Some of you might not even remember that there were records before CDs were around.
And someof them were actually pretty good, and some of them, for reasons knownonly to the Muses, just never made it to CD. There are a handful of oldfavorite records that I regularly hunt CD shops for, hoping that somesmall Lithuanian press will rerelease them on CD-- stupid things likeFlying Lizards "Top Ten", Nina Hagen's "Angstlos", and everything byGang of Four, which only came out a few years ago after lots ofsquabbling. But at the top of my Most-Missed-Records list has been apair of legendary albums I haven't seen in a long, long time. 17 yearsin fact. The year I graduated from high school the greatest albums inhuman history were released: "Our Solar System" and "Sing No Evil" byHalf Japanese.
You might've picked up some of their albums and wondered afterwards whythis crappy band has such a following, and so many albums, and why hiprecord stores continue to keep a 1/2 jap section. You might've evenseen the documentary ("The Band That Would Be King") chronicling theirrise to international fame, glory and rock immortality and concludedthey're nothing more than a joke. But odds are you never heard theirgreatest moments, which have been locked up and/or lost in the dustyvaults of the now-defunct 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 VoltsRecords until this happy, happy, day.
These albums record the moment when the world's most electrifyingquartet collided with the world's most cacophanous 13-piece hornsection. The songs record the signature teenage-retard fantasies of JadFair, full of uneasy speculations about girls, girl athletes, girlswith ESP, girls who make him listen to classical music, girls whoseboyfriends were hit by trains, girls he secretly likes, girls who mightbe secretly in love with him. And from there he explores the enduringmysteries of UFO's, Voodoo and Acupuncture, and the immortal "ThingWith A Hook" that stalks lover's lane.
Jad Fair never sounded better or more sincere than in these twobrilliant albums, which literally explode out of your speakers with analmost Rabelaisian frenzy of picked-on-nerd-anger and unrequitedhorniness. Music for sociopathic teens? Maybe. But these records areindescribably audacious and document a moment of unbounded, visceralcreativity that began with their mind-boggling first album, HalfGentlemen / Not Beasts, which was released, in consideraion of theiruniverse-conquering ambition, as a three album set. Lyrical andsincerely stupid, Half Japanese lay it all on the line in every song,recalling in their squealing half-assed obsessiveness The Shaggs, TheVelvet Underground and John Zorn... I can't say it's all worth buying,but I can unequivocally say that these two albums are musicalmilestones in their own geeky world. Come visit "Our Solar System" andrediscover your neglected inner retard.