The Mops — “Asahi Yo Saraba”: Brace for the Obscurte (60s rock)! — October 29, 2021

228) The Mops — “Asahi Yo Saraba”

The Mops were Japan’s self-proclaimed first psychedelic band! They formed in 1966 as an instrumental group (like the Ventures) and, then, according to Discogs:

In the summer of 1967 their manager visited San Francisco, and was very excited about the hippie movement. He brought a copy of a Jefferson Airplane album back with him to Japan, which he impressed the Mops with. The band became enthusiastic about the new sounds . . . .

Though, according to Outsider Japan’s version of the Mops’s origin story:

The Mops were pressured by their manager to become a psychedelic rock band, as he had just returned from a trip to San Francisco and brought back a copy of Jefferson Airplane Takes Off . . . for the band to listen to. . . . [I]n order to sign the deal JVC Records (the Japanese wing of Victor Records) was offering, they would have to do so.

Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ roll goes on to say that:

Live, [they] used psychedelic lighting effects and played blindfolded to stimulate themselves to hallucinogenic heights (obtaining LSD was next to impossible in Japan at the time). [They also] experimented in various ways to achieve their psychedelic sounds. However, by the time their first single “Asamade Matenai” had charted at the lower end of the Japanese top 40, other bands had caught up with their psychedlic stylings, pushing the Mops to all kinds of ruses in order to substantiate their claim as Japan’s premier psychedelicians — and in drug free Japan, this was not an easy task. Huge lighting rigs began to appear at Mops shows, and flangeing, Wah-way pedals and fuzz boxes saturated their live sounds, while the band themselves grew their hair even longer, adopted granny glasses, and played blind-folded in order to disorientate themselves and stimulate natural psychedlic effects. The Mops not only displayed an amazing adeptness at copying Psychedelia but also 60s American Garage Punk.

As to today’s song, Discogs notes that:

The Mops album of April 1968 Psychedelic Sound in Japan [from which today’s song was taken] was full of flower power flourishes, including cosmic artwork, ethnic clothing, fuzz guitars and sitar playing. . . . . To complete the band’s hippie vibe, at their album release party they passed out banana peels to journalists.

Richie Unterberger opines in All Music Guide that:

As a whole, the record’s an interesting if flawed relic of a time when Japanese rock was just finding its feet, with a clumsy yet endearingly passionate force.

Per Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ roll, “Asahi Yo Saraba” does have a garagey feel. And it is glorious.

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