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Japrocksampler [Paperback]

Julian Cope
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Oct 2008
Julian Cope, eccentric and visionary rock musician, follows the runaway underground success of his book "Krautrocksampler" with "Japrocksampler", a cult deconstruction of Japanese rock music, and reveals what really happened when East met West after World War Two. It explores the clash between traditional, conservative Japanese values and the wild rock 'n' roll renegades of the 1960s and 70s, and tells of the seminal artists in Japanese post-war culture, from itinerant art-house poets to violent refusenik rock groups with a penchant for plane hijacking.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 1st Paper Back edition (6 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747593035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747593034
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'This book's astonishing blend of seriousness and hilariousness is testament to perhaps the most remarkable mind in rock today' Word 'The most obscenely enjoyable book of the year ... enlightening, thrilling and occasionally hilarious ... Cope is a supremely engaging writer whose aim is to entertain, educate and freak out, like A. J. P. Taylor being spiked by Lester Bangs' Telegraph 'Fascinating ... keeps the reader gripped ... his evocations of all this authentically inauthentic music are enticing and convincing' ***** Observer Music Monthly 'Cope's first-hand knowledge of the petty rivalries and idiocies of life in the rock 'n' roll business lends his tales the sheen of authenticity. In its own way, Japrocksampler is a brave book' The Wire

About the Author

Julian Cope was born in Deri, South Glamorgan, and grew up in Tamworth. After forming a succession of half-groups and writing songs with Ian McCulloch (later of Echo & the Bunnymen), he eventually formed Teardrop Explodes with Gary Dwyer in 1978. He is the author of Krautrocksampler, Megalithic European, The Modern Antiquarian, Head-On and Repossessed. His website, www.headheritage.co.uk, contains some of the most entertaining and insightful album reviews on the web.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tora Tora Tora 11 Nov 2011
By Patrick Neylan VINE VOICE
Just look at the cover: five Japanese longhairs hurtling along on motorbikes, stark naked. Admit it, you want this album, and you want it to be good.

Having refused to revise or republish Krautrocksampler, Cope has turned his attention to the even more obscure Japanese music scene of the 60s and 70s. In fact, the discussion of the Japanese art scene of the early 60s is one of the more fascinating sections (I'm dying to recreate one of High Red Center's art events outside my house).

Cope writes very well, such that it's almost possible to keep a handle on the endless procession of unfamiliar Japanese musicians, none of whose names or music will be known to most readers. Describing music in prose is hard enough; I wonder how many readers will be enlightened by comparisons to "Masma, The Cosmic Jokers ... and early Amon Düül".

Cope's abstract descriptions are, strictly speaking, less informative but a lot more fun. Take Les Rallizes Dénudés, a band so underground that, 40 years into their career, they have yet to record their debut album (I'm not making this up and nor, I hope, is Cope): "This band has ... delivered umpteen classic songs to our door, songs that our children's children will still be hiccupping, yelping and crooning in fifty years ... Play albums such as F***ed Up and Naked in the darkness of your lonely room, and you will experience yourself being sucked up into the ether with ne'er a stain left of your former presence here."

Given that his readers will have so few cultural reference points, Cope has done a remarkable job creating a book that is so informative and entertaining.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars or "some records I quite like" 13 Feb 2008
God knows we could do with a good book on Japanese alternative music. Sadly, this isn't it. Despite a promising start in which Cope gives a concise pocket history of post-war Japanese culture, Japrocksampler swiftly decomposes into a rambling, repetitive chow-down on some of Julian's favourite groups. Unsurprisingly, this results in something of a narrow focus - Cope likes his bands droney and druggy, so the span of the book doesn't reach much further than the territory covered in the seminal Krautrocksampler. Nothing wrong there, except there's nothing quite so tedious as an old hippy banging on about acid trips - and yes, Mr Cope does like to tell you that (wow) he once did some serious head medicine.

