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The Supertones — Made in Japan
((Not on label) no#, 2021, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-06-12

Made in Japan Cover art

Here we have the latest release from New York City’s best known, most prolific and enduring surf-rock band — this is like their fourteenth album in 30 years. Let’s clear a few things up regarding the album title, and some very confusing things regarding the ‘recorded live’ inferrences on the album cover which are also amplified on the band’s spotify page: None of the album’s twelve tracks were recorded live in the conventional sense — there is no audience, no applause, and in fact the whole thing was recorded at Oceanus Studio in Rockaway Beach in NYC, and was recorded live only in the sense that it wasn’t pasted together from each player doing seperate takes, and for that the band is to be commended, as these tracks are road ready whenever live gigs resume. Naturally, if it was recorded in a studio in New York, it wasn’t recorded in Japan. The title refers to the fact that this album was inspired by a Japanese instrumental surf-rock band called the Mizusawa Ventures, which incorporates surf versions of Japanese pop hits into their set, many of which the Supertones play their vesions of here. You won’t find them anywhere on Discogs — apparently they haven’t released anything, but Mizusawa Ventures videos can be found all over the internet, and needless to say they are exceptionally superb. This time out, much as before, the Supertones are Tim Sullivan (lead guitar), Seth Lipscher (rhythm guitar), Simon Chardiet (bass and production), and drummer J.J.Murphy (the only change from their last album). There are some flashes of familiarity like the cover of the Shadows classic “Geronimo,” or the show tune "Softly As in A Morning Sunrise", but most of the set will be unfamiliar to Western ears, unless they are also familiar with Japanese pop music — most of these were originally vocal pop tunes, subsequently reimagined as instrumental surf tunes, and further reinterpreted by the Supertones. Needless to say, surf-rock is a universal idiom, and the origin of these songs matters not; the power and energy come through loud and clear on every track, with Sullivan leading the band though this 32 minute set that seems to be over all too soon. Best play it twice!

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): The Supertones

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