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100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums

In the September 2007 issue of Rolling Stone Japan, contributing editor and Beikoku Ongaku founder Kawasaki Daisuke offered something brand new for Japan: a list of the 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time. While these master rankings are part and parcel for RS in the United States, Japanese magazines have intentionally avoided compiling such a useful service for those hoping to bone up on local rock history. Kawasaki explains why:

The Japanese music magazine industry resembles what existed in America before the rise of Rolling Stone. That’s to say, record companies — the main advertisers — see their wishes strongly reflected on every page, and because of this, magazines’ main job is to praise new releases. Is that why we’ve never seen one of these lists? It’s a strange situation, almost like the entire industry is infected with the idea that they should not rank releases because it would “make the record companies angry.” But even with Japanese mystery novels, for example, those chosen by critics in the “Best Ranking” become very popular, and rankings are used as a buyer’s guide. Japanese rock music is an even bigger market than mystery novels, so isn’t it strange that there are no trustworthy “Best Ranking Lists”? We must change this ridiculous situation into something more normal.

Besides rare exceptions, Japanese music magazines very rarely give critical or numerical reviews to new music. When Rockin’ On Japan sells the cover story to the highest bidder, there’s no way they can then give that featured record one-and-a-half stars. Within Rolling Stone Japan‘s somewhat foreign format, however, editors had wiggle room for an attempt at numerical review — at least in a retrospective manner.

Although no list like this can be perfectly objective nor complete, RSJ were mainly aiming to start a discussion towards a canonization of Japanese recorded music. (With no backlogs of critical review in old magazines to reference, the only way to construct a list like this is basically from “scratch.”) The article does not hide its goal: “With this story, we hope to stir things up. [この特集にて、そうした状況に一石を投じたい。]”

This month, RSJ began to achieve its goal when rival magazine Snoozer felt compelled to offer up their own list of “150 Greatest Albums of Japanese Rock’n’Roll” in the December issue. (The story is oddly titled 「ロック暗黒大陸ニッポン」: “Japan – the Dark Continent of Rock.”) The editors make it sound like they were forced to make their own ranking list in order to battle the suspicious choices over at RSJ: “We have long grown tired of seeing charts that have (Happy End’s) Kazemachi Roman at the top.” Although Snoozer gave the #1 spot to RC Succession’s 『楽しい夕に』(an album not on the RS list), there is generally lots of overlap between the two lists. This, my friends, is how a canon is born!

So for your enjoyment, here is Rolling Stone Japan‘s list of the 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time. In order to give voice to the Snoozer effort, every album on both charts is followed with the Snoozer ranking position in parentheses. Artists who appear in Snoozer although with different album selections will be marked with a dagger (†), the Snoozer ranking position, and the alternate album choice.

1. Happy End 『風街ろまん』(Kazemachi Roman) / 1971 (#32)

2. RC SUCCESSION『ラプソディ』(Rhapsody) / 1980 (#52)
3. The Blue Hearts『ザ・ブルーハーツ』(The Blue Hearts) / 1987 (#20)
4. YMO『Solid State Survivor』/ 1979
   † (#142, 『BGM』)
5. Yazawa Eikichi『ゴールドラッシュ』(Gold Rush) / 1978
6. Shoukichi Kina & Champloose『喜納昌吉&チャンプルーズ』(Shoukichi Kina & Champloose) / 1977
7. Ohtaki Eiichi『ア・ロング・バケーション』 (A Long Vacation) / 1981
   † (#115, 『大瀧詠一』)
8. Fishmans『空中キャンプ』( Kuuchuu Camp) / 1996 (#3)
9. Sadistic Mika Band『黒船』(Kurofune) / 1974 (#104)
10. Cornelius『ファンタズマ』(Fantasma) / 1997 (#9)

