Harry “The Lion” Hosono and Tin Pan Alley play favorites from the “Crown Years.”
If it wasn’t already obvious to regular readers, we at In Sheep’s Clothing are huge fans of Haruomi Hosono. We’ve featured the Japanese all-kind music pioneer quite a few times now: highlighting his essential productions as one of the major architects of modern Japanese pop music; posting scans from his science fiction graphic novel Globule; and more recently focusing on his downtempo and abstract electronic works from the ’90s. We’re not stopping there.
A crucial and often overlooked period in the great Hosono’s vast musical world is the “Crown Years” from 1974-1977. Just prior to forming Yellow Magic Orchestra with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yukihiro Takahashi, Hosono explored jazz fusion, exotica, and lounge music with his band Tin Pan Alley. Inspired by Van Dyke Parks, Martin Denny, Sly Stone, and New Orleans blues man Professor Longhair, Hosono created his own uniquely Japanese exotica sound by fusing traditional instruments and melodies with ukulele, banjo, pedal steel guitar, percussion, and flute. The albums Tropical Dandy and Bon Voyage marked the beginning of Hosono’s fascination with “oriental aesthetics,” which would carry directly over into the Yellow Magic Orchestra years.
Amazingly, quality footage exists of Hosono and Tin Pan Alley playing live across Japan. Recorded in Yokohama’s Chinatown and various parts of Tokyo, the performances feature exotic sets filled with sunsets, tropical plants, bamboo panels, and colorful shirts. The footage was released as part of a 2007 4-disc box set called Crown Years. The physical set is a bit hard to find, but luckily someone posted the videos to YouTube. Enjoy!
Below the setlist for the video:
Opening: Harry “The Lion” Hosono
Peking Duck [北京ダック] (live in Chinatown) [live 8 May 1976 at Tung Fat, Yokohama]
Hong Kong Blues [香港Blues] (live in Chinatown) [live 8 May 1976 at Tung Fat, Yokohama]
Choochoo-san [蝶々-San] (live in Chinatown) [live 8 May 1976 at Tung Fat, Yokohama]
Suna no Onna [砂の女] [rehearsal scene at Crown Studio / Shigeru Suzuki]
Sobakasu no Aru Shoujo [ソバカスのある少女] [rehearsal scene at Crown Studio / Shigeru Suzuki]
Sobakasu no Aru Shoujo [ソバカスのある少女] [Paradise Tour / Shigeru Suzuki – live 24 June 1976 at Kanda Kyoritsu Kodo, Tokyo]
Taian Yooko [泰安洋行] [Publicity Film / Harry Hosono – Promotional Film “Bon Voyage Co.”]
“Sayonara”, The Japanese Farewell Song [Paradise Tour / Harry Hosono – live 24 June 1976 at Kanda Kyoritsu Kodo, Tokyo]
Hurricane Dorothy [ハリケーン・ドロシー] [rehearsal concert filmed in March 1975 at Nihon Denshi Kougakuin Kodo, Tokyo]
Merry Go Round [filmed in Nov 1976 at Toshimaen, Tokyo; music: Haruomi Hosono 21 Dec 2006]