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.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Swing Slow -- Good Morning, Mr. Echo

For the longest time, I used to come across this album on the shelves, most notably at Ginza Yamano Music. I just thought that the cover was one of the more intriguing ones I'd ever seen with former Happy End/former Yellow Magic Orchestra member Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣) in dapper profile and a Parisian beatnik-y Miharu Koshi(コシミハル) adorning it. For all intents and purposes, that image of her was the only one I had, having yet to know her past as a 70s City Pop singer and even her 80s regeneration into a technopop chanteuse. As I was later to find out, Swing Slow was not only the name that the duo had taken to describe themselves, but also the title of the album which came out in 1996. I'd always wondered what kind of music was contained on the disc; judging from the cover and the title, I'd imagined jazz of some sort.

Then one day, as I was going through YouTube, I came across the unit's name and this song, "Good Morning, Mr. Echo" which came through as adorably off-beat. I mean, can you imagine one of the pioneers of New Music and Technopop dressed up in an old suit and armed with a guitar like a 50s balladeer warbling this cute little ditty with a gamine little beauty manning the accordion? No, thought not. But there they were, warbling this tune from 1951 which seemed to come through a time warp, aside from a bit of synthesized embellishment during the interlude.

I also have to mention that I kinda went "Awwww...." at the video. It's a weird dream mix of ballet and old 50s variety show that I thought Ed Sullivan or Sid Caesar would've been comfortable introducing. And speaking of those old entertainment programs from long ago, it was nice seeing Hosono and Koshi doing a little bit of that old softshoe near the end....rather reminded me of Mickey & Judy, Steve & Eydie, and Bing & Rosemary.

I also had to put this video (regrets...that particular video has been taken down but here is the original recording) where Swing Slow decided to take a humourous poke at themselves via a parody of the weekly NHK singalong program, "Nodo Jiman"のど自慢). Although "Good Morning, Mr. Echo" isn't all that long, the pair got ding-donged out fairly quickly after which the host asked rather facetiously why the song never really sold all that well.

In any case, based on this song, I finally pulled the trigger on my 12-gauge curiosity and bought "Swing Slow". I realized that the album was a soundscape of retro lounge, beatnik jazz and exotica in which more than half of the dozen tracks were instrumentals....not all that surprising since I had known that both Hosono and Koshi enjoyed being experimental with their music. Hopefully, I will get a profile on the whole album up sometime in the near future.

The original version of "Good Morning, Mr. Echo" came out in 1951 as a song created by Bill and Belinda Pullman. Sung originally by The Jane Turzy Trio, the "trio" was actually just Turzy herself with her voice overdubbed twice. It hit the Billboard charts in June of that year, peaking at No. 24.

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