11. Sano Motoharu『SOMEDAY』/ 1982
   † (#16, 『VISITORS』)
12. Arai Yumi『ひこうき雲』(Hikouki Kumo) / 1973 (#25)
13. The Jacks『ジャックスの世界』(Jacks no Sekai) / 1968 (#61)
14. Yamashita Tatsuro『SPACY』/ 1977 (#39)
15. X『BLUE BLOOD』/ 1989
16. Anarchy『アナーキー』(Anarchy) / 1980
17. Carol『燃えつきる~ラスト・ライヴ』(Moetsukiru -Last Live) / 1975
18. Togawa Jun『玉姫様』(Tamahime-sama) / 1983 (#50)
19. The Plastics『Welcome Plastics』/ 1980 (#72)
20. Murahachibu『ライブ』(Live) / 1973 (#4)

21. Friction『軋轢』(Atsureki) / 1980 (#12)
22. Ankoku Tairiku Jagatara『南蛮渡来』(Nanban Torai) / 1982 (#11)
24. Gedou『外道』(Gedou) / 1974
25. Boredoms『Chocolate Synthesizer』/ 1994
   † (#6, 『SUPER ARE』)
26. Yano Akiko『ジャパニーズ・ガール』(Japanese Girl) / 1976
   † (#130, 『ごはんができたよ』)
27. The Stalin『STOP JAP』/ 1982
   † (#68, 『TRASH』)
28. The Roosters『Good Dreams』/ 1984
29. Mute Beat『FLOWER』/ 1987
30. Endou Kenji『満足できるかな』(Manzoku Dekiru Kana) / 1971 (#106)

31. Yuukadan『生聞59分』(Seibun 59 Mins) / 1977
32. Southern All Stars『人気者で行こう』(Ninkimono de ikou) / 1984
   † (#99, 『TINY BUBBLES』)
33. INU『メシ喰うな』(Meshi kuu na) / 1981 (#21)
34. Dir en grey『Withering to Death』/ 2005
35. Flipper’s Guitar『CAMERA TALK』/ 1990 (#131)
36. Char『PSYCHE』/ 1988
37. Shonen Knife『LET’S KNIFE』/ 1992 (#74)
38. Yonin Bayashi『一触即発』(Isshoku Sokuhatsu) / 1974
39. Carmen Maki&OZ『カルメン・マキ&OZ』(Carmen Maki&OZ) / 1975
40. Loudness『DISILLUSION~撃剣霊化~』(Disillusion ~ Gekiken Reika) / 1984

41. RC SUCCESSION『カバーズ』(Covers) / 1988 (#124)
42. Zelda『ゼルダ』(Zelda) / 1982
   † (#96, 『CARNAVAL』)
43. Rebecca『IV~Maybe Tomorrow』/ 1985
44. Sheena & Rockets『真空パック』(Shinkuu Back) / 1979
45. Godaigo『CMソング・グラフィティ・ゴダイゴ・スーパー・ヒッツ』(CM Song Graffiti Godaigo Super Hits) / 1978
46. Tama『ひるね』(Hirune) / 1991
   † (#148, 『さんだる』)
47. Merzbow『緊縛の為の音楽』(Music for Bondage Performance) / 1991
48. Kahimi Karie『MY FIRST KARIE』/ 1995
49. Fushitsusha『1st』/ 1989 
   † (#79, 『不失者』)
50. Elephant Kashimashi『エレファント カシマシ II』(Elephant Kashimashi II) / 1988
   † (#33,『浮世の夢』)

51. Guitar Wolf『狼惑星』(Ookami Wakusei) / 1997 (#126)
52. P-MODEL『IN A MODEL ROOM』/ 1979 (#125)
53. Itou Seikou『MESS/AGE』/ 1989 (#129)
54. Buffalo Daughter『Captain Vapor Athletes』/ 1996
55. Aburadako『あぶらだこ』(Aburadako) / 1985
   † (#70, 『あぶらだこ(1986)』)
56. Zunou Keisatsu『頭脳警察1』(Zunou Keisatsu 1) / 1972
   † (#100, 『頭脳警察セカンド』)
57. Murasaki『』(Murasaki) / 1976
58. Ippudou『LUNATIC MENU』/ 1982
59. Tei Towa『Future Listening!』/ 1994
60. Rankin Taxi『ワイルドで行くぞ』(Wild de iku zo) / 1991

