Before They Were Y.M.O. - Part 2
Up next in our three-part "Before They Were Y.M.O." special is bassist Haruomi Hosono and his legendary folk-rock group, Happy End.
Hosono, much like future bandmate Yukihiro Takahashi, had years of experience recording and performing under his belt before joining Y.M.O. He was a member of the psychedelic rock group Apryl Fool before forming Happy End with the band's drummer Takahashi Matsumoto in 1969.
Happy End created in Japan an original sound and image that bore the natural influence of Western rock without succumbing to sheer imitation. 1970 saw the release of the group's self-titled debut, from which "Asa" is taken. The diverse selection of music on their first album sets the stage for much of what was to come in the future, displaying the group's strong roots in blues, folk, rock, and psychedelia. However, Happy End would release only two more albums in their brief history: Kazemachi Roman the following year, and another self-titled album in 1973, whose title is written in English as opposed to the previous album's Hiragana. It should also be noted that the band's name is written in Hiragana as well, instead of Katakana, a script most commonly used for words of foreign origin, thus highlighting the group's emphasis on creating a strong Japanese identity.
Following their work in Happy End, Haruomi Hosono would record with guitarist Shigeru Suzuki in the "tropical" band Tin Pan Alley, and in 2002 form the duo Sketch Show with Yukihiro Takahashi. As a producer, Hosono has worked with a number of important figures in the Japanese pop world, including Seiko Matsuda, Chisato Moritaka, and Akina Nakamori. And aside from his influence in Happy End, he has amassed a large body of work throughout his prolific solo career.
Happy End - Asa (1970)
はっぴいえんど - 朝