While a number of fantastic bands came out of the USA, the UK, and Australia in the 1980s, most people don't know that another very influential band was brewing in Japan during this most marvelous decade. The Plastics saw virtually no exposure outside their native Japan outside a very random appearance on the late-night comedy show SCTV and as an opening act for Pink Lady. The band sounds a little like a more art-pop version of Devo and has influenced numerous recent Japanese bands, including The Spoozys, Buffalo Daughter, Polysics, and other great bands you haven't heard yet.
Forever Plastico is a compilation of sorts. The band released only two normal studio albums, a remix album, and a live album-- and that was it. This album contains their entire first studio album Welcome Plastics, and six tracks from their second album, Origato Plastico. As both albums are hard to come by, and for some reason this one has started showing up on eBay a lot in Summer of 2003, this may be worth tracking down.
The band sounds a lot like any other New Wave band from the 1980s, right down to the fact they sing in English. Bad English. "Engrish," if you will. This adds a certain charm to the album that just wouldn't exist were it done any other way. The band's five members employ a very minimal amount of instrumentation and in this day and age, would seem bloated. There's nothing here a duet couldn't do, really, but the different talents and at times, different voices help to create some great sounds that may not have otherwise existed.
One track stands out-- "Last Train to Clarksville." While it may seem unusual that a Japanese band would have recorded a cover of the tune popularized by The Monkees, they did just that, with a fairly unpredictable musical sound and vocals coming in right where you might expect. The rest of the first 14 tracks are a bright, chipper, and peppy digital sound with a few normal instruments and a drum machine, propelling the band to cult status. It's a small cult, but it's a deserved one.
Tracks 15-20 represent about half of their second album, which, like the first, was originally released in 1981. "Park/ Eight Days A Week" contains part of a Beatles song of the same name and most likely is only in the title due to legal reasons. The other tracks aren't entirely out of place here, but a few really great songs from that album were not included, like "Diamond Head" which was later re-recorded by The Spoozys.
The album is sure to delight fans of unusual Japanese music and those who can't get enough of New Wave Art Pop, and fans of current Japanese rock bands (not so much J-Pop fans) should get a huge kick out of hearing this. Despite being over 20 years old, the album sounds fairly fresh and in many cases could almost get away with being mistaken for a new indie release. Then again, a few tracks, such as "Deluxe," sound like they need to be played in a Supercade at a mall stocked with Pac-Man machines.
This album is no longer in print. As such, it'll cost upwards of $20 on eBay and most likely require international shipping. If your preferred musical tastes usually involve seeking out the unusual, you absolutely must track this down. It's not overwhelmingly influencial nor will many see it as a classic, but it's fun to listen to and in many cases is downright freakish. If you think the likes of Devo are too goofy for your listening tastes, though, pass on this one.
October 27, 2003