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.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ryuichi Sakamoto -- Lexington Queen/War Head

In all these years of "Kayo Kyoku Plus", I've mentioned here and there and now and then that I did have my disco phase during my life at the University of Toronto. Whether it be the Copa, the Diamond, RPM and even Sparkles which had been billed as the highest dance club in the world due to its position in the observation lounge area of the CN Tower, we all painted the town red deep into the night and early morning.

All of that carousing stopped for the most part when I graduated and headed to Japan at the end of the 1980s. Mind you, some new friends and I did stop off in Tokyo places with weird names such as Bar, Isn't It? that had a dance floor. I think I had also mentioned in a past article that in the city of Numata, Gunma Prefecture, we even went to an emporium which had a split personality as a karaoke bar for two-thirds of an hour before it became a disco for the remaining twenty minutes, completely with dry ice gas injectors for the dance floor.

From the late 1980s to well into the 2000s, there were a couple of dance clubs that held the young in thrall in the Tokyo area. First, there was Juliana's (above) which was famous for the raised stage, the women in their tight bodicon dresses and those huge feathery fans that were rhythmically waved about. The club represented those good times of the Bubble Era.

The video at the very top of the article here shows Maharaja Roppongi, a place that even me, some of my fellow teachers and several students visited once one Saturday night since one of the students knew a manager working there who could get us in. My opinion was that the Maharaja had already peaked since it seemed like most of the folks inside were teenagers or early-twenties types in T-shirts and jeans. Standing at the edge of the dance floor, I felt like a father-of-the-daughter chaperone (KIDS! What did I tell you about French kissing?!).

But even before those two legendary establishments, I had heard about one other dance emporium while I was either in high school or university. One time when I was in the Toronto Reference Library downtown, I was leafing through the pages of a guide to Tokyo (which I really wanted to visit again after my summer trip there in 1981) and found out that there was this place called the Lexington Queen, which was perhaps equated with the (in)famous Studio 54 in New York City. Situated in Roppongi, I never quite made my way there so I always wondered what that place was like.

In any case, all that prior rambling was put out there so I could introduce Ryuichi Sakamoto's(坂本龍一)solo debut single, "War Head/Lexington Queen" which came out in July 1980. Now, you may notice that in the title line, I've placed "Lexington Queen" before "War Head" although the former song was actually the B-side. That is because "Lexington Queen" is the slower original version with Sakamoto composing and arranging while Chris Mosdell wrote the lyrics and provided the smoky and snaky vocals. For "Star Trek" fans, you may pick up on the sampling of what sounds like the whoosh of those doors on the USS Enterprise. According to the J-Wiki article for the song, the actual Lexington Queen had opened for the first time just a few months prior.

Listening to "Lexington Queen", I could pick up on those synths as being quite Sakamoto-esque. I'm not sure whether the song was played in the disco, though.

The A-side, "War Head" is a faster version of "Lexington Queen" with Mosdell mixing in some megaphone declarations with his whispers. Perhaps this could be the result of several swallows of a cocktail named the War Head at the Lexington Queen bar. Just speculating.

I found out that the Lexington Queen is still providing the goods after so many years, but under the name of New Lex Tokyo.

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