Personnel: Alan Merrill (vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards); Hiroshi "Monsieur" Kamayatsu (guitar, background vocals); Monsieur Kamayatsu (guitar); Shinoyan, Hiro Yanagida (keyboards); Masayoshi Kabe (bass guitar); Hiroshi Oguchi (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Kohichi Kawamoto.
Recording information: Sound Spirits; Studio EGM.
Director: Vodka Collins.
Photographer: Yuji Hashimoto.
Unknown Contributor Role: Jun Kaneko.
One year on from the superb Chemical Reaction comeback album, Vodka Collins regrouped for what might well be their masterpiece, an album that not only confirms the vivacity of its makers' reputation, but keeps pushing them away from the landscapes they'd sketched out before and into a bold new direction of harder (but no less hooky) rock. Blessed with one of the most unusual covers of any recent rock album (the Mamas & the Papas were censored for less), Pink Soup opens and closes with the propulsive shuffle of the title track, five minutes to start with, a mere reprise at the end. There's a hint of early Dire Straits floating around the edges, but any such comparisons are dismissed the moment the lyric reveals itself as a barely-disguised paean to oral sex. Elsewhere, "Les Animaux de Partay" rattles across a distinctly Bo Diddley-esque rhythm -- the Pretty Things on speed -- while "Feet (All Around the World)" has a smart Midwestern rock shuffle, coupled with "Roppongi Roppongi," later in the cycle, there's a pronounced John Mellencamp influence to be gleaned from the proceedings, although never so much that Vodka Collins lose sight of their own gift-of-the-grind. "The Boys in the Band," a song so powerful that it went on to title Vodka Collins' first "best of," is thunderous enough to be the Stones or the Dolls, and it's not alone. This is a powerful album from one of Japan's hottest ever bands; and, if there's any one regret, it's that Vodka Collins never made it on to Western shores. There were landscapes there, just begging to be changed, and Vodka Collins could have changed them. ~ Dave Thompson