Majoran image

Osaka, Kansai, Japan-based Majoran was a hard rock band that sounded like a cross between Canada-based Reckless, Aldo Nova and Rajas. The band was founded in 1981 and issued a demo in 1983. Two of the demo songs made it to a promotional ‘not for sale’ 7” single issued by no less than CBS Japan in 1984. The songs were recycled for the self-titled 45 RPM EP of 1984. The record’s cover declared the singer to be “The Queen Of Kansai Heavy Metal” with Kansai referring to the Osaka area. Amazingly, the band’s monicker 魔女卵 and music – the songs We Are Majoran and Catch Love - were used in a movie by the same name in Japan in 1984. The song versions differed from the EP’s however. This film starred the band Presence and featured music from Loudness. Reportedly, the director was unhappy with the music not being a fan of the style indicating the choice of music was imposed on him. Either way, a showing of the movie even featured a live band in the cinema as an opener.

Mizzy was booked to climb the stage again at Crawdaddy bar in Kabukicho, Tokyo in 2016.

Majoran translates into ‘The Witch’s Egg.’


MAJORAN – Same – CBS  
What? Who? Majoran? What is that?
Majoran was a hard ‘n heavy band based in Osaka, Japan that lasted five years beginning 1981. Other than a demo, the band issued a major label EP in 1984 that went nowhere so far as the band’s career and subsequent fame is concerned. Majoran went back inside the witch’s egg and was not heard from again.
It is all one giant pity. This EP is simply fantastic and the quartet fronted by Mizzy, or Tanaka Mizue, should have had a career beyond this faded round piece of vinyl. That was almost 40 years ago, which makes it too late to shed tears. All that is left to do is to read the review and, if any of it sounds interesting, wade into Japanese flea markets in search of a vinyl long lost and forgotten.
The four-song EP with four tracks starts off with We Are Majoran/We Are 魔女卵, which itself begins with eerie organs befitting the spooky monicker and title first, primal screams and guitar licks second, grunts third and a powerful hard rock song for the rest of the way. It is something of a madcap crazy track with a wild arrangement, wilder screams and a creepy chuckle. The loud solo and wild vocals’ interplay does not lack urgency or heaviness.
Catch Love is up next and wow. To think that we live in a world where people go dance to Prince covers at Metallica concerts while something like this is as obscure as they come is depressing. Catch Love displays the most vocal range here. A distinctive 1980s’ guitar solo soars on top of an effective and catchy rhythm bubbling underneath. This song was re-recorded and contributed to a cinematic film called Majoran as well. Fans of Yanki or rowdy Japanese schoolgirl movies should dig this film up somewhere. For bonus points find the EP and a copy of that movie and win double impossible jeopardy! Back to the track, it is an energetic hard rocker with talent to spare. It is beguiling how good the song and its tapered heavy metal guitars are. Having said that, the star of the song is Mizzy. Her unique voice is powerful and articulate and the fact that one does not understand Japanese, and she sings in that language, barely dents it. Kikuchi Hironori is pounding his snare, but the larger creativity comes to light listening to the cymbals. The impressive drum work and heavy riffing going on this track cannot be subsumed by the light keyboard background. This comes through better through the headphone because the mix favours the vocals throughout the EP. The musical content is lightly reminiscent of the French hard rock and heavy metal scene of the time. Sortilege or Warning would have been proud to have this song on their respective albums. Is anyone familiar with Saber Tiger's Misery? Not comparing the bands or songs necessarily, but Misery benefitted from singer Yoko's dual vocal tracks and backing vocals and that is also the case here. The added vocals serve the next song and the listener, which is a pattern repeated on the next track as well. Heavy riffing in a medium pace and Mizzy’s vocals take the cake.
The third is entitled Shaky. It comes with more metal riffing, nifty drumming and impressive breaks alongside a melodic delivery from Mizzy. The sense of melody is awesome again and the power and galloping hard rock generated on this one is endearing again. The under-mixed hard hitting drummer is pummeling his way through a second snare in a single session. This song is upbeat and energetic. Mizzy had such a unique and capable voice to go with her sexy looks. There is no justice on this planet. Retarded barf like Kanye something and Pantera are prancing around and a band like this was quashed in its infancy. Incidentally, it sounds like the record version has less keyboards than the demo one. The 1983 demo contained Shaky, Afraid Mind and Catch Love.
The short 12” ends with Afraid Mind. Japanese pronunciations strike when Mizzy sings something that sounds like ‘afarare mind!’ This song is different than the others. The bluesy guitar and hint of keyboards in the background are paired with a vulnerable and ‘sexy’ voice that comes across as gritty and vulnerable at the same time. That, in a phrase, describes Missy’s voice. There is feeling, there is capability and power. The nuanced track has a warm bass sound and listening carefully highlights that talent. The second half’s guitar and vocal interplay show off not just the individual talents, but also a sense of melody and an equal sense of harmony among the members. The guitar soars and sings and Mizzy sputters and howls before letting out a primal scream and going back to her downcast vocals.
This is an old EP, hard to find and a sound that, while above average for its time, is hardly state-of-the-art today. Of course, the Japanese lyrics limit its appeal further. In spite of all that, there is something magical about this MLP. We Are魔女卵 is about a town of a witch that is bereft of love. The nails are sharp and anyone could get cut up. Catch Love sings of being ignored and not loved, while Shaky is sexy and alluring and asks if he wants to see the rest of his dream. Afraid Mind declared Mizzy a cool woman and extends an invitation to seal lips. Mizzy was called ‘The Queen Of Kansai Heavy Metal' and had the attitude and appeal to justify it. – Ali “The Metallian”