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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sentimental City Romance -- Flight Tonight

Sentimental City Romance (センチメンタル・シティ・ロマンス) is a band that has popped up a number of times in Japanese City Pop as I was flipping through the book, and while I found their name striking, I didn't think about investigating into their music for a while. Then a couple of weeks ago while sampling some songs from Hiromi Ohta's “Feelin' Summer” on Youtube, I decided to try out this song called "Flight Tonight" on Jazz Bossa's channel. The atmospheric West Coast sound along with Tokuo Nakano's (中野督夫) vocals were to my ears what a fine glass of whisky would be to my tastebuds. It was love at first listening. I could just picture myself in some nightime upscale bar (either L.A. or West Shinjuku will do) savoring the romantic mood. The distant-sounding sax in the background was also a nice touch. I'm not a huge expert when it comes to Western AOR, but the song did remind me of early-80's The Doobie Brothers and even Toto in some way. Well, apparently Jeff “Skunk” Baxter from The Doobie Brothers did contribute to the band's album “Dancing” that this song comes from, so that explains the sound. The album was released in November 1982.

The band originally formed in 1973 in Nagoya (yep, I live close to there), but with various lineup changes at the beginning it was not until 1975 that they released their self-titled debut album with CBS Sony. Their current line-up consists of Nakano, Yutaka Hosoi (細井豊), Shinji Segawa (瀬川信二), Akihiko Noguchi (野口明彦), and Nobutaka Tsugei (告井延隆). They never had a real hit, but managed just fine by making money by recording with other artists like Miyuki Nakajima, Mariya Takeuchi and Sunny Day Service and just touring like there's no tomorrow. As of 2013, they currently have the longest career span of all Japanese bands, going strong for 40 years, even though they haven't been in the studio between 1987 and 2011. Looking at some of their recent pictures, they just seem like a happy bunch of guys who love what they do.

With a name like Sentimental City Romance one would expect more of the smooth AOR of "Flight Tonight", but judging by other samples of their music, it was only in 1982 with albums “Smiling” and “Dancing” that the band truly explored the genre. Most of their music, from what I've heard, is more along the country rock of Buffalo Springfield and Poco. The reasoning for their inclusion in Japanese City Pop is probably the same as for Happy End and Hachimitsu Pie. And hey, Happy End's Haruomi Hosono (細野晴臣) did produce some of their early work including that debut album, so that explains the connection. Nevertheless, the band seems likeable enough that I'll listen to them from time to time.


1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh.....that is one relaxing tune. Sounds so much like Makoto Matsushita and West Coast AOR. I always appreciate a good Fender Rhodes riff.

    Like you, I've often come across that funky pink graffiti rabbit on the album cover for Sentimental City Romance whenever I peruse "Japanese City Pop" and wonder what those guys' music is all about. I don't have to wonder anymore.

    Ah, by the way, on another matter, I enjoyed your entry of Minako Yoshida's "Town" so much on your Author's Pick list that I just bought "Monsters in Town" via CD Japan yesterday! Many thanks.

    As for bar choices, I'd go with West Shinjuku. It's safer.


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