Vodka Collins

Tokyo-New York

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Rock & roll journeyman Alan Merrill has made a career of unique choices, and his early work with Vodka Collins ranks with one of the most bizarre. The band, a trio consisting of Merrill and Japan-born Hiroshi Oguchi and Take Yokouchi, was a mix of cultures that came together for one common goal: catchy power pop. Singing in both languages, the group was adept at both T. Rex-style rockers and gorgeous pop tracks, although the group's strengths were emphasized by the latter. Merrill's bluesy tendencies are reined in by the other two, while his smooth vocals put his distinctive stamp on the material. Although quite hard to find in the United States, Tokyo-New York is an inspiring meld of styles and cultures that speaks volumes for the power of rock music. The musicians' blend of amateurish performance and obvious enthusiasm makes this a treat for fans of obscure gems, although be warned that this is very much a product of the early '70s. Those looking to enhance their collections of quality overlooked rock should give this a shot; it would be hard to think of any other bilingual pop/rock albums that are as catchy as this.

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