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Various Artists | Nippon Girls: Japanese Pop, Beat & Bossa Nova 1966–1970

Domino (2009)
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  December 16, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars


Girl-group records are great and everything, yet the countless compilations out there were becoming a little hit-or-miss until 2005, when the great Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found box set finally gave this diverse genre a proper taxonomy. But whereas Girl Group Sounds was primarily an American/UK collection, Nippon Girls is an expedition into Japanese territory — and fans could be in no better hands than those of Girl Group compiler Sheila Burgel.

Unlike, for example, French song-stylists who took their traditional chanson music and fused it with jazz and R&B to come up with French pop, the Japanese didn't incorporate much of their traditional music when producing their 1960s pop. Rather, Japanese song-stylists sought mostly to imitate Western sounds.

So Keiko Mari's "Tsukikage No Rendezvous" sounds like the '60s, but a particularly out-of-touch version of it — think jingles, variety-show filler, and lounge music directed at the "sophisticated set." DJs and aficionados of obscure '60s freakbeat, lounge, and exotica pop will find much to relish here, casual fans less so. When a curiosity such as Margaret's "Aeba Suki Suki" drops like an over-the-top karaoke performance of a late-night detective-show theme song, only the coolest of the cool will be able to bring it to the floor.

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