Campus Records 45th Anniversary Album

Campus Records has been a mainstay of music in Okinawa for 45 years and this album celebrates it with a 19 track collection of some of the best recordings at various stages throughout that period. The record company is run by well-known island personality Yoshikatsu Bise (popularly known as Bisekatsu) who is a goldmine of information on Okinawan music. He records, produces and promotes most of the albums he releases, runs his own record shop, and has also co-written a number of songs as lyricist.

The tracks are arranged in chronological order beginning with one recorded back in the late 1960s by Four Sisters. This is followed by a 1975 song from Rinsho Kadekaru, the late godfather of Okinawan minyo. Most of the selections which follow are either traditional songs or more modern shimauta. There are songs by many of the familiar Campus artists such as Minoru Kinjo, Hirokazu Matsuda, Akira Wakukawa, and Deigo Musume.


The early recording of ‘Juku no Haru’ by mainland Japan ‘folk singer’ Shuji Kurokawa is one we could perhaps have done without. It was a hit at the time but now sounds somewhat lame. On the other hand, it’s good to be reacquainted with Kazumi Tamaki’s ‘Heiwa no Negai’. Tamaki may be best remembered for her contribution many years ago as back-up singer for Ryuichi Sakamoto and for her experimental album Tinin but this later recording is a fine reminder of what a superb singer she is and her track really stands out here.

Bisekatsu himself is co-writer of ‘Yoroshiku gozaimasu’ a typical tacky shimauta by Masae Nakada with a spoken part by Sachiko Nakada. It’s a style which is sometimes treated a bit sniffily by outside listeners but it captures the spirit of what a lot of Okinawans enjoy and provides some light relief in this context. Bringing us up to date, the two final tracks offer a version of Yasukatsu Oshima’s ‘Agarikata Bushi’ by Kazutoshi Matsuda and then the sublime voice of Mika Uchizato with ‘Nanjo Kouta’ from her Mika no Uta album last year.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already a decade since Campus were celebrating their 35th anniversary with a double release and I interviewed Bisekatsu around that time for an article which is on the Features page of The Power of Okinawa website. The new album has a similarly composed cover image in the style of Sergeant Pepper and a running time of 75 minutes. Congratulations to Bisekatsu for reaching another milestone.

Campus Records 45-shunen Kinen Album will be released by Respect Records on 16th December.





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