Song Of The Day 2/16/2016: The Mops – “To My Sons (The Best Thing in Our Life is Pain)”

Songs From the Spreadsheet – This rather exceptional recording is from The Mops, who with a career spanning eight years were one of Japan's longest-lasting rock bands. They started as a Group Sounds band. In the amount of time I've given myself to research today's piece (which amounts to commercials during the Grammys) I've determined G.S. was shorthand for an outgrowth of the Japanese pop form Kayōkyoku. This was, to be dreadfully abbreviated about it, the birth of Western-influenced Japanese pop. G.S. was, from what I can tell, louder.

The Mops began in 1966 playing standard greasy instrumental fare, mostly garage rock. After their manager took a fateful trip to the psychedelic scene in San Francisco in 1968, he suggested they take things in a more kaleidoscopic direction. The Mops managed not to get swallowed by their own svengali, however, and made some very unique records in the Nuggets vein. "To My Sons" is one of the more miraculous '60s songs I've heard in quite a while. The crisply clear spaghetti Western trumpet would probably be enough on its own, but then there's singer Hiromitsu Suzuki's painfully simple singing. He was a big devotee of the Animals' Eric Burdon, and you can tell pretty easily. But nothing prepared me for the Schopenhauer-esque existentialism of the lyrics, which pretty much lances the puffery of the flower children right where it anesthetizes them the most. Songs like this are why I'm still doing this here thing.

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