Surviving With Adventure in Modern Living

Combonation

WordPress had reminded me that it has been 22 days since I last posted  Sorry for the long hiatus. I been super busy with work observations, ups and downs, and etc. I also have been catching up on sorting the massive stockpile of music that I inherited from other blogs and auction sites. I still got a lot to get through but I don’t mind taking a break to blog about a song I recently found buried deep in this pile.

Usually every morning, I play iTunes on shuffle mode while I get ready for work. And on a normal weekday morning, I discovered Combonation. Yes, it’s not spelled wrong (although that is what Google and every other site thinks as they try to search for Randy Crawford’s “Combination” album instead). Not much is know about this 80’s band, except that it had around five members; drummer Billy Thomas, percussionist Randy Foote, vocalist and keyboardist Mark Hart, bass guitarist Randy Moors. and guitarist Steve Dudas, The band released their only album, a self-titled record, in 1984. It was produced by Ted Templeman who oversaw Van Halen’s releases.

The members went off to do their own stuff after the album’s release. Mark Hart went on to release two albums in the new millennium while performing in bands like Supertramp and Crowded House. Steve Dudas played guitar alongside Ringo Starr on tours and albums. It is unknown what Thomas, Foote, and Moors did after Combonation as there isn’t a lot of information on the internet about them.

“Adventure in Modern Living” is the second track off the album. It’s upbeat while a bit strange. You can tell that this was influenced by art rock artists like Kate Bush by the various techniques used in the song. You can hear that the bass is really prominent throughout, even more important than the guitar, when it switches back and forth from supporting the lead singer to having it’s own solo moments like during the bridge. Another art rock-like theme going on throughout the song is the use of a mandolin sound on the keyboard. It reminds me of how Kate Bush used the same instrument in the song “Babooshka”.

The lyrics may be a bit strange to some. The opening lines goes something like this: “A bird calls, a bear stalls, and gorillas grumbles. A city wakes, a mountain shakes, and an island crumbles.” However, I feel like it was the style of time; to display the simplicity of life through the music and lyrics.

If you enjoy any of the art rock acts of the 1980s, I am sure that you would like “Adventure in Modern Living”. I looooooooooove the art-rock aspect of the tune. I also like the vocal slides that the singer uses during the pre-chorus of “We are the audience”. It’s so awesome.

Advertisements

You Are Invited To Come Inside the House of the band Tulip

tulip-welcometomyhouse

(Written between June 7th and 21st)

Today, we are going to travel back to the 1970s where peace flourished in most parts of the world, scandals happened, and musical tastes became more diverse. Rock music evolved and changed as new sub-genres were founded such as hard rock, progressive rock, and glam rock. Hip-hop became a new trend primarily in the Black American community thanks to many artists like Grandmaster Funk. Disco, a new type of dance music, flourished in the night clubs, made new terms like “boogey down” popular, and set fashion trends with the afro, bell-bottom pants, and platform shoes.

Even though the 70s pioneered many new musical trends, it still kept a few memories of the 60s alive. Some of these memories were prog(ressive) rock, pop rock, and art rock. By the start of a new decade, bands like ELO, Yes, Genesis, and others experimented with new forms of rock with success. Genesis’ “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” album with art rock, Yes’ “Roundabout” with prog rock, and ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” with pop rock all had influenced the music world by unique instrumentation and brand new musical concepts. Soon after, the whole world caught on to this diverse rock sound craze and tried to emulate it for their own musical scenes.

Tulip was a Japanese band who wanted to try these new rock sounds out. Based in southern Japan (Kyushu), Yoshida Akira, Soda Shinji, and Suehiro Nobuyuki came together in 1971 while studying at Seinan Gakuin University. The band played at various lives around campus, trying to emulate the Beatles’ sound with their first song “Hashiradokei ga 10jihan”.[1] The band decided to head to Tokyo and try getting a record deal soon after. However, Soda Shinji and Suehiro Nobuyuki decided they didn’t want to leave Fukuoka and quit. That led the band to recruit Zaitsu Kazuo for vocals, keyboard and guitar, Himeno Tatsuya for vocals, guitar, and keyboard,  Abe Toshiyuki for guitar, and Ueda Masatoshi for drums.

