Hajime Tachibana (Ultimate Collection #5)
Ah, the first 80’s record in my Ultimate Collection! It’s so embarrassing, but I was given a promo LP of “H” (1982) – I wasn’t anticipating it at all. For my Ultimate Collection, there are just two versions for me, the original Yen / Alfa promo LP and the CD version as found in “Yen Records – Box #1” – a paper sleeve CD edition that I got signed by Tachibana when I met him in Tokyo in 1997.
No language barrier here, this is an instrumental album. Tachibana had played guitar in the Plastics, but with “H”, he seemed to be concentrating on the saxophone. This album was produced by Yukihiro Takahashi, the drummer of Y.M.O. – but it doesn’t sound like Y.M.O. (despite all 3 members of Y.M.O. appearing on “H”). And the entire package is in English.
When I met Tachibana in Tokyo in 1997, I asked him why he called the album “H”: For him, “H” was the most constructive letter in the English language, appearance of the letter taking on an increased importance for him.
As this was only the 2nd LP on Y.M.O.’s Yen label, I had no idea that there would be a lot more neat music to come on this label – Yen managed to release approx. 25 albums over the next few years – but “H” remained my clear favorite.
I used this album as a path to try and find what else I liked in Japanese 80’s music. I found a lot of other great stuff, but nothing else really came close to “H” for me. It was synth-pop 80’s, but it was also avant-garde. Jazz? Not really, just a new approach to synth pop music.
I certainly turned a lot of people on to this record. But I eventually began to meet people (in Los Angeles) who liked “H” that I hadn’t been who turned them on to it! Neat, so it did get out there. It got heard.
I was never as enamored of his follow-up album, “Hm” – “H” had been the bomb for me, it changed the way I looked at pop music. It changed what I felt about Japanese music. It changed me.
I guess I started writing about Japanese music this month because I was thinking that the 5th album in my Ultimate Collection would be a Japanese artist. I went to Japan many times between 1994 and 2007 – but meeting Tachibana and interviewing him in 1997 was definitely a highlight of my visits there. It was like I finally got to get close to the real reason I was going to Japan so much. I wanted to know more about “H”, and it’s creator was the only person who could tell me more – not that what he told me about it changed anything about how I felt towards “H”. But I do feel like I got closer to it, I suppose. Desert Island Disc, Ultimate Collection…call it what you will. “H” is one of my favorite records ever made, and I am pleased to present it to you today, as album #5 in my Ultimate Collection.