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Half Japanese: Volume Two: 1987-1989 [Box]

Track List

>Stripping For Cash
>Thick and Thin
>Big Mistake
>Hot Dog and Hot Damn
>Price Was Right But the Door Was Wrong, The
>Blue Monday
>U.S. Teens Are Spoiled Bums
>Sex At Your Parent's House
>Last Straw, The
>Gator Bait
>La Bamba
>Ouija Board Summons Satan
>You Must Obey Me
>Salt and Pepper
>Ancient Life
>Silver and Katherine
>Money To Burn
>Hidden Charms
>My Sordid Past
>Silver and Katherine
>Dusk To Dawn
>Everybody Knows
>Go Go Go Go Go
>Every Hour
>Mongolian Stretcher
>Salt and Pepper
>T For Texas
>Shiek of Araby
>Said and Done
>Penny In the Fountain
>Roman Candles
>Love At First Sight
>Snake Line
>Bright Lights, Big City
>Face Rake
>Later In a Magazine
>Red Dress
>Charmed Life
>Day and Night
>One Million Kisses
>I'll Change My Style
>Charmed Life (2)
>Trouble In the Water
>Miracles Happen Every Day
>Poetic License
>Day and Night
>1,000,000 Kisses
>Madonna Nude
>I'll Change My Style
>George Steele
>Real Cool Time
>How Many More Years
>King Kong Burgundy
>Something New In the Ring
>Open Your Eyes/Close Your Eyes
>Daytona Beach
>Lucky Star
>Some Things Last a Long Time
>My Most Embarrassing Moment
>Buried Treasure
>Open Book
>Little Records
>Deadly Alien Spawn
>Postcard From Far Away
>Ventriloquism Made Easy
>Something In the Wind
>Bingo's Not His Name-O
>Put Some Sugar On It
>What More Can I Do?
>Brand New Moon
>Another World
>Every Word is True
>I Live For Love
>Ride Ride Ride
>I Wish I May
>Ashes On the Ground
>Curse of the Doll People
>Frankenstein Meets Billy the Kid
>My Bucket's Got a Hole In It
>Africans Built the Pyramids
>Better Than Before
>Back Home
>Mule Skinner Blues
>Jump Up
>Postcard From Far Away
>Big Wheels
>Jump Down
>Man Without a Head

Album Reviews:

Paste (magazine) - "[This volume features] some of the most polished playing yet heard on a Half Japanese album."

Album Notes

Liner Note Author: David Fair .

The seemingly purposeful eccentricity of Jad Fair's melodic sense, lyrical outlook, and willful ignorance about the guitar (he's never made a secret of the fact he doesn't really know how to play and doesn't want to learn) would seem to be the key to the chaotic tone of much of Half Japanese's recorded work. Or at least that's how it seemed before David Fair, the co-founder of the band and Jad's brother, left the group in the mid-'80s, making Jad the uncontested leader of Half Japanese. With their first album after David's departure, 1987's Music to Strip By, Half Japanese slipped into a period of relative coherence, with Jad's world-view pretty much intact but the music taking on a new focus that was a distinct change from the cacophony of their first albums. Volume Two: 1987-1989 collects three Half Japanese albums from the late '80s -- Music to Strip By, 1988's Charmed Life, and 1898's The Band That Would Be King -- and this music is far more accessible and conventionally melodic than anything on Volume One: 1981-1985, the first installment in Fire Records' reissue series. Of course, the performances are still sloppy and spontaneous, even if the accompanists are more traditionally capable of working their instruments, and Fair's obsessions remain constant on these albums -- horror movies, wrestling, odd stories he found in the newspaper, and women above all. (Though his small level of fame seems to have brightened his hopes about the fair sex; the almost-funky "Sex at your Parent's House" suggests he has no problem setting up a scenario, and when he threatens Sean Penn to a fight for the Material Girl's hand in "Madonna Nude," it's not hard to imagine he might actually land a punch.) But there's more joy and less meandering on these albums -- the jazzy polish of "Silver and Katherine" would have been unthinkable on Loud or Our Solar System -- and Fair's stream-of-consciousness lyrics speak of a growing confidence and sense of purpose, even if his themes still present themselves in short, somewhat frantic bursts. (Keep in mind these three albums deliver a total of 109 songs.) For longtime fans, Volume Two: 1987-1989 is an impressive and well-assembled study of one of this band's more interesting periods, and if you're looking for a way into Half Japanese's catalog, this a good place to start despite the heft of this collection. ~ Mark Deming


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