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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yellow Magic Orchestra -- Rydeen (雷電)

Techno, for me, started with The Yellow Magic Orchestra. Until they came along, the only computer music I had heard was from this album of experimental avant-garde stuff at my junior high school library. My first thought was, "Heck, I can do that torturing my radio!"

Then, Messrs. Yukihiro Takahashi (高橋幸宏), Ryuichi Sakamoto (坂本龍一) and Harry Hosono (細野晴臣)blew my mind out along with millions of others with their TECHNOlogical onslaught in the late 70s. My first sight of them was in a newspaper picture back in 1978 with the three lads all dressed in red uniforms holding drum sticks. The only thing they were missing was a "Kick me"sign on their backs. No, I wasn't particularly impressed but then again it would literally be decades before I found out about their pedigree from the early 70s.

The only musical purchase I'd made during that trip to Japan in 1981 was YMO's first self-titled release in 1978 which had the hits "Firecracker"and "Tong Poo". But it was at my friend's place that I heard the amazing "Rydeen" which I think is the band's theme song...and perhaps the theme song of the early 80s for Japanese popular music. The single itself was released in June 1980 and ultimately reached No. 15 on the Oricon charts, while the album it was placed on, "Solid State Survivor" was the No. 1 album for all of 1980.

From J-Wikipedia's entry on "Rydeen", I found out the following: 1) the title itself had its first origins from the name of an 18th-century legendary sumo wrestler named Raiden Tame-e-mon(雷電為右エ門). Sakamoto felt that, like Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, he wanted YMO's music to have a similar effect on the world at large, and that a picture of Raiden had that image. 2) later on, Hosono remarked that the anime "Brave Raideen(勇者ライディーン)was a hit in America...which sealed the deal as far as the title of the song was concerned.

Yukihiro Takahashi composed the song with "The Seven Samurai" (七人の侍)and "Star Wars" in mind. From the latter movie, the laser sounds emitted in the latter half of the song were the obvious contribution. "The Seven Samurai"gave its influence via the clicks at the beginning and the digital hoofbeats throughout the song.

BTW, the three lads also had quite the effect on fashion as well. They liked the stylist who cut their hair, Mikio Honda. The fans felt the same and thus, the "techno cut"was born.

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