The crazy Oriental sound that the kids are all hep to.
March 27, 2009 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Where can I get Japanese (Korean?) cover versions of American music from the 40's, 50's and 60's? (And, more specifically, the cover versions that feature as incidental music in Robert Altman's film M*A*S*H)

Every time I watch M*A*S*H, (which is, for some reason, about once every three months,) I'm blown away by the Japanese covers of popular American music. (Specific titles are hard to discern, but there are versions of 'My Blue Heaven' and 'Darktown Strutter's Ball')

In a similar vein, I've downloaded from WFMU a number of crazy Japanese interpretations of the Merseybeat sound and I just can't get enough. There's something I find incredibly compelling about the combination of production-line cover-versions and the mangling of the English language.

What can I say? I'm a pervert. Does anyone have any suggestions for artists I can Google, albums I can buy or MP3's I can download. (Bonus points for anything Spotifiable or Last-FMable.)

(NOTE: I'm assuming the songs in M*A*S*H are by Japanese artists - please ignore my cultural insensitivity if they're not)
posted by Jofus to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Orange Range has a hilarious cover of the 1960s song Locomotion. Not quite sure if this is what you're going for?

On a slightly different strain, there's Utada Hikaru's Fly me to the Moon, which is in the original English.
posted by Phire at 5:14 AM on March 27, 2009

Response by poster: Phire, I think the most important aspect of the question is that the music be contemporary with the bands that they're covering. So while that version of The Locomotion is, clearly, seven kinds of awesome, it's actually waaaaay too modern for my taste.

Here's a post of WFMU's blog that has some music from the right era and the right part of the world, but they're not specifically cover versions.

(I'll stop with the moderating now.)
posted by Jofus at 5:22 AM on March 27, 2009

Can I recommend Teen Dance Music from China and Malaysia?

Admittedly, it's not like Rare Mexican Cuts from the Sixties (available on iTunes), which is pretty much what you're looking for, just in Spanish, but it does have some awesome tracks.
posted by Katemonkey at 5:59 AM on March 27, 2009

Linda and the Big King Jive Daddies are fun, though she sings in English.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:05 AM on March 27, 2009

The Japanese girl group 5, 6, 7, 8s (featured in Kill Bill) sing in a surfy, garage-rock style, and occasionally they do covers.
posted by spamguy at 6:36 AM on March 27, 2009

Best answer: It's very difficult to find online Korean covers of the music you are looking for. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did - some artists to look for are Key Boys (키 보이스) and Five Fingers. For example, a Key Boys album from 1966 has several Beatles covers as well as "Wooly Boolly" and "Unchained Melody."

Fancy magazine podcast #7 has the Key Boys version of Wooly Bully.

(Check out their other podcasts, such as this one with the Five Fingers' cover of "Paint It Black")
posted by needled at 6:43 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Misora Hibari's Jazz and Standard Complete Collection is expensive, but truly wonderful.
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 6:49 AM on March 27, 2009

Best answer: Here's some soundtrack info that might help.

After WWII, there were a number of Japanese artists that played American swing/early rock and roll, often originals rather than covers. I've been trying to track some of this down too - a quick scan of my iTunes shows Aiko Bingo, Hibari Misora, and Sparky Iwamoto among the few I've found. Check YouTube - there are some creaky old clips of some of these and they're fabulous!

Here's a little J-pop history that addresses the era you're interested in. I've heard there's a series of recordings of this stuff that was published in maybe the 1960s or 1970s, aimed at American servicemen nostalgic for the postwar years, but I have yet to track this down.

And after all that - I just realized that M*A*S*H is probably the only Altman movie that I have never seen. Logging into Netflix and remedying that situation now.
posted by chez shoes at 6:53 AM on March 27, 2009

Best answer: The Mops: Psychedelic Sounds In Japan (1968)
Featuring Light My Fire, White Rabbit, The Letter, San Franciscan Nights
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 7:04 AM on March 27, 2009

Not exactly what you're looking for, but you might dig 70's Cambodian pop (or search for Dengue Fever for more modern take)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:04 AM on March 27, 2009

Response by poster: chez shoes - lovely! I will track down the artists you mention. If you have any luck, hit me up on mefimail (as the kids say)

Beautiful Screaming Lady - I already had one of The Mops songs and its actually one of my favourites. "Oh yes, I'm just Mops!"
posted by Jofus at 7:14 AM on March 27, 2009

Best answer: Brian Ibbott of the Coverville Podcast is really good about responding to email with questions and recommendations like these. This episode comes to mind, but I'm sure that if you check the show's archives you may find more of what you're looking for.
posted by sambosambo at 7:50 AM on March 27, 2009

Best answer: If you're reading WFMU's blog, I take it that you've already seen their posts on Takeshi Terauchi and the Bunnys? If not, I'd hit Google immediately, because they're fantastic, and they kind of have a thing for covers (though the covers that most immediately spring to mind for me are their surf rock covers of Fur Elise and a few old Japanese folk songs).
posted by stleric at 11:26 AM on March 27, 2009

Best answer: I've been digitizing some Japanese 78s of American music from the 1950s over the past few months. Contact me via mefi-mail and I can share some of it with you.
posted by billtron at 2:32 PM on March 27, 2009

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