IN PRAISE OF URUSEI YATSURA

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I like to think that most of the bands/singers featured on this blog are reasonably well known, as that saves me giving a detailed explanation of who they are (or were, in the event there’s been a break-up). As for today’s lot – well I’m sure the name at least might be familiar to many UK (and Japanese) readers, but less so to my friends across on the other side of the Atlantic. So here’s a little bio of Uruesi Yatsura.

It was back in 1994 that Fergus Lawrie, Graham Kemp, Ian Graham and Elaine Graham decided to form a band. They named it after a hugely popular Japanese comic book – one that has been given its own TV series and video game. The translation from Japanese into English seemingly is not straightforward….the band prefer it to mean ‘Noisy Stars’, but you have to admit that Urusei Yatsura is a far cooler name than Noisy Stars.

Anyway, the band started gigging at loads of small Glasgow venues and quickly gained a reputation for churning out loud guitar-driven short bursts of pop that had more than a hint of Sonic Youth about them.

Like so many others, their fame increased thanks to the support and patronage of John Peel, and following the inevitable session, they grabbed themselves a record deal with indie label Che Records. Between 1995 and 1998, they released eight singles and two albums before Che Records folded after an unfortunate tie-up with Warners went sour.

The fact that Che Records had gone under led to the band disappearing from view for the best part of two years, and it was very late on in 1999 before an EP came out on the Beggars Banquet label, and then in 2000, it was announced the band was setting up its own label in the shape of Oni Records. Two singles and one LP was all that emerged over the next 18 months before they called it a day.

As careers go, it was pretty reasonable. Over the course of 7 years, there were three LPs, the best part of a dozen 45s/EPs and a handful of other releases on compilation LPs as well as a one-off 45 with one Urusei Yatsura track b/w a track by The Delgados. They toured extensively, either as headliners or as main support to the likes of Garbage and Super Furry Animals.

In terms of commercial success, just the one single cracked the charts – it hit #40 for one week in February 1998.

But these words and stats don’t do real justice to Urusei Yatsura. They were largely an out and out pop band with a sound that was influenced by so many others but yet somehow seemed distinctive. I’ve already mentioned Sonic Youth in terms of the guitars….but there was also a hint of Pavement in respect of weird lyrics…there was glam-rock as evidenced by the Glitter Band style chants….there was the buzz and feedback of the Jesus & Mary Chain…..and still they could sound as melodic and delightful as Teenage Fanclub. And at a time when Glasgow was being dominated by the whimsy of the likes of Belle and Sebastian, it was great to have your ears occasionally assaulted…
Having given them such a great build-up, I hope you do find these tracks to your satisfaction:-

mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Uruesi Yatsura – Kewpies Like Watermelons
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Phasers On Stun
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Strategic Hamlets

If you like what you hear, you can probably track down the back catalogue on e-bay. I particularly recommend the 1998 LP, Slain by Urusei Yatsura.

Enjoy.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 118)

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From wiki:-

Urusei Yatsura (うる星やつら) is a comedic manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi and serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday from 1978 to 1987. Its 374 individual chapters were published in 34 tankōbon volumes. It is the story of Ataru Moroboshi, and the alien Lum, who believes she is Ataru’s wife after he accidentally proposes to her. The series makes heavy use of Japanese mythology, culture and puns. The series was adapted into an anime TV series produced by Kitty Films and broadcast on Fuji Television affiliates from 1981 to 1986 with 195 episodes. Eleven OVAs and six theatrical movies followed, and the series was released on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc in Japan.

(oops wrong extract!!!)

Urusei Yatsura were a Glaswegian alternative rock, indie rock band.

Founding members Fergus Lawrie and Graham Kemp met in the summer of 1993, whilst attending the University of Glasgow. They recruited Elaine Graham as bassist, and the line-up was completed with the subsequent addition of Elaine’s brother, Ian Graham, on drums. They took their band name from the manga Urusei Yatsura, written by Rumiko Takahashi, and contributed their first recording, Guitars Are Boring, to a compilation album released by the Kazoo Club. This was based in Glasgow, and run at one point by the future Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos. This record in turn brought them to the attention of the BBC Radio DJ John Peel, who brought them in to do a session.

Over the years they released three albums: We Are Urusei Yatsura (1996), Slain By Urusei Yatsura (1998) and Everybody Loves Urusei Yatsura (2000). Albums in America and Japan were released under the name of Yatsura for legal reasons. The band had one Top 40 hit single, 1997’s “Hello Tiger”, which reached #40 in the UK Singles Chart. Other singles released by the band include “Strategic Hamlets” and “Slain By Elf”.

Urusei Yatsura split in June 2001, leaving Kemp to work on solo material and the other band members to form Projekt A-ko. In 2011, Lawrie formed the three piece band Angel of Everyone Murder with Sarah Glass and Lea Cummings on bass, and released a self-titled double album on Kovorox Sound. The release featured six drone compositions of 15-20 minutes each, made with self modified guitars he called HALO guitars. In 2012, Angel of Everyone Murder 2 was released.

I’ve a number of their releases in the collection. I thought however, it would be just as well sharing the one that so nearly got them fame. Released on 2 x CD singles, it’s a belter of a 45 with equally enjoyable b-sides (and there’s no doubt Alex Kapranos and the rest of Franz Ferdinand were paying attention) while the two other songs from the Peel Session occasionally hint at a slightly more expirimental side of the band:-

mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Vanilla Starlet
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Vent Axia
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Dice, Nae Dice (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Everybody Hang Out (Peel Session)

Enjoy

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (16)

Keeping It Peel - October 25th

JUST BECAUSE……

http://keepingitpeel.wordpress.com/

and in particular:-

http://keepingitpeel.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/john-peel-10-years-gone/

mp3 : Arab Strap – The First Big Peel Thing (Peel Session)
mp3 : Billy Bragg – Lover’s Town (Peel Session)
mp3 : Cinerama – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Delgados – No Danger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Mr Cave’s A Window Cleaner Now (Peel Session)
mp3 : Madness _ Bed & Breakfast Man (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (Peel Session)
mp3 : T.Rex – Ride A White Swan (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Wire – I Am The Fly (Peel Session)