When news of a possible second volume of Nippon Girls reached my inbox, I was genuinely worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything as good as the first compilation. I couldn’t bear the thought of using half-decent songs just to fill space or having to go on a mad hunt for more top-of-the-line material. With ’60s Japanese girl-pop, you’re dealing with quite a lot of mind-numbing and generic beat ballads, and I had no desire to include songs that were anything less than awesome. I can spot a bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping compilation from miles away, and I wasn’t about to succumb to it myself. No siree, Bob!
So… I decided to return to the very first “dream list” I put together when I first came up with the idea for Nippon Girls. It’s the list you compile when you have all the freedom in the world—before record labels and master rights owners and publishers and address-unknown e-mails get in the mix and crush your hopes. It’s a list of 50+ titles that are the cream of the crop. And as the music business wheels begin to spin, that list slowly, painfully gets whittled down. I remember learning that Akiko Nakamura and Chiyo Okumura, two singers absolutely vital to the Japanese beat girl scene, were out of the question (“But you can’t possibly put out a ’60s Japanese girl-pop compilation WITHOUT Chiyo + Akiko!!!!!” I cried). As were the Peanuts. And the quintessential 45 that birthed the ’60s beat girl scene—Hibari Misora’s “Makkana Taiyou?” No chance of getting that one either. When I heard that Katsuko Kanai’s “Mini Mini Girl” was also a no-go, I was just about ready to give up on the whole Nippon Girls idea. But, despite the compromises, I ended up with a compilation I was verrrrrrry proud of and one that has become one of Ace Records’ best-selling compilations ever.
When it came to getting back to the drawing board for Nippon Girls 2, I knew that the only way I’d be able to make a compilation as high in quality as the first one was to return to the dream list and try to get those tracks that were initially rejected. Thanks to the “won’t take no for an answer” persistence of Ace Records’ clearance queen Liz Buckley and compilation coordinator and girl-pop king Mick Patrick, we got nearly every track on the dream list (hurray!!) that didn’t make it onto the first volume. (Okay, I admittedly shed a little tear when there was no response to our request for Ruriko Asaoka’s “Siam Neko Wo Daite”).
Nippon Girls 2 is not really a sequel but more like the other half of my dream list. It’s the reason I’ve neglected Cha Cha Charming for a few months and have spent most of my summer indoors, researching, writing, and quadruple-checking facts n’ tracks. The 24-track CD and 12-track vinyl (in red!) have just been released on Big Beat/ Ace Records and I am most excited for y’all to hear it! Below I’ve posted a list of where it can be purchased online. I hope you’ll enjoy it (and forgive me for leaving Mari Anne’s “Wild Party” off the vinyl version. WHAT was I thinking?!!!).
You can purchase Nippon Girls 2 from these fine establishments….