Proof that the Japanese have always excelled at anything they put their hand to, including interpreting Western rock, comes with this new Big Beat collection GS I Love You, packed with some of the most impressive beat and garage sounds you'll hear from any country. GS refers to Group Sounds, the name the Japanese media gave to the local explosion of bands circa 1967.
Japanese rock really got going with the instrumental eleki boom of 1964-1965, but obviously the Beatles and other British groups were as popular in the Far East as they were anywhere else in the world, and many of them, including the Fabs, helped inspire the Group Sounds boom by visiting Japan. Amongst the tunes covered (phonetically!) on GS I Love You are frantic versions of the Mojo's Everything's Alright, Arthur Brown's Fire, and an unintentionally hilarious mangling of Long Tall Sally by the Out Cast, which has to be heard to be believed.The casual listener will also be impressed by the high standard of production and performance in many of the original tunes included. While Japanese-language vocals can occasionally take a little getting used to, the instrumental backing tracks are consistently energetic and exciting, and fans of instrumental rock are in for a treat, as the guitar playing on many cuts is amongst the wildest and most manic of the era. for an example look no further than top GS combo the Spiders' rocking treatment of Cliff's Dynamite, which puts the Shads to shame, or their refreshing take on that old warhorse Wipeout.Elsewhere, the guitar work features plenty of fast 'n' furious fuzz and whammy bar, the legend being that, used to cheap home-manufactured instruments with a high-neck action, the skill of the average Japanese guitarist was doubled or tripled in mind-boggling fashion when slinkier Western equivalents were imported. As a bonus, most solos, even on the ballads, come with bloodcurdling screams, enthusiastic yells and shouts of such stock GS phrases as "Let's Go!!" and "Awwright Boys!!"The cynics out there may regard GS I Love You as a compilation of limited appeal, but in fact quite the opposite is true. It will bring a tap to the foot and a smile to the face of any open-minded student of 1960s pop. In researching this project, I even visited Japan (actually I was there on tour as a member of the Sneetches, but still managed to blow a small fortune on GS records). Original pressings of GS singles and albums by such heavyweights of the scene as the Golden Cups, Mops, Out Cast and Spiders can sell for hundreds of pounds on the collectors' circuit, but here's a chance to hear the 'A' selection of the best Group Sounds, at just a fraction of that cost.Trivia note: whilst there have been several GS compilations over recent years, this is the first legally-licensed one outside of Japan.