Monday, October 26, 2009

The Blue Hearts: Linda, Linda

MRML makes no claim of being a world music blog or even an internationalist one. Call us ethnocentric if you must, but we fuss over Britain and its one-time colonies because that's what we know. Sure we've visited Germany and France (with more Euro-punk to come) but it's all been so...Western. Case in point, the only Japanese album I've ever owned was a Shonen Knife CD and I'm guessing that Shonen Knife, like pizza, are not considered an exemplar of the culture from which they originated. After all, while Shonen Knife built up a North American cult following, the Blue Hearts stormed Japan's arenas and pop charts.

(Charming video but scroll down here for a more accurate version of the lyrics).

I'm woefully ignorant of the intricacies of Japanese pop culture, so I'll spare you theories of the Blue Hearts' breaking of cultural taboos or their use traditional melodies etc. Instead, I'll just say that through Western eyes and ears they sound like the Ramones being fronted by Darby Crash - especially with this song's recurring animal imagery. It's hard to believe that this was any nation's idea of what constituted a pop song in the saccharine year that was 1987. The glory of the song, however, is that joyously infectious hook, "Linda!, Linda!" - hear it once and you'll be singing it forever, hell, so will anyone else in the world.

Linda, Linda 7"

(There is a Japanese film about school girls learning the song for a battle of the bands-type event, and yes, to me this version does sound a bit like Shonen Knife, which is only a good thing.)

(Thanks to Bookhouse over on MetaFilter for inspiring this post.)

Supporting the band may be difficult for Westerners but Amazon does stock a few things.


  1. I've been a fan of these guys for over 15 years and it really makes me happy to see that others are discovering them. They've even played in the US a few times and were always incredible. It's hard to believe that a punk band like the Blue Hearts actually sold out stadium shows in Japan during their heyday but it's true. Thanks for posting this.

  2. I love the original but WOW is that school girl version rockin'!

  3. They had a record out in the US in the early 90's. MTV showed a video of theirs on 120 Minutes or something, probably the Linda Linda clip. I got the cd and wrote to the record company asking for information (this was in the days before the internet). They sent me a big promo pack and a photo book of their US tour. I lost the disc years ago but still have the promo stuff laying around somewhere.

  4. Yankee
    Keep the faith these guys sure have. They have an amazing history and a deep catalogue. Also the later bands, the High-Lows and the Cro-Mganons are still pumping out great songs.

    Now we have to see it. Movie Village sometimes soon?

    It's a wretched shame they didn't catch on here but I'm glad you did your bit back then. If you ever scan any of the promo kit - let me know.

  5. Always loved these guys. Amazingly, I found 2 of their cds here in my hometown (Ohio). Still got them & still play them. I don't understand why people were turned off by the foreign language. The Blue Heart's energy & passion came through loud & clear. Glad to see someone still remembers this great band.

  6. Yeah the energy totally demolishes the language barrier.
    I'm glad to keep cheerleading for dead bands.

  7. Jeffen: Sounds good to me! Now to actually find a time to do it...

  8. Be fun, if unlikely, to do it while Tyler's in town.

  9. A friend of mine tried to find one of their albums in Taiwan but had no luck. This is the first time I've actually heard them.

    I have no trouble believing these guys sold out stadium shows in Japan. Watching Thee Michelle Gun Elephants live stuff on youtube convinces me there is a huge audience for this stuff in Japan.

  10. Chris
    That's what Thee Michelle Gun Elephant sound like! I just had this picture of American skronk attached to their name (for no good reason apparently). They sound good, if less catchy than the BH.
    Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. back from my japanese stay ... my teacher gave me their CDs, i was hooked in an instant, haha. great band!


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