3/12/17 – Happy End “Kazemachi Roman” (1971)

Happy End was a 1970s folk rock band from Japan, but besides the Japanese that’s sung, they don’t sound like it. They’re somewhat of an oddity because they’ve got such a western sound despite singing in Japanese (an unusual thing at the time). You can hear influences from Steve Miller and Fleetwood Mac- but Happy End absolutely has their own sound.

Dakeshinitai opens the album in great fashion, a very drawn out 70s feeling rock jam. That great song is unfortunately followed up by Sorairo No Kureyon; a song that features my pet peeve… yodeling. The good news is that on the rest of the album they refrain from that. The remainder is a very enjoyable and relaxing experience. You can really feel the emotion they’re putting into these pieces, and it easily breaks the language barrier.

They also dip into psychedelic and prog-rock as the album goes on, especially on Taifu. Everything feels very tight with solos and jams being just long enough, but not too mechanical that it feels awkward. The production is very balanced with enough of every instrument and singer for you to appreciate them all. The songs flow well into each other but abruptly ends on a strange note with Aeiou – a 30 second nursery rhyme.

Overall I would definitely recommend this album to anyone that’s a fan of 70s classic rock, or Japanese rock for that matter. On the re-listen I found myself changing my favorite song very often. Eventually I landed on the melancholy Natsu Nandesu.  It’s a great album that I won’t mind revisiting a number of times, and would be very exciting to have on vinyl. It’s no genius album that everyone must drop what they’re doing to check out as many have heard these songs in American bands, but it’s still one worth spending some time to hear.