61. Ken Ishii『JELLY TONES』/ 1995
   † (#71, 『ガーデン・オン・ザ・パーム』)
62. Creation『ピュア・エレクトリック・ソウル』(Pure Electric Soul) / 1977
63. Violent Onsen Geisha『NATION OF RHYTHM SLAVES』/ 1996
   † (#83, 『OTIS』)
64. Pizzicato Five『HAPPY END OF THE WORLD』/ 1997
   † (#91, 『女性上位時代』)
65. Moon Riders『青空百景』(Aozora Hyakkei) / 1982
   † (#144, 『カメラ=万年筆』)
66. S.O.B.『WHAT’S THE TRUTH?』/ 1990
67. The Fantastic Plastic Machine『The Fantastic Plastic Machine』/ 1997
68. Takagi Kan『グラス・ルーツ』(Grass Roots) / 1992
69. Ozawa Kenji『LIFE』/ 1994 (#53)
70. Rosa Luxemburg『ぷりぷり』(Puripuri) / 1986 (#8)

71. Flower Traveling Band『Satori』/ 1971 (#76)
72. Denki Groove『A (エース)』/ 1997 (#101)
73. Salon Music『La Paloma Show』/ 1984
74. Scha Dara Parr『5TH Wheel 2 the coach』/ 1995 (#86)
75. BOOWY『JUST A HERO』/ 1986
76. Puffy 『JET CD』/ 1998
77. Izumiya Shigeru『’80のバラッド』(’80 no Ballad) / 1978
   † (#90,『黄金狂時代』)
78. Rino Latina II 『Carnival of Rino』/ 2001
79. Blankey Jet City『BANG!』/ 1991
   † (#80, 『C.B.Jim』)
80. Fujiwara Hiroshi『Nothing Much Better to Do』/ 1994

81. Sandii & the Sunsets『IMMIGRANTS』/ 1982
82. Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra『TOKYO SKA PARADISE』/ 1989
83. Mr. Children『Atomic Heart』/ 1994
84. The Street Sliders『SLIDER JOINT』/ 1983
85. Sunny Day Service『東京』(Tokyo) / 1996
   † (#40, 『サニーデイ・サービス』)
86. Supercar『HIGHVISION』/ 2002
   † (#30, 『JUMP UP』)
87. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant『High Time』/ 1996
   † (#19, 『ギヤ・ブルーズ』)
88. Newest Model『PRETTY RADIATION』/ 1988
   † (#77,『クロスブリード・パーク』)
89. Shiina Ringo『勝訴ストリップ』(Shouso Strip) / 2000 (#116)
90. Rip Slyme『FIVE』/ 2001

91. Hi-Standard『ANGRY FIST』/ 1997
   † (#128, 『メイキング・ザ・ロード』)
92. Number Girl『シブヤROCKTRANSFORMED状態』(Shibuya Rock Transformed Joutai) / 1999
   † (#37, 『SAPPUKEI』)
93. Okuda Tamio『股旅』(Matatabi) / 1998 (#143)
94. Spitz『スピッツ』(Spitz) / 1991 (#105)
96. Quruli『TEAM ROCK』/ 2001 (#49)
97. Theatre Brook『TALISMAN』/ 1996
98. Maximum the Hormone『ぶっ生き返す』(Bu-Ikikaesu) / 2007
99. Utada Hikaru『First Love』/ 1999
100. Kaji Hideki『TEA』/ 1998

W. David MARX
November 9, 2007

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

66 Responses

  1. W. David MARX Says:

    A few notes:

    1) Kawasaki’s RSJ list is a bit Shibuya-kei-heavy, but I think he has much better selections for these artists than Snoozer. Buffalo Daughter definitely deserves a spot on a list like this, although I think New Rock is somewhat better than CVA. Good to see the agreement on Fantasma, which I don’t think serious Western critics gave much attention but is one of the crowning achievements of Japanese 20th century music.

    2) Shiina Ringo gets generally shafted, and I blame the weird dislike in the older rock crit generation. Karuki Saamen Kuri no Hana is absolutely a masterpiece, but no one even thought for a second about including it. That’s a shame.

