I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Plastics -- Diamond Head

With the passing of enka singer-songwriter Toru Funamura(船村徹)last month and Group Sounds/folk/rock guitarist Hiroshi Kamayatsu (かまやつひろし) last week, I unfortunately have another death from the Japanese music industry to report, and this is from the world of New Wave. I found out that one of the founders of Plastics (プラスチックス) and their co-vocalist Toshio Nakanishi(中西俊夫)had died on February 25th at the age of 61. He is the second member of the short-lived band to pass away after keyboardist Masahide Sakuma(佐久間正英)back in 2014.

So in tribute, I'm writing about a track from Plastics' 2nd album "Origato Plastico" from 1980, "Diamond Head". A potpourri of musical influences with some screechy punk screaming from Nakanishi, a tad of bloopy technopop and a layer of surf rock, I had assumed that the band was relating something about the famous place in Hawaii. But although I couldn't quite catch all that Nakanishi and his partner Chica Sato(佐藤チカ)were saying, I think Ms. Sato was referring to an errant fellow who simply wasn't too flexible in his thinking...and made it rather profanely clear.

I mentioned in another Plastics' article for the song "Cards" that on hearing the band's music on my classmate's tape, we were genuinely surprised at the amount of English-language swearing (ah, we were so young and innocent back in 1981) in the lyrics. Well, I think with "Diamond Head", I realized that this was probably the other song that took me aback.

Although the deaths of Funamura and Kamayatsu have also been sad as they were pioneers in their respective genres, I think the passing of Nakanishi has had a slightly more personal effect on me. Perhaps one reason is that at the time when I found out about Plastics, I was becoming aware of pop music in general on either side of the Pacific...and the Atlantic, for that matter. Plus, when it comes to the genre of New Wave, I always imagined the sights of young, angry and powerful rebels-with-a-cause raising absolute hell; dying was not something I would have thought about with these guys. Finally, specifically with Plastics, the band made it abundantly clear to me that Japanese music wasn't all about the aidoru and enka. Along with Yellow Magic Orchestra, Plastics showed me different musical worlds.

Therefore when I hear songs by this band, I no longer hear anger and wonder. Instead, it's more wistfulness and gratitude to a certain extent.

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