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, October 27, 2013

Miki Imai -- Blue Moon Blue

(cover version)

As I've said before for Miki Imai(今井美樹), I've seen her career in 2 phases: the early years from her debut in 1986, and then her time with her husband/collaborator Tomoyasu Hotei(布袋寅泰) from around the mid-90s. In the relatively brief time I was in Toronto between my JET stint and then my time in Chiba/Tokyo, I bought an Imai album by mail order titled "flow into space", her late 1992 7th album.

For the first time since her debut, there was a new producer behind the helm. Instead of Jun Sato(佐藤準), who had been responsible for the smooth AOR sound for Imai in those early years, Joe Hisaishi (久石嬢....of Studio Ghibli anime fame) produced "flow into space" alongside the singer herself. Imai's go-to songwriters such as Akemi Kakihara(柿原朱美), Yuuho Iwasato(岩里祐穂) and Chika Ueda(上田知華) were still there, but I thought there was a definite change in the sound compared to her previous albums, including the one immediately preceding, "Lluvia". There was more of a richer, and perhaps even spacier, texture to the tracks. Although Hotei wasn't on the production staff for this album, he did compose a couple of the songs.

The lead track is "Blue Moon Blue" which was also released as Imai's 8th single in November 1992. I'd heard bits and pieces of the song through commercials pitching the drama that it had been used as the ending theme for, "Patio", but didn't get to hear the full version until I got my hands on "flow into space". "Blue Moon Blue" was something new to me for an Imai single; right from the lush opening strings, the song sounded like a Nelson Riddle-arranged jazz torch song. Now, being a fan of Linda Ronstadt's "What's New?" and her collaboration with Riddle in the early 80s, I enjoyed Imai's little dalliance into the genre. What also worked with me concerning "Blue Moon Blue" were those high and soft vocals that seem to especially mesh well with the shimmering melody.

Having said all that, it took me a while after first listening to "Blue Moon Blue" (and the rest of "flow into space") to start appreciating it, and for that matter, to start appreciating the new direction that Imai was heading into. Still, if I had to choose between the two phases that I mentioned above, I would probably still go with her earlier period.

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