    3) Snoozer‘s list is a little too RC Succession heavy. They also give a couple of slots to the band Hige, who are paid advertisers and featured in the magazine.

    4) Not a lot of 60s records besides The Jacks. Shows how mediocre Group Sounds stuff is and how it’s still mostly considered to be music “before the dawn of real Japanese rock.” (I wonder if the Japanese also discriminate against the highly orientalized melodies of GS.)

    The RS Best lists tend to tell a story of pop music flourishing in the 60s and generally declining afterwards, with a few peaks at punk, alternative, and hip hop. The best of Japanese music, on the other hand, seems to be spread out evenly from the early 70s to the late 90s.

    5) Supercar: great first shoegazer-pop record and then they did really mediocre techno stuff. I don’t know why any of their albums would make a list like this.

    6) Snoozer loses some serious cred by picking YMO’s BGM. I can’t remember ever liking a single song on that one. “Rap! Rap! Everybody rap!” BGM is a recorded chronicle of YMO not knowing what rap is yet doing a whole song about it.

  2. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    1) Wonder if that was a conscious snub on the part of Snoozer, due to Cardinal (Kawasaki’s old imprint) having put out their first two releases (that would provide the material for Captain Vapour Atheletes). Also, wasn’t that release US only on Grand Royal? I agree with you re: New Rock.

    6) BGM?! WTF.

  3. W. David MARX Says:

    If I remember correctly, Beikoku Ongaku actually released that Buffalo Daughter album on their own label in Japan. Talk about nepotism! But it’s the good kind of nepotism…

  4. Adam Says:

    Very surprised to see something as obtuse and difficult as a Merzbow record sitting in a list like this, especially alongsides the likes of ‘even-worse-than-Korn’ Maximum the Hormone.

    Disappointed at the lack of a Mad Capsule Markets mention: Osc-Dis (1999) proved that metal could still be interesting, while Park (1994) was pretty much a perfect record. And while we’re playing this game, what about making a bit of room for underground favourites Envy or Mono (both of whom put on pretty much the most beautiful/visceral shows around and each have an underground ‘classic’ album to their name)?

    Still though, at least there’s no Orange Range, eh?

  5. neogeisha Says:

    yeah, i feel kinda slighted about mono.

  6. Don Says:

    I know these lists are always a load of bollocks, but RSJ must be having a laugh. No Yellow Monkey? No Cocco? No Triceratops? Spitz at 94? And WTF are Utada Hikaru and Rip Slyme doing in there?

    Props to Adam for the Osc-Dis mention. Your coolness quotient just tripled. I’d throw Yamaarashi in there too.

  7. W. David MARX Says:

    I wonder if the old age of the critics in question has something to do with ignoring Mono.

    “And WTF are Utada Hikaru and Rip Slyme doing in there?”

    UH seems like a stand-in for “all 90s Jpop.” Rip Slyme aren’t that bad, and apparently, their first stuff was well-liked by the indie snob scene.

    I think Yellow Monkey has some classic stuff and are certainly no worse than some of the stuff that Snoozer chose. I seriously doubt that Cocco and Triceratops would be seen in a real “canonic” light.

  8. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    This chart is BS. Utada Hikaru?

    I’m surpsied the three alternative heavyweights didn’t fair too well. Number Girl was the only one of them to get on the list. Eastern Youth and bloodthirsty butchers were left off.

    Dir en Grey that far up? They’re soooooooo baaaaaaaaaad. Maximun The Hormone too.

    Boredoms at #25 surprised me. Never knew they were all that important in Japan. But I’m glad they got the recognition.

    No Quruli? I thought “The World Is Mine” was one hell of an album! Really displayed some variety, which a lot of J-Rock albums lack these days.

    Happy to see Fishmans so high up, really underrated band. Surprised they never hit the States though. It’s so sad that Shinji Sato passed away, they were on top of the world.

  9. W. David MARX Says:

    There is Quruli, I just spelled it Kururi. Let me fix that now.

