Tuesday, September 2, 2008


You've probably noticed that I don't normally post about every little compilation that Ami and Yumi appear on - the reason being that there are a lot of them, with most featuring songs that have previously appeared elsewhere. These are really like those K-Tel compilation albums with "20 Original Hits!" that you used to see advertised on late-night TV. Not really worth mentioning.

But every one in a while, they record something special for a tribute. They did it for Tamio Okuda, they did it for Cyndi Lauper and now they're doing it for the British punk band Snuff with Yowavinalaaaafincha? - A Tribute to Snuff.

I've heard of Snuff but I can't really say I'm a huge fan - I just don't know them too well. I vaguely remember being sort of into them for a while in high school, which would have been shortly after they formed. But they seem to be one of those "big in Japan" acts that's actually more popular there than here, and from what I've read they've influenced that whole Ken Yokoyama generation of Japanese punks, of which Ami, at least, is obviously a fan (if not one herself). I like it when they do this sort of thing, because it gives you a sense of what kind of stuff they're really into themselves, maybe even moreso than their own music.

Anyway, the song they'll be covering is called "Not Listening" from the album Snuff Said... You can hear the original here.

If I find a sample of Puffy's version, I'll post it.


  1. I enjoy covers for much the same reason (they reveal a lot about a musician's own enthusiasms). Also, they often influence ME by making me want to check out the original versions, a habit that's led to the creation of a number of "roots" compilations (such as "My Little Sister Is A Headbanger", which was done as a gift for the members of Shonen Knife).

    Do you have any sense of how much the songs on Puffy's covers album, "Hit Parade", represent their own favorites?

  2. I know they are fans of the Blue Hearts, but beyond that I'm not too sure. I almost just wrote that I'd be surprised if they were really fans of the Chanels or the Downtown Boogie Woogie Band, but then they do have plenty of their own songs with a late 50's/early 60's feel.

    I think that album, though, was more about capitalizing on popular music at the time than it was them covering songs that they personally liked. I'm guessing a little, but I mean all of those songs were from popular Japanese artists - I think most people in Japan knew most of those songs.

    Around the time HiHi first went on the air, they put together a list of music they liked for Amazon - I think it's probably pretty accurate, because some of the titles aren't even available here (so it's not just Amazon trying to sell CD's): http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/1M5NBNH1123UM/ref=ed_mus_mysh_qp_puffy_1

    I've also seem them mention various bands in interviews or blog posts that they like, which includes The Ramones, Ministry, Green Day, Elvis Costello, Linkin Park (bah!), and Audioslave (and probably Soundgarden). I'm probably forgetting a few.

    I think I meant to do a post about this at one point, with samples/videos of some of the stuff they've talked about... but then I either forgot or decided it wasn't worth it. It's in the back of my mind, though.

  3. Most of these songs were originally hits in the Eighties - is that about right? If so, Puffy wasn't really reduplicating recent hits of the day (the bar band curse). It's a little hard to see them picking ten to twenty year old songs on the basis of demographic appeal or something, rather than on their own likes. Could be, though, if these were really well-known classics.

  4. Yes, you're right - I don't know the original release dates of every song on the album, but they're all pretty old. They're all well-known pop songs, though (or at least 80% of them are).

    But I really doubt they picked most of those songs. They don't have as much freedom in their recordings as other artists. I'm sure Ki/oon and Sony were pretty heavily involved and wanted songs that would have broad appeal and popularity. It would have been at least collaborative, but I would think that the initial list probably did not come from Ami or Yumi.

  5. Well, according to one of your earlier posts, the strategy produced a sales "bump" for The Hit Parade, so I guess you've got to give Sony and Ki/oon credit for knowing what they were doing. I'm sorry to hear Ami and Yumi don't have more control, though. They're smart, talented, funny women and I think they're likely to know what they're doing as well. One more reason to be glad I'm not a musician, I suppose.

  6. Oh I don't think the album was bad strategy. It was probably one of their easier albums to record and it got them a little bump in sales.

    I don't know exactly how much control Puffy have these days. Originally they definitely had close to none. I think around the time of Hit Parade they probably still didn't have much. Nowadays they might have more, if only because they seem to be sort of off Sony's radar now. And being older probably helps too - Japan as a society places a lot of weight on age. They're probably older than some of the people they work with at the studio now, so the relationship would be a little different.

    I wrote a while back about a guy who sent me a bunch of insider-ish stuff from Ken Band, Puffy and Kaela. I still don't know who he is but he also wrote me a letter and one of the things he said is that Ami and Yumi are contractually prohibited from writing music for Puffy without permission. He might be making that up, but given everything else, I don't doubt him. That doesn't mean they can't pick out songs to cover, but I think it shows the kind of relationship they have (at least legally) with their management and record label.

    I should try reading more of the Ayumi book about the Hit Parade period; I'm sure they talk about it in there.

    I also wish they could show a little more of themselves in Puffy.

  7. > I also wish they could show a little more of themselves in Puffy.

    I THINK I know what you mean! If so, I agree. If I'm mistaken, I probably agree, anyway. (Maybe... I've got a lot of conflicting emotions on the subject of Puffy.)


  8. Jeff, here's what I could find on the original dates:

    Boowy - Image Down (1982)
    Chanels - Hurricane (1981)
    Wink - Turn It Into Love (Ai ga Tomaranai) (1989) (originally by Kylie Minogue)
    Spitz - Cherry (1996)
    Masahiko Kondo - High Teen Boogie (1982)
    Toshihiko Tahara - Aishuu De Ito (1980) originally by Leif Garett, as New York City Nights)
    Jiro Mita - Blue Tears (Aoi Namida) (?)
    The Blue Hearts - Hito Ni Yasashiku (1987)
    Beat Takeshi - Choushou (1993)
    Downtown Boogie Woogie Band - Kakkoman Boogie (197?)

    Hope someone can come up with the two missing items.