning until I forgot which side I was listening to.

The sounds on Get Action! were fabulous. It's one of the most rustically recorded albums you'll ever hear. Each song sounds like it was laid down on selotape and rubbed with a musty brillo pad. The vocals, drums and scratchy guitars all merge into one, and sometimes you're not sure which bit is what. And then there's the lyrics. For the first few plays I assumed they were in Japanese, but soon it dand on me that no, this was English - but like no English I'd ever heard before. Indeed, the version of Shake, Rattle & Roll that closes the selection was so unhinged that it took me a couple of listens before I even realised what it was.

That was it, I had a new obsession. I swiftly ran out and got their next platter - the compilation Smash Hits!! It didn't have the same fantastic production values as my new favourite album, but it was still a cracker. There was even news of them coming to play in England - but they were so underground, by the time I found out where, it had already happened.

The following year, Fifi, Fink, Sammy and Shoe folded the band. But I guess the perfect teenaged rock and roll bands should burn bright and die quick, but I'm still dead miffed I never got to see them. Mind you, they've recently reformed for a couple of quick tours. It might not be the same now that they're creeky twenty-somethings, but I'm sure it'll still be a marvellous thing to behold!

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