  10. W. David MARX Says:

    I am surprised that Kawasaki didn’t pick any Yura Yura Teikoku albums. They are pretty solid and a pretty top-class example of “Japanese Rock.” Moreso than Dir En Gray. Snoozer gave YYT’s Sweet Spot the #113 position and 『空洞です』 the #41.

  11. W. David MARX Says:

    Here is Kawasaki’s logic for Utada Hikaru:


    His attitude seems to be that the overwhelming mass support for the record must mean something when compiling a list like this. A controversial position, maybe.

  12. Global Voices Online » Japan: Says:

    […] Marx from neojanponisme blogs about a list of 100 greatest Japanese rock albums of all time, which reflects on local rock history. Share […]

  13. Terri in Tokyo Says:

    man, this brings back memories…and good for Daisuke-san/RSJ for putting this together. I’m probably too close to 50 and out of the scene to be an unbiased commenter, but I have to just note:
    Pizzicato Five’s masterpiece, for me, is ‘This Year’s Girl’. Also, I’m very disappointed to not see Little Creatures ‘No Vote No Voice’, which I still listen to today.
    tks for posting this…

  14. trvr Says:

    whoaw.. merzbow, i still own that sucker.
    violent onsen? i would have never expected either of those guys on a best of rock list.

  15. W. David MARX Says:

    I thought at first that Violent Onsen Geisha was Kawasaki’s Trattoria Records/Shibuya-kei bias, but Snoozer approves as well.

  16. amerikame Says:

    –Long time lurker, first time poster.–

    Wow, quite interesting that something like this was actually published.

    First reactions: no オフコース [Of(f) Course]?? Granted, Oda Kazumasa isn’t the hardest rocking dude around, but his influence on Japanese music is significant enough to warrant a place on this list.

    Speaking of the indies–yes, Mono should be on this list, and Number Girl should have been up higher. Bloodthirsty Butchers…hard to say. I’d give my vote to BORIS instead. But it seems that band has greater cachet in the US than in Japan these days.

  17. W. David MARX Says:

    I am disappointed that Kawasaki didn’t give props to Sunahara Yoshinori’s Take Off and Landing. I like that way more than any Denki Groove.

    Listening to some of these albums on iTunes, both Friction and Zelda seem pretty cool.

  18. Mulboyne Says:

    Perhaps you can link the appearance of such lists with the record labels’ desire to make more money from their back catalogues. You have pointed out before that music retailers don’t keep a lot of old stock on the racks compared with, say, a large US shop. You also mention that you have already gone yourself to itunes to listen to some of the titles in the list.

    Companies are well aware of the decline in recorded music sales so might have less objection to these kinds of articles appearing in magazines because they act as an effective promotional tool. They might be feeling that the window of opportunity is closing. Online sales allow them to generate revenue without the cost of pressing up some new CDs for a rerelease.

  19. Ian LYNAM Says:

    What, no MC Hellshit and DJ CarHouse or Destroy2? Music ranking list is total fucking bullshit!

  20. pts Says:

    This is a pretty useful list insofar as there’s a lot I haven’t heard, or even heard of.

    That said, the exclusion of Shena Ringo’s KZK seems completely inexplicable to me, and the least they could’ve done was put Shouso Strip higher than an insulting 89.

    Spitz has basically refined their schtick through every album, so the safest, best pick is nearly always the latest one, in my opinion — but that may an opinon formed in the absence of some bullshit indie cred-related datum.

    Dir en Grey sticks out like a sore thumb, especially showing up in the top third as it does.

    I was vaguely surprised that Southern All-Stars wasn’t number one, but I suppose that reveals my own ignorance more than anything else. People just seem to love them so much. (I don’t really get it.)

    Sad not to see Mayumi Kojima.

  21. Aceface Says:

    Firstly,Yuming is presented as a rockn’roller.

    Secondly,there is no album from Carnation on this list.

    Thirdly,The best Flipper’s Guitar album is “Dr.Head’s world Tower”and I will fight who ever stands against this.

