Speed, Glue & Shinki

Released 1972 on Atlantic
The Seth Man, August 2005ce
The Shinks are a big topic for your thinks.

This far flung, double yellow Tiger bomber wrapped brown bag in paper was unleashed in Japan on Atlantic Records, Speed, Glue & Shinki’s second album did the impossible by being even more of a wrecked and loose a masterpiece as their previous album, “Eve.” Two separate LPs came tethered together in the oversized obi enclosure of one wraparound brown paper bag sleeve designed by the Taj Mahal Travellers’ self-made instrumentalist Michihiro Kimura. And the album’s lyric and credits sheet were littered with typos, crossed out words and all the reproductive cut marks, tape and detritus no white-out or non-repro blue zone exposure of all fuckups unmasking. And most of the music here on their final and eponymous named effort mirrored this, comprised of one-takes mishandled with searing guitar overdubs, occasional phasing on the drums and a direction mapped out not by some flimsy, preconceived fad but by a truly unselfconscious and of-the-moment reaching, succeeding and staggering just over the finish line in such a sublimely wrecked and burnt manner that it made an art form out of just teetering on the edge of falling apart altogether. It’s a miracle it was ever played and recorded, let alone released for Speed, Glue & Shinki were loose cannons on the loosest ship of the loosest navy ever and seemed more like three stringless kites that soared so high upon the currents of Rock they never came down. Nothing was ever a big deal for these guys, they were so damn loose.

Speed, Glue & Shinki were a highly unorthodox trio comprised of three rock’n’roll kings of oblivion disguised as Pacific Rim gipsy mongrels who already had spent nearly a decade apiece performing a succession of groups and loose musical configurations. Previous bassist Masayoshi “Ruiseruis” Kabe had spent several years in the successful Group Sounds outfit The Golden Cups before subsequently joining fellow Yokohama native, guitarist Shinki Chen, in the premier Japanese supergroup Food Brain. And Shinki himself had cut his teeth in innumerable blues-based bands, the “New Rock” group Power House and many sporadic live jam sessions. By the end of 1970, Shinki quickly recorded his solo album “Shinki Chen & Friends” with various Power House members and included Kabe on bass on the album’s one true classic: the distended, 13-minute freak out, “Farewell To Hypocrites.” By this time, Shinki had already checked out Zero History, a Filipino quartet hired to perform in a circuit of Tokyo department stores. Although their repertoire was primarily cover versions of psychedelic top ten hits, it was the unforgettable power of longhaired vocalist/drummer Joey Smith who caught Shinki’s attention. Shinki performed several times with Zero History, and once Food Brain was no longer a going concern, Shinki invited Smith to form a band. Once Kabe was tracked down, the trio was complete. Smith’s pedigree went as far back as the late fifties performing as vocalist, drummer and sometimes both through a succession of popular Filipino rock’n’roll bands that were virtually all but unknown outside The Philippines. The best-known were The Downbeats, who scored a coveted opening slot for The Beatles at their notorious concert in Manila on July 4, 1966. And Smith’s vocals grew to be a yammer of a soul hammer while his drum fills were deft, hit hard and oftentimes spun out exaggeratedly as if replicating the sound of a sack of potatoes being flung down a corridor lined with floor toms and set-up crash cymbals and laced with extra volleys of spud-lobbing galore.

And on “Speed, Glue & Shinki” it was different kettle of mess boiling all over the kitchen to match the Little Rascals’ surprise cake, for the group were augmented by a further trio of musicians; the most prominent of which was drummer/vocalist Joey Smith’s longtime friend and bandmate Michael Hanopol, brought in to replace original bassist Masayoshi “Glue” Kabe at the onset of the album’s recording. It would be an inspired choice as Hanopol not only evenly matched Smith’s contributions song for song and brought to the shebang heavy bass, heavier vocals and the heaviest lyrics for tracks of the heaviest sludge properties, but also contributed occasional keyboards and even co-wrote side four’s synthesizer suite with Smith. And as the new Glue in town, Hanopol helped drive the band to their very outermost limits: igniting Shinki’s guitar playing to unlock his inner Jimi and through his re-connection with his previous Filipino Rock Brother No. 1, drove the drumming, lyrics and (especially) the vocals of Joey Smith right up the wall, and into an overall lower, larynx strangulating register.

When the world tries to make one feel meaningless of life, to join their robot parade, crank the music of the hard rock idiom loud to chase bad vibes off the cliff and reinforce inner fortress of mind, heart, spirit. For too soon are we all crushed into dust. Live we must. Love we trust. Hate is a bust. Break the crust. Blow out the must. Shake off rust. Pant with lust. Woman is all inside, outside log waits to jam up inside cream with flesh rag and dance continues. The people of big hassle remain balcony hidden with cheat masks of extra bad actor faceless like a sore crack in hell.

