I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Kanako Wada -- Party Town ~WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU~

Wow! Time indeed does fly fast. It's been almost a year since I put up my last Kanako Wada(和田加奈子)article, so allow me to compensate.

Found this one called "Party Town ~WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU~" from her 4th album "KANA" (1987) which also contains the track "C. Claudel no Tsumi" (C. クローデルの罪)that I talked about some time ago. Not quite sure whether this one written by Wada and composed by Scott Cutler, Jeff Hull & Bunny Hull would fall into the R&B genre exclusively or Eurobeat, but heck, it's a Friday. I'm feeling generous.

It's a mellow but uptempo track by Wada whose arrangement by Yuji Toriyama(鳥山雄司)is nostalgic and refreshing at the same time. It's been a while since I've heard this sort of pop song. And there's a part that sounds oddly familiar to Rick Astley's "Take Me To Your Heart" (which might explain that happy feeling of Eurobeat), but that single wouldn't come out until November 1988. In any case, it's delightful to see Ms. Wada back here.

Tatsuro Yamashita -- Love Space

This weekend should be nuts...meteorologically speaking. Forecasters are treating the next couple of days as the setting for the season's first major snowstorm in the GTA. Should be fun...might be looking at 5-10 centimetres with a high temperature of -12 degrees Celsius.

So for those "Kayo Kyoku Plus" readers who may be in the Southern Ontario region, I dedicate this classic example of summery joy to you. When things are going to get this snowy and cold, music listeners deserve some warmth and sun, and who better than Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)?

"Love Space" is the opening track to his 2nd studio album "SPACY" from June 1977. Can't quite believe that it only scored a high of No. 59 on the Oricon weeklies, but then again, the City Pop/AOR boom may not have been quite there yet. Plus of course, I'm rather biased towards Tats.

This is a love song extraordinaire that was written and composed by Yamashita and his oft-songwriting partner Minako Yoshida (吉田美奈子...and I can hear her in the background) with the former inviting a lucky lady to join him on the adventure of a lifetime soaring through the cosmos. Good heavens indeed! Such a young voice to lead the way through time and space...can be the perfect theme song for a younger Doctor Who to entice a new companion. And it can be a fine serenade or a proposal song by a long as he brings a pack of Sucrets lozenges; those pipes might be rather sore afterwards.

Along with Yamashita's scintillating vocals, a lot of those musicians deserved kudos as well for "Love Space" and the rest of "SPACY". Hiroshi Sato(佐藤博)was on the keyboards and he was the fellow who started things off with his piano for that first track. According to the J-Wiki write-up, he came up with the phrase right then and there at the recording session. Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)was on bass and I would love to know who the fellow was on that romantic saxophone. Was it Jake H. Concepcion?

In any case, have a drink with "Love Space". And for those in Southern Ontario over the weekend, hang in there!

Mai Yamane -- The Real Folk Blues

My, my, Mai, Mai...this has been quite the Mai start for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" today. Just finished an article for Mai Kuraki's(倉木麻衣)"Secret of my heart", an anison for the "Meitantei Conan"(名探偵コナン)series, and now I'm going ahead with a more down-and-dirty tune by Mai Yamane(山根麻衣)for "Cowboy Be-Bop".

In terms of the singer, I'm approaching Yamane in that countervailing way that I've gotten into Japanese popular music. A lot of fans have become J-Pop fans through anison being their front door and then branching into the other genres and singers including the singer in this article. For me, although I had heard of Yamane's contributions to the legendary "Cowboy Be-Bop", I only started getting into this singer through her very early City Pop tunes in the 1980s such as "Tasogare"(たそがれ), and then I made the inroads into her rock-and-anime area.

So I have arrived at "The Real Folk Blues" which is really a jazz-rock extravaganza with Yamane behind the mike and The Seatbelts as the band. And man, with all of the attention on that opening theme, "Tank!", I've realized that the ending theme is no shrinking violet by any means.

Mentioning about that jazz-rock arrangement, I couldn't really say that "The Real Folk Blues" is a typical fusion tune. I think that the creation by lyricist Yuuho Iwasato(岩里祐穂)and composer Yoko Kanno(菅野よう子)is something that belongs in that category of film noir-spy caper-Neo-Western music. It has that smoky bourbon blend of sexiness, danger and lone-wolf sense of justice. Plus, the lyrics by Iwasato seem to describe something like a final scene from a Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall noir movie: "Sorry, dollface. Would love to be with you but a palooka like me ain't much for settlin' down. Gotta keep movin'". Heck, "The Real Folk Blues" would be something that I would have heard in a 1970s James Bond flick but with the far more intimidating Daniel Craig bringing the hammer down in the opening credits.

Yamane's honey voice and those horns are just perfect for the cool tone. And I gotta say that the coda that seems to describe Bogie walking off into the distance is amazing with the music keeping that main theme but taking on that underlying rhythm of an uncertain future. Y'know...with "Tank!" and "The Real Folk Blues", "Cowboy Be-Bop" may have been an anime with one of the most killer anison theme batteries in history.