    Fouthly,What’s with the cruel treatment on the scenes of 70’s?SHOGUN(lead by expat muscian Casey Rankin?,SPECTRUM?

    Fifthly,Boom Boom Satellites?Anyone?

  22. Micah Sittig Says:

    Wow, somebody has a very different definition of rock than me.

  23. Himitsu Boy Says:

    Any list without KZK sucks.

  24. roger Says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of seeing lists with Kaze Machi Roman at the top. At least one of Hosono’s 70’s solo albums should be on that list though. Bon Voyage Co. in particular is as amazing as it is important.

    Aozora Hyakkei was a strange choice for a Moonriders album too. Just about everything they released prior to that album is much better, especially Camera Egal Stylo. Aozora Hyakkei is good, but by no means their best.

    With so much Japanese new wave on that list, I’m disappointed that Hikashu, Guernica’s debut and Chakra’s Satesoko are all absent.

  25. W. David MARX Says:

    “Secondly,there is no album from Carnation on this list.”

    I think Snoozer has Carnation on the list. They have Boom Boom Satellites on there too.

    “Thirdly,The best Flipper’s Guitar album is “Dr.Head’s world Tower”and I will fight who ever stands against this.”

    I used to feel this way. I think production wise and thematically, yes, Dr. Head’s is the best. Songwriting-wise though, Camera Talk is the most heart-wrenching. I think Camera Talk is a convenient way to summarize their entire career and also give nod to the songs that made them famous. But I probably like “Dolphin Song” the best. (Although I have a special place in my heart for “Big Bad Bingo.”)

    I think you’d generally like the Snoozer list more, Aceface.

    With so much Japanese new wave on that list, I’m disappointed that Hikashu, Guernica’s debut and Chakra’s Satesoko are all absent.

    Hikashu’s records are kinda hard to find at this point. At least they were when I looked. Having Jun Togawa on a list sums up Guernica, no?

  26. UKCrowe Says:

    WoW! How very interesting that this list should suddenly appear now – hot on the heels of Julian Cope’s new book ‘Japrocksampler’ that also has a countdown of the top 100 albums. Anybody interested may wish to look for it at any good bookseller or visit http://www.headheritage.com for more info.

    Not only does Julian provide a list, but he also sets all of the albums in context and provides a real insight to what you are going to be listening to and why it appeared that way in the first place!

    Highly recommended!

  27. Ohtaki Eiichi Says:

    The Cope book only has a top 50, not a hot 100. And I’m pissed that none of my earlier, funnier records made the Rolling Stone list. But whatever.

    You can read the Cope Japrock list here:


  28. W. David MARX Says:

    Good to see people on first-name terms with Julian Cope and the real Ohtaki Eiichi have shown up. The post has legs.

  29. trevor Says:

    you know.. this just hit me.. that collection of links is pretty outta control. i’m sure glad i didn’t have to do that.. i mean. seriously.. maybe im just lazy though.

  30. amakasu Says:

    I think the contribution of jazz musician / jazz music to the scene is ignored on the both lists like they do the same thing to GS? Despite the fact that they give credits and empower, for example, artist like Yumi Arai ( at least RSJ), which is debatable if you think it’s ROCK….Cope has Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes “Uganda”. Interesting. Is it a common thing when they make a list of ROCK100?( to emphasize pop side/ reduce jazz side) or just historical fact?

  31. Michael Arnold Says:

    Thanks for the interesting post.

    I agree that this list is weak. Are we supposed to believe that RSJ’s article is as groundbreaking as they say it is? I don’t think so…

    Frankly I think the staff at a place like Janice (or even Tsutaya!) would have a much better grasp of what’s historically/commercially significant and what isn’t.

  32. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    No Les Razilles Denudes? They were the best pre-1970s band and pioneered the Japanoise scene. A lot of the bands on the list such as Merzbow and Boredoms were definitely influenced by LRD.

  33. W. David MARX Says:

    Kim Jong-Il Hater – you have won the LRD award, given to the first person to mention “Les Razilles Denudes” in a post about Japanese music history!

    They are in the Snoozer list, but maybe they are not exactly summed up in a single album?

