Since 1991, Osaka, Japan's Shonen Knife has blended the hard rock of Blue Oyster Cult and Thin Lizzy with the riff-and-melody fist-jackage of The Ramones and Runaways, added tender girl-group sweetness of The Shirelles and Ronettes, and worked it all together in an infectiously catchy rock 'n' roll noise. A full 20 studio albums later, and these women are still kicking ass. But they're not taking names because, well, they don't need to know your damn name, you just need to know theirs.
The distaff combo hits Tucson this week, an evening that promises sweaty, dance-heavy fun. To celebrate the occasion, Knife's singer and guitarist Naoko Yamano told us about the five albums that changed her life.
Tuesday, May 23 at 8 p.m., 191 Toole. $15. 21+.
1. The Beatles— 1967-1970: When I was a junior high school student, I started to listening to The Beatles. One of my friends bought The Beatles 1962 – 1966, and I bought this one. We sometimes exchanged albums and listened, and listened again. I put my ears on the right and left speakers of a stereo record player and compared the sound. The mixing at that era was interesting. The sound of some instruments were at the very right and some were at the very left. I like late Beatles more than early.
2. The Beatles—The Beatles (White Album): I became a Beatle maniac when I was a teenager. I went to "film concerts" often because, at that time, The Beatles were broken up. When I bought The Beatles 1967 – 1970 album, I got a booklet of The Beatles at a record store for free. I read it very often. Better than school textbooks. The booklet had an introduction (to the) albums, a review, and the members' birthdays. Now I've forgotten most of it, but I remember Ringo Starr's birthday. It's July 7. This album is so creative. I love it.
3. Buzzcocks—Love Bites: After my "Beatles fever," I became a punk-pop music fan. I didn't like to listen to punk music with no melody lines but I really liked punk bands that have "pop" sense. Songs by the Buzzcocks are very pop. Other than them, I listened to many British New Wave bands like the Jam, XTC, Nick Lowe, Rezzilos, Raincoats, Young Marble Giants, Delta 5 ... I was very inspired by these bands when I started Shonen Knife. Their music is simple but interesting, and pop.
4. Ramones—Ramones: There was a radio program from Monday to Friday called Beat on Plaza which plays full albums of overseas bands' albums when I was a high school student. I listened every day and recorded it with a cassette tape recorder. I forgot, but the radio program played an album of a famous artist but the length of the album is not as long as the program so the radio DJ played Ramones' songs in the spare time. I don't remember clearly but "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" and "Let's Dance" were aired. As soon as I listened to Ramones songs, I rushed to a record store to buy an album.
5. Kiss—Destroyer: My first rock concert was Aerosmith. The second was Kiss when they came to Japan in 1977. Queen, Kiss and Aerosmith were three of the very popular overseas bands to Japanese kids at that time. I liked Kiss the best. My friends and I were queueing all through the night to buy concert tickets for Kiss. My seat at their concert was in the third row but it was the very end and very close to big speakers. I still go to their concert every time they come to Japan. I love their attitude to music. They always try to entertain the audience. It is very respectable—I'm trying to be like them. ■