Harumi: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — June 3, 2022

471) Harumi — “What a Day for Me”

“What a Day for Me” is taken from the self-titled ’68 album by Harumi, who, as Last.fm says, “came from Japan to New York to record an album, and [then] disappeared” (https://www.last.fm/music/Harumi/+wiki). The album is a treasure trove of unique pop psych. Dr. Schluss says that:

[The album (at least the first LP) is] a set of blue eyed soul and AM pop sounds thrown through a psychedelic pop prism . . . . pretty solid psychedelic pop . . . . Although going for a pop sound that generally harbours powerful vocalists, [Harumi] often sounds more like a stoned cosmonaut. I think this makes this more charming than it would be otherwise.

http://psychedelicobscurities.blogspot.com/2008/02/harumi-1968-harumi.html

OK, people either love or hate this album. On the love side, Tom Jurek enthuses that:

This is one of the wildest and most unbelievably ambitious recordings to come from the psychedelic era. Harumi (a mystery man who recorded one more album before vanishing into the ether) could write pop songs and sing them. He also sounds like he did a lot of acid. [He] . . . assembled a tripped-out collection of pop, Eastern folk, and experimental music and production techniques, with sounds, textures, and atmospheres that incorporated everything from strings and horns to Japanese folk instruments to vibraphones and (of course) plenty of guitars and drums and organ. Of the 13 cuts here, 11 are of conventional length and are utterly seductive in their hypnotic power and pop brilliance. . . . Simply put, there is nothing at all like this record in the known universe. . . . The music here, while a huge compendium of sources, is unlike anything you have ever heard when it is put together. Harumi’s self-titled album is simply a classic from the underground . . . .

https://www.allmusic.com/album/harumi-mw0000571508

On the hate side, Phillip Buchan says that:

This album’s only redeeming quality is its ambition. When Tom Wilson, noted producer of Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and Simon and Garfunkel, pitched Harumi to Verve in 1967 . . . . [h]is idea was to take the tunes of Harumi, a mysterious Japanese songwriter, and douse them in Gary Usher-like orchestration, David Axelrod-inspired grooves, and phaser-heavy psychedelic flourishes. Wilson and Harumi’s . . . songs ranged from hopelessly frazzled to indulgently saccharine. . . . Chalk [the] failure up to a producer with too many ideas and a pop star with too little personality. The psych-soul grooves and sunshine-pop arrangements that Wilson dreamed up are just dandy, but Harumi couldn’t make them his own. In most tracks, he sounds bored and removed, his lyrics overgrown with clichés, his voice not nearly as acrobatic as the bouncy horns and wiry guitars around him. And as the album progresses, Wilson’s contributions seem to reek of desperation — you can almost hear him wondering how he’s going to inject some pizazz into each new track. . . . [Harumi would] rather be shooting hoops or drinking a soda. And we can hear this in his unconvincing performances.

https://www.popmatters.com/harumi-harumi-2496237275.html

Last.fm gives a bit more context:

Tom Wilson . . . has persuaded Verve Records to sign and fund his newest project for distribution . . . . Unlike the other acts that Wilson helped shape into the defining sounds of an era, this artist will barely make a mark on history. His name is Harumi, he’s from Japan, and he creates a psychedelic pop album that would eventually be heralded as everything from lost classic to hopelessly frazzled to Holy Grail among squares and psych-heads decades later, but not before he manages to completely disappear from the music industry and into the void of complete and total obscurity. There is very little known about the man named Harumi, if that’s even his real name . . . . Recorded between 1967 and 1968, [the album] was a product of its time: a psychedelic gem released at the height and in the heyday of the genre’s popularity and ubiquity. A double LP with a gatefold sleeve, its richly colored artwork . . . stands out even considering the acid-and-sun soaked milieu of the time. Inside, though, . . aside from the usual professional credits . . . there is nothing regarding who played the actual music. . . . “Harumi” isn’t perfect, but in its imperfections it creates a certain charm and allure completely unique to itself. Harumi sounds like Your Friendly Neighborhood Acid-Head . . . and the album itself plays out as such; innocent rock, folk, or soul filtered through the lysergic brain of a Japanese expatriate and the adventurous producer willing to capture it all on tape. . . . “Harumi” does deserve the praise and cult following its gathered over the years, and the title of “lost classic” is well earned. . . .

https://www.last.fm/music/Harumi/+wiki

“What a day for me. What a day for me. Feels so strange, I don’t know what time or day it is. What a trip for me. What a trip for me. I was this, I was that, I was anything I wanted to be. If I lost my mind I’d probably not laugh because it’s not so funny anymore. What a day for me. Feels so strange, I don’t know what time or day it is. What a trip for me. I was this, I was that, I was anything I wanted to be. I thought I knew everything. But then I wonder if it’s the right thing. No matter what it was, there’ll be more. What a day for me. I thought I knew everything. But then I wonder if it’s the right thing. No matter what it was, there’ll be more. What a day for me. What a day for me.”

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