Thursday, January 1, 2009


A happy new year everybody. As promised in my recent post on Julian Cope´s Japrocksampler book, here´s the lowdown on the Flower Travellin´ Band´s classic Satori album. The former head honcho of The Teardrop Explodes was spot on when he awarded it the shared top spot in his personal list of Japrock favorites (the other finalist being the equally amazing Eve by Speed, Glue & Shinki). Japan´s ultimate seventies psychedelic hardrock band did away with song titles on this ´71 monster of rifferama, simply naming their compositions Satori Part I to V. Makes sense, as their aural trip is more or less a symphony for bass, drums, voice, sitar and of course electric guitar. Stoner rock avant-la-lettre. It´s no coincidence satori is the Japanese buddhist term for enlightment.

Their influences are obvious (Zep, Sabbath, the Who, Alice Cooper), but as Cope rightly says, they "distilled all the best moves of their western counterparts without once sounding like copycats". And to quote him some more: "For Satori is one of the all-time great hard-rock rages to have been unleashed upon the world, a festival of guitar worship led by axe-wielding maniac Hideki Ishima, who Jeff Becked and Jimmy Paged a number of archetypical Tony Iommisms, interlacing each Satanic riff with a more dazzling stellar lick, and invigorating every troll-like sub-basement grunt with a bazillion squirly Hindu sitar figures."

Here are the lyrics to Satori Part II, so you´ll know exactly what Akira ´Joe´ Yamanaka - probably the only Japanese guy who ever sported a multi-colored afro - is on about here.

"There is no up or down
Your truth is the only master
Death is made by the living
Pain is only intense to you
The sun shines every day
Freedom Freedom.."

The Flower Travellin´ Band broke up in 1973, but surprisingly reunited early this year. Surely a record career hiatus? Check out their official site here, and have fun rocking out to Satori Part II. Banzai!

Flower Travellin´ Band - Satori Part II MP3

1 comment:

Michael Verity said...

The little I know of Julian Cope leaves me thinking he doesn't take himself too seriously. It's no wonder he likes this band. Listening to this makes me laugh: the singer sounds like a language-challenged Geddy Lee. (Actually he seems to have a better command of English than Mr. Lee does at times.) And that guitar riff couldn't be more Black Sabbath if they'd tried. Can't say I would listen to this more than once but it's certainly a fun diversion. Reminds me of the stuff I'd play on the radio late at night during the "Headphones Only" portion of the show.