Southern All Stars
About Southern All Stars
The Southern All Stars have slaked Japan's insatiable thirst for novelty since the '70s. Formed by singer/songwriter Keisuke Kuwata out of a Tokyo university's music club, the All Stars epitomize the Japanese concept of kayōkyoku—or "mixed juice"—with their constantly evolving hybrid of traditional Japanese folk music with rock, R&B, blues, soul, reggae, funk, and more. (Their name sutures Southern rock to pre-eminent salsa combo Fania All Stars.) Collegiate pranksterism informed the band’s 1978 debut single, "Katte ni Sindbad" (Willfully Sindbad), which referenced earlier hits by Kenji Sawada and Pink Lady. The band broke through the following year with the ballad "Itoshi no Ellie" (Ellie My Love), and 1980's Tiny Bubbles, their third release, marked the first of more than a dozen chart-topping albums in a row. While Kuwata ceaselessly courts controversy with saucy singles like "Erotica Seven" and "Manpli no G-Spot," the soothingly raspy singer's "Tsunami," a compassionate ballad about aging, became one of Japan's best-selling singles ever. Other singles like "Ai no Kotodama: Spiritual Message" and "Peace & Hi-Lite" reach for the stars with cosmic rapping and a Theremin. Following a 10-year break, the All Stars released Budou (Grape), another lavishly eclectic collection, in 2015. Having mounted a Japanese tour in 2019 and a live concert—minus the audience—at Yokohama Arena in June 2020, Japan's dependably different national band soldier on.