Hiroshi Nagai…Tower Records 40 Years and more

タワーレコード日本進出40年記念!タワレコ・バイヤーが時代を超えて ...

Japanese Mellow 1975-2012

My interest in the cover art of Hiroshi Nagai started with the series of Tower Records 40th anniversary compilations from 2019 (Japanes Mellow, Japanese Groove, and AOR Edition) and others, like the Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop cover below.  Also explore more of his art in the Pinterest link below.

VA: Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR and Boogie 1976-1986 (Light In the Attic Records)

This from the press release:

Pacific Breeze documents Japan’s blast into the stratosphere. By the 1960s, the nation had achieved a postwar miracle, soaring to become the world’s second largest economy. Thriving tech exports sent the Rising Sun over the moon. Its pocket cassette players, bleeping video games, and gleaming cars boomed worldwide, wooing pleasure points and pumping Japanese pockets full of yen.

“Japan’s financial buoyancy also permeated its popular culture, birthing an audio analog called City Pop. This new sound arose in the mid ’70s and ruled through the ’80s, channeling the country’s contemporary psyche. It was sophisticated music mirroring Japan’s punch-drunk prosperity. City Pop epitomized the era, providing a soundtrack for emerging urbanites. An optimistic spirit buzzed through the music in neon-bathed, gauzy tableaus coated with groove-heavy strokes.

Pacific Breeze is an expertly compiled collection of choice cuts that range from silky smooth grooves to innovative techno pop bangers and everything in between. Long-revered by crate diggers and adventurous music heads, this music has never been released outside of Japan until now. Including key artists like Taeko Ohnuki and Minako Yoshida, as well as cult favorites Hitomi Tohyama and Hiroshi Sato, the long-awaited release also features newly commissioned cover painting by Tokyo-based artist Hiroshi Nagai, whose iconic images of resort living have graced the covers of many classic City Pop albums of the 1980s.

Many of the key City Pop players evolved from the Japanese New Music scene of the early ’70s, as heard on Light In The Attic’s acclaimed Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973, the first release of the ongoing Japan Archival Series. In fact, you could say City Pop set sail with a champagne smash from Happy End, the freakishly talented subversives who included amongst their ranks Haruomi Hosono and Shigeru Suzuki, both featured on this compilation. As Michael K. Bourdaghs noted in his book, Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon, this music was, “Deconstructing the line between imitation and authenticity.” Some of the best City Pop teeters in this zone—easy listening with mutant exotica, tilted techno-pop, and steamy boogie bubbling beneath the gloss.”

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AOR Edition

No Music, No Life. Tower Records 40th Anniversary - cover art
This compilation was compiled commemorate the 40th anniversary of 
Tower Records entry into Japan. 

Here, Tower Records buyers selected 40 gems
that are loved across eras and genres. 

The target age is not limited to the last 
40 years, but since 1960, when Tower Records was 
founded in the United States. 

From Elvis Presley's "I Can't Help You Like It" (1961) to Sam Smith
"Stay With Me." (2013) The songs have been selected by the audience
to reflect the nostalgia of the times.


Japanese Groove 1977-2006

here’s a bunch more info

…and more to explore here...

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Stuff I missed: Equidity Funk

Equidity Funk: Hard To Find Gems From The Vaults Of P&P Records

On any given day, Peter Brown will gladly let it be known that he has 500 records “that ain’t never been released” in the digital age. A legendary label mogul and businessman, Brown has witnessed and actively helped influence the evolution of black music in America throughout an illustrious career spanning over half a century. He was the independent entrepreneur who could instill fear in the major label big dogs. In a time when the music industry was more like the wild west than it’s present day blogosphere, Brown was on top of his game. When “Saturday Night Fever” was sweeping the nation, his disco and funk cuts on the Land Of Hits label were being played alongside acts like Chic and the Bee Gees. When Sylvia and Joe Robinson were living on Sugar Hill, Peter was putting out acts like Spoonie Gee that the Robinsons wanted to have as their own. For an accomplished man with such an extensive catalogue, it is unfortunately too often that we see many a compilations paying homage to him that fall short of the mark. It is easy for the compiler to have his mind boggled when attempting to get familiar with the man’s entire works. Equidity Funk, however, is a refreshing and welcomed exception Overseen by Peter Brown himself.

