Les Rallizes Denudes
Certainly another essential entry for me to add early on to this blog is to cover Les Rallizes Denudes. Active from 1967 through the early-to-mid 80s, it is probably safe to say that without them, beloved Japanese bands from High Rise through Overhang Party to Up-Tight would not exist. The dark, fuzzed-out sound, sometimes slow and sometimes rockin’, borrowed from both the Velvet Underground and Blue Cheer, and has since been borrowed in turn by many.
Part of the band’s intrigue has been due to their ongoing mystery and the difficulty of finding their records, but unlike many purposely “mysterious” bands, Rallizes recordings are well worth the effort it takes to track them down. Recording quality is often dodgy (to be kind), but there’s some fairly high-quality stuff out there as well. Bootlegs exist, such as the Blind Baby Has Its Mother’s Eyes CD, which seems to have originated from Germany.
The band’s shadowy music, heavy fuzz guitar and reverbed vocals were apparently accompanied by a strong political stance around the end of the 60s, presumably in tune with the student movements in Japan at that time. As with other details about the band, it’s difficult to be sure about this, or to confirm much of anything.
Members of the band have appeared now and again, and some are still active; guitarist/vocalist Mizutani Takashi played with Arthur Doyle in Tokyo in 1997, and recently member Hiroshi Na played with Nishi-Nihon and has been releasing a series of 3″ CD EPs. I was fortunate to play a show with him in his current hometown of Himeji last December, at which he proved himself quite a comedian, guitarist, and a born performer.
Sources of information about Rallizes on the web include The Unofficial Rallizes home page, and a nice write-up on the Australian Noise.as site. My thanks to Masami Kawaguchi for additional information.
This track is taken from a relatively well-documented bootleg series of Rallizes, entitled Soundboard and Live 1980. The first couple of CDs are from August 1980; this is the first song from the first CD. Hopefully my translation of the title is close…
Listen: Zouka no Genya