Various Artists

Tokyo Riddim 1976-1985

Time Capsule • 2023

In 1979, Bob Marley and the Wailers toured Japan for the first time. As the title of this compilation suggests, however, it would take a time capsule for us to understand how this musical event sparked the rise of reggae and its related forms in the island nation. Reggae actually spread to Japan much earlier, absorbing various influences along the way, all of which are reflected in these eight tracks. As the liner notes reveal, reggae eventually spilled over into Tokyo, where it entered into a fruitful relationship with the mainstream urban pop popular there, not least thanks to the global success of acts like The Police, who made a killing with their white replica. Separating these two genres is impossible when listening to this release. Izumi »Mimi« Kobayashi’s »Lazy Love«, for example, would have looked pretty good on compilations like »Pacific Breeze«. Junko Yagami’s anti-apartheid track »Johannesburg« does dance out of line, however, at least at the beginning. It too finds its shuffling groove later on, onto which strange, funny and interesting things are added throughout the eight tracks. Greatness is created at times, not least because of the whole unreggae-like female vocal hooks that meet classic rhythm guitar riffs on »Coffee Break«. The Japanese acts always treated the foreign genre with respect, but didn’t freeze in awe and certainly didn’t indulge in vulgar epigonism. Thus »Tokyo Riddim 1976-1985« is more than just a document of its times, but rather a piece of music worth listening to.