Sometimes, bargain bin finds can end up costing a butt ton of $$ in the long run. Such is the case with ゆらゆら帝国.
There's a book and music store here that used to be on the outskirts of the Asian area of town. Used CDs from Japan showed up on a regular basis, and I often would take risks on them (and non-Japanese CDs, as well). One such risk was on this CD; I think it was either $4.79 or $5.59. See, the store prices most all of its used CD stock at $7.99 per disc. They use a letter & number system to track how long things have been sitting on the shelf, and prices used to drop in 10% increments the longer things sat (nowadays, the prices lose a dollar at a time).
As it turned out, it was ゆらゆら帝国's second album, and they'd released a buncha stuff since. The album was an interesting mix of garage rock, prog rock, and avant garde-isms like drum patterns pretty much lifted directly from early Captain Beefheart songs. It was really good! My friend Charlie was about to go to Japan for a business trip, so I asked him if he could check for their CDs while he was there. Shortly after he returned, a box appeared on my doorstep jam packed with ゆらゆら帝国 CDs.
I got worried; what if I ended up not liking them? With much trepidation, I opened one and put it in the player. It was great! Whew!! As I listened to the rest, they just got better and better!
Naturally, this put me on a quest to get the rest of their releases. I ended up spending a lot ordering their CDs from various on-line stores in Japan, as no one stocked them in the USA at the time. I'm not going to admit what I paid for it, but I paid probably at least three times as much as the second most expensive CD I've ever bought on a copy of this, their extremely rare first album. Not long after I bought it, ゆらゆら帝国 played their first ever shows outside of Japan. I drove 1,000 miles one way to see them, and it was totally worth it. I stayed with my friend James in Brooklyn for four days and got to see ゆらゆら帝国 twice! I also caught excellent shows by Alice Texas and by CocoRosie with Dirty Projectors opening.
Today's song comes from the limited edition single they issued prior to the release of their 2003 concurrently unleashed albums 『ゆらゆら帝国のしびれ』 and 『ゆらゆら帝国のめまい』. The former was their most out-there album yet, while the latter expressed their softer pop side. When I put the latter in the CD player for the first time, I thought it was a mispress and not the right disc, until the voice of leader and guitarist Shintaro Sakamoto appeared and allayed my fears.
『ゆらゆら帝国のしびれ』 featured today's song, but in a rather different arrangement. I had no idea that the single version was different until I decided, a few years later, to go ahead and snag the copy I found on-line of 『冷たいギフト／貫通』. I mean, it was not only a 3" CD (cute city!) but a double one, at that! In a tiny gatefold sleeve, even. It was also released on vinyl as a 10" single, but that's not nearly as adorable.
Interestingly, the video I later discovered for the song is, in addition to being super cool, the single version, rather than the album one. So, you can watch the video on YouTube, but you can't get the single unless you want to spend a fair chunk of change. Or you could just download today's song.
Sadly, ゆらゆら帝国 decided to part on friendly terms in 2010, as they felt they had accomplished all they could/wanted to as a band. Former leader Shintaro Sakamoto just released his first solo album, How to Live with a Phantom, in November of last year. I cannot wait to hear it!
- ゆらゆら帝国 = Yura Yura Teikoku = Swinging Empire
- 冷たいギフト = Tsumetai Gifuto = Cold Gift
- 貫通 = Kantsuu = Penetration
- ゆらゆら帝国のしびれ = Yura Yura Teikoku no Shibire = Numbness of Yura Yura Teikoku
- ゆらゆら帝国のめまい = Yura Yura Teikoku no Memai = Vertigo of Yura Yura Teikoku