I’m sharing this record today in large part because it was a cool find. When we visited Hong Kong a few years back we visited The Record Museum and over the course of about 90 minutes proprietor James Tang gave us a masters-degree-level lesson in sound recording and quality. I can’t recommend a visit to The Record Museum enough should you find yourself in HK. One of the things James discussed with us was his opinions on recording quality, specifically which countries tended to produce the best vinyl pressings. Unsurprisingly he considered Japanese editions superior, but then took it one step further and told us about the red vinyl pressings that were often the very first runs of a given album. I’d never heard of Japanese red vinyl before, but some later research not only confirmed this (or at the very least that many others shared this opinion), but also that these wine-red versions are very collectible.
Fast forward to yesterday and I popped into a small local shop to do some digging. I was surprised to find a handful of Japanese pressings in the bins, most notably a number of Elvis 50th Anniversary editions with the OBIs intact. Though the prices were good, I passed on them as I’m simply not that into Elvis. But in a separate bin I came across a few more obscure Japanese titles, including this one by Yūzō Kayama. And lo and behold, it was the red vinyl pressing. For two bucks. It almost didn’t matter what was on it or that it was missing the OBI – I was going to buy it.
I didn’t find a lot about Yūzō Kayama online, at least not in English, but he was a very popular actor and musician. He played with a surf-inspired band called The Launchers, and 加山雄三のすべて〜ザ・ランチャーズとともに (All of Yūzō Kayama with The Launchers) is a combination of love ballads and pure surf guitar goodness. For some reason the vocal tracks on some of these songs aren’t up to snuff, many of them generating distortion, but the musical portions are quite clear and the surf instrumentals are pure gold, the stereo aspect very pleasing with different instruments in each speaker on tracks like “モンキー・クレイジー”.
Not only did I end up with a cool rarity, but one with some great jams on it as well. Best two dollars I’ve spent in a while.