Japanese singles

Please forward this error screen to 173. Despite a few uncertainties, chiefly relating to release-dates for Singles, a clear enough picture emerges of the Japanese public’s exposure to Shadows recordings over the 1960s. The first three years of the decade saw them establish themselves as the UK’s premier japanese singles group, and their fame spread rapidly, notably to France and Australia. Over these years market penetration of Japan, receptive as the country was to instrumental music of every description, was relatively low-key.

Japan was now beginning to catch up, though there was no awareness at all at this stage of the many fine numbers that had seen the light of day on UK EP. It was 1966 that brought a real surge of interest: a number of Singles were concocted from older numbers, while Japanese-devised EPs and Albums presented the record buyer with an impressive range of Shadowmusic. But the high point was reached in 1967, the year the group visited Japan and brought out an Album tailored for that market. 1969, thin years for the group in their native country, further compilations, and a live set, saw the light of day. Thereafter however their fortunes were very much on the wane, the 1970s seeing practically nothing apart from Japanese clones of UK primary Albums. Remarkably, throughout the 1980s, when a certain amount of Polydor material was issued, EMI product was represented by a solitary pair of LPs from an instrumental box set. Shadows critic termed “exemplary sound quality”: this latter is a myth, pure and simple.

EMI UK with a steady supply of stereo masters. What they did to satisfy the home market’s desire for stereo pressings was to tamper radically with the mono masters in order to give them a semblance of stereo, often with alarming results. One detailed example of many must suffice. They are all standard stereo layout and none is remarkable. The majority, seven of the nine remaining tracks, are basically mono recordings but they have all been processed in precisely the same way, that is, by having the balance shifted completely to the RH channel.

I believe this is an audio trick to fool the ears into ‘hearing’ some differences. I am sure that this ‘trick’ involves racking the mono balance way over to one channel or the other and then boosting the residual sound level of the remaining channel. These are not isolated examples by any means. Warm thanks to John Panteny for generously supplying many of the scans, and thanks also for contributions from Jan Flatby and Les Woosey. While reliable release-dates can usually be established for EPs and LPs, Singles are a different matter, as discographies specify years on a wholly arbitrary basis without regard for sequential catalogue numbers or even for pointers provided by the documentation. Entries in bold are pairings with UK equivalents.

Japanese Singles habitually come in a clear plastic sleeve. The front of the Columbia Records sleeve. The reverse is similarly patterned but has Japanese script at the bottom. The other side is similar but includes details of the Erwin Lehn recording. In all, 38 lines of the script relate to “Stern”, then at the end there are just five lines devoted to “Apache”.

On the B side is Apache, which was a huge chart hit not only in England but all of Europe. It is played by the guitar group “The Shadows”. Apache” is the name of a native American tribe. It is a very exciting western style number at a fairly fast tempo. Yaeko Sata for this scan!

The following EP and LPs have UK equivalents. This is not a translation probably. All over Japan on T-shirts, adverts and all sorts of other places you will see meaningless English phrases. What they do is choose what they consider to be “nice” words and just put them together without much thought to the meaning. Spare parts management : software for the creation of spare parts catalogue, sales catalogue, electronic parts catalogs and spare parts, consultation over the web and cd-rom and paper and microfiche, management of the order of store and discounts, stock, order aknowledgment, exploded drawings, service bulletins, manual working.

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