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2019 Repress. A stunning survey of the 1970s heyday of this great Japanese singer and countercultural icon. The “Queen of the Japanese Underground” stuck to her unique personal style – long black dress, dark glasses, cloud of cigarette smoke…Deep-indigo, dead-of-night enka, folk and blues, inhaling Billie Holiday and Nina Simone down to the bone. A traditional waltz abuts Nico-style incantation; defamiliarised versions of Oscar Brown Jr and Bessie Smith collide with big-band experiments alongside Shuji Terayama; a sitar-led psychedelic wig-out runs into a killer excursion in modal, spiritual jazz. Existentialism and noir, mystery and allure, hurt and hauteur. In addition to her abilities as a singer, she was also a composer who arranged most of her pieces, both original and covers. With excellent notes by Alan Cummings and the fabulous photographs of Hitoshi Jin Tamura. Hotly recommended.
"With her theatrical background working with the Japanese visionary dramatist Shuji Terayama, and her deep love of singers like Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday, the dark voiced Maki Asakawa sang the blues like nobody else from the late 1960s through to her death in 2010 at night clubs, theatres and jazz dives around Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan. David Keenan said: “This music has an aura, a life, that feels complete and indivisible.” TheWire Best Albums of 2015