Band members Related acts
line up 1
- Fumio Adachi -- drums, keyboards, percussion
- Noboru Asahi -- bass
- Gen Morita -- guitar, Japanese flute, shakuhachi, koto
- Ruese Seto -- vocals, guitar
- Ted Yoshikawa -- guitar, Japanese flute, harmonica, biwa,
taisho-goto, balalaika percussion
- The Black Lilly Singers (Noboru Asahi)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: original inner sleeve; small cut out hole top right corner
Catalog ID: 5931
Wow ... imagine an early 1970s obscurity where the album actually lives up to the hype !!! Easily one of the coolest acts Capitol Records signed in the 1970s (and one of the least known), East was a five piece Japanese rock band. Featuring the talents of drummer Fumio Adachi, bass player Noboru Asahi, multi-instrumentalist Gen Morita, singer/guitarist Ruese Seto, and multi-instrumental Ted Yoshikawa you've got to wonder how the group ended up signed by Capitol. Judging by their terrific 1972 self-titled debut you also have to wonder how Capitol missed the opportunity to turn these guys into international stars.
With Seto handling most of the writing chores (Morita and Yoshikawa each contributed one song), this wasn't a Japanese rock album, rather it was an American rock album with occasional Japanese influences. Those influences ranged from early-1960s folk ('Lumberer Moses') to late-1960s West Coast psych ('Beautiful Morning'). The distinction was more than simple semantics since these guys had clearly absorbed more than their share of US culture. I've played this one for dozens of friends; all of them amazed to discover the band's nationality. As lead vocalist Seto was quite impressive. Not only was his English flawless (the liner notes indicated he learned it traveling in India), but he had a voice that was dynamic and instantly likeable. The rest of the band were equally talented, effortlessly shifting gears between traditional Japanese instrumentation and straight ahead rock. Drummer Adachi and bassist Asahi were especially good.
"East" track listing:
1.) Beautiful Morning (Ruese Seto) - 2:50
'Beautiful Morning' opened the album with a mesmerizing slice of folk-rock (emphasis on the rock component). Complete with lots of strummed acoustic 12 string guitars and an occasional touch of Japanese instrumentation for color, imagine the Kingston Trio had they ever decided to record a slice of psych-rock and you'll get a feel for this one. Easily one of the album highlights. rating: ***** stars
2.) Me (Ruese Seto) - 3:46
'Me' was an interesting attempt to merge West Coast psych moves with Japanese instrumentation. The result was a surprisingly trippy mid-tempo ballad that also served to showcase the band's nice harmony vocals. rating: **** stars
3.) Geese On the Road (Gen Morita) - 2:40
Penned by Morita, 'Geese On the Road' found the band showcasing their ability to churn out a country-flavored number. Normally you probably wouldn't have paid much attention to a track like this one, but the fact they performed it with such authenticity (check out the country twang in Seto's voice), definitely captured your attention. rating: *** stars
4.) She (Ted Yoshikawa) - 2:25
Yoshikawa's loan contribution, 'She' was a pretty, slightly discordant acoustic ballad that recalled something David Crosby might have penned for an CS&N outing. My only complaint with this one was that it was too brief. rating: *** stars
5.) Lumberer Moses (Ruese Seto) - 3:40
I've always assumed 'Lumberer Moses' got a little jumbled in the Japanese-American translation. Another folk-rock number, this one was a little too Kingston Trio for my taste, though their harmony vocals were stellar and the mandolin was quite nice. rating: *** stars
6.) Deaf Eyed Julie (Ruese Seto) - 5:16
Opening up with a mix of discordant rock instrumentation and some traditional Japanese notes, 'Deaf Eyed Julie' quickly morphed into a nice lysergic-tinged ballad. rating: **** stars
There wasn't a great deal to the lyric (not that I'd be turning in award winning Japanese lyrics), but 'Black Hearted Woman' offered up a nice blue-collar rock song that got much better when the guitars (including some fuzz) kicked in during the last section of the song. Drummer Adachi deserved notice for keeping the band in step and direction on this one. rating: *** stars
2.) Call Back the Wind (Ruese Seto) - 4:35
Complete with flute, 'Call Back the Wind' started out as a big, hyper-sensitive ballad and then took a jazzy turn from which it never really recovered. rating: ** stars
3.) Jar (Ruese Seto) - 3:04
The first couple of times I heard 'Jar' it didn't do much for me - too old-timey cutesy for my tastes. It still isn't my favorite performance, but the song's gained in appeal over time. rating: *** stars
4.) Everywhere (Ruese Seto) - 4:22
'Everywhere' offered up a surprisingly impressive mixture of traditional instrumentation and song structure with English lyrics. At least to my ears the results were mesmerizing with a distinctive psych edge. rating: **** stars
5.) Shin Sorllan (instrumental) (traditional) - 2:24
The lone performance in Japanese, 'Shin Sorllan' was supposedly a traditional Japanese tune, but sounded like a bunch of drunken Japanese businessmen taking a stab at a country song. Complete with furious acoustic guitars and what sounds like balalaikas, I smile every time I hear it. rating: ** stars
Unfortunately, releasing an album with minimal sales effectively ended their abbreviated American career. Shame.
