Soul Flower Union: Soul Flower Box 1993-1999

Hot on the heels of the new Takashi Nakagawa solo album (reviewed here in August) comes another new release from Soul Flower Union, the Osaka based roots-rock band formed by Nakagawa and Hideko Itami. This one is a box set containing 6 CDs and is released by the band’s former record company Sony.

In SFU’s early days their albums were released on Sony’s Ki/oon label and their first four albums – Kamuy Ipirma, Watatumi Yamatumi, Electro-Asyl Bop, and Winds Fairground – are now re-released here along with Nakagawa’s original solo album Lost Homeland. All have been remastered with bonus tracks. Also included is a 6th CD of Soul Flower Rarities from 1995 to 2005. It all comes in a stylishly packaged but compact box which contains an 80 page booklet with essays in Japanese and lots of photos. The individual albums all have the original artwork and English translations of all the songs.

The inside booklet for Soul Flower Box

It could be argued that this is a case of Sony cashing in on artists they no longer have on their label and milking it for all it’s worth. It isn’t exactly cheap with the box set priced at 15,000 yen. My own review copy came courtesy of the record company as I had worked on the recent English translations for the Rarities CD. Nevertheless, it’s a beautifully packaged set and will be much sought after by Soul Flower Union fans and enthusiasts.

Above all, most of the music still sounds excellent too. The Electro-Asyl Bop album from 1996 was the band’s first great leap forward into world music, while Lost Homeland, made two years later with the assistance of Irish musicians Donal Lunny, Sharon Shannon, Nollaig Casey and others, is probably Nakagawa’s finest achievement.

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