There’s literally not a thing to dislike about this album. There’s also no easy way to make it sound like a good idea. The sticker on the excellent Finders Keepers reissue has a go:
“A fuzzed-out educational multi-cultural psych-rock-opera from 1971. Proto-psychedelic hip-hop with overweight drum beats and basslines!”
Interested? Here’s the story: 1971. Two guys. Funk producers. One a Dutch-speaking Belgian named Jean Kluger. One a Frenchman named Daniel Vangarde, the father of Daft Punk man Thomas Bangalter. Don’t hold that against him. They create a Russian-flavoured holiday-camp smash named ‘Casatchok’. Next, they create a briefly popular dance named ‘Yamasuki’. They decide to make a whole album. They learn Japanese. They enlist a children’s choir to sing. They enlist a black-belt judo master to shout. They enlist uncredited contributers including Raymond Van Het Groenewoud and Claude Lombard. They record at Madeleine Studios in Brussels. They create a really quite wonderful racket. Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki. A decade later, one of the tracks is covered by Banarama as their first single. Don’t hold that against them.
There really is no easy way to make this sound like a good idea. There’s stomping drum breaks. There’s thick funk bass. There’s dirty wah-wah guitar. It’s heavy. There’s a dozen tracks stuffed with genuinely captivating melodies, tunes you’ll remember the rest of your life. There’s a bunch of French schoolkids singing their hearts out. And every now and again there’s a bloke shouting. It’s like something out of a funked-up Sesame Street, or a particularly deranged Olympics opening ceremony. It’s the catchy cousin of Jean-Claude Vannier’s legendary L’Enfant Assassin Des Mouches. No doubt it’s kitsch, but it’s also freaky, groovy, thrilling, and bizarrely life-affirming. It’s absolutely essential.
A quote from hip-hopper and beat-digger Edan: “This record is better than a lot of other records”.
There really is no easy way to make this sound like a good idea. Just listen. You’ll smile. There are days I claim this is my favourite album ever. It’s probably not. But I can’t imagine life without it.