Lä-Ppisch

Lä-Ppisch

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There are few debut ska albums, Japanese or otherwise, that contain the joy or the breadth of the first release from Lä-Ppisch. The band had taken the roustabout fun of Madness and crossed it with the later experimentation of the Police, thrown in a little Fishbone-based craziness, and then gone further. Compared to their indie EP a year earlier (Animal Beat), their eponymous album is overflowing with ideas, complex arrangements, a wide sonic palette, and plenty humor of the socially observant kind. The focus of the album is ska, and there's plenty of it: "Complex," "Gandhi" (with its nods to Madness' "Night Boat to Cairo"), and the insane "Laula," but even within this structure, the band goes off on wild tangents. There's the Japanese folk-meets-the Mediterranean feel of "Iijin-San," featuring accordion and mandolin, or "Big House," which pulls a mid-song about face similar to "Whole Lotta Love," where the instruments break down into a wide, echoing landscape. The slow skank of "Love Song" is one of their best tracks, with a killer bass riff echoed on piano, and a singalong chorus. The album closes on an extended version of their hit single "Paya Paya," which may be the closest pop-ska ever gets to an epic. Many, many years later, the album still holds up and holds much rewards for its listeners, and deserves to be ranked with the best ska albums of all time.