The lost Virgin demo

In 1975, about two months after the outdoor concert in Gotemba, and just after the “ALLNIGHT RAINBOW SHOW NEXT” at Kanagawa University, Shoda & Nagata left the band, and Hiroshi, from bands Datetenryu and Zunou Keisatsu, joined as bassist. Sami, a.k.a. Toshiro Mimaki, also part of the OZ crew, took over as drummer.

Hiroshi (Hiroshi Narazaki): We talked about doing a session with my songs separately from Eternal Womb Delirum. “Let’s invite Mizutani, then,” Oshime suggested. I hadn’t yet heard much of his music at that time, but I had heard the talk going around that it was very cool, so I agreed. In the middle of the session, Mizutani said, “Let’s try my song, too,” plugged into an effects pedal and blasted it in A minor. And then, just like that, the bass of “Flame of Ice,” the “dodadada, da-da-da…” came naturally out of me just like that.
Mizutani also felt it, and right away started singing along, and like that, we ended up playing together. At that time, Nagata was still there, and I never even imagined to myself that I would join the Rallizes, but after a while, Nagata was gone, and it turned out that Mizutani wanted to work with me.

In January 1976, with its new rhythm line-up, Les Rallizes Dénudés played in the “free concert” produced by music critic Akira Aida.

Harimaoh (OZ staff, then LRD staff): Aida had been aiming to publish LRD’s music since he first met Mizutani. As someone who deeply understood the Rallizes, he often said the words, “Jazz is Kaoru Abe, Rock is Les Rallizes Dénudés.” In 1976, the Rallizes also performed at an event organized by Aida’s Hange-sha featuring all avant-garde artists. The event was held at Yasuda Seimei Hall in Shinjuku, and I went along with the Rallizes, and kept the smoke machine going during their performance.
Around that time, Aida had arranged to have a recording session at the studio of a certain record company. I think the idea was to record a demo tape for promotion. Back then, the studio monitors were terrible, and everyone had to play with headphones on. Mizutani didn’t like it (he probably wouldn’t have been able to play with the headphones), and finally flung the headphones off his head in the middle of a song, breaking up the recording session just like that.
After that, I think Aida must have realized that it would be difficult to release LRD’s music domestically, given the musical situation in Japan at the time. The possibilities were grim both in terms of studio environment and sales.

Minoru Tezuka: I only got to know Aida for about a few years, but he was one of the most important people for LRD. A table in the very back of the L’Ambre Coffee Shop in Shibuya was like his office. I think he was at the show at Yaneura when Mizutani hit his guitar against the cymbal stand and broke the neck. He was a unique character, and he and Mizutani had a similar French literary aesthetic, so they seemed to get along well, and used to hang out a lot. In 1976, he even arranged a Rallizes recording session in a proper professional recording studio. Aida brought in a jazz saxophonist for the session, and Mizutani played bass on “The Night, Assassin’s Night.” After that, Aida tried to sell Les Rallizes Dénudés to Virgin Records in the UK, but unfortunately, the deal fell through.

Harimaoh: Aida apparently had some connection with Virgin. At first, the idea was to record in the UK, Virgin’s home ground, but since negotiations and coordination would take too much time, we decided to go ahead with the idea of recording in Japan and bringing the master recordings to the label and selling them there. Aida was the producer, and BIG BOX in Takadanobaba was decided as the studio. The other members aside from Mizutani were Nakamura, Hiroshi, and Sami. The plan was to finish recording enough songs for both sides of the LP, but unfortunately we ran out of time just halfway through. The audio material that didn’t make it to a master recording became a demo tape, and Aida himself took the demo tape to the UK and brought it directly to Virgin. It reached the board meeting, and got to negotiations for release, but in the end, it didn’t happen.
I remember Aida telling me the following.
“At the time we approached them about the release, Virgin was about to sign on the Sex Pistols, who had been kicked out of EMI. At that same time they were beginning to cancel nearly fifty other contracts, keeping on only their best-selling artists, to make up for the Pistols’ exorbitant contract fee…”
There is no way to know for sure if that was the reason, but later I heard that Virgin was indeed in financial trouble around 1976. In any case, at that point the plan was abandoned, and the studio recordings, that were so rare for LRD, were left in storage just like that.

Two years after the studio recording at BIG BOX, in December 1978, Akira Aida passed away.


To be continued…