YMO 101: The Pre-Cursors and Side Projects

This is part five of my guide to Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Part 1: The Studio Albums
Part 2: The Live Albums
Part 3: The Compilations and Remix Records
Part 4: The Solo Records

If you get big enough into any band that had any kind of success, you’ll start to look out for side-projects, pre-cursors and follow-ups. Sometimes this can lead you down a great road of musical discoveries. I’m sure many a young Zeppelin fan didn’t get into The Yardbirds until they found out Jimmy Page was in the group. And Pearl Jam fanatics of the 90s got to discover the entire foundation of the grunge genre with Green River and Mudhoney. But charting a band’s musical tree doesn’t always work out so well. I pity the Slipknot fan who bought anything by Stone Sour expecting anything resembling actual music. And while they’ll always have “Genius Of Love,” anyone who thinks that Tom Tom Club are a worthy companion to Talking Heads are just fooling themselves.

Luckily, the YMO fan looking to explore the various bands that Yukihiro Takahashi, Haruomi Hosono and Ryuichi Sakamoto have called themselves members of is in luck; those groups include some of the most influential and important bands in Japanese rock history, fun upbeat pop music, easy-listening jazz, and some interesting experimental electronic offshoots.

Only one of them is godawful horrible. Continue reading

YMO 101: The Solo Records

This is part four of my guide to Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Part 1: The Studio Albums
Part 2: The Live Albums
Part 3: The Compilations and Remix Records

Before Yellow Magic Orchestra released their first album in 1979, all three members (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yukihiro Takahashi and Haruomi Hosono) were already accomplished solo musicians to some degree. And their penchant for releasing music on their own continued on both during their time in YMO and after.

And I don’t mean they would occasionally release an album once or twice a decade. For a while, all of them were seemingly putting out music non-stop. Continue reading

YMO 101: Etc.

This is part three of my guide to Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Part 1: The Studio Albums
Part 2: The Live Albums
Part 4: The Solo Records

This is where things get tricky.

Writing about YMO’s studio albums was an easy endeavor. There aren’t that many of them and most are worth owning. Simple. Writing about the live albums was a bit more of a chore, but there’s still so much good to be found there that it was easy to decide what to recommend for everyone and what should only be sought out by the hardcore fans and collectors.

The compilations/remix albums and EPs portion of YMO’s back catalog is a bit more difficult. Mostly because it’s so massive, but also because it’s wildly uneven. Like any great band that’s a proven cash cow for a label, YMO’s music has been repackaged, remarketed, remixed (badly) and re-released about a thousand times over. Some of this stuff is great, and undoubtedly worth seeking out.

Sadly, much of it is not. And that’s why this chapter of my guide will probably be the most negative. A lot of these releases were put out as cash grabs, and they sound like it. Still, there is some great stuff to be found in here, so I hope you this is a help to someone.

And if you want the TL;DR version, buy UCYMO and the album below.

×∞Multiplies (1980)

R-359422-1290802940.jpeg Continue reading

YMO 101: The Live Albums


This is part two of my guide to Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Part 1: The Studio Albums
Part 3: The Compilations and Remix Records
Part 4: The Solo Records

While YMO’s general discography is relatively unknown in the Western world, advising potential fans as to what albums to get, and in which order, is relatively easy. The group’s studio output was relatively scant, with just six proper albums and one mini-LP/EP to their name. Sure, I did write an entire album-by-album guide to their core studio releases, to be honest that entire piece could’ve been summarized by simply saying “buy Solid State Survivor and if you like it get the first album and then rest.”

But covering YMO’s live discography is far more intimidating. First of all, their number of live releases outnumber their studio releases by a ratio of two to one, and many of their live records are out of print and go for a hefty sum online. Buying a YMO live album blind, only to be unsatisfied with it, that can hurt. And while finding information on their studio releases can be as easy as a quick check to Wikipedia, articles and reviews of many of their live releases are nonexistent online (at least in English).

If only there was some madman out there who spent the countless hours and dollars hunting down nearly all of the group’s live output in an effort to write a guide for newcomers to the group who might not know where to begin.

Why, this sounds like a job for…me, an obsessive music geek living in Tokyo and with apparently far too much free time.

