Take­shi Terau­chi – Nip­pon Gui­tars LP

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Legen­da­ry is a word too often used when wri­ting about musi­ci­ans. Take­shi Terau­chi is no myth, more an ele­men­tal force and surely a nomi­nee for the sta­tus of Living Natio­nal Trea­su­re – a first for a rock musi­ci­an in Japan. While not exac­t­ly well known in the West, he has recei­ved prai­se over the years from artists as diver­se as the Ven­tures and Jel­lo Biaf­ra.

You don’t want to mess with Ter­ry, as he is com­mon­ly known. An 8th Dan of the Wado school of Kara­te and a Zen mas­ter of the Zuigan­ji temp­le, he is also a pioneer in the histo­ry of Japa­ne­se gui­tar music, record pro­du­cer, aut­hor and busi­ness­man who still finds time to play for cha­ri­ty. Terau­chi is a hard drin­king (or used to be), gui­tar-shred­ding mave­rick who ruled his band with an iron fist while his free hand gave the tre­mo­lo arm les­sons in ten­si­le strength. His ear­ly record­ings date back to the late 1950s, with the coun­try and wes­tern out­fit Jim­my Toki­ta and the Moun­tain Play­boys. Now in his ear­ly 70s, he is still going strong.

Terau­chi has released a vast num­ber of records in his long care­er, embra­cing coun­try, surf, Hawaii­an, rock’n’roll, funk, clas­si­cal and more. He rode the wave of the Ele­ki boom, a musi­cal style encom­pas­sing surf and beat instru­men­tals. The fuse was lit by the Ven­tures’ first trip to Japan in 1962, alt­hough the trend star­ted in ear­nest in 1964, when Terau­chi and media pro­mo­ter Nabe Pro orga­nis­ed a huge bash head­lined by the Ani­mals and the Ven­tures at the Kous­ei Nen­kin Kai­kan in Tokyo. This was the year that Take­shi Terau­chi and the Blue Jeans released their debut album “Kore­zo Sur­fing” (Let’s Go Sur­fing).

Sales of elec­tric gui­tars in Japan rocke­ted, the demand so gre­at that even the bur­geo­ning elec­tri­cal cor­po­ra­ti­ons pro­du­ced their first models. The­re were several bands play­ing Ele­ki – nota­b­ly the Spa­ce­men and Yuzo Kaya­ma and the Laun­chers – but, armed with his custom red Fen­der Jagu­ar, Take­shi Terau­chi and his Blue Jeans led the van­guard.

Terau­chi rejec­ts sug­ges­ti­ons that he was influ­en­ced by the Ven­tures, alt­hough they were cer­tain­ly no hin­dran­ce to his rise, and he often play­ed a Mos­ri­te, a gift from the band. He is ada­mant that his music emana­tes from Japan, and the tracks on this collec­tion stand as a tes­ta­ment to the fact. Many are ver­si­ons of tra­di­tio­nal Japa­ne­se folk songs (Min­yo), a style that beca­me much copied. Terauchi’s spee­dy “shred­ding” tech­ni­que could be said to echo Tsuga­ru sha­mi­sen, a uni­que blues-like style of per­cus­sive, semi-impro­vi­sed play­ing from nort­hern Japan. He revi­si­ted some of the­se stan­dards for his 1974 album “Tsuga­ru Jon­ga­ra” with the re-for­med Blue Jeans.

Here is a selec­tion of some of the finest beat instru­men­tals, tra­di­tio­nal-infu­sed nug­gets and later raw Tsuga­ru-influ­en­ced work­outs from his long and varied care­er. By Howard Wil­liams

(ace­re­cords. co. uk)

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