Robert Lester Folsom – Jericho

Robert Lester Folsom only released one solo album on his own imprint Abacus Records before moving from his native south Georgia to the Florida panhandle, where he worked painting houses. He did play with another group called The Stroke Band, which released an album in 1978 entitled Green and Yellow, but the project disbanded shortly after. While he was painting, his 1976 solo release Music and Dreams slowly accrued a cult following among soft rock enthusiasts and listening to Jericho, it is easy to understand why. Before Anthology Records reissued Music and Dreams in 2014, collectors were limited to a number of quasi-official releases from Asia. However, Anthology did this album right and also made a short documentary to accompany the release. The doc has lots of good color, including Folsom talking about picking pecans so he could buy Led Zeppelin II. Anthology also put out a number of previously unreleased recordings called Ode to a Rainy Day: Archives 1972-1975. That released is also on Bandcamp and is worth checking out if you like this track, especially See You Later, I’m Gone and Another Sunday Morning.

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Yura Yura Teikoku – Nantonaku Yume O

Yura Yura Teikoku formed in the late-1980s in Tokyo and were very highly regarded in the Japanese underground music scene there, though there first performance outside Japan didn’t come until 2005. This track comes off their last commercial release, 2007’s Hollow Me. Though the group has had a number of drummers over the years, bassist Chiyo Kamekawa and singer/guitarist Shintaro Sakamoto anchored the group until they disbanded in 2010, citing a lack of enthusiasm. Both Kamekawa and Sakamoto have remained active with solo projects, and while I can’t say I’ve heard Kamekawa’s work I can vouch for Sakamoto’s two solo releases: How to Live with a Phantom and Let’s Dance Raw. What really hooks me about this group (and Sakamoto’s solo work) is the blend of folk rock and psychedelia, which is a combination many have attended but few have pulled off as well as these guys do. If you like this track just listen to the auto-generated playlist for this track. It has a couple tracks from Sakamoto’s solo albums as well as some live cuts and it’s had my foot a-tappin’ all day.

Tin Pan Alley – Yellow Magic Carnival

Following the release of Happy End’s final studio album, Haruomi Hosono and Shigeru Suzuki teamed up with Tatsuo Hayashi to form the short-lived group Tin Pan Alley. Yellow Magic Carnival comes off the groups studio debut though there is a necessary disclaimer needed when discussing these groups. The rock scene in Japan was highly collaborative so drawing firm boundaries between particular groups can be fraught. For example, the three members of Tin Pan Alley released material as Caramel Mama a few years before their self-titled debut. Hosono is certainly well known to fans of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and I’d encourage exploration of the material from the early 70s, especially for fans of the California folk rock scene active around the same time.

While Hosono, Yukihiro Takahashi, and Ryuichi Sakamoto had long and productive solo careers, exploring the members’ pre-YMO work shows just how rich and collaborative this scene was. As an example, Hayashi contributed percussion to Hosono and Takahashi’s solo releases and if I had any understanding of Japanese I could probably find more examples. If you dig this release and haven’t heard Kazemachi Roman by Happy End be sure to check that out because it’s been hugely influential on Japanese rock music. I did a short-run radio show about the context of YMO and while licensing seems to have wiped out some of the episodes, the episode about the pre-YMO stuff seems to be still available on Mixcloud and gives a broader sample of this scene.