In 2007 the British Fallout label reissued the album in CD format (catalog 2057), however given questions over the label's legitimacy you might want to look for an original vinyl copy.
Got this biographical information from Dave Handyside of InaGaddaDaRecords
EAST 1972 from Aman Ryusuke Seto
Aman Ryusuke Seto and Gen Morita were classmates in Junior High School in Tokyo, Japan. They were in Middle School (in the early 60's) and formed a band called "The Four Frogs". Their sound emulated that of another popular band called "The Foy Brothers". They were very much into the folk sound of "The Kingston Trio". They played small clubs and got recognized by the influential music critic Hiroyuki Takayama. He got them a record deal with Polydor, but the band changed their name to "The New Frontiers". After the record was released, they began to get more popular and started playing Junior Jamborees and Student Festival Concerts in Tokyo, they were also booked on TV Shows and their songs were played on the radio. More albums were recorded and they played a number of shows at US Military Camps located in the area. Ryusuke decided that he wanted to attend College in the USA, so he went to New York and then asked the other members to join him there. It was 1964 and The New Frontiers came to the USA, played shows in New Jersey and it went very well. They got some real confidence and thought they might actually be able to make a living playing music in the USA. But, then Ed Sullivan debuted "The Beatles" on his variety show. It changed history and bands like "The New Frontiers" could not compete with the new sound and music of the "British Invasion". They all went back to Japan to finish College. The days were long with class and studies during the day, but they still played clubs after hours. The long hours were tough, but "The New Frontiers" were still very popular and Ryusuke and Gen still had the passion to continue on. Members changed over the next few years and so did their sound which went from traditional folk to more of a "Beatles" influence. But, playing music in Japan did not satisfy their dream of being a world contender. They needed to go back to America to give themselves a chance. A demo tape was made and sent to several different US labels where they had hoped to land a US record deal. Ken Nagano heard the demos. He lived in California and convinced a radio personality working at a station in San Jose that they should invite "The New Frontiers" to the USA. They got a temporary (6 month) U.S. VISA to stay in the US. So, Ryusuke (aka Ruese) Seto (guitar, piano), Gen Morita (traditional instruments, guitar), Noboru Asahi (bass), Tadahide Yoshikawa (traditional instruments, guitar) and Fumio Adachi (drums) traveled to the US and settled in the town of Milpitas on the outskirts of San Jose. Ken Nagano became their Manager and Booking Agent and they began playing local clubs. The unusual sound of traditional Japanese instruments, guitars and drums made a huge impact on a lot of people. The psychedelic scene was still present in the Bay area and their sound fit right in. Their big event was a one week stay at "The Boarding House" on the campus of the University Of San Francisco. The "buzz" was on about this band and they didn't disappoint. The San Francisco Examiner gave them a very favorable review. After this they were asked to play in Santa Monica at "The Troubador" which is where acts like "Carly Simon", "James Taylor" and "Tom Waits" frequented. Capitol Records was there and offered them the US record deal they were looking for. They felt the deal was a little hasty, but they signed anyway just to get notice in America. The New Frontiers name was changed to "Light From The East" which was shortened to "East". The album was recorded and released. What evolves is a genuine uniqueness in sound that compares favorably to “Stone Country”, but influences coming from "Arthur Lee" and “Love” is also heard. A wonderful band. Capitol kept them busy with shows on the West Coast, but they overlooked their VISAs and they didn't get extended. They were very popular in Hawaii and had a song in the top 10 at the major radio station there. When they arrived to play some shows in Honolulu, they were surrounded by fans, but they were also told that their US VISAs had run out and they had to return to Japan. Ruese and Gen were that close to attaining their dream and it all came to an abrupt end. They went back to Japan and "East" dissolved. Ruese started writing solo material and built a studio on the coast of Japan in the town of Hayama. He released a couple solo albums in the mid 70's, produced and recorded other local bands and has recently produced shows and released quite a few albums (CDs) for his daughter "Hanayo". Gen Morita became a holistic healer, promoted organic foods and got famous for his environmental stands against converting forests into Golf Courses. He formed the "Global Anti-Golf Movement" (GAGM) represented in 10 different countries. He and his wife Yumi Kikuchi also developed "The Harmonics Life Center" and they travel the world giving concerts and promoting the cause.
Just an FYI my Friend.
Dave Handyside March 2014
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