It took some time, over a year in fact, but I have finally tracked down every single official YMO live album that I’m aware of. This was largely for my own pleasure, but also to write this guide because, as much as I love YMO, I have to be honest; there’s a lot in their live discography that is inconsequential and non-essential. So I hope this helps some fans out there avoid the pitfalls I jumped into while collecting it all. Continue reading

YMO 101: The Albums


This is part one of my guide to Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Part 2: The Live Albums
Part 3: The Compilations and Remix Records
Part 4: The Solo Records

I’ve long championed bands that very few people have heard of. This used to bug me a great deal, but by now I’ve gotten used to the fact that my musical tastes and what most people are interested in just don’t jive. But there’s one band whose complete lack of respect or notoriety in the states continues to drive me up a all; that band is Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Yellow Magic Orchestra are the greatest electronic act of all-time, and the fact that more people don’t know this is a damn shame. Continue reading

The Complete Guide to Madonna Remixes – Part 1

I’m a big fan of 12″ singles – the maxi-singles largely of a bygone era that include not only B-sides, but alternate mixes and edits of my favorite tracks. And when it comes to 12″ singles, there are a few artists I obsess over, but none more than Madonna.

Madonna is the greatest solo artist of my generation, and her amazing and substantial catalog of singles backs that up; “Vogue,” “Like A Virgin,” “Material Girl,” “Hung Up,” “Crazy For You,” the list of unforgettable classics is nearly endless. And nearly all of these legendary tunes have remixes and edits associated with them, mixes that sometimes radically alter a song or make it even better.

And they can be a real pain in the ass to find. While many artists who started in the 80s have embraced the retrospective box set and collection model, releasing all (or at least the best) versions of their singles in easy-to-buy formats, Madonna’s singles discography remains stubbornly scattered across countless records, CDs and cassette tapes. And since a lot of her songs have a shockingly large number of remixes (easily sometimes going into the double digits) this can be a real problem to those obsessive fans like myself, who want every version possible.

This list is an attempt to make it a little easier to track down these mixes, by cataloging every official mix and edit of every song Madonna has released as a single. It is a work in progress, and I am not immune to making mistakes, so if you feel I that I have made an error, please detail it in the comments and I will do my best to fix it. I’m also not going to detail exactly where you can find each mix, Discogs can be your guide for that, I’m just letting you know they exist.

I hope this list is helpful to my fellow obsessive Madonna collectors.

And I hope my friends don’t think I’m insane for putting this together.



“Everybody” (1982)

Album Version [4:57] – Available on any pressing of Madonna’s self-titled debut that was released before 2001. Since then it has been replaced by the 12″ remix.
Celebration Edit [4:12] – An edited version of the original 12″ remix. On Celebration.
Dub [9:23]– Available on many different 12″ singles.
Original 12″ Version [6:02] – Unlabeled as a remix. This is the version that is on all current editions of the self-titled album. It can also be found on US 12″ singles and the CD single.
Instrumental [6:17] – an edit of the nine-minute dub version, only available on the Italian 12″ single.
UK Remix [6:16] – Unlabeled remix only available on the UK 12″ single.
UK Remix Dub [5:59] – B-side to the UK 12″ single.
UK Remix Edit [3:20] – Unlabeled remix only available on the UK 7″ single.
UK Remix Dub Edit [4:40] – B-side to the UK 7″ single.
You Can Dance Remix [6:44] – For the remix album You Can Dance. Included on all versions of the album regardless of format, is mixed as part of a continuous mix.
You Can Dance Remix Edit [4:34] – Shortened edit created exclusively for the You Can Dance (Single Edits of Album Remixes) promotional 12″ . Continue reading

The Mostly Retro Guide to Buying Records in Beijing


Late last year I went to China, (this was right before my Japan trip) and it was awesome. And while you might not think it, the city was a great place to go record shopping.

Sure, it’s no Tokyo (nowhere is) but hidden within the labyrinthine streets and alleys of the massive metropolis are dozens of great stores that sell an amazing variety of LPs, CDs, DVDs and much more. While my trip to the city was rather brief, (and I was battling some bitterly cold weather) I tried my best to take as much of it in as possible, and I think I was able to check out a lot of the best stores the city had to offer. And as information on record stores in China can be pretty hard to come by, I thought I would share what I discovered here.

Continue reading

The Mostly Retro Guide to Buying Records in Japan

Editor’s note: This guide is now irrelevant. Please check out the much expanded update!

This January I went to Tokyo for the first time. It was incredible, Tokyo is an amazing city unlike any I’ve ever been to before. I loved the people, I loved the sights, I loved just walking around in the middle of the night and gawking at the beauty of it all.

Like big buildings and pretty lights? You need to go to Tokyo.

Like big buildings and pretty lights? You need to go to Tokyo.

But most of all, I loved the record stores.

The record stores of Tokyo are awesome. Not only are they all jam-packed with rare records and CDs that you’ll never find in the states, but they also seem to be everywhere. I lost count of how many times I accidentally stumbled upon one record store while on my way to another. It’s amazing.  However, with all the unmarked streets, confusing pedestrian alleyways and nary an English-speaking native to be found, a music lover could easily get lost in the back streets of the megalopolis losing themselves in wonderland of neon lights, never to find the record of their dreams.

It doesn’t have to be that way though.

Continue reading