Harumi and his band
Listen – Harumi – Samurai Memories – MP3
Here’s hoping that you have arrived at the beginning of a new week physically and spiritually refreshed.
I have not.
Life is currently kicking me in the ass, and I come to you today fatigued in all aspects. Life and work are both currently offering nothing but challenges, and to be frank, I couldn’t be less interested in dealing with them.
I’m just tired…..so, so tired.
But, I have just enough vim left in the tank to get a beginning-of-the-week post up on the blog, so that the place – as they say – will be held until I am able to refuel and attack the task as hand with the energy and dedication required.
Naturally, slackjaw that I am, I have decided to do the blogging equivalent of the old DJ trick, wherein, when a break is needed (say, to head to the lav) a long record is put on, and the studio vacated.
The track I bring you today is a sidelong number from one of the most intriguing psychedelic artists of the 60s, Harumi.
That’s it…just Harumi. I’ve never been able to discover is that was his first or last name (or his real name at all), or for that matter much of anything else about him.
What I can tell you is this: He was Japanese. He came to the US to record one ambitious, somewhat rare album (two record set no less), and then pretty much packed his bags and vanished into the ether.
What happened to Harumi? Is he hiding among the last bits of a commune somewhere in the hills, or did he return to his homeland for a nondescript life as a salaryman?
I don’t know, and I haven’t been able to locate anyone who does.
That said, that 1968 LP features two sides of psyche pop – much of it excellent – and two sides (one ‘song’ on each) of extended, free-form freakout. The tune I bring you today is one of those sides, ‘Samurai Memories’, which features spoken word contributions (in Japanese, naturally) from Harumi’s family, and whole lot (19 minutes worth) of lysergia-au-go-go.
The album was produced by the legendary Tom Wilson (Velvet Underground, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan et al), and is really – and this is an overused term, yet entirely fitting in this case – an exercise in eclecticism. Keeping in mind that this was the same label that released both ‘Heroin’ and ‘Sister Ray’, this was not out of character for Verve/MGM, yet in an era where the sidelong ‘opus’ was coming into vogue, and as institution was more often than not abused horribly, ‘Samurai Memories’ (forty years down the pike) sounds more like an actual experiment than the kind of drug-addled noodling that diggers of psychedelia have come to expect.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I dig it.
Oddly enough, this album has developed a rep as a costly rarity. I think it falls into that unusual category of records that are rare, but not really expensive. I scored my copy for less than $20USD, and if you’re patient you can probably get your own for a similar price (or less).
I hope you like it, and I’ll be back next week, hopefully somewhat more restored to me normal self.
Peace, and Happy Thanksgiving.