The air becomes heavy: feeling the energy which it tries probably to create good ones. The vigor fullest capacity is with the sound, which overflows. Rock soul is felt in the performance which is made dark slippery. When such dark sound is decided, it becomes the pleasant sensation which is hard to change into many things -- In the vocal which is approached to the force perfect score darkly with thick voice; it is the case that the timbre of the functional guitar keeps being covered. Speed, Glue & Shinki have something to say, and say it over and over to make it stick. And it would, anyway: Woman do Joey wrong, so he sings pain how it is. You know. Terror you want no one to know, and tears well in your heart to stretch out time to infinity between minute and second hands of heart clock within and nothing familiar seems real or comfort provide as life merges into constant corner of crushing no change where once was only life: sun; with face. Then rain, on your head and all free forever.

Tiger Album the First
Sides 1&2 of Tiger Album the First starts off with sniffing, snorting and overall gleeful knocking stuff all over the place during a bargain basement jumble in the dark for “Sniffin’ & Snortin’ Pt. 1 (Vitamine C)” barges in and kicks down the door with a sonic moronic display driven off the edge with Shinki’s buzz-sawn-off Chuck Berry riffing shot up with immediate stomp appeal and Joey Smith’s lead foot kick drum stepping on the gas and bashing out at all around him...And to think that this is only a warm-up exercise for once the faders and mental house lights go up on “Run And Hide,” the band are firing on all cylinders at once, cutting loose like a retarded version of “The Immigrant Song.” Backwards. And slowed to 8rpm. Minus a handful of random notes. Sort of. Cradled in woman’s arms and your broken head. Forever. Joey sings like he plays drums; crude and willful to make a stand for himself and the people in the streets (IN THE STREETS!) but not bitter: rather, knowing ultimately of compassion not himself only but for all living things and none surviving impact of tsunami culture war but for all living things and no surviving brain cells. Shinki Chen rips and tears through the track like Food Brain LP never was but only looked: charging drunken elephant sleeve with big tease Amon Düül the Second gatefold masking a dozen overplayed Zoot Money overdrafts from the Hammond B-3 bank. Over-amplified bass dump from Kabe and Shinki’s alternating buzzsaw rhythm and multi-dubbed soloing like tattooed brain of small but effective “Electric Ladyland” detailing in both production and guitar. “Give us back the night..!” barks out Joey into the impending dusk, the sinking sun and the dying embers of old land.

The first of Michael Hanopol’s contributions enters with “Bad Woman”, setting Speed, Glue & Shinki off into West, Pappalardi & Laing territory but with half the calories, the map being read upside down and topped off with the stinky tiara of “Mississippi Queen” and Hanopol handling the Steve Knight role on organ. And with its Leslie (!) speaker-filtered guitar solo, tops off an already overqualified Mountain metaphor about as unwieldy as the Les Weinstein of old hisself. Hanopol lets loose a bevy of insane bass propulsions near the coda, and it’s equally weird that this is the sole song of Hanopol’s that Smith sings -- and in his newfound slow and strained, near-Louis Armstrong holler.

“Red Doll” is another Hanopol composition, performed at the speed of burning barge and oozing kooze with Hanopol on accompanying spook-o-rama spidery organ fills following his overdubbed bass propulsions following Joey Smith’s raining blows of sticks upon his tiny kit, clearing a 2mph riff and drumming to approximate a desert belly crawl with no oasis sighted for days and at the speed of surgery at the pace of exhaustion that presses on regardless. In all certainty, if it stopped for one moment to think it would perish outright. Shinki tosses in a Leslie-fed guitar solo, flanked by Smith’s errant drum fills that always fling themselves just across the tempo’s finish line every damn time. And although sung by Hanopol, the character here is Joey, for:

I always imagined Red Doll is ginger lady Joey walks to over his bed to kiss naked and only he cares and Joey and her both know but no bother for Speed brother. Red sister and Joey draw together and big bang later make them both go dead to disperse bad world silt from their ocean souls. They want whole world to get tired so they sleep in each others hair and walk better as people. You kiss a red hair sister and hair fire shoots into your belly and her body lays fine and two breast shine below only moonlight attic window in Joey’s crash pad. It’s dark and next morning not so and Joey smokes big cigarette to make things whole and light again. Red woman is circle unbroken for Joey. Not clean, but cleansed. Apple woman she says take a bite, my wound is your head inside, then we fall. Fire in the darkness from red sister spark cream delight inside. Rejoice. Joey Smith: motherfucker drummer with two team totem pole sticks twice as big as wood, looking through the knothole of goddess unblinking and rolling a jay. Heaving big log in forest of silence only he hears, up against open seam of woman and push into love dish of sugar outside in the rain. Stay and awake the stamen.

