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.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Miki Imai -- Lluvia

Miki Imai -- Lluvia
"Lluvia"(Spanish for rain) is Miki Imai's(今井美樹) 6th album, released in September 1991. I missed getting this album just by a couple of months since I had headed back to Canada from the JET Programme. Kicked myself in the keester for the bad timing, but I was able to get it through the old "Eye-Ai" mail order page the next year. And glad I did, too. Coming after her glorious 5th album, "Retour", "Lluvia"was a continuation of that wonderful early Miki Imai sound. I was thinking about using the word, "epilogue"to describe the album, but I thought that would be giving it short shrift since it doesn't feel like a disc of musically tying up loose ends here.

The reason that that early Imai feel comes through the album is because Imai's compadres from her late 80s and early 90s period come back again. Singer-songwriters Chika Ueda(上田千華) and Akemi Kakihara(柿原朱美) put in their contributions as does lyricist Yuuho Iwasato(岩里祐穂), and a number of the musicians from past albums come in like drummer Jun Aoyama(青山純) and guitarist Tsuyoshi Kon(今剛). 

My favourite song on the album is the title track itself. Written by Imai and composed by MAYUMI (Reimy's older sister), I love the intro and what has been called in the liner notes for the song, the "Rambu de Lluvia"instrument by Fernando Shimizu, which sounds like a pan flute. It reminds me of the sound from the very first Imai song I'd heard a few years earlier, "Natsu wo Kasanete"夏をかさねて). Thematically, it's classic Imai. The song is post-breakup with the singer wondering how her former beau is doing although she and presumably him have gone on with their lives. It's another calming tea-sipping tune.

(cover version)

Another Imai custom is to have a bossa nova-style song in her albums, and so here is "Tea For Two"...makes for a nice segue from my tea-sipping remark in the last paragraph. Imai was behind the lyrics here as well, but the composer (although the J-Wiki article has the Antonio Carlos Jobim responsible for music and lyrics with Kamayatsu adapting it and Imai translating the words) was Hiroshi 'Monsieur' Kamayatsu(かまやつひろし), a frequent visitor on TV and former member of the Group Sounds band, The Spiders way back when. This time, the words are much less bittersweet with the couple involved much more in thrall with each other.

(cover version)

The very first song from this album that I heard was actually "Plus Alpha"プラスα), an atypically funky number for Imai written by Yuuho Iwasato and composed by the bassist on the song, Jun Sato(佐藤準). I heard this being played in a CD shop just in the last couple of days before my departure from Narita; took me a bit of time to realize it was Imai singing this. Lyrically, this might be the more raunchy Saturday night in Roppongi compared to the sunny Sunday morning of "Tea For Two".

(karaoke version)

Whatever you do, do NOT play this song after a breakup involving you or anyone else. May cause excess dehydration via the lacrymal ducts. I couldn't ask for a more epic crying song from Miki Imai than "Egao"笑顔...Smile). Written by Iwasato and composed by Chika Ueda, Imai's delivery here, depending on my general mood, can get a lump to form in my throat the size of a a tangerine. This seems to be a field that Imai excels at singing about....having to break up a wonderful relationship and still missing each other greatly but offering that smile in the faint hope that the two will meet again. Tissues....double ply!

For the 2nd album in a row, none of the songs on the album were ever made into single releases, but it became the first Imai album since "Bewith" in 1988 to hit the top spot on Oricon and managed to become the 13th-ranked album for 1991 despite the relatively late release date, selling a little over 750,000 copies. As I mentioned at the top, I eschewed calling "Lluvia" an epilogue of "Retour". However, the album did signify an ending of things, namely the soft tea-friendly sound of her early years, something that hasn't been lost on Imai the Japanese social networking site, Mixi, there are Miki Imai communities but there is also one that emphasizes those early years from 1986 to 1991 for which I am a citizen. Her sound underwent changes from her next album, and although I have enjoyed a number of her tunes from that time onward, for me, it will always be those years mentioned that will be my favourite time when it comes to her.

(excerpts only)

No comments:

Post a Comment

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