"Sand Beige" has one of the most recognized intros in Akina Nakamori's（中森明菜） discography, and perhaps for Japanese music in the 80s. Not sure what that instrument is which launches the song off, though; hopefully an Akina fan out there may be able to help out.
I first heard Akina's 12th single on "Sounds of Japan", and it struck me right from the start with that exotic melody. Released in June 1985, "Sand Beige - Sabaku e" (To The Desert) was written by Eiko Kyo（許瑛子）, her very first work as a lyricist, and composed by Takashi Toshimi（都志見隆）. A story of a woman trying to restart her life through a trip after a failed romance, the singer's delivery, the melody and the lyrics swoop softly up and down the dunes of the Sahara Desert like a magic carpet as images of veils, camels and the Nile come to pass. There are even some samples of the Egyptian dialect of Arabic sprinkled in the song.
Akina was definitely trying to spread her wings as this song followed the Latin-infused hit "Meu Amore". It was no longer just about love-drenched ballads or tough girl uptempo songs for her. She was getting out in the world. And people were taking notice as "Sand Beige" won 3 awards that year, although none of them were from The Japan Record Awards. It debuted right at No. 1 and would become the 7th-ranked single of the year with close to half a million records sold.
Today's posting has a bit of a bittersweet timing as yesterday I heard about the passing of Irish actor, Peter O'Toole, the man who portrayed T.E. Lawrence in "Lawrence of Arabia".