Lily’s early life runs parallel to an untold story of post-war Japan, that of the marginalised hafu - children of half Japanese / half foreign parents. Likely to be a target, a vessel for the bitterness, from
the humiliation of the American Occupation, to the buried guilt
of Japan’s own atrocities, enacted on their Asian neighbours. Her troubled formative years - an absent father, and losing her mother
in her teens - possibly contributed to the development of the bluesy edge of her vocal style, or maybe it was the smoke from the jazz bar her mother ran.
As with many outsiders of the 60s and early 70s, she turned up in Tokyo’s Shinjuku, a famed spot for many a writer, actor, artist
and musician. It was here her songs first aired, and she was swiftly booked to record her music.
With a groove set in stone with her Bye-Bye Session Band - later including Ryuichi Sakamoto and jazz keyboardist Hiroshi Sato - this selection covers her 70s period, with strong seams of soul, funk, touches of folk- and space-rock, and her signature (in Japan) heartbreaking ballads.
Vibrations from the other side of the globe, in the same period as classic Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Cymande, Sly & The Family Stone, and the rest, all with Lily's voice make this music utterly unique.
Compiled by Howard Williams, whose Japanese music show
Japan Blues has been a mainstay on NTS Radio since 2014. He has released several retrospectives of Japanese music for various record labels, covering traditional folk (Nippon Folk, Japan Blues for The Trilogy Tapes); kayoukyoku & Nihon Indigo (also TTT); 70s female gangster soundtracks (Killing Melody, Ethbo); 50s rockabilly (Nippon Rock’n’Roll, Big Beat); surf guitar and funk rock (Nippon Guitars, Big Beat); soul, funk and disco (Lovin’ Mighty Fire, BGP); and the jazz singer Maki Asakawa for Honest Jons, after co-compiling their Moondog retrospective, Viking of Sixth Avenue.
With liner notes written by Lily’s original producer, Yukiji Teramoto translated by Alan Cummings, and the photography of Jin Tamura.