He does pay lip service to Japan's highly idiosyncratic free jazz world with a brief reference to guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi - but why no Kaoru
Abe? Similarly, underground legend Keiji Haino appears as a footnote to the story of Les Rallizes Denudes. Admittedly, the Rallizes story is so strange and compelling you couldn't make it up, but considering that Haino's work merits a book in itself, the scant reference feels a bit shoddy. The absence of any reference to the Noise scene is another obvious gaping hole.

Cope has enthusiasm in spades and a surprisingly incisive intelligence. So yes, despite the disappointments this is still an enjoyable read. However, you can't help thinking that he could have dispensed with most of it and simply published the (highly partisan) top 50 he ends the book with alone.
This would at least be a more honest reflection of his original intent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars boosted my music collection 22 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Cope does enthusiasm with style. I would be surprised if you don't get hold of some of the music after reading this.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You really should read this book !!! 5 Nov 2010
Julian Cope did an amazing job of shaking off the 'acid-fried' loon image that dogged his early solo years (often over-shadowing the beautiful music he was making) and in the early 1990's wrote a variety of books from autobiography to learned archeological tomes to the definitive book about Krautrock. Missing out on Krautrocksampler, I pre-ordered this baby and was amazed when I read it and I continue to be amazed even now. Being a total music junkie, what I liked most about the book was that it was ALL entirely new ground for me. The only Japanese person featured in the book, that I had previously heard of was Yoko Ono. I had never heard of Les Rallizes Denudes, The Jacks, Blues Creation, The Mops or Flower Travellin Band. What is interesting about the scene that Cope covers is the Japanese have a habit of hearing something from the West, trying to imitate it, but in doing so, actually come out with their own unique twist until it is entirely they're own music ! Brilliant. This book is an excellent starting point if you are slightly eclectic in your music tastes or just a little jaded by what you hear these days. Just read about Takashi Mizutani of Les Rallizes Denudes and then ponder how utterly cool the guy is. I mean the guy is not part of the 'underground', he is BELOW the underground. He doesn't even make records ! He has never been at the beck and call of a record company. Total...artistic...freedom. Makes Keef Richards and Iggy Pop and the like look utterly square and corporate by comparison !! My only criticism is that Cope sometimes writes almost too convincingly and seductively and praises records that are sometimes, frankly, unlistenable (ie. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 20 Sep 2007
By zphage - Published on Amazon.com
Follows up on Mr. Cope 1995's Krautrocksampler, which detailed Germany's (1st of 3 Axis powers) late 60's early 70's heavy pysch and experimental music scene.

This book details Japan's (2nd of 3 Axis powers) late 60's early 70's heavy pysch and experimental music scene.( Therefore, it Does Not deal with contemporary noise/pysch Acid Mothers Temple, etc or JRock scenes).

Beautifully written, enclosed in a hardbound, "trade paperback size" book. Divided into two books: Book One has four chapters that deal with Japan pre and post World War II, the impact of Western/American culture, rock'n'roll, (GS)Group Sounds(the Mops, Jacks, etc) emergence and decline, the confluence of the Japanese avant garde, jazz, and rock scenes with the youth culture explosion of the 60's.

Book Two has 8 chapters, which deal with specific bands as follows:

Come Together 1969 (Blues Creation)
Flower Travellin Band
Les Rallizes Denudes
Speed, Shinki, and Glue
Taj Mahal Travellers and Takehisa Kosugi
J.A. Caesar and the Radical Theatre Music of Japan
Masahiko Satoh and the Free Thinkers' Union
Far East Family Band

A Top 50 round up follows with a short list of albums to avoid.

A truly great treat for the open minded and curious listener, this book promises to be the groundswell moment just as Krautrocksampler was. This is a great Rock'n'roll read. You will be turned onto new bands. You will learn about new sounds and scenes. You will be hunting down new 'holy grail' albums.

