Agi Jo - Barely Living
Big Boss Japan Blues unveils another rare gem via the JB label, operating out of London, with link to the land of the rising sun... This time diving back in time, around half a century back, to re-release a private press rarity from Agi Jo, full of heartache and sincerity in the music -
We're not going to pretend to know anything about this one, but we will say that we give our blessings to everything Japan Blues does, and we'll let the background info seep in from the original source, right here for ya, so you got the scoop before you dive in, arguably most importantly, to the music:
"Agi Yuzuru, where does one start? From late 60s kayou groove singer, actor and model, to dogged krautrock and free music researcher, underground music journalist, magazine owner / editor, and early 80s Japanese electronic music pioneer / instigator, with his (holy grail) label Vanity Records, and – to his death in 2018 - dedicated observer and diarist of new, experimental music. Where does one finish? Yuzuru, who steadfastly refused to license Vanity’s material, though bootlegs started to appear, and while falling prey to his final illness, was working on a near complete collection of those radical releases, only for it to be released posthumously.
Jo was an alias of Agi’s. It’s unlikely the fan base for his earlier pop outings would appreciate a spiky existential protest song, so Agi pressed 100 copies of the record himself. It was 1970, after he had briefly joined folk harmony pop-rock group The Happenings Four. The single was arranged by band member (now Japanese rock legend) Kuni Kawachi. Barely Living: a nihilistic number, in the vein of alternative musician / singer-songwriter Mikami Kan: a pained cry of confused existence, in the darkness of a rapidly modernising world. With Weekend Hippy, a harmonica blasted intro barely keeping to the tune, à la Dylan, we have here a comment on the hippy movement that had spread even to a reasonably conservative country like Japan."Two songs that express anger, and a rejection of accepted norms, both the everyday, and the so-called alternatives. A small testament to the character of a near unsung great of new music in Japan.Licensed in a limited edition of 300 copies, in a facsimile of the original sleeve, with Japanese lyrics, and professionally printed insert with lyrics in English.
There you have it. Special stuff, and a legit time capsule in itself, as an object, already.
Ikiteru Dake No Koto Nanda (Barely Living)
Oira Wa Kanashii Uiikendo Hippy (I am a sad weekend hippy)