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Ginbae - JPop.com
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Ginbae

Ginbae

Ginbae


Albums like Ginbae's self titled debut are simultaneously what is great and frustrating about being a record geek. Great, because it's the very definition of a lost gem: a brilliant, high energy rock 'n' roll album, heavier than God, filled with fantastic guitar work, bursting with sweat, spit, and attitude. Frustrating, because that's pretty much everything that's known about it. Seriously. Despite weeks of queries, an untold number of internet searches in both English and Japanese Read more on Last.fm
Albums like Ginbae's self titled debut are simultaneously what is great and frustrating about being a record geek. Great, because it's the very definition of a lost gem: a brilliant, high energy rock 'n' roll album, heavier than God, filled with fantastic guitar work, bursting with sweat, spit, and attitude. Frustrating, because that's pretty much everything that's known about it. Seriously. Despite weeks of queries, an untold number of internet searches in both English and Japanese, and a few desperate pleas to the otherwise faultless knowledge of several Tokyo record shop employees, I can't even figure out what the song titles are.

It was apparently self issued on a label called Sea Side records, and may well be that label's only release. I can only say for sure what it isn't: it's not related to well known rock band Yokohama Ginbae, it's not on CD (outside of the blank, home made CDR we got our hands on,) and it's not long enough (34:45. It could go on for at least another fifteen minutes and not come close to wearing out its welcome.) So, assorted mysteries aside, what have we got here? Nothing too remarkable on paper: chugging mid 70s hard rock, recorded live in front of what seems to be a decent sized audience. It seems safe to assume that Ginbae (their name means "Silver Fly," by the way) were part of the scene that produced many of the festival bands of the same period: Gedo, The M, Too Much.

The band, whoever they may be, have clearly spent some time with contemporary releases from Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy, and have learned the resulting lessons well. REALLY well. Track one is best described as "Hole In The Sky" meets "Chinatown," a chugging, riff driven monstrosity that swings with the glorious heaviness of The Sab, and soars with the twin octave, twin guitar attack made famous by Lizzy. The moves might not be 100% original, but influences aside, the band OWNS the song, dancing between doom and fleet footed guitar work without breaking a sweat. No sweat, that is, except for the vocalist, who gives Glenn Hughes a run for his high pitched, squealing money.

It's a ridiculously strong opener, and this alone would make Ginbae's one and only release worth the time it takes to find the damned thing. Yeah, but we've got another four songs to contend with. Track two is "Detroit Rock City" as played by "In Rock" era Deep Purple, culminating in a rough voiced singalong, complete with animal grunts and yelps. Track four starts off a bit suspect: three vocalists trade off with a little too much flower power, and while the echo drenched, mournful guitar has plenty of atmosphere, the proceedings get uncomfortably close to slick fusion/guitar wank. All is forgiven, however, at the six minute mark, when everything hits the desperate, pleading payoff. Again, there's nothing particularly striking about Ginbae in terms of its elements, but then, novelty isn't what it's shooting for.

It's a plain old kickass rock and roll album, and a genuine diamond in the rough that screams out for the reissue treatment. And just because we've reviewed the album doesn't mean we've stopped the quest for info: if anybody out there has anything, please, let us know. "Ginbae" is a band, and an album, that ranks alongside similarly rough 'n' tumble rock by Gedo, The Shizuoka Rock 'n' Roll Union, and others. Here's hoping they get their due. --- OK, thanks to Dima Mishin, who sent us an email detailing the track titles, as well as the link to the YouTube video of a 2009 reunion.

This extra information gave us enough of a lead to uncover the following... Track titles: 1 - トルエン (Tolulene) / 2 - Rock 'n' Roll People / 3 - れびあたん (Rebiatan, i.e. The Devil) / 4 - サザンガ・ロック (Southern Rock, often referred to as Sazanga Rock. This is divided into two parts, although the disc we have has it as one track.) / 5 - 赤毛のアン (Akage No Anne, i.e. Anne Of Green Gables) According to (essentially unverifiable, but we'll take what we can get) blog posts, Ginbae were: Shirashi: Vocals (and guitar? Was apparently replaced in 1978 by Furuhashi.

Don't know which is in the video...maybe both?) Shinyunsuke Nakamura: Guitar Kenya: Bass Hokuto: Drums ...and others? There are seven members on stage in the reunion clip, including a keyboardist, three guitarists, and an "extra" vocalist. The vocalists sound the same, although the sub-bootleg quality of the album's recording (not to mention the intervening years) makes this difficult to verify. According to that blog post, the group went through several lineup changes (enough to refer to the era of the album as the "golden age,") so the video could show a conglomeration of members from assorted permutations. They do seem to have been from Yokohama, which is confusing, since they apparently have nothing to do with Yokohama Ginbae. Apparently, Shinyusuke Nakamura went on to become a Jpop and TV producer.

Unfortunately, he shares a name with a famous soccer player, so digging up more info on him has been problematic. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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