It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 10 years since GO!GO!7188 carved their way into the Japanese rock scene with their classic debut album Dasoku Hokou, but nonetheless, here we are. 10 years is a long time in the modern music business but try telling that to Yuu, Akko and Turkey, who have just released of their tenth (tenth?!) studio album – the energetically-titled GO!!GO!GO!GO!!.
GO!GO! couldn’t have written a better album to mark their 10th anniversary. It is, in many ways, the perfect retrospective – yet it’s a “Best Of” consisting of entirely new songs. The rockabilly surf punk of Dasoku Hokou and Gyotaku; the psych-tinge of Tategami and Ryuuzetsuran; the pop glaze of PARADE and 569; and the random rock melange of ANTENNA… it’s all here in some way, with a production bias towards their earlier, harder rocking sound. And that’s definitely something you’re not going to be hearing any complaints about.
Mayakashi no Sekai
Everything about GO!!GO!GO!GO!! screams energy – the title, the cover art, and most importantly, the songs. If it wasn’t evident before, it should certainly be now: GO!GO! songs are written to be played live. Yet this the first time they’ve been so explicit about it – opener EOEOE begins with nothing less than a live crowd chanting the album’s title before the band “appear” to raucous applause with a tune whose riff must surely be a homage to the Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash (and probably not the album’s the only Stones homage – check the cover art). From here on in, the band take us on a journey – in turn, though sometimes all at once – of the genres and styles they’ve dabbled with over the past decade. And with 13 tracks averaging between 4 and 6 minutes each, it’s a pretty hefty ride.
Saigo no Bansan and Mimitabu 2gou resurrect the surf twang that got lost somewhere after Gyotaku and this is personally one of the sounds I’m most happy about hearing again in their music. Mimitabu 2gou in particular might be my personal pick of the album but there’s plenty of others putting up a fight for that title… not least of which are its immediate neighbours, the ridiculously-titled Kutsushita no Ana ~Ashi no Ke Chanto Sotta noni~ and the wonderfully schizophrenic SUGAR & SPICE. Along with Ee Janai ka, which follows after SUGAR & SPICE, this run of songs forms the album’s crowded, hard rocking spiritual centre. To experience these tracks live would surely be a treat like none other. Videos obviously don’t do the real thing justice, but here’s a taste:
Ee Janai ka (Live)
The album’s actual centrepoint, however, falls on BALLAD and Rakuen no Ohanashi. The former is an old new song which has been floating around their live shows in very much the same form since at least the year 2000. Who knows what took them so long to put it to record, but I’m glad they finally did because it’s a great tune and yes, it is very much a ballad, complete with an outro consisting of lots of impassioned, yet thankfully listenable wailing by Yuu. The latter is the album’s slowest number – a wandering tale that takes the briefest of dips into psychadelia… though regrettably it doesn’t dive in as deep as it could have.
By the time the hard rocking course ends with Ee Janai ka, things return to pop-rock land with the upbeat Kyou no Uta and Nothing2 (one of the sunniest things they’ve ever recorded) and finishes off with the “extra track”, 365 Renkyuu BOOGIE (good lo-fi fun with Turkey on lead vocals).
I don’t know whether it’s the result of their move to a less iron-fisted label, or of some kind of mid-band-life crisis, but this album is one of the best that GO!GO! have ever put out. Almost everything that the band has been loved for is here – the varied songwriting, the deft mash of styles both old and new, Yuu and Akko’s harmonies, Turkey’s amazing, amazing drumming, throwaway riffs and hooks that lesser bands could form entire songs from, their overwhelming sense of presence… everything down to the bizarre song titles and lyrics is here. But perhaps the most telling and critical inclusion is the sense that you’re listening to a band with the youthful energy of one that just started yesterday, and, moreover, the talent to keep them burning bright for many more years to come.
FlyingStar Records, 02/06/10
01. エオエオエ (EOEOE)
02. リフレイン リフレイン (REFRAIN REFRAIN)
03. まやかしの世界 (Mayakashi no Sekai · Fake World)
04. 最後の晩餐 (Saigo no Bansan · Last Dinner)
05. 毒リンゴ (Doku RINGO · Poison Apple)
06. バラード (BALLAD)
07. 楽園のおはなし (Rakuen no Ohanashi · Story of Paradise)
08. くつしたの穴 ～あしのけちゃんと剃ったのに～ (Kutsushita no Ana ~Ashi no Ke Chanto Sotta noni~ · Sock’s Hole ~Even Though I Shaved My Leg Hair~)
09. 耳たぶ２号 (Mimitabu 2gou · Earlobe #2)
10. シュガー＆スパイス (SUGAR & SPICE)
11. ええじゃないか (Ee Janai ka · Isn’t It Right?)
12. 今日の歌 (Kyou no Uta · Today’s Song)
14. 365連休ブギー (365 Renkyuu BOOGIE · 365 Consecutive Holidays BOOGIE)
野間亜紀子 / ノマ アキコ (Noma Akiko)* – Bass, Vocals
ターキー (TURKEY)** – Drums, Vocals
中島優美 (Nakashima Yumi)*** – Vocals, Guitar
* Nickname: アッコ (Akko); Maiden name/solo alias: 浜田亜紀子 (Hamada Akiko)
** Real name: 細川貴之(Hosokawa Takayuki)
*** Nickname/solo alias: ゆう (Yuu)