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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Radio Baka - Japan's Rock and Roll Radio Station

Better late than never, I suppose.

I have always called myself a suburban punk - at least when I was younger. I had always been a rock and roll music lover, getting my first public singing experience in London when I was just three-years-old.

It's true.

With hundreds of people in rapt attendance awaiting the Word, I blasted out the lyrical lyrics to The Beatles Yellow Submarine, a song sung by Ringo Starr.

I received a standing ovation.

I was, of course, in church and my very embarrassed father deftly picked me up from the pew and carried me out down the nave (middle path) and out the double doors to the street - continuing the ballad at the top of my powerful lungs.I still have that booming voice, though perhaps a tremulous bit deeper.

From what I was told, people stood and applauded. Either for my singing skill - even then better than Ringo Starr, or because I was leaving allowing the priest to continue telling everyone they were all going to hell if they listened to that heathen rock and roll music.

It was the 60s, and I don't really remember doing that - so I guess I was really there.

Anyhow... later on after we moved to Toronto (hopefully not of embarrassment caused by my impromptu concert), I discovered my parent's record collection (which I still have - and grew, of course)... and was, of course a Beatles fan. My first name is John, by the way. Andrew is from Prince Andrew, who had been born just before myself. My hairstyle was the standard Beatles mop-cut - at least from the age of hell....since I was born.

One of those records was the 45RPM version of Revolution... that was the hard-core electric version of the Beatles song with the screaming guitars... I had only heard the wimpy version on the self-titled album, or what everyone calls the White Album. Anyhow, I listened, and I was hooked. Loud and proud.

I quickly got into the psychedelic music, like the head-stuff such as the Chocolate Watch Band, 13th Floor Elevators, Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Chambers Brothers who didn't have a cool name, but their album version of Time Has Come Today still blows my mind. Sadly they did that one great album (really one great song) and then concentrated on Gospel music.

Nothing wrong with Gospel music, after all that's where I got my start, according to John (also the first name of my dad - so I guess I wasn't named after John Lennon). I think that's all correct... I got WORD regarding  the Gospel information some 30 years ago from the guys at the Vinyl Museum in Toronto.

It was while wandering through the record stacks, one of the guys at the Vinyl Museum suggested I might like to try the MC5, a pseudo punk group from the 1960s. Kick out the Jams ??!! Are you effing kidding me? Wow!

I quickly drifted over from psychedelic to hard rock (Led Zeppelin) and then to Punk because I loved the energy.

I suppose by the time I left for Japan in 1990, I had all the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Teenage Head, Forgotten Rebels and Dead Kennedys songs memorized.

And yet I looked like the squeakiest cleanest guy out there. A suburban punk who could talk the talk, loved the music but dressed in jeans and a t-shirt without having to get anything pierced or safety-pinned or tattooed.

By that time I had loved all aspects of rock music, including heavy blues rock, and was introduced to grunge rock quite early by my then teenaged brother, Ben, who sent me some Nirvana in 1991.

There is nothing like culture shock being realized when one is cranking up the music listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit and jumping up and down on one's... futon? WTF? That was one of those... "oh god, I'm in Japan" moments.

But... in Japan, aside from me lending a Japanese science teacher a double album of Rush music (Chronicles, I think) that I bought in Japan, I never saw or heard any Japanese rock and roll. At least it wasn't real rock 'n roll.

Everything that I heard was glam rock with guys wearing too much make-up, like Japanese group Buck-Tick, but it was enjoyable. Hey man, it was all I had. It seemed to impress my junior high school students... then again, so did my deft use of chopsticks.

But where on the radio could I listen to some rock and roll?

Now it's 2014 and I tend to listen to more sports radio and comedy on the dial than rock...

And then my friend and fellow blogger... and DJ, Mike Rogers... a Japanese-American, who is an eclectic mix of the best of both worlds, informed me of his radio show.

WTF?! Mike... what the fug took so long?! I mean I knew he did some DJ-ing, but I never really understood for whom.

He has a radio show WTF? What The Friday? and broadcast through Radiobaka. Baka, of course, is the Japanese word for 'stupid'.

This was the radio station I needed back in 1990-1993 to get me through the lonely nights when I didn't have some sweaty escapade with a woman, which in retrospect was probably more often than I recall.

So... here's WTF? What the Friday from September 26, 2014, in Tokyo, Japan, which I found someplace.

It's a five-hour radio show filled with witty batter I only half understand, and music that is an eclectic (there's that word again) mix of 50s-80s-all the way up to new stuff of foot-tapping music, including punk! Heck, I even heard The Beatles, Ramones and Jerry Lee Lewis... the original punk.

The show's listeners are about 98 per cent Japanese speakers... and yet... there is also English news and more? WTF?!

Mike says that the English news et al is there because the station license was granted after the Great Kobe Earthquake of January 17, 1995, mostly because there were no stations broadcasting in English telling English speakers to kiss their ass goodbye. True story.

Of course, nowadays there's the Internet... but it's probably always a good idea to have a portable battery-operated radio around just in case...

The radio station - 76.1 FM - has its shows on-line at I'm listening to Mike's broadcast as I write this. Great show. Apparently he writes most of the script himself.

And I'm thinking... this is scripted? Who knew? But it is.

It's a pity it is also his last Friday broadcast. WTF, Mike?

But fret not... the show is moving to a new day starting again on October 5, 2014 at 8AM - 11AM...

Even though that's early in the morning on a Sunday in Japan, for me in Canada, that is better late than never.

Andrew "The Gospel Singer" Joseph
PS: In case you haven't guessed, that's a photo of me - three and under - back when I was in London, England. You can tell that my hair did not care for the 'part' it played in this photo.
And that's the end of tonight's show. See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that link to the radio show automatically deletes every week. You can find the new link here every week: Look for the one that says, "761 WTF..."