The non-Japanese release of David's latest collaboration with the amazing Japanese band Beagle Hat is now available here. The Japanese version is available at HMV Japan and includes a bonus track Farm Work. We have both a regular version and a limted edition which is autographed by David Paton and numbered in gold pen. This pressing is limited to only 250 copies. We will have MP3s up soon!

"Orange Groove" follows on from "Magical Hat" in the David Paton/Beagle Hat collaborations. Both of these Beagle Hat CDs have reached cult status in a very short time and they are sought after by record collectors the world over. In other words, a Beagle Hat CD compliments any serious record collectors prized albums. The songs sound familiar in the same way as any classic song sounds from any major established group. It's only after a couple of listens that you realise it's the sound of Beagle Hat, a very original and distinctive sound it is too. The Japanese influence and the classic rock music structures blend magnificently well. It's a marriage made in heaven for Beagle Hat and David Paton.

Album Review by

When people think of Japanese rock, they think of a lot of things: the extremities, the experimentalism, the culture shock...the Japaneseness of it all. That's a perfectly understandable reaction, but it does subtly undercut the idea of Japanese musicians as members of the World's musical melting pot. There's a tendency (which this site admittedly contributes to) to view Japanese rock as Japanese first, rock second, as if they were permanent outsiders that will never fully blend into rock culture. This is somewhat understandable: Japan is one of the most homogeneous cultures in the modern world, and the East/West divide can be much easier to detect than, say, the UK/US divide.

There's also some truth to the idea that it's more difficult for any Japanese scene to seamlessly meld with scenes happening anywhere else. When grunge happened in America, nobody blinked when British bands responded in kind, and the same lack of intrigue occurred when American artists started adapting forms that originally sprouted from British dance clubs. But Japanese artists are usually thought of in terms of their country of origin to some degree, no matter how effortlessly they fit into their chosen genre.

Beagle Hat sidesteps this somewhat by having a Western guest vocalist: namely David Paton, a gent from Edinburgh, Scotland best known for his time with Pilot, a 70s pop band known mostly for this song, at least on the other side of the pond (Pilot were huge in Japan.) But mostly, Beagle Hat sidesteps this by being a pitch perfect Brit neo-psych band, the kind of ELO/XTC obsessed pop craftsmen that transcend origins. "Orange Groove" is a fantastic album, an almost flawless confection of made of sunny strings, mellotron swells, Beatle harmonies, maddeningly catchy choruses, and a multi layered sonic wonder that stands firm alongside XTC's "Skylarking," or ELO's "A New World Record."

There's a loose theme of bewilderment and wonder in the lyrics, ranging from Colin Moulding style personal reflections ("Same Old Sunrise,") alienated characters from the Damon Albarn playbook ("Happy Eddie,") and "A Day In The Life"-esque personal diaries (Monday Drifter.") But like the aforementioned "Skylarking," they act mostly to flavor the lush auditory surroundings, adding a happy jolt or wistfulness to the vivid sounds, depending on the mood. "Happiness In Songs" (a track celebrating the act of staying home alone) takes a guitar riff straight out of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators' "Reverberation" and reframes it as joyous power pop, custom made for dancing around the living room. "Castle Hill" has a nostalgic, late afternoon relaxation as Paton pines for a girl who "will never come to me." His vocals are no small part of the appeal: he has The Voice for lush psychedelic pop, often recalling Paul McCartney, Colin Moulding, and especially Andy Partridge collaborator Martin Newell (although it should be pointed out that Paton predates everyone in that list, save McCartney.) There's not a duff track in the bunch, but the standout is "Happy Eddie," which takes a very 80s power pop paranoia and builds it to an utterly glorious release, like a more muscular take on ELO's "Diary Of Horace Wimp." It an ecstatic, deliriously powerful song, climaxing in a thick sonic stew that breathes a kind of ecstatic longing.

"Orange Groove" may not fit in with anyone's image of Japanese rock, but that's irrelevant. The album, and Beagle Hat in general, are a perfect case of cultural transcendence, proof positive that music is universal even as it takes inspiration from culturally specific sources. As of this writing, "Orange Groove" is a Japanese only release, which due to distribution issues may doom it to a thoroughly inappropriate obscurity. Fans of lush psych pop need this, and they need it now. Outstanding.

David Paton Songs Ltd & Blue Yonder Media Group. All Rights Reserved.