Album side the Second of Album No. One begins with a gradual build of super-phased drumming that projects outward through a massive mushroom cloud exhalation of cannabis sativa and they’re off and walking through “Flat Fret Swing.” Joey’s vocals once more swell like a big Louis Armstrong (and a little headstrong Mark E. Smith) soul holler lodged in the throat against the horizontal, mid-tempo backing. Joey’s trying to get his head together for the umpteenth time, and the greatest lines of the album are: “And leave all the miseries behind me/Cradle all of the good things in mind...” Joey’s thinking things over and hanging out, making air whistle out of his head and trying to figure out how to get up off the floor and leave so he can get back once more to some more good times. At first listen, I never thought too much of this track, but it’s now grown to anthem proportions in my head. Forever.

A reprise of the opener, “Sniffin’ & Snortin’ Pt. 2 (Vitamine C)” follows and bears about as much resemblance to the version on the previous side as the two versions of “Revolution” by The Beatles...Which is to say, they’re night and day and this one’s high noon and with a far wilder speed differential to and all the while continually cops successive quick feels off of Jimi’s “Come On (Part 1).” It’s probably Masayoshi Kabe pounding out the bass here, for his style always easily reached those rave up qualities of an amphetamine’d Paul Samwell-Smith channeling through Jack Bruce’s amplification. As it races into hyperspace stereo “War Pigs” tape-sped warp conclusion, the soothing Shinki Chen instrumental “Don’t Say No” wafts in like a summer breeze through opened window. In your head. Forever. Shinki collaborates here with drummer Hiroshi Oguchi and keyboardist Shigeki Watanabe (two musicians he’d team up with the following year in the short-lived and unrecorded band, Orange.) It gathers together becalmed organ buoyancy floating above the surface of low slung bass, drums as a wordless wail of content melodiously sounds over the instrumental’s slow and measured paces like “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” in dub and capturing that same heartfelt sense of farewell Steve Winwood channeled through his organ playing so poignantly well on “Sea of Joy.” It approximates that feeling of being suddenly caught within the cool shadow of a huge, dark and imperceptibly moving cloud formation on an otherwise clear and sunny day. Oddly, there’s only one appearance from Shinki’s guitar here and it is a single, small but perfectly placed overdubbed ‘woman tone’ solo -- inserted like a perfect crystal within this organically framed setting.

The entire scene turns upside down with the entry of “Calm Down” as wave upon wave of crazily hit fills and cymbals part for a two-toned BRAANNGGG-INGGG guitar to steam shoveling all to the side in its wake all silence up against the wall and out of existence. Guitar tone is a loud and bronzed blur, fried from the sun, hallucinogens and who the fuck knows what else. Tremendous wah-wah guitar from Shinki over a second fuzz rhythm combined with Hanopol’s piledriving bass with a vocal delivery that sidles right up against the rhythm and feels it up just to get off. Here, my mind is already drowning in all the colours, especially with a musical bridge cut from the most rudimentary material I’ve ever heard. Giddily, the song falls away and into a drum solo like no other: Namely, taking its fucking time taking a major tumble down a ravine while going out of its way to hit as many branches, boulders and rocky outcroppings as possible before finally landing crumpled on the valley floor two miles down.

