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, July 11, 2013

Hi-Fi Set -- Sky Restaurant (スカイレストラン)

A couple of days ago I discovered a nice CD and record shop close by one of the schools I work at and picked up Hi-Fi Set's "Golden J-Pop/The Best" compilation. Yes, it was a brand new CD and my wallet cried a little at first, but I was pretty happy with the fact that I can listen to this group anytime without the help of Youtube. I just find Junko's voice is really soothing to the ears and the songs themselves are very nice. When the folk group Aoi Tori (赤い鳥) broke up in 1974, it branched out into Kamifuusen (紙ふうせん; Etsujiro Goto and Yasuyo Hirayama) on the one side, and Hi-Fi Set (ハイ・ファイ・セット; Junko Yamamoto, Toshihiko Yamamoto and Shigeru Okawa) on the other. In the early days, Hi-Fi Set worked extensively with Yuming who has wrote and composed some fine tunes for them. J-Canuck already profiled "Sotsugyou Shashin", "Tsumetai Ame", and "Koi no Nikki", so here's one of my personal favorites, "Sky Restaurant" (スカイレストラン).

Jazz and I are pretty good friends, especially smooth jazz with an introspective mood. "Sky Restaurant" fits perfectly into that category and even sounds somewhat melancholic. Perfect choice of images on the Youtube slideshow above (that video was taken down...replacement above). It's the kind of number you'd play at dusk while overlooking the city from the top of a high-rise building. The opening lines "Pa pa-pa pa-pa-pa" hit me pretty hard before a single word was uttered. Now, my Japanese isn't exactly that great at the moment but from what I understand of the lyrics, the topic here is lovers' separation. Yuming was the one who supplied those, and according to J-Wiki, they were originally tentative lyrics for her own single "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai". Perhaps someone with a better Japanese ability can enlighten me on what's going on here. As for music, the composition credits go to Kunihiko Murai (村井邦彦). The single was released on November 5, 1975.

The version that I have on my CD is actually a live recording from 1989. The new arrangement gives it a bit of a bossa nova touch and features a nice trumpet during interludes.

Note from J-Canuck: I've also followed up this article with one about a couple of covers of this classic song.


  1. Hi Nikala,

    This album looks like a goddamn lucky draw ! And about this song... How could it be possible not to fell in love with the sweet voice of Junko Yamamoto. Above all, this kind of smooth jazz is something like magic : easy listening but also easy captivating. It reminds me of my youthful days watching to those anime series like "Lupan Sansei" or "Captain Future" with Yuji Ohno's musics.

    I'll definitly go to my favorite CD retailler as soon as possible to see if I can dig up one of those "Hi-Fi Set" gems (following this blog is not a good deal for the wallet - thank you all, you guys ! - but we're lucky enought to have a BOOKOFF store here in Paris ^_^)

    By the way, your post also gave me an irrepressible desire to hear again Yumi Matsutoya's "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai". On that occasion, I choose the lovely live version from her "Concert with old friends", with Junko Yamamoto as guest backing vocalist (available on YouTube). Nothing less than wonderful !

  2. Thanks for this post, nikala. I had a great time listening to this beautiful song just after waking up today.

    Being honest, I have little knowledge about 70s Kayo Kyoku or jazz (the only Japanese jazz artist that I have listened is Aiko Okumura, and she is not from the 70s), so this song was a nice surprise to me. I enjoyed the live version of your recently bought CD even more than the studio version, which is something very rare in my case (I always prefer the studio recording of the songs). And Junko's live vocals are incredible. Very very close to the studio recording. I think I'm so accustomed to pitchy and out of tune aidoru vocals that when someone who can really sing hits my ears I surprise myself. Just kidding, I love aidoru singers.

    And I know how you feel. Sometimes we have to fight ourselves to not buy a CD. I'm trying to resist this month.

  3. Thanks a lot Mr. Nikala
    I listened to this song in the Shibata Jun's COVER 70s album and fell in love with it
    Just can't find out the original song, though
    Now i can listen to the original version through your post ^^

  4. Hi, nikala. Nice choice for an entry before the weekend. The perfect song for the titular place in Tokyo. One of my aural memories for Japanese songs back in the 60s and 70s is that hauntingly lovely female voice. And Junko Yamamoto was one of the best representatives. As soon as I heard the original, I was immediately reminded of "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai". The updated bossa nova version is also very nice.

    Back when I was doing my first gig in Japan in the late 80s, I often took the Bullet Train to Tokyo since I needed that feeling of city under me during my life in rural Gunma. I went absolutely nuts on the CD purchases.....usually picked up 8 CDs a trip a month.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.