(Mr. Cope is there a book on the 3rd Axis power, Italy, due? Pejoratively titled " Woprocksampler"?)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cope's done it again! 22 Dec 2007
By Lovblad - Published on Amazon.com
After having written the excellent Krautrocksampler more than 10 years ago, Julian Cope is now tackling 60's and 70's japanese Rock. As in his previous tome, this is a delightfully written book that not just reviews the records, but also provides historic anectdotes and places the book within its historic context. As an example of erudite rock list book writing there is nothing better. The main difference is that while many or most of the artists in the prvious germanophile effort pretty well known within normal rock circles, here this is absolutely not the case and these groups are pretty far-out there. It does make you want to go out and buy these records in these times when the current British or American rock scenes are tired and tiresome at best. Overall, a joy to read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passions revisited and expanded 15 July 2009
By Surferofromantica - Published on Amazon.com
Julian Cope, the great rock 'n' roll literary yeti, follows up a book flouting his passion for Krautrock (i.e. psychedelic/electronic German music of the Seventies) with a book flouting his passion for Japrock (i.e. psychedelic/electronic Japanese music of the Seventies). The book goes waaaaay back to the thirties, forties and fifties, getting into Stockhausen, John Cage, and the first Japanese musicians to make avant garde music. At some point, Yoko Ono comes into the scene, and eventually John Lennon. The Japanese, at another point, become infatuated with the Ventures, and eventually rock bands appear. This movement goes corporate, and at one point rebels appear and dream up their own mind-bending experiments in sound and amplification. Cope launches into descriptions of his favourite bands Flower Travellin' Band, Les Razllizes Denudes (whose bass player got involved with the highjacking of a plane to North Korea - really!), Speed Glue & Shinki, Taj Mahal Travellers, JA Caesar, Far East Family Band, and a bunch of other long-hairs. Cope's passion is abundant, and it's clear that he's spend tens of thousands of dollars buying Japanese vinyl of all eras, and has probably made use of many Japanese volunteers who translated material and explained situations to him, lingering in the country at many points in his life too, perhaps. His writing is fluid, amusing and creative, and the story is fascinating as it unfolds. The book is intelligent and highly entertaining and Cope's descriptions make me want to hear more of these bands. As criticisms, I'd say that parts of the book are uneven - some musicians are given long biographies, while others are left as mysteries; and considering that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, what we really need to accompany the book is a sampler CD. Cope overuses certain words, such as "melted plastic brain" (we sometimes feel like we need to have dropped acid to understand his descriptions of some of these bands and their musical world-views, as well as his description of their sonic output) and "komische," and there are altogether too many mentions of the Velvet Underground and the various Krautrock bands; I could have also put together a decent list of Japanese typos. But these are probably quibbles - Cope has busted open a field that needs more recognition with humour and verve, a cultural and musical anthropologist (it's a small field) extraordinaire.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than nothing. 30 July 2014
By Neko-chan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Japrocksampler is entertainingly written and it's fine if you're just looking for an intro to Flower Travellin' Band and some of the Fluxus-related stuff. However, I'm giving three stars because Cope writes as if he's more familiar with the material than he actually is. His sourcing is shady and he seems to have leaned heavily on just a couple of narratives available in English. He's also really biased against the Tigers for some reason despite not seeming to know much about them, including thinking Toppo was two different people because he uses two names at different points in his career.

Cope's disdain for mainstream Japanese music and his constant referencing of Western rock bands (as if that's the focal point for all Japanese music) began to grate after a while, which also makes me lean towards three stars.

You also get a distorted impression of Flower Travellin' Band, who were marginal to mainstream rock at best, and better known outside Japan. But, it's better than the NOTHING ELSE available on the topic. So go for it but be warned that the book isn't 100% accurate.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's really worth talking about the quality. 1 Feb 2009
By Sharon Gissy - Published on Amazon.com
Great book, new Cope, awesome content - but nobody's mentioned the terrible printing quality of this book. It's been assembled and printed about as respectfully and with as much quality as an "Archie Digest" - even sitting on the shelf, all of the pages are warped and wavy, and it weighs about an ounce even though it's a 300+ page book. Since this is Cope, I was almost willing to intellectualize it and say that the cheap bootleg/disposable feel was intended to feel like a post-war japan artifact, but when the ink started comping off on my hands, I realized that this is just a cheap and lazy pressing. Wait for the American release.
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