I quietly got my hands on the new CD by the Gosperats last night at Tower Records in Shibuya with no race riots, inquisitions from Immigration, weird looks from the cashier, or indeed any hassle whatsoever.
They only had the Limited Edition in stock, which was fine with me since it comes with A FUCKING SILVER GOSPERATS RING delivered in a black felt pouch.
What follows is a track-by-track review of the CD itself.
A cover of the old Rats&Star classic as seen and heard on HEY HEY HEY Music Champ a few weeks back. The string-laden arrangement isn’t a match for the original, but protesting too much is futile. The guys nicely trade off leads on the verses and it makes a solid introduction to the record. Best bit: when the voice-over heralds the Gosperats as “my Tokyo homies.”
2. まさか赤坂Show Time
The "homies" head over to Spanish Harlem with castanets in tow on a quest to bring back some of that “Latin Flavor.” There’s a constantly shifting melody with lots of wacky backup bass parts bound to make you giggle. For example: “Happy walla walla.”
A modern sounding slow jam dedicated to “Linda.” Linda who? Japanese subtitle queen Linda Hoagland? Opens with harsh AM radio compression ala Daft Punk and ends with a shockeroo twist: “You’re the girl in the love, you’re the girl Linda.” As if owning this CD wasn’t incriminating enough…
4. Interlude クイズ♪バーボボバー物語
Brief skit where members of the band play Name That Tune with Mr. Bassman. The correct answer of “My Girlfriend by the Cadillacs” is greeted with much multi-tracked applause. The best cut is by The Shanels (AKA Rats&Star Version 1.0) and all join in for an impromptu sing-along.
“Spot the Influence” continues with a cover of a typically terrific Ohtaki Eiichi song (there’s even some baseball sound effects in tribute to his classic Go! Go! Niagara LP). Like much of the former Happy End man’s output, it’s a pre-Beatles teenage dream switching on a dime from Frankie Lymon to Phil Spector. The Go-Rat’s are vocally up to the challenge, making it the top cut on the disc, for sure.
6. Valentine Kiss~永遠の誓い~
Motown! Four Tops fantasies are explored as the boys trade off leads yet again. The opening couplet doubles as the Gosperats’ Guide to Life: “Only you! Baka na!” Ends with everyone saying “Happy Valentine," which is weird since guys don’t usually say that kind of shit to each other unless they gay.
The Big Dramatic Power Ballad arrives on schedule, but oddly devoid of any R&B influence. With nary a “showaddywaddy” to be heard anywhere; it’s easily the stinker of the bunch.
Another skit: “We interrupt this record to report that the Gosperats are missing!” Turns out they’re just backstage rehearsing. Whew.
9. The Voice
The credits roll to some beautiful long lost spine-tingling doo-wop (Fred Parris & the Scarlets, anyone?) sung in acapella. The last thing on the record, which costs around US$25 and only has seven real songs on it, is the sound of a toilet flushing…
(Addendum: no, that's not a metaphor or a joke or something. The record literally ends with the sound of a toilet flushing. Joey Coco can back me up on this.)