The album features choice selections from the P&P Records catalogue that have, for one reason or another, become rare and lesser known.  Equidity Funk manages to do something a lot of retrospective “old school” compilations can’t do, and that is remain a joy for music lovers to play. Peter Brown’s impeccable knowledge and memory of his own catalogue has provided the assistance to bring you only the best he could offer; vicious funk perfectly juxtaposed and complimented with a combination of Hip Hop and Electro throwdowns.  Highlights include the super rare Mistafide Hip Hop track “Equidity Funk,” as well as the hard beats of Super Coper’s “This Is The Way You Do The Break Dance,” and Stax’s lost gem, “New York Computer Break Dance’.


1 Stax (6) New York Computer Breakdance
2 Jesse Gee Let’s Do It
3 Mistafide Equidity Funk (Short Version)
4 Fly Guy Disco Hop
5 Marvin Wright (2) Robot Dance
6 Le’O Roy Pound For Pound
7 Super Coper & Clarence Breakers This Is The Way To Do The Break Dance
8 Ikim & Bacardi Funk Rap (Inst.)
9 Stack* Win Jesse Win
10 Lavaba & E. Mallison A Game Of Life ( Inst.)
11 Milton Floyd Anyway I Can
12 Little Starsky* Gangster Rock

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Jazz is Dead

For those of you who thought that Jazz was dead, you just haven’t looked hard enough.  I submit to you exhibit A.

This from the press release aka bandcamp:

“It feels like, every week something special is recorded in the Linear Labs recording studio, here in Los Angeles. But this right here? This right here is special. Over the last year Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad have been making music with the masters. Composing and producing brand new albums with their heroes. This is our first presentation of work that has come out of these sessions.”


1. Hey Lover feat Roy Ayers
2. Distant Mode feat Gary Bartz
3. Nancy Wilson feat Brian Jackson
4. Conexão feat João Donato
5. Down Deep feat Doug Carn
6. Apocalíptico feat Azymuth
7. Não Saia Da Praça feat Marcos Valle
8. Jazz Is Dead feat The Midnight Hour

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Same Energy

Bill Frisell-In Line

My regular readers know my love of album covers, for today’s post I simply submit to you some album art, (more album art porn) all with the same type of energy to amuse.

McCoy Tyner-13th House

7th Wonder-Words Don’t Say Enough

The Cure-Boys Don’t Cry

Oso Oso-The Yunahon Mixtape

Lenny White-Big City

Tower Records 40th Anniversary

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Disco w/ Feeling

Various Artists: Disco With A Feeling…an Introduction To The Heart and Soul of Independent Disco
Athens Of The North Records

I know we already touched on the magnificence of the compilation above, but I wanted to offer up a few more selections that fit into the Disco with Feeling category.  Check em out.

Various Artists: Greg Belson’s Divine Disco – American Gospel Disco 1974-1984
Cultures of Soul Records

check out more here.

More from Pop Matters

this the spot.

During the 1970s and 80s, the city of Boston and its environs produced some of the eras most iconic music stars, from rock megaliths like Aerosmith and The Cars to disco and soul celebutantes Donna Summer, New Edition and Tavares. These artists emerged from Beantowns thriving underground music scene to fnd global success, but what about the countless contemporaries who never made it beyond the local circuit Native DJ, producer and bass player Serge Gamesbourg began digging in the crates for forgotten gems more than two decades ago; emerging in 2018 with his frst BBE compilation, lovingly titled Boston Goes Disco!

