Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jacks - Jacks no Sekai [+5] aka Vacant World, 1968 (VBR)

"Marianne, the album opener, sets the tone of the record perfectly. Conjuring up images of a lake storm, a wrecked boat, and a woman emerging out of the waters, it paints a haunting and erotic picture of dark chaos and desperate libido. The musicians effortlessly display their chops here, thrashing away at their respective instruments to create an interlude section of unadulterated mayhem, only to return again to Hayakawa's brooding, hypnotic verse - which then ascends into a furious scream. Karappo no Sekai, famously banned from the airwaves due to lyrical content, is far more tranquil in comparison, with its crawling-pace bass lines, atmospheric guitar fills, and flutes. There's an overwhelming sense of lethargy to the song, which is echoed in the lyrics ("My tears have dried out/My head is so empty"). Hayakawa's observation that "it's very quiet at the bottom of the sea" is most apt, as that is exactly where "Karappo no Sekai" sounds like it's coming from.

Jacks no Sekai is, by all definitions, a classic, and writing about such a classic work gives the reviewer an extremely valuable advantage: hindsight. We know the story of what happens next. We know, for instance, that the Jacks released a lackluster follow-up, Jacks no Kiseki, in 1969 and disbanded soon afterwards. We know that after one acclaimed solo album, Hayakawa's career trajectory took a curious turn, transforming himself from a rock singer to a bookstore manager (only to reemerge gloriously as a solo artist in the 90s, but that is neither here nor now). We know that Kida, perhaps the most accomplished musician of the four, died tragically in a car accident in 1980. But most importantly we know, as a hard fact, that Jacks no Sekai has withstood the test of time. There's no need for us to second-guess ourselves when we declare that, as long as rock music continues to be heard in this country, the album will always hold an extraordinary status in the Japanese pop pantheon, a position shared only by an exclusive few. That may sound hyperbolic. It is not. As bold as that statement may appear, history has already proven it to be correct."
- Text by Keikaku

Named 13th Greatest Japanese Rock Album of All Time by both Rolling Stone Japan and Takarajima, Julian Cope thinks this is the 42nd best Japrock album in the book JAPROCKSAMPLER. Instead of transliterating the track list I've provided the English track names as they are written on the album cover. This remastered CD edition comes with five bonus tracks, two new songs and three alternate versions of songs released as singles.

JACKS - ジャックスの世界(+5)

  1. マリアンヌ [Marianne]
  2. 時計をとめて [Stop The Clock]
  3. からっぽの世界 [Vacant World]
  4. われた鏡の中から [In The Broken Mirror]
  5. 裏切りの季節 [Gloomy Flower]
  6. ラブ・ジェネレーション [Love Generation]
  7. 薔薇卍 [Bara-Manji]
  8. どこへ [Where?]
  9. 遠い海へ旅に出た私の恋人 [Love]
  10. つめたい空から500マイル [500 Miles From The Sky]
  11. この道 [My Road]
  12. からっぽの世界 (Early Single Version) [Vacant World (Early Single Version)]
  13. いい娘だね (Early Single Version) [Lovely Girl (Early Single Version)]
  14. マリアンヌ (Early Single Version) [Marianne (Early Single Version)]
  15. 時計をとめて (Early Single Version) [Stop The Clock (Early Single Version)]
BUY: CDJapan