Alone in Tokyo

Alan Merrill

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Alone in Tokyo Review

by Dave Thompson

If Alan Merrill looked painfully young and fresh-faced when he first burst onto the western pop scene at the helm of Arrows in 1974, that's only because nobody thought to look even further back, to his days as a teenaged idol in his adopted Japanese homeland. Merrill's career there dated back to 1968 and this, his second solo release (from 1971), kicks off with a re-recording of "Blue Rose," his first-ever hit single, recorded while a member of the band the Lead. It's a jaunty little number, similar in mood and delivery to a lot of the lite pysch-pop then percolating through the western rock scene, and it sets the scene for the remainder of this 13-song album. Performed in Japanese throughout, it often feels a far cry from the meatier sounds that Merrill went on to make with Vodka Collins, Arrows, and his subsequent solo career. But production and arrangements are spot-on atmospheric, the tunes are never less than memorable, and one can only imagine the effect this album might have had if an English language version could have been cut for Anglo-American consumption. In an age of Edison Lighthouse, Christie, and so forth, Merrill's pop confections would have slipped right in.