  34. roger Says:

    The fact that almost all of their albums are either bootlegs or grey-area releases complicates things too. ’77 Live is great, and I’m sure that all 300 or so people who own an actual official copy of it are very proud.

  35. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    Since I won the LRD award do I get one of those rare original copies?

    “Fifthly,Boom Boom Satellites?Anyone?”

    I’m not bothering to pick up their latest album. Heard the samples, really mediocre stuff. I wish they would go back a bit to that Out Loud sound.

  36. Jrim Says:

    I’d say Taj Mahal Travellers are a more obvious omission. Well, that’s what years of reading The Wire have told me – can’t say I’ve ever listened to any of their records.

    Anyway, interesting list – a lot broader than I would have expected, though I guess that’s largely due to the fact that each act only gets one album. (Imagine the arguments if the staff at Q Magazine actually had to choose between Revolver, Sergeant Pepper’s and The White Album.)

    Surprised to see Fushitsusha, Violent Onsen Geisha and Merzbow in there. Downright confused by the inclusion of Ken Ishii.

  37. Matt Says:

    No Anzen Chitai IV = No credibility.

  38. Vitaminic Says:

    […] I 1000 migliori album rock giapponesi di tutti i tempi […]

  39. Aceface Says:

    “No Anzen Chitai IV = No credibility”

    Jeez,the tape is currently in my car for a while.Surprised somebody had mentioned it.

  40. amakasu Says:

    where is ” Monkey Magic”,then?

  41. tim rogers Says:

    Blue Hearts at #3! That’s pretty nice.

    I wouldn’t be slightly upset about the complete snubbing of Bloodthirsty Butchers if it weren’t for the horrific inclusion of Maximum the Hormone.

    Why Maximum the Hormone? Why not Sambomaster’s first record, for god’s sake?



    Many top 100 lists are in the context of wider cultural moods and shifts. RS’s, Q, and most mainstream music rags lists tend to list things in the wider context of the music being both popular and significant, rather than the niche band you love so much and that you know influenced everyone else in the world.

    It’s unfortunate, but true. At least these things spur discussion, and more importantly for those of us not in the HIP FOLLOW EVERYTHING COOL IN JAPAN CROWD to gain some context.

  43. tr.panda Says:

    ken ishii is probably one of the most notable “japanese” electronic musicians around.. ? how is his inclusion confusing?
    “jelly tones” impact on IDM and techno outside of japan (ie. detroit & berlin) was / is pretty big. and could possibly be on a very short list of most important electronic albums from the early to mid 90’s..
    sure, his new works aren’t that good. (though i did enjoy the FLR easy filter series.. anyone? anyone?).. but jelly tones.. granted. not rock at all. (see IDM and techno references). also to note, its a list of albums.. not artists. so, you only need to “get it right” once.. its not a career gauge.

  44. John Says:

    This is a sort of loss of innocence.

    Kind of makes me sad. I hate canonization. It is one part of criticism culture can really do without.

    I suppose I’ll use it to find some more bands I might like. Dir En Grey is definitely not one of them.


  45. John Says:

    Whoops. MXUT.

  46. skchai Says:

    The definition of “rock” as a genre is even less clear-cut in Japan than it is in the U.S., so it’s hard to know whether something was left off because it didn’t fit the genre or because they didn’t think it was good enough. Is folk or new music (sic) rock? Some people would even say that GS and rock are two different genres in the Japanese context. Maybe visual-kei (X) is actually an idol subgenre? It’s hard to see Yumin as a rocker, but she makes the list (at 12!). On the other hand, folkies and new music in general are left out – i.e. Yoshida Takurou. Does this mean if you have enough commerical popularity and you can become become a “representative” of a non-rock genre? This might account for Utada at 99. How about ethnomusic-whatever like The Boom? Hajime Chitose? I hate canonization as well – it would have been better if they provided lists of each individual’s favorites, regardless of genre.

  47. boo Says:

    Wow. That is a total misnomer. I think my dead grandmother could take one look at this list and discern within moments that it is not a “rock” list. I fully support the idea of painting out a back story for Japanese rock, but what a total let down.

