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, October 31, 2013

Junko Yagami -- So Amazing

Being a Junko Yagami(八神純子) fan of fairly far back (although I had to do catching up with the first 6 years of her career), I've been able to get a good picture of how her music has been evolving and changing over the past few decades. She started off with some Latin-tinged kayo and disco in the 1970s before trying out some pop/rock in the 80s before going into R&B into the 90s.

Several years ago, I came across Yagami's face on a CD in one of the big music stores, but instead of the familiar kanji, I saw her name as June Stanley, an Anglicization of her first name and the last name of her husband, John Stanley. Just seeing the name and the title of her 1997 album, "So Amazing" in small letters intrigued me so out came the yen.

The album consists of some pleasant mid-tempo R&B tracks and a couple of updates of her older material such as "Mizuiro no Ame"(みずいろの雨), but for me, the standout track is the title one. It has that light morning feel to it. Created by John Stanley and Michael Railton, "So Amazing" sounds like Smooth Jazz, but it also takes me back a bit to the late 70s/early 80s, to some of the fine Al Jarreau songs that came back then. And of course, there are Yagami's lovely vocals.

With the name change, the fully American R&B sound and the production behind it, I realize that "So Amazing" perhaps doesn't even particularly belong in the "Plus" part of "Kayo Kyoku Plus", but hey, I like the song and I know where Ms. Stanley has been. I just wanted to show how far she's come. As for the album itself, it would be her last one for several years until the release of "Vreath" in 2012.

June Stanley -- So Amazing

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