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Great Googa Mooga

Just a monumentally fun collection of 50s and 60s doo wop, and yakety yak.


1. Larry Williams – Heeby Jeebies
2. The Chips – Rubber Biscuit
3. Tom & Jerrio – Great Googa Mooga
4. The Penguins – Ookey Ook
5. Pretty Boy – Bip Bop Bip
6. Richard Berry – Yama Yama Pretty Mama
7. The Bobbettes – Um Bow Bow
8. Don & Dewey – Bim Bam
9. Jonesy’s Combo – Ting Ting Boom Scat (feat. Fletcher Smith’s Squares)
10. The Blues Woman (Marion Abernathy) & The Buddy Banks Sextet – Voo-it! Voo-it!
11. The Falcons – Du-Bi-A-Do
12. Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns – Oochie Pachie
13. Marvin & Johnny & The Marsmen – Mamo Mamo
14. Billy Byrd & His Penguins – Boom Pacha Boom
15. The Magic Tones – Good Googa Mooga
16. LaVern Baker – Voodoo, Voodoo
17. Jessie Hill – Ooh Poo Pah Doo Pt 1
18. Savoys – Yacka Hoom Boom (feat. Al Smith & Jack McVea’s Orchestra)
19. Dolly Cooper – Ay La Bah
20. Little Anthony & The Imperials – Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop
21. The Rivingtons – Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow (The Bird)
22. Claude McLin – Jambo
23. Little Richard – Bama Lama Bama Loo
24. JJ Jackson – Oo-Ma-Liddi
25. Gamma Goochee Himself – (You Got) The Gamma Goochee
26. King Coleman – Loo-Key Doo-Key
27. Claude McLin – Jambo (Instrumental Version)

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RIP Pedro Bell

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I meant to post this soooooo long ago, I found it in my drafts and figured I still would.  One love to the album cover GOAT!

The iconic illustrator of P-Funk’s most memorable album covers passed at the age of 69.  Much has already been posted about the man so instead of trying to rehash some of those sentiments I’ll simply post this from Juxtapoz Magazine for you to check out.

Also a GREAT post over here.

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Best of 2019 all genres

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I had this all ready to go and never published it.  Better late than never.

I’m not really sure why I’m making this list again this year, except it is a lot of fun for me, as weird as that sounds, and I get to listen to lots of great music with purpose.  I narrow down songs from thousands to hundreds, then to two hundred, then one hundred and finally fifty.  This task is not easy, and mostly involves a lot of feeling, like if one track hits harder, or gets stuck longer, but I also like to think that I apply some loosely made up rubric inside my own head.  Sorta like if you are a legend you get one more point, if you are making a statement another, etc etc. Aside from all that though, I get to listen to songs over and over and create a relationship with them like we used to do, remember that?  Listening to your new favorite songs over and over again, partially because you had to (the world wide web hadn’t been gifted to us yet, with it’s entire catalog of every song ever), but also because you wanted to, you were in love.  Of all things, most of all this years list is about love, I narrowed it down to the essential tracks of the year that I felt in love with.

So this is MY list.  Of course the biggest (and admittedly best) songs of the year were Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy, Lizzo’s Truth Hurts and Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road, but they don’t belong here. This year’s list did have a flair for the quirky and country,… and made lots of room for baddies.

Thanks for playing, come again.

50. Cactus Blossoms-Got a Lotta Love

49. Fruit Bats-The Bottom of It

48. Big Thief-UFOF

47. Steve Moon-New Moon

46. Doug Tuttle-I’ll Throw It All Away

45. Grace Ives-Mirror

44. Walker Lukens-Baby

43. Boz Metzdorf-Sails Across the Sea

42.Danny Brown-Best Life

41. Flying Lotus-Black Balloons Reprise

40. Vincent Neil Emerson-25 & Wastin’ Time

39. Cass McCombs-Confidence Man

I can only assume this song is about tRump.  Nevertheless I love the laid back groove and hushed, almost secretive, poetic lyrics.