    How did Rip Slyme and Ken Ishii get in over B’z, Buck-Tick or Glay for starters…

    Some interesting choices none the less. Like who chooses Spitz’ self-titled debut over… Hachimitsu or Mikazuki Rock?

  48. gullcity Says:

    Super late to this conversation, but I just wanted to note that Kawasaki is in fact mistaken about his list being a first. Takarajima did something similar in 1992 (documented here). While they stop at the top 20, they do offer a list of 200-odd meiban that includes some of the favorites (Rallizes, e.g.) neglected above.

  49. W. David MARX Says:

    Thanks for adding that link. Those lists also help reinforce the “canon”-like quality of certain titles, such as P-Model, the Plastics, Flipper’s Guitar, etc.

  50. B'z_the_greatest Says:

    i can’t believe puffy is on the list. They are on of the worst and most annoying Japanese band i’eve ever heard. Next time RSJ make another list, make sure they have someone with real musical taste. I mean, where’s B’z? Glay? L’arc en ciel? Ayumi Hamasaki?

  51. Anonymous Says:

    EXACTLY! just as B’z_the_greatest and boo says, RSJ is totally a let down on this one. Where the hell is GLAY, B’z and L’arc!?!

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  54. hyde is best Says:

    What the hell is up with that ranking?? L’Arc-en-ciel is the greatest japanese ROCK band ever assembled. I don’t know who put this together but either put it down or do it right.

  55. Bill Says:

    Aren’t Fantasma and KZK shite?

  56. Jim Says:


  57. Tyler Says:

    to “B’z_the_greatest,” Ayumi Hamasaki has no place on a list like this… ever

  58. Matt Says:

    Y’all are such haters. Let’s just do a quick review of musicians who have rocked so hard that they made headlines with their destroyed hearing.

    B’z? No!
    L’Arc-en-ciel? No!
    Hamasaki Ayumi! Yes!

    It follows therefore that H.A. is the most hardcore Japanese rock musician of all time.

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  60. outlaw snagger Says:

    WTF wheres laruku? b’z? and freakin glay?!
    Dir en Grey’s whithering to death? why the hell is that there if they were gonna put one of its albums at least make it a great one like vulgar.and Maximun The Hormone?! is up there instead of l’arc en ciel which has made more of an influence then both those which i mentioned above?! THIS LIST IS F**CKED UP!!

  61. Mark KNOWLES Says:

    Glay sucks balls. That is why they aren’t on the list.

  62. Mark KNOWLES Says:

    N O B O R I S N O L I F E !

  63. Ringomaster Says:

    Glay are interesting; their post-BOOWY aesthetic chides me merrily and keeps me grinning for days.

    I must say that the inclusion of Cornelius has let my spirits down. He has always striked me as an opportunist, a fucking loser exploiting earnest cultures with his postmodern aesthetic. Yeah, man. Shibuya-kei is dead.

    The Stalin brought an incredible melange of prole ethos and rock energy into my life, Moonriders captivate jime – quintessential pop with an eccentric and literate twist – and doubtless inspired Mr Children. DOUBTLESS. I will defend the barricades of my point here until DEATH comes!

    The stupid choices made in this list are clearly the result of the editors knowing fuck all what they’re on about. Bunch of poser Japanese twats clearly know less about Japan than me, otherwise Imawano would be #2.

    #1 would be Shiina Ringo and Tokyo Jihen. Yes, both of them. She is a goddess, a veritable queen. For some real fucking insight check my blog.

    Oh and all visual kei is shite. You peasants.

  64. xenia Says:

    I’m surprised Luna Sea and L’arc~en~Ciel are not there. They’re way more popular than Dir en grey in Japan. Of course, I’m happy to see Dir en grey there because I freaking love them and they’re awesome!

  65. ruda Says:

    I thought one would see some: Les Rallizes Denudes, Mono, Boris, Acid Mothers Temple. I understand its a ”rock” list but these bands (LRD) have shaped a lot of the sound coming out today.

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