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, May 17, 2013

Keizo Nakanishi -- Starting Over

October 21 2015: Unfortunately, most of the tracks for "Starting Over" no longer exist on YouTube or NetEase, but there is the link above to the Amazon site where samples of the songs can be heard.

I mentioned back in my first posting on Keizo Nakanishi(中西圭三) ("Woman" ) that I hadn't been sure how I first got to know about the singer....whether it had been the CD single of "Woman" that my friend lent me or an audio tape that my cousin had kindly sent me. That audio tape was of his 4th album, "Starting Over"which was originally released back in March 1994. It got a lot of heavy rotation on my tape recorder. One of the reasons was the starting title track which is this gloriously happy tune originally made as the campaign song for that year for the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture. It may have been made for the re-creation of those Dutch buildings, but this musical orange juice kinda reflected my feelings about what was to be my upcoming return to Japan later that year. Nakanishi, by the way, composed all of the songs with Masao Urino(売野雅勇)taking care of the words for this track and the next song.

Track 3 is another fun and optimistic tune just from the title alone, "Ashita wa Kitto Ii Hi"(明日はきっといい日...Tomorrow Will Undoubtedly Be A Great Day) done in a somewhat of a doo-wop style. I also stated in the "Woman" article that Nakanishi reminded me vocally of Toshinobu Kubota(久保田利伸) but that he tended more towards the pop side of things. I think from listening to this song and his tribute to all things Yuletide, "Kiss, Merry Xmas", he also likes going back to the earlier days of R&B as well. "Ashita wa Kitto Ii Hi"was also a commercial song....this time for a Honda brand of car called the "Today"(man, where these guys get these names....).

(Concert version)

Track 5 is an orchestral version of Nakanishi's 7th single, "Nemurenu Omoi"(眠れぬ想い...Sleepless Feelings) for which Kanata Asamizu(朝水彼方) provided the lyrics. She also wrote the words for Masayuki Suzuki's(鈴木雅之) "Shibuya de Go-ji" 渋谷で5時).This was the first version I had heard of this ballad, and with its strings and harmonica, this would not have been out of place in the pilot episode of "Moonlighting", the old 80s detective series starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd (yes, she was lovely, and yes, he did have hair). I loved the banter between David and Maddie and the music that accompanied them.

Track 8 is the high-energy "Hijo Kaidan"(非情階段...Callous Stairway) created by Nakanishi and Asamizu with co-composer Takao Konishi(小西貴雄). The album version starts off for the first several seconds as a bit of midnight jazz doodling before the music kicks into 80s R&B Dazz Band-like warp drive. This was also released in July 1994 as his 12th single some months after the album's release. The above link has the single version.

I love all the tracks on "Starting Over" but one of my special favourites is one of the last entries, "Yume no Hate Made"(夢の果てまで...To The Ends Of The Dream). It's just another gallopingly fun uptempo song by Urino and Nakanishi, and again it reminds me of some of the funky pop I used to hear back in the 70s.

"A.C.E." is Nakanishi giving his tribute to Motown. Once again, it was an Urino and Nakanishi collaboration.

"Starting Over"hit the top spot on Oricon and became the 35th-ranked album of the year, selling about 434,000 albums. Some years into my Japan odyssey, I was finally able to procure the actual CD, I'm happy to say. And it's still always a pleasure to hear almost 20 years later.

Keizo Nakanishi -- Starting Over

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