Tuesday, February 17, 2004

#70) Half Japanese - Charmed Life (released in 1988, I bought it on CD at the HMV in Manhattan sometime in high school. I definitely considered it a find.)

When I finally found Charmed Life, it didn't really connect with the enthusiastic press it had received. Oh, I loved it immediately, but I didn't get why everybody assumed this music was so audacious and impossible to take. To me it sounded like Urkel making the high school jazz band take it to the bridge, becoming drop-dead cool without having to turn into Stefan (ok the Family Matters metaphor ends here). The sound was amateurish without revealing obvious musical limitations. The originals seemed just as timeless as the covers (I wouldn't have been able to figure out which track was by Chuck Berry) and the ten bonus tracks were surprisingly easy to wade through (though I'm glad the liner notes give the original track listing for when you want to program it). I really wish this wasn't the only Half Jap album I have that features a saxophone. I heard the 3LP-debut 1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts a few years later and discovered the more infamous, atonal side of Half Jap, and finally understood why these guys were treated like freaks (man, I wish I could find the albums they released between that and this one). While Beasts is interesting, I wish Charmed Life was the album that got more press. It's universally accessible without a trace of commerciality and Jad Fair is enthusiastically youthful without any of the creepy infantility of much of his later work. That these guys didn't get a cameo in Revenge Of The Nerds is total bullshit.

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