Credits

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, April 25, 2013

Alfee -- Hoshizora no Distance (星空のディスタンス)




 I'd known about Alfee since the 1983 Kohaku Utagassen when Toshihiko Takamizawa(高見沢俊彦) (the rocker), Masaru Sakurai(桜井賢) (the cool dude) and Konosuke Sakazaki(坂崎幸之助) (the folkie) performed "Marie Anne", and heard it and a few more of their hits on "Sounds of Japan". But "Hoshizora no Distance" (Distance of a Starry Sky) was a song that I first heard while I was living in Gunma while watching an episode of "Music Fair" late one Sunday night. Alfee and aidoru Yu Hayami were on the show, and the final segment had the band along with Hayami and a huge chorus and a full orchestra performing classical versions of their hits, partially to promote an upcoming album, "The Alfee Classics with the London Symphony Orchestra" (which I promptly got).


The arrangement so smoothly melded the classical version of "Hoshizora" with the "Jupiter" movement of Gustav Holst's amazing suite, "The Planets" that I thought for many years somehow that the Takamizawa-penned song had been adapted from the Holst classic. Of course, I was wrong.



Still, I recall seeing one comment under one of Alfee's YouTube videos stating (cheekily or not), "Freddie Mercury?" And thinking back to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", I've wondered if Takamizawa and company had kept the classics in mind when coming up with their songs. "Koibito Tachi no Pavement"恋人たちのペイヴメント) is another one of their hits that had me thinking about this point. But that's just my opinion...you can listen to "Hoshizora" and "Koibito Tachi" and come up with some of your own. Both songs, as I said, were written and composed by Takamizawa with Ken Takahashi(高橋研)helping out on the composition duties.

"Hoshizora no Distance" has this atmosphere of constant urgent pursuit, and the lyrics talk of a perhaps star-crossed couple trying, despite the distance (the 500 miles of the song), to bridge the gap with their love. Both lyrics and music take on this epic, heroic tone right from the get-go:

A furious wind now whips through my heart
Is "Goodbye" merely a one-time mistake?
Even separated by 500 miles
When the night comes, once again the heart is in pursuit

The distance under a starry sky
Burst into flames! Love's resistance
Conquer the night in the way
Once again, to my heart.
Baby come back!

(Thanks to uta-net.com for the lyrics)

I can envisage that man with a heart as big as anything making a Paul Revere ride on his trusty steed over hard rock and through thick forest to have that reunion with his one love as the song rocks away. My golly....it's the Harlequin romance of Japanese pop!

Released in January 1984, Alfee's 17th single had actually been created back in 1974 and performed during the band's live house era before its official debut onto vinyl. It peaked at No. 2 on Oricon and became the 11th-ranked song of the year, selling a little over 500,000 copies. The song has been included in any of Alfee's BEST albums, but it had originally been part of their 8th album, "The Renaissance" which came out in July 1984 and also peaked at No. 2. It ended up as the 27th-ranked album. "Hoshizora no Distance"was also the theme song for a TBS drama, "Mujaki na Kankei"(無邪気な関係...An Innocent Relationship).

2 comments:

  1. Wow, haven't heard this song in a while! This has always been my favorite Alfee song, but as a Western listener, I've always felt alone in my appreciation for it. Glad to find out that's not the case.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Juan. Thanks for your comments. I was feeling a bit drowsy tonight but after reading them, I perked right back up! Yup, you're definitely not alone. From most of the comments I've gotten, you're definitely not that.

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