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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Yumi Matsutoya -- Love Wars

Still on the 1st-year anniversary kick for this blog, my choice for the second profile (along with Yukio Hashi's 1966 "Muhyou") is Yumi Matsutoya's(松任谷由美) "Love Wars", her 21st original album released in November 1989. This was during my time in Gunma Prefecture when I discovered singers like Miki Imai, Mariko Nagai and Princess Princess. However, with Yuming, I had known about her for some years before I made the post-university leap to Japan in July of that year. I came across songs like "Dandelion" and "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai" via "Sounds of Japan"on CHIN-FM in Toronto, and then some more of her tunes via karaoke at Kuri.. Her songs appeared enough times so that I was familiar with her and her enjoyable music, but still wasn't aware how much of an effect she'd had on Japanese pop music. But a few months after my arrival in Japan, I saw the promotion commercials for this album, and decided to plunk down the 3,000 yen for my very first Yuming CD.

The first track is "Valentine's Radio", a sunny start to the album complete with American radio DJ doing a bit of Valentine's Day banter. Although Yuming created the song for February 14th, I've always pictured this more for a Spring day, and my image city has always been San Francisco for some reason. Perfect with a breeze.

Yumi Matsutoya -- Love Wars
The LP version was the last one Yuming would release.
In retrospect, after getting to know all about The Queen of New Music and buying a lot of her previous albums going back to the early 70s, it's kinda strange looking at this cover, seeing her decked out in a PG-13 version of a Barbarella outfit. It didn't chime in with my initial image of Yuming since I'd always listened to her much older stuff. But apparently since the mid-80s, the singer had been moving ever forward into a more American mainstream pop mode, complete with horn section and synths.

Another surprising thing I found out about Yumi Matsutoya was that she was coming up with some monstrously epic effects-laden concerts. I bought a videotape of her 1991 "Wings of Light" tour, and was just floored that she could put on a show that reminded me more of Madonna. And she could hoof it big time as well. Anyways, in the above video, Yuming performs the 2nd track, "Wanderers", one of my favourites on the album, an urban strut of a song which made me realize this was not my teenage year Yuming. There is an actual video for this one but it seems to be as rare as an Elvis sighting. However, according to J-Wiki, it can be seen on her official site (well, only 45 seconds of it). Just go to the DISCOGRAPHY section on the homepage and then there is PROMOTION VIDEO near the bottom of that page.

Track 4 is "Kokoro Hodoite"心ほどいて....Unwrap My Heart), a wistful ballad that sounds even better unplugged as it is done here in the above video. The scenario is someone going to the church to see a former flame getting married, and having his/her heart say goodbye one final time.

Having bought "Love Wars" as my first Yuming album, it was a bit of a revelation to hear all these little toe dips into genres like urban and AOR along with general pop, and the shifts between uptempo and ballads. Up until this purchase, I'd always heard her as primarily a balladeer. And then when I saw some of her concert footage...!

The final track is "Anniversary", the only song to be released as a single from the album. Despite the title, though, it has been made as a song for the blushing bride on her wedding day. And I'm sure a lot of wedding parties since this song was released in June 1989 have made ample use of it. As Yuming's 23rd single, it peaked at No. 2 on Oricon. It would be her last single for the next few years until 1993.

As for "Love Wars" itself, it won The Best Rock/Pop Album Award at the 1990 Japan Record Awards, and was Yuming's 2nd million-seller. In fact, it was the No. 1 album of the year on Oricon, something that she would repeat the next year with her 22nd album, "Tengoku no Door"(天国のドア...The Gates of Heaven).....yup, bought that one, too.


  1. Thanks J-Canuck for this great post on ユーミン. Yuming is absolutely amazing with a musical career spanning almost over four decades. I must admit I'm not all that much of a fan of her 荒井由実 stuff but her music from the 80s and 90s are brilliant. I have a couple of her concert videos on DVD as well and you are right she almost puts some of these current JPop artists to shame with her elaborate sets, stunning costumes and energetic choreography and this was when she was in her mid 30s and early 40s. As she approaches 60 she doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing down and it will be interesting to see what future collaborations and song compositions she will do.

  2. Hi, JTM.

    Sorry but for some reason, a computer glitch wiped out your comments for this profile, but I was able to retain a copy from Gmail.

    For me, I have enjoyed Yuming's stuff from the 70s into the early 90s, so I'm hoping to complete the album collection from that period someday. I've got so many favourites by her that I can't ultimately choose an absolute favourite.


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