KAZUKI TOMOKAWA

Finally, His First Album (Reissue)

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At the tender age of twenty-five, while he was working part-time at an Italian restaurant in Tokyo’s Kamata district, Kazuki Tomokawa released his debut record, fittingly titled Finally, His First Album. While he had already penned hundreds of songs, including his first single “Try Saying You’re Alive!,” written on a long train ride past fields and rice paddies, it was this recording that introduced Japan to one of its most unique musicians of the postwar era. Each track, as record label exec Kiichi Takahara writes in the LP’s liner notes (here translated for the first time), is not a song but a “flesh-and-blood human being,” birthed by the singer-songwriter and the raw, guttural cries that would become a hallmark of his incomparable sound.1970s Japan was a time and place marked by a profound desire for authenticity amidst the onset of television and media saturation. Tomokawa arrived on the scene as a musician with“the personality of a hydrogen bomb,” to borrow a phrase from his frequent collaborator Toshi Ishizuka. In an unwieldy interview included here, members of the notorious leftist band Zunou Keisatsu (Brain Police) put it bluntly: here was a man surrounded by the “disingenuous,” the “wishy-washy,” and the “superficial,” who was delivering “real life, unvarnished.”