Murasaki - Murasaki

Murasaki – Murasaki

88 / 100

Deep Purple’s influence is overwhelming upon first listening to Murasaki, however when digging deeper a tight and sound progressive hard rock ensemble surfaces.

Written by: Dave T

ARTIST: Murasaki
ALBUM: Murasaki
LABEL: Bourbon
YEAR: 1975
CD REISSUE: Reissue List

LINEUP: George Murasaki – keyboards * Masao Shiroma – vocals * Kiyomasa Higa – guitars * Yukio Shimoji – guitars * Toshio Shiroma – bass * Eiichi Miyanaga – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Double Dealing Woman * 02 Devil Woman * 03 Rock And Roll Nightmare * 04 Lazy * 05 Do What You Want * 06 Maze * 07 Far Away



George Higa (aka George Murasaki) is the mastermind of Murasaki, which means ‘purple’ in Japanese. Born in Okinawa – location of American military bases during the Vietnam War – and the son of a Hawaiian father and a Japanese mother, he studied in UCLA – where he majored in math and minored in music – before returning to his hometown around 1970.

He formed the band, heavily influenced by Deep Purple. With the Okinawa Islands already known as a folk and jazz music center in Japan and under the influence of the American culture, Okinawan Rock developed as a music movement, and Murasaki not only was and still is one of its finest exponents, but is also considered to have pioneered the movement.

The Songs

Deep Purple‘s influence is overwhelming upon first listening, however when digging deeper a tight and sound progressive hard rock ensemble surfaces. Uriah Heep‘s blinks in pace and keyboard/guitars interactions and even Camel traces in the most quiet passages crop out.

George Murasaki’s array of Hammond organ and Moog synths along with guitar licks/solos are upfront. Lyrics are sung in English with only minor accent. Vocals might sound flat to some ears but I am fine with it. The production stands out, very clear for the mid 70s with every instrument given space to breathe. I find it entertaining to make references to Deep Purple where possible in order to better describe the songs. Opener ‘Double Dealing Woman’ comes off as a ‘Lady Double Dealer’ sibling in tempo and lyrical content. Organ and chunky guitars are prominent in this satisfying energetic hard rocker.

‘Devil Woman’ has a nightmare feel to it and features a riding rhythm closer to Uriah Heep. ‘Rock And Roll Nightmare’ borrows from ‘Speed King’ without the incendiary guitar solo and organ section prior to the verses. Very nice synth touches on this one. ‘Lazy’ is a spot-on cover, kind of a slightly summarized shorter version so dynamic that’s not suitable to ‘..just stay in bed..’ but to listen closely instead! ‘Do What You Want’s intro riff sounds like a kind of answer to ‘The Book Of Taliesyn’s ‘Wring That Neck’ riff however it is classic 70’s hard rock with lyrics.

‘Maze’ is a fantastic instrumental that showcases a prog opening, a signature violin-like guitar riff, a dreamy middle passage not far from Camel ventures and a crescendo drum solo that resembles ‘Made In Japan’s ‘The Mule’ all in a 9-minute opus. Closer ‘Far Away’s first few beats recall ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’ and turns into an insistent Hendrix’s Purple-Haze-ish riff like the one in ‘Mandrake Root’ (from ‘Shades Of Deep Purple’). There’s also hints of Zepp’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ especially underneath the guitar and organ solos.

In Summary

Murasaki recorded a second album (‘Impact’) in 1976 and a live album before splitting up in 1978. George went on to form the more keyboard/pomp rock oriented George Murasaki & Mariner with whom he recorded twice. Murasaki (the band) reunited briefly in 1983 and 1998 before a permanent reunion in 2007 that lasts to this day, with 2016’s ‘Quasar’ being their most recent studio output.

In my opinion, Murasaki’s debut album, far from being a rip-off is a 70’s true homage to Deep Purple‘s Mark I, II & III greatness while at the same time it features original elements like the pomp oriented synths, prog leanings and tight organ/guitar interplay. Rolling Stone Japan magazine placed ‘Murasaki’ at #57 on its ‘100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time’ list published in the September 2007 issue. The 1978 compilation ‘Starship’ on the Swedish label Heavy Sound shares the same album cover with this eponymous debut, so be aware to avoid confusion.

Murasaki on Video

Double Dealing Woman

Murasaki - Double Dealing Woman (Japanese Hard Rock Band - 1975)

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