Andrew has promised we'll return there, to that vast hall of musical memorabilia in Osaka. It was called the Rock n Roll Museum, for some reason, but it did little to disguise the fact that it was a merch house, a place to purchase Clash pencil cases, mod target tea-cups and Queen belts. I maintain that we only spent a few minutes there, but I'm sure Missy Laur insists we spent hours walking around, fondling every item from every section, from Britpop to Hair Metal. I only wish I'd bought something.
It's rare to get excited about band merch, although I can recall instances where I have marvelled at an excessively priced item at a gig (navy blue tshirt at Coldplay, 2003; light blue tshirt at the Faint, 2004; navy blue tshirt at New Order, 2012). I often bemoan their lack of originality, either the band tshirts are so incredibly large that they can comfortably house 2-3 males (black tshirt at Pet Shop Boys, 2007) or in the case of female tshirts, they shrink and rise up (black tshirt at Bloc Party, 2005).
I like to imagine that there is a marked increase in the creativity of band tshirts. Sure, many of Ben Sherman's licensed Beatles t-shirts still mirror their album artwork but there are also more obtuse references to the band in their collection. My favourite is a print from the opening moments of the film Yellow Submarine: men standing on rooftops, wearing trenchcoats and bowler hats, holding umbrellas. It's only a momentary shot but those who have seen it, know it.
For now, I must pack my bags as I honestly have no time left. I'll pack my various band tshirts, my Beatles, Queen and my favourite Pet Shop Boys tshirt (with the artwork from their 1987 single, Heart). I'm unsure whether Japanese passers-by will recognise such references brandished across my chest, but then, that's not really the point: I get it. But then I have to remind myself that it's not always the point, after all there was that time I accosted a poor Korean girl atop the Capitoline Hill in Rome. I stopped to marvel at her stunning Style Council tshirt and she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.
I've decided to leave you all with a podcast in celebration of our momentary jaunt to Japan! Also, be sure to head on over to the C&CM Facebook Page to pick up a bonus easter egg! Arigato!
Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Japan Podcast #43
YMCK - Karee Ta Yo!
The Bird and the Bee - Love Letter for Japan
Ayano Tsuji - Kaze ni Naru
Girls' Generation - Mr Taxi
Pet Shop Boys - Flamboyant
City-O' - Rose of Tokyo
Graham Parker and the Rumour - Discovering Japan
Bloc Party - Secrets
Blur - Yuko and Hiro
Queen - Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)
Download (65.6 MB)