Tiger Album No. Two
Sides 3&4 of Tiger LP No. Two begins with a word from behind the now streaming, sweaty and belaboured kit of Smith after downing a long, tall cool one. Smacking his lips, he do declare “That’s the best wine I’ve ever tasted” and he’s already crashed into his cymbals, prefaced with another quick drum roll and is already headlong into his Armstrong-along-60-second-long holler, “Doodle Song.” After which, they just grease most of the album side out in the most wrecked and transcendental way possible. Smith calls out to regroup with a “Right!” “Yeah!” and “Ya ready?” and they break directly into the epic “Search For Love.” Oh, Motherfucker. What a track. The running time sez 8:44, which is ridiculous: for time seems all but suspended for the duration of the raging depths of this howling, sprawling track. The intro to “Moby Dick” off “Zeppelin Album No. One” is all but hustled roughly into a burlap sack with the drum solo thrown off the back of the Speed, Glue & Shinki 18-wheeler as they head steaming down the highway on 24 hour beaver patrol: But at 80mph in fourth gear with their collective scroti dragging behind them alongside a case of empty Sapporo beer cans and 12 drained plastic gallon jugs of Happy Sunshine cough mixture marked ‘For Institutional Use Only’; set off by two oversized silver foil pinwheels that catch, refract and shine into all eyes of creation sun’s bright rays of illuminated genius at the gates of dusk as impromptu sunspots get caused by residual white powder still alighting on the surface from the previous night’s snort-sesh. The main part is hazardously heavy and simple and Hanopol brays out the vocals swaggering all the way. All else cuts out during the guitar solo number 1: overlaid with the very same number 1 and staggered directly at the only point where it could and does extend into a 3D topographic mind map of the DNA emotion spiral in ancient memory banks’ nighttime deposits of the contact high as exquisitely overdriven bass amplitudes in a howling buzz discharged from the belching innards of Rock Behemoth until all fades out to leave Shinki alone perched upon a cloud with his guitar, plugging into the rising sun rays extending from behind as they exchange complimentary, throbbing hues and using them as amplification. It all vanishes like the techincolour daydream it is, awakening back to the “Moby Dick”-ed up introduction and the vocals. Bass resounds, thunder craps, rain and wind storm and through this weather pattern breaks through another insane guitar solo. Out cuts a trap door from within and TADA out falls Joey Smith still rapping out his spastically insistent drum heads while Pinoy brother Michael brays out his will to get woman, get high, get good and stoked and fucked. Enter guitar solo two number up causing heavens to thunder and split and crack open with rain to make the parched drains green with moss and make love grow in one’s head, body caught in uncontrollable shudder, to shake your brains to the core, body to the mantle and spirit out of baked seasonal crust. Dough girl smiles from within, winking. Me, too...a pinky. Thunderclaps drown it out as crickets and other mossy denizens resound in humid black air.

Dropping in for a brief, mood-breaking baroque keyboard not unlike the “Lake Isle of Innisfree” upchuck on Sir Lord Baltimore’s “Kingdom Come” is the nonplussing “Chuppy.” This hiccough sounds nothing like the rest of the album and is a saccharine-sweet nightmare performed on cembalo; a keyboard that looks like a spinet (apparently), sounds like a harpsichord and is entirely incongruous to its surroundings. The only annoying moment of the album, “Chuppy” is light years away in approach from Shigeki Watanabe’s far more subtle and unstudied keyboard performance on “Don’t Say No.”

“Wanna Take You Home” commences as the final blare’n’bump’n’grind of the album, as well as being the slowest moment of the album outside of the near-standstill “Red Doll.” Originally written and recorded in 1969 by the obscure San Franciscan trio Fields as “Take You Home,” here it’s appropriated by Speed, Glue, Shinki & Friends, which is more than all right: ‘Specially as Fields’ version was nothing less than taking Cream’s cover of Albert “Flying V” King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign”, dropping a few notes, adding new lyrics and PRESTO came up with this bird-doggin’ come-on supreme for all the sweet young things of heaving nubile bosom with stars in their eyes at their West Coast ballroom gigs opening for John Mayall (This track would also spill over into a third version by Juan de la Cruz, the Filipino power trio Smith would form the following year back home with Hanopol and guitarist Wally Gonzalez.) The Blue Cheer sand in the grease grinding of the original is greatly adhered to, especially since it was already such an integral part of Speed, Glue & Shinki’s lexicon of sound and a long lost cousin that they could’ve written, anyway. Michael Hanopol, with a fantastic sense of the appropriate and appropriation judged it as worthy noise to work into the loose collage that is this huge and expansive double album. Because:

Where there’s nothing left and day is caught darkness on its tail, the last people left waiting dazed are collected up and into black drug pit at nighttime Texas Pop Festival ’69 when Zeps unfurl “Dazed And Confused” for people who forgot their name yet remember nighttime soul and no hangnail hang-ups on monkey’s uncle backside besides. Evening is balm to head, silence no longer crazy and no mystery any longer left: so Joey Smith reminds heaven and earth through tinny portable sounds Grundig machine and he grokks and all are zonked as well: remembering their reason for being by taking a form under circling sun so many times half in darkness left.

Completing an ingenious album that is one of the best records of the hard rock idiom stoned emperor 100 percent comes the run-on suite of “Sun”/“Planets”/“Life”/“Moon” and “Song For An Angel” performed on Moog synthesizer for Side four’s entire seventeen minute duration. A lift-off from all earthly desires prostrate on the floor as a series of charged electronic trajectories waft and smear together. Even on Moog synthesizer, Joey Smith makes it as Rock as his vocals, drumming and guitar playing because his attitude is so strong, careless and perfect, discharging a slow motion round of rocket launchings, pink noise twittering and knuckle dragging undertows as the air-locked elevation of soul continues to jettison all with Moog starship to lift-off beyond prefecture of asteroid, stratospheric inner space where neurons circle and spark brain coral of interior pink neon to litter all around sensation’s head quarters to ultimate collision with your only self. Self and soul unite. In your head. Forever.

Special thanks to Jenny Junko Cooke for translation and shining a strawberry path through haze.