Wednesday 25 September 2013

Shunga exhibition

At the British Museum from October 3

Friday 13 September 2013

Fuji Keiko

Most of Fuji Keiko's songs were laments, songs of loneliness, loss, regret and death, the melancholy underscored by her bluesy, yet athletic, delivery. She endures, peering out from record sleeves, her expression a beguiling mix of coldness, fragility, sadness and defiance.

The daughter of two itinerant musicians, which possibly explains Fuji's gritty singing style; she once covered "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", and could be compared with Dusty Springfield. Japanese popular music has always had its blues, or burusu, borne out of the popularity of songs like "St. James Infirmary" in the pre-war years. No one in pop had taken the cue to sing from the guts, until Fuji. 

An unsuspecting listener, once acclimatised to the slick, sentimental Victor Orchestra backing, is assailed by Fuji's voice, emerging vengeful, ripping through the velvet with a shocking force - considering her steely performing style and svelte build. A giant ruling the charts in the seventies, she retired from the music business early. Attempted comebacks were given scant support from record companies struggling to keep up with new fashions. Whatever may be said about her, Fuji Keiko's greatness will live on, within a slew of epic grooves, carved into the heart of Japanese pop history.

Japan Blues 2013.