Tulip signed a deal with an indies label when they got to Tokyo and released two singles, “Hashiradokei ga 10jihan” and “Watashi no Chiisa na Jinsei”. On September 20, 1972, they made their major debut with the single “Mahou no Kiiroi Kutsu” on the label Shinko Music. For the next seventeen years, the band would have numerous hit songs like “Kokoro no Tabi”, “Saboten no Hana”, and “Niji to Sneaker to Koro”. The band also had many lineup changes as most of the members, except for Zaitsu, left the band during the 80s and were replaced by new members Miyagi Shinichiro, Ito Kaoru, Tanno Yoshiaki, and Takahashi Hiro.

The band sadly broke up in 1989 after they released the album “Well”. Most of the band members went onto do other activities with the lead singer Zaitsu Kazuo continuing on his mediocre solo career. Some of the band’s members got back together in 1997 to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. However, the band stayed together for a ten year period, releasing more material during their revival. The band recently reunited in 2012 to celebrate forty years by holding a concert.

Five years after Tulip made their major debut, the band decided to release their first English song, “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”. As a well-crafted “progressive meets pop and art rock” song, “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”  reminds you a lot of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”. Both songs feature various musical influences by the Beatles, a lively, bouncy piano sound akin to something found in Paul McCartney’s song “Come and Get It“, and adopting everyday objects as musical instruments. But, what makes ELO and Tulip different from each other is how each band composed their own sound. When writing  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”., Zaitsu Kazuo probably wanted to feature more of a musical style that was found in the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” within the song. “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE” focused more on the soft electric guitar, piano, and drum sound with a lot of John Lennon-inspired backing vocals. Meanwhile, ELO had always wanted to be a rock band that “pick[ed] up where The Beatles left off”[5] by featuring more styles from the “White Album” and even later evolving from the Beatles sound to their own sound. ELO’s music was often a mixture of rock music, orchestras, and electrical sound properties.

Although, the same-titled album can be classified as pop rock, I feel like the song itself can be considered as a mixture of progressive, pop, and art rock. If you listen to it, the song does have a certain pop-like quality, especially by the upbeat attitude often associated with songs composed in cut time. Now,  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE” has the basic rock instrumentation with no orchestral instruments present. The song instead features new innovations in the 70s’ Japanese rock scene with unusual percussion and using the backing vocals to paint a bigger picture within the song; a common theme in art rock. As for the progressive rock sound, the song accents a folk music-like structure, which was very popular in Japan during the album’s release, and changing time signatures from cut time to a slower meter by the end.

If you like The Beatles or ELO, then you should most definitely check out  “WELCOME TO MY HOUSE”. Named as the Japanese Paul McCartney, Zaitsu Kazuo brings the vocal and musical composition of The Beatles while using the up-beat tempos and piano of ELO in this song.[6] 

This post is dedicated to my dear mom who is a huge Beatles and rock fan. Without her, I probably wouldn’t have the entire The Beatles discography mesmerized by heart or known English rock music really well. Most importantly, this post wouldn’t be written.  I contacted my mom, who always gave me a very detailed explanation, whenever I was uncertain about something written in this post.

Rock on, mom! ❤

Listen to the full album here:


References

[1]  “チューリップ (バンド).” チューリップ (バンド) – Wikipedia. 17 Sept. 2004. Web. 21 June 2015. <https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%81%E3%83%A5%E3%83%BC%E3%83%AA%E3%83%83%E3%83%97_(%E3%83%90%E3%83%B3%E3%83%89)&gt;

[2]  Alan, McGee. “ELO: The Band the Beatles Could Have Been.” The Guardian. 16 Oct. 2008. Web. 21 June 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2008/oct/16/elo-better-than-beatles&gt;

[3]  “ゆうちょ LETTER for LINKS(レター・フォー・リンクス).” ミュージシャン 財津和夫さん. Tokyo FM, 23 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 June 2015 .<http://www.tfm.co.jp/links/index.php?itemid=77894&gt;