Hiro Yanagida was the keyboardist for two early Japanese psych bands such, Foodbrain and Love Live Life + One. His eponymous solo album from 1971 is typical of the early Japanese psych bands though sometimes showing a bit of progressive influence (such as hints of the Nice/Emerson between jams). Driving, energetic blues based hard rock/psych jams with Yanagida's swirling Hammond trading licks with Kimio Mizutani's blistering guitar leads. Of particular note is the eight minute "The Murder in the Midnight" with Yanagida turning in some fine Hammond work. Flute and sax make appearances on a few cuts. One or two songs, such as "My Dear Mary" (which feature's Speed, Glue and Shinki's Joey Smith on vocals) are in the pop vein, much of this album is raw blues/psych but it comes off as a mixed bag.
Hiro Yanagida – this keyboardist really got around! He was in Apryl Fool, Foodbrain, Masahiko Satoh & Sound Brakers, Love Live Life + One, and also played on Shinki Chen’s solo album. Throughout this time he was putting out solo albums with some of the same musicians, such as Kimio Mizutani [see above]. His debut was ‘Milk Time’ [Liberty, 1970], which has a cool photo of a stern-looking gorilla on the cover, done by the same artist who did the Foodbrain album cover. The backing band included Hiro Tsunoda from Foodbrain, Strawberry Path and Flied Egg [see above], guitarist Kimio Mizutani and electric violinist Hiroki Tamaki [see below], as well as flautist Nozumu Nakatani and bassist Keiju Ishikawa [who later played with Akira Ito – see below]. The music is in part similar to Foodbrain, but more varied, with lighter, jaunty short tracks and some tripped out sounds.
This was followed by ‘Hiro Yanagida’ [Atlantic, 1971], with great cartoon psychedelic artwork. He’s again joined by Kimio Mizutani, and Joey Smith from Speed, Glue & Shinki [see above] sings on one track, a silly doo-wop ballad! The album as a whole covers slightly similar territory to that of ‘Milk Time’, though more accomplished, and some of the mellower keyboard-oriented stuff here is a bit more experimental and progressive. One track reminds me of Supersister and oddly, Stereolab from more than 20 years later! His 3rd album, ‘Hiro’ [URC, 1972], seems to be obscure and I can’t find any information about it. ‘Hirocosmos’ [CBS, 1973] was reputedly another great album, in a more progressive vein. There are a few more album which I know nothing about - ‘UFO’ [CBS, 1978], ‘Shichi Sai No Rojin Tengoku’ [label? year?] and ‘Ma-Ya’ [Substance, 2003]. I’ve seen another album listed, ‘Planets in Rock Age , but I don’t know how that fits in or if it’s just rumour. ‘Milk Time’ was reissued on CD by P-Vine, but appears to be out of print; ‘Hiro Yanagida’ and ‘Hirocosmos’ have been reissued on CD by Showboat and are tricky to track down outside of Japanese retailers.
Yanagida played on J.A. Caesar’s ‘Matihedeyou Syowosuteyo’ [and probably other Caesar albums – see above], and also recorded some material with Tokyo Kid Brothers.