Congratulations to Japanese-American filmmaker Hiro Murai for earning that Grammy for the music video for Childish Gambino's "This is America". When I woke up yesterday morning, this was the news story that started off Monday night's "News at Nine" on NHK. To be honest, I hadn't known who the director was for the video.
The news report also mentioned that Murai is also the son of veteran Japanese composer Kunihiko Murai（村井邦彦）who has a fair bit of representation on this blog, having created music in a variety of genres such as folk and New Music. I've also noticed that early in his career, Murai also composed music of the psychedelic variety back in the late 1960s, notably for the band The Mops（ザ・モップス）. This band, which had its run between 1966 and 1974, was first noted in "Kayo Kyoku Plus" when I wrote about the works of lyricist Yu Aku（阿久 悠）, but today's article is their first article dedicated to the band itself.
Having been born in 1965, my own memories of psychedelia are extremely limited, restricted to just visual images of bikini-clad go-go dancers, all sorts of blobby colours and shrieking guitars. I wouldn't know about the major players such as Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix until psychedelic rock's time had already passed, and frankly there was that hilarious "SCTV" video of John Candy's "Dr. Braino".
Anyways, getting back to The Mops, I hadn't known that Japanese musicians had also gotten into psychedelic rock at that time. But if this band's music is of any indication, then the genre really must have gotten into a part of the nation's pop cultural bloodstream in the late 60s.
The Mops' 3rd single is "Omae no Subete wo" (All of You) released in August 1968 which automatically brought images of Jefferson Airplane and The Rolling Stones to mind. Created by Aku and Murai, the song isn't even 2 minutes long and has vocalist Hiromitsu Suzuki（鈴木ヒロミツ）painfully begging for his girlfriend's love. There's even a poetic feeling in his delivery and I imagine him alone on a stage on one knee with a bare spotlight as he pours his heart out. His anguish is such that I think that having the song at less than a couple of minutes was probably a good decision on the part of the producers.
On the flip side of the record is "Atsukunarenai" (Can't Get Hot), which was also created by the tandem of Aku and Murai, is also the flip side to the theme of the deep love of "Omae no Subete wo" as Suzuki gives a straight-ahead opinion that a relationship is as dried up as leaves in late November. Listening to both songs, those faint images of go-go boots and headbands and peace signs started flittering in my head.
The Mops' lineup consisted of vocalist Suzuki, his brother and drummer Mikiharu Suzuki（スズキ幹治）, bassists Kaoru Murakami（村上薫）and Taro Miyuki（三幸太郎）, and guitarist/vocalist Katsu Hoshi（星勝）. Hoshi himself has become a producer, arranger and composer, and has worked on material for a variety of artists ranging from Anzen Chitai（安全地帯）to Takako Mamiya（間宮貴子）.