Since the disbandment of Blankey Jet City, the band Jude is the third masterwork from the creative genius of Asai Kenichi. Dazzling guitar and drum work coupled with Kenichi’s tortured vocals is a force that should be experienced. Conceived as a return to a no-holds-barred rock trio, Jude is reminiscent of the earlier days of BJC but the comparison stops there. Jude’s elegance-meets-garage rock style is a combination of Asai Kenichi’s brilliantly written songs and the seasoned musicians that perform them.
Asai Kenichi [Sherbets, Ajico, Blankey Jet City] formed Jude in March 2002, with bassist Watanabe Keiichi [Heatwave] and drummer Ikehata Junji [The Roosters, Zero Specter, Heatwave]. Jude, armed with an amassed portfolio of new material written by Kenichi, hit the ground running. They released their first single “Devil” in June 2002, their second single “Silvet” on September 2nd, and two albums Charming Bloody Tuesday and the rawer Dirty Animal on the same day thirty days later.
More of a double CD set distributed separately, the albums are a testament to Asai Kenichi’s writing skills and arrangements. From the inclusion of second drummer Shiino Kyoichi [Magnolia, Ajico], to the various influences including reggae and rockabilly, the albums set the stage for Jude’s widely anticipated and acclaimed third album Highway Child. Released in October 2003, the album boasts Tamaki Aya’s violin and background vocals from UA. In September 2004, Jude released their fourth album Zhivago. Though as impressive musically as Highway Child, it has more of a mainstream quality than their previous works. In December they released the single “Silvester & Johnny K.” Reminiscent of Dirty Animal the single was followed a year later by the band’s sixth album Electric Rainbow and Jude’s last single “Shampoo.”
After the release of five singles and seven albums the future of Jude is uncertain and probably unofficial. The band’s last release was the album Shocking Black in June 2006, and the last time they played live was in December 2005. Asai Kenichi may be busy with his solo career (which was much anticipated) but take Sherbets history into consideration. Who came back from a four year hiatus in 2005 to release the album Natural (their best album to date, in my opinion). Whatever Kenichi decides to do, I will be listening.