38. Marc Lanegan-Playing Nero

37. Dope Lemon-Salt and Pepper

36.Bill Callahan-If You Could Touch Her At All

35. Local Natives-When Am I Gonna Lose You

34. Karl Blau-Twilight

33. Night Beats-(Am I) Just Wasting Time

32. Cut Worms-How It Can Be

31. Brockhampton-Boy BYE

Also one of the most amusing video’s of the year.

30. Injury Reserve-Jailbreak the Tesla

29. Bon Iver-Hey MA

28. People Under the Stairs-Hard

27. Jim James, Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra-Back to the End of the World

26. Cate le Bon-Home to You

25. Tyler the Creator-New Magic Wand

24. Mac Demarco-On the Square

23. Kindness-Hard To Believe

22. Whitney-Giving Up

21. Lyrics Born and Cutso-Hit Number One

20. Izzy Bizu-Lights On

19. Beast Coast-It Ain’t Easy

18. Nubian Twist-Jungle Run

17. Sam Cohen-I Can’t Lose

16. Big K.R.I.T.-Energy

15. Wyclef-Baba

14. Steve Lacy-Playground

13. Brittany Howard-Stay High

12. Gang Starr-Bad Name

11. Sudan Archives-Confessions

10. Richard Hawley-My Little Treasures

9. Drug Dealer-Fools

8. Jamila Woods-BETTY

7. Andrew Bird-Bloodless

6. James Blake-Mile High

5. Nas-Jarreau of Rap (Skatt Attack)

4. Foxygen-Face the Facts

3. Purple Mountains-Snow is Falling in Manhattan

2. Madlib & Freddie Gibbs-Crime Pays

1. Emily King-Teach You

There is just something so special about this song.  I don’t know if it’s the mandolin casually skipping in after the verse or just the overall feel, that is entirely contemporary yet completely timeless.  Such a lovely and vibrant song, so full of life and love, and that is why it’s my favorite of the year.  It just stuck with me til the end.

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New Again

Gil Scott-Heron-We’re New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven


1. Special Tribute (Broken Home pt. 1) (0:42)
2. I’m New Here (4:13)
3. Running (2:04)
4. Blessed Parents (1:09)
5. New York is Killing Me (5:19)
6. The Patch (Broken Home pt. 2) (1:16)
7. People of the Light (2:54)
8. Being Blessed (0:14)
9. Where Did the Night Go (2:37)
10. Lily Scott (Broken Home pt.3) (1:05)
11. I’ll Take Care of You (3:25)
12. I’ve Been Me (0:36)
13. This Can’t Be Real (1:30)
14. Piano Player (0:36)
15. The Crutch (2:34)
16. Guided (Broken Home pt.4) (1:57)
17. Certain Bad Things (0:13)
18. Me and the Devil (4:48)

To mark the tenth anniversary of the release of I’m New Here, the thirteenth – and last – studio album from the legendary US musician, poet and author Gil Scott-Heron, XL Recordings released a unique reinterpretation of the album by acclaimed US jazz musician Makaya McCraven. Titled We’re New Again, the album was released on 7th February 2020; exactly a decade after the release of Scott-Heron’s original Richard Russell-produced recording. It follows in the footsteps of Jamie xx’s highly acclaimed 2011 remix album We’re New Here and will be McCraven’s first release of 2020, following the huge global acclaim heaped upon his 2018 album Universal Beings. One of the most vital new voices in modern jazz, McCraven is described by the New York Times as a “Chicago-based drummer, producer and beat maker, [who] has quietly become one of the best arguments for jazz’s vitality”

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Best Soul/Funk Albums 2019

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The Top 25 new soul/funk albums countdown as heard live on Soul Donuts Radio!

