By the time the term “cover song” entered the English lexicon in the mid-1960s, the practice of one artist playing the work of another was as ubiquitous on the pop charts as it was onstage. Some covers were respectful tributes, others opportunistic rip-offs. Another category could be called language crossovers — hits from one country translated (linguistically, sometimes artistically) for another.
Rock ‘n’ roll had its share of this third group when it hit Japan’s shores in the 1950s. With the mambo craze waning, many young Japanese big bands split or adapted to crank out their own take on the new sound. An excellent snapshot of this period comes in the form of “King Twist,” a new CD series from Tokyo’s Basis Records.
This isn’t your standard moldy golden oldies. Eschewing nostalgic obsolescence, these tracks crackle with a very palpable kinetic energy. Since they’re dubbed straight from the master recordings, there’s no murky hiss of overused vinyl to hint at their age. It’s like kissing your high-school sweetheart in her prime — instead of the one at the reunion party, hiding her wrinkles behind a Bloody Mary and too much mascara.
Read the full review at The Japan Times Online.