Mai Kuraki -- Secret of my heart

It's not every day that I get to see Haibara speechless on "Meitantei Conan"(名探偵コナン)which is why I put up that video above. Yup, now that the Holidays are over for another year, "Case Closed" is back on its regular Thursday night lineup on TV Japan. It's always amazing how these kids manage to see bodies on an almost daily basis without ending up in perpetual fetal positions.

I was a bit surprised to find out that Mai Kuraki's(倉木麻衣)3rd single "Secret of my heart" was actually an ending theme for the long-running "Conan", although I shouldn't have been since Kuraki has provided a lot of the show's theme songs over the past couple of decades. According to the Wikipedia article for "Secret of my heart", the count is up to 21 including this one which probably means that Kuraki may rival (or even exceed) B'z's contributions to the "Conan" song file.

Released in April 2000 during my time in Japan, my surprise was due to the fact that I had always seen "Secret of my heart" only on the various rankings shows on television and there was never any connection made to "Conan". The single, which was written by Kuraki and composed by singer-songwriter Aika Ohno(大野愛果), solidified that laidback and creamy sound that I've always associated with Kuraki.

From the J-Wiki article for the ballad, Kuraki had written the lyrics to relate her feelings about having to conceal her identity from at least some of her friends...or from a particularly close buddy. That led to my second surprise which is that apparently Kuraki may just be her stage name but not her real name. "Secret of my heart" became a million-seller and peaked at No. 2 on the Oricon weeklies, ending up as the 16th-ranked single for 2000. Furthermore, getting back to the "Conan" sphere, as of 2016, "Secret of my heart" is the best-selling single associated with the series.

The song also ended up on Kuraki's debut album "Delicious Way" released in June 2000 which later became the No. 1 album of the year, breaking the 3-million barrier.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Rumi Sakura -- Uwasa ni Naritai(噂になりたい)

Once again, we've come to the end of our broadcasting day, and so I will finish things off with one of those "here today, gone tomorrow" 80s aidorus that occupied the bottom 80% of the pyramid.

Rumi Sakura(佐倉瑠美)is an aidoru that I couldn't even find in a couple of 80s aidoru guides including the one whose photo you see right up at the top, and there is very scant information even on the Net. Therefore, I'm not even sure whether her single "Uwasa ni Naritai" (I Wanna Be Talked About) from November 1987 was indeed her debut single or her long single since from what I read is that she apparently didn't stay an aidoru for too long before jumping over to variety programming.

"Uwasa ni Naritai" isn't to be mistaken for one of EPO's classic tunes with the same title (plus, EPO's song title had been written out all in hiragana). This particular song was written by Rieko Mihashi(三橋理恵子)and composed by Hisashi Miyaguchi(宮口久). It's bouncy enough (did like the guitar) and Sakura has a good enough voice but I don't think there was anything there to set her apart from the many other teenybopper singers of the time that were doing their thing. I was able to find a photo of the single cover, and I found that Sakura looked a fair bit like her fellow aidoru at the time, Miyuki Imori(井森美幸).

Shigeru Matsuzaki -- Sailing Love(セーリング・ラブ)

For me, whenever I hear the name Shigeru Matsuzaki(松崎しげる), I always think of "Ai no Memory"(愛のメモリー), and not surprisingly it's probably his most famous hit.

But then recently, I heard this 1979 single of his titled "Sailing Love", and I rather pursed my lips together approvingly. This, his 20th single released in May of that year, takes things into the Latin disco end of City Pop and I have to admit that images of early Junko Yagami(八神純子)danced over my head. It's a soaring number that brings to mind mirror balls as well as dance parties on the Lido Deck of a cruise ship.

Written by Toyohisa Araki(荒木とよひさ)and composed by Koji Makaino(馬飼野康二), the same fellow who had penned "Ai no Memory", "Sailing Love" also made it onto his 6th album "Matsu For Sale" in July in the same year. The end of the 1970s must have been a particularly rollicking time for City Pop enthusiasts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mondo Grosso -- Do You See What I See?

Perhaps it's a bit early in the week to hit the dance floor, but dang, I just like this one by Mondo Grosso. "Do You See What I See?" is a track from his second studio album "Born Free" from October 1995, and it's the type of groovalicious number that I've always liked by the fellow. Created by MG, Hajime Yoshizawa(吉澤はじめ)and Monday Michiru, this is the type of song for which I would have liked to have hit the floor near the beginning of the night when things were a bit slower, or perhaps after the first spate of high-energy songs when things needed to cool down a bit but it was not quite yet time to return to the table for a breather.

My kudos to the singer Zhana Saunders as well who keeps soaring while the bass keeps bopping. To be honest, I like this speeded-up Deep Zone Main Mix of "Do You See What I See?" even better. Once again, I think Marcos V. is the better person for this paragraph in terms of explanation, but I think this would be considered to be a House remix? In any case, this remix would be in that spate of high-energy songs, and wouldn't it be quite the thing to have this playing during a montage of the wonders of the host city at the Opening Ceremonies at the Tokyo Olympics late next year? Mind you, considering the date and season, we may need the ambulances on standby to scoop all those folks dropping from fun and heat exhaustion.