Thursday, April 22, 2004

After yesterday's post on Men Without Hats, today seems like a good time to mention The Vapors. Since they never appeared in a video with a dancing dwarf, they don't seem to suffer the same presumption of mediocrity. For the most part, I think people have either never heard anything but Turning Japanese, or they're aware that the rest of the Vapors' catalog is good-to-great.

Here's a nice website that has more info than most, including an interesting interview. You know what I wonder: how many people know that Turning Japanese supposedly refers to masturbation, and write articles about the Vapors that mention this, but don't actually know why the song supposedly refers to masturbation? I've been reading this for years, and most people don't seem to bother to explain the connection. I wonder how many hours I've spent thinking "Turning Japanese, Turni Ng Japanese, TuRnInG JaPaNeSe" and imagining Japanese people "turning" and generally trying to figure that one out. So anyway, the answer turned out to be much less clever than I'd expected (it has to do with squinching up your eyes, and it looks like David Fenton has given so many different answers to questions about the song that no one but him will ever know if it's really about anything.)

There's a fair amount of variety on New Clear Days, and I can see many of the tracks being someone's personal favorite. The one I like best (I'm sort of amazed that no one seems to have covered it) is Trains.

There are now something like three or four Vapors compilations available, but I don't think there are any live albums for sale. Which is too bad, because there are some reasonably high-quality live tracks by the band and I imagine that they'd be snapped up by the same people who keep the compilations in print. Here's a live Trains (I told you it was my favorite song) and here's (from the same concert) Jimmy Jones and News At Ten (sorry, my copy has one small glitch near the beginning). I've been told that there's at least one other live set of similar or better quality floating around, but I don't have it.

Kaito UK watch: This is probably more useful for people who don't live in the US. Their 2nd album, Band Red, is getting a UK release that includes bonus live tracks and a video. Kaito do sound great live, but I'm not sure that there's enough of a difference between the live and studio versions to make it worth buying Band Red twice (though the video might be enough of a reason). If you don't have Band Red, though, you might want to look out for the new version. Details here. One review here.

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