One of the songs I've enjoyed the most from "Kazemachi Roman" is “Hana Ichi Monme” (花いちもんめ), titled after a famous Japanese children's game that's similar to Red Rover but also has a janken twist to it. I played it so much with my students without even realizing what it's called. Takashi Matsumoto's (松本隆) lyrics, however, have nothing to do with the title but rather paint a dreamy picture of Tokyo in the midst of industrialization in the 50's and 60's and contrast it with natural landscapes, while the final lines refer to grim factories spewing yellow and red smoke everywhere. Listening to those rolling guitars and organ just plants this image in my head of being lost on a busy street crammed with commuters, buses and streetcars. One does not know whether to welcome or be overwhelmed by such environment. Hey, that sounds a lot like Queen Street in downtown Toronto. It's a pretty dynamic song but with a melancholic undertone, considering the content. The guitarist Shigeru Suzuki (鈴木茂) was the one who composed and sang it, by the way. He's a talented guitarist and even though his vocals aren't great, they suit this kind of folk rock. According to English Wiki, Matsumoto liked the song well enough that he thought it should represent the band. It was also released as a single a month after “Kazemachi Roman” on December 20th, 1971.
Actually, the main trigger for this entry was this live video of Happy End performing at International Youth Year (国際青年年記念) event All Together Now (I briefly wrote about this splendid concert here) on June 15th, 1985, which I just stumbled across yesterday evening. This was the first and only time all four members of the band got together as a unit since their break-up in 1973 to sing some old classics. “Hana Ichi Monme” is the third song that starts from 7:20. This whole thing seriously gave me goosebumps, especially in light of Eiichi Ohtaki's (大滝詠一) passing last year. He was so elusive when it came to visual media that it's surreal to watch him perform. And then there's post-YMO Haruomi Hosono (細野晴臣) looking so unassuming on bass with his bandmates from way back when. This man probably has the most impressive career of all Japanese artists, having been a member of not one but at least two pioneering groups, one for rock music and another one for techno. It was also refreshing to see Matsumoto on drums after all these years of writing lyrics for numerous popular artists in the background. As for Suzuki, I've only heard a handful of his solo albums though he's more prolific as a guitarist for other singers, notably Takuro Yoshida (who also briefly appears in the video) and Kenji Sawada.