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.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Moonriders -- Jub Up Family (ジャブ・アップ・ファミリー)

I don't really understand why anyone uses drugs when you have music like this. Unless, of course, you were in charge of making this music video and needed something to boost your creativity. It really is something.  I first started exploring Japan's pre-90's music back in 2004 through its techno and new wave scene and became an instant fan of YMO, Ippu-Do, P-Model and the like. And then there was a band called Moonriders (ムーンライダーズ), which I discovered shortly after through the above video for Jub Up Family. I believe someone on a P2P program Soulseek shared it with me. Needless to say, I was young and open-minded to embrace the whole whackiness of it, even the singing washing machines. At that time I didn't know how to describe the sound of the song, other than that it reminded me of Devo, but I later learned through Moonriders' fans that the band went as far as blending into it elements from disco, tropicala, and techno. Yet beneath it all, Jub Up Family is actually a pretty catchy song with a fun melody, in my opinion at least. It's pop music that ridicules its own self. "Funky papa, crazy mama, macho baby, jub jub jub up!"

Moonriders has often been lumped with the YMO and Ippu-Do as pioneers of Japanese technopop, which I'm not quite sure about. I suppose if you look at it from the point of their legacy, then it makes sense. Hiroyuki Hayashi from Polysics and Masaya Matsuura from PSY-S, for example, list the group as one of their influences. But Moonriders themselves are tricky to classify as just technopop, and the band's style altered a lot from album to album. I could probably write a whole book on their massive amount of creative endeavors, but it's better to leave it at this song for now as it shows enough already. They even managed to make the seemingly straightforward genre of AOR sound eccentric in their 1992 album A.O.R. (what a title). Perhaps the best general way to label Moonriders is art rock and new wave.

Originally formed as Keiichi Suzuki with Moonriders (鈴木慶一とムーンライダース) in 1975, the team of Keiichi Suzuki, Tohru Okada (岡田徹)Masahiro Takekawa (武川雅寛)Tetsuro Kashibuchi (かしぶち哲郎)Hirobumi Suzuki (鈴木博文), and Kazuo Shiina (椎名和夫) released their first album Hinotama Boy (火の玉ボーイ) in 1976, in which they played smooth progressive rock backed by artists such as Tin Pan Alley and Akiko Yano. In 1977, the band took on their current namesake and Shiina was replaced by Ryomei Shirai (白井良明) on guitar. It was in 1978 with the release of their fourth studio album Nouvelles Vagues (ヌーベル・バーグ...Jub Up Family is one of its tracks) that the band launched into its experimental phase and alienated itself from the mass audience. Not that the guys cared about being popular, since they were having too much fun collaborating with other cutting edge artists of the time. They also produced a number of songs for popular singers such as Yukiko Okada, Tomoyo Harada, Kenji Sawada, and Minayo Watanabe. I'd say they were just as prolific as YMO members, just not as commercially accessible. And they stuck around for over 35 years in the music industry before breaking up in 2011 after their 22nd album Ciao!.

Source: Amazon


  1. Yup (or jub), I gotta say that is one of the most bizarre videos I've ever seen. Just cross Devo, Japan and New Wave and mix well. I just saw this at a little past 11:30 p.m....a most appropriate time to watch it since I think this would've been an ideal entry for that old Muchmusic program, "City Limits" which showed the more weirdo videos.

    Can't believe these guys were behind that Anri album, "Kanashimi no Kujaku".

  2. I wouldn't say Hinotama Boy's prog-rock for the most part; it's definitive Japanese album-oriented pop, and it somewhat reminds me of Chicago (the band). Only the first track of that album—second side—sounds like prog to me.

    Cool article on one of their signature songs, though.


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