25.  C.S. Armstrong-Truth Be Told

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Hip hop and R&B influences crusted over with street filth and hiding some deep down soul.

24. The New Mastersounds-Shake It

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The addition of singing sensation Lamar Williams Jr. really adds to the groups already tight sound, rooted in jazz and featuring the organ this group is always creating new slick styles to work with.

23. The Bamboos-By Special Arrangement

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String arrangements of some of their greatest hits, a really special album.

22. Tanika Charles-The Gumption

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Light hearted and artfully crafted soul tracks that take Motown as their cue.

21. The Mighty Mocambos-2066

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Instrumental funk maestros still have an axe to grind.

20. Sault-5 & 7

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Featuring production by Inflo, this new group released two great albums in 2019, both of them featuring funky hooks and thought provoking lyrics.

19. Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed-99 Cent Dreams

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The retro soul revivalist at his very best, with straight forward vintage soul cuts and fantastic guest appearances.

18. Lydia Persaud-Let Me Show You

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Sumptuous and soulful R&B that simultaneously carries weight but can feel light and airy, a true mystery and mastery of the sound.

17. Eric Boss-A Modern Love

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A confident take on retro soul featuring horns, back up singers and gritty funk.

16. The Limboos-Baia

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An eclectic collection of rhythm driven Afro-Cuban, Latin-funk, soul, blues, mambo, salsa, and the list goes on and on…

15. Brittany Howard-Jaime

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The lead singer of the Alabama Shakes steps out to show the world she can be dynamic and fresh on her own.

14. Bobby Oroza-This LoveImage result for bobby oroza"

Powerful messages from the heart in the perfect style of soul.

13. Nick Waterhouse-Nick Waterhouse

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The authentic rhythm and blues and classic sounds of Nick Waterhouse on display yet again here.  He is one of our consistently favorite artists in the revival movement.

12. Marc Cohn and Blind Boys of Alabama-Work To Do

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A match made in heaven.

11. Michael Kiwanuka-Kiwanuka

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With clear socially conscious intentions in mind, Kiwanuka sounds like an honest re-imagining of Marvin Gaye’s classic eco-soul albums.

10. Smuggler Brothers-Musione


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Showcasing a large range of different funk stylings; jumping off in Italy and traveling around the globe.

9. Shawn Lee-Rides Again

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Veterans always know how to craft meaningful albums, as this album see’s Mr. Shawn Lee employing country, yacht rock, and Americana into his funk and soul landscape.

8. Carlton Jumel Smith-1634 Lexington Ave

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Genuine soul from this new-comer.

7. The Dip-Delivers

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Classic soul and doo-wop written, recorded, and performed to perfection.

6. Black Pumas-Black Pumas

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Hard hitting funk n soul.  Like a lost album from the early to middle 70’s era, conjuring gritty streetwise activists stomping through the ghetto.

5. Kelly Finnigan-The Tales People Tell

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The lead singer of the Monophonics mixes authentic sounding soul numbers, with a touch of R&B.

4. P.P. Arnold-The New Adventures of…

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Stunning return of a soul legend.  Produced by Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Cradock, this album updates the sound of classic oldies, easy listening, and soul for new audiences and old alike.  These songs would feel equally at home amongst Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick’s most iconic albums.

3. Durand Jones and the Indications-American Love Call

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The actual trials and tribulations of life are what shaped and molded the strength behind this soulful sophomore album.  A little bit slower vibe and a more serious agenda punctuate the deeply funky grooves and tight rhythms.

2. Yola-Walk Through Fire

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Combining a breezy, easy listening sound with folksy soul and Americana, Easy Eye Sound Recording Studio has done it again, and delivered us one of the best albums of the year.

1. Lee Fields and the Expressions-It Rains Love

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The consummate professional and soul veteran combines with his off the charts talented band to hit us with slick soul and funk productions that typify the revival sound.  Just another smash hit album for the Lee Fields and the boys, ya know…another day at work.

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