Shonen Knife

Pretty Little Baka Guy

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Anyone doubting the authenticity of Shonen Knife as legit alternative rockers should direct their attentions to this title, which couples their Pretty Little Baka Guy (1986) LP with another eight tracks documented "Live In Osaka Japan" from a pair of respective sets in 1990 and 1982, the latter recorded when Michie Nakatani (vocals/bass), Naoko Yamano (vocals/guitar), and Atsuko Yamano (drums) were still in their teens. The ten studio sides perfectly demonstrate the band's quirky, if not terminally catchy approach to crafting pop melodies. Their grunge-inspired instrumentation and D.I.Y. execution give the material a rough and edgy quality. Lyrically, the Knife are all over the place, ranging from the ecological concerns of "Bear Up Bison" (aka "Making Plans for Bison"), to the confessions of a sweet-tooth on "I Wanna Eat Choco Bars," and the fun little romp on "Ice Cream City." The angular and trippy "Public Bath" extols the virtues of the decidedly Eastern tradition of public bathing facilities in a manner that only they can pull off. "Antonio Baka Guy," "Kappa Ex," and the previously mentioned "Ice Cream City" are repeated in the five-song performance dated January 21st, 1990. By contrast, the three tunes from April 1982 are rougher and arguably more stinging than their counterparts -- especially the lead guitar crunch of "I'm a Realist." Audible tape noise indicated that these probably originated on cassette, however what they lack in fidelity is more than compensated for in sheer inspiration. Again, this is a recommended find for any and all perspective parties and has been reissued on CD several times since initially surfacing in 1991 on the indie Rockville Records label.

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