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.

Friday, March 28, 2014

MANNA/Juicy Fruits -- Tokio Tsushin (TOKIO通信)

Going through "Japanese City Pop", I've come across a fair share of record covers that just popped out at me because of their design. One of them was for the LP you see above, the self-titled "MANNA" from 1980 with the stylized illustration of a woman with the big orange hair and tatsumaki eyes. Well, a couple of nights ago, I decided to go exploring YouTube again and just put this name into the search engine and came up with this song, "Tokio Tsushin" (Tokyo Call) which was included in the album.

According to the writeup in "Japanese City Pop" for the album, the music reviewer Shinichi Ogawa(小川真一) referred to "Tokio Tsushin" as a highly-regarded Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)composition with a cult following. And Tsutsumi has written a ton of songs that are more well-known than this one ranging from Kiyohiko Ozaki's(尾崎紀世彦) evergreen "Mata Au Hi Made"(また逢う日まで) from 1971 to "Ambitious Japan" by TOKIO in 2003. I was definitely interested in this mystery tune.

And it does start out rather enigmatically with this seemingly one-finger hopping on the keyboard and a ring tone before the song begins spreading out as this mix between a musical Parisian travelogue and something that almost dips into Mood Kayo territory. MANNA(マナ) herself glides through the Tetsuya Chiaki(ちあき哲也)-penned lyrics as if she were sitting at some café in the City of Lights nursing a café-au-lait while the rain is steadily falling down (although Milan is mentioned in the words there). For me, "Tokio Tsushin" is one of those tunes that makes for a welcome respite when I've been listening a bit too much to the aidoru side of things...kinda like on the same level as a Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子) song of those times.

Unfortunately, information on the singer herself, akin to the overall theme of mystery of this article, is sadly lacking on the Net. According to one Japanese site, she got married to a sibling of the brother folk duo Bread & Butter, and provided an ending theme for the anime "Dragonball Z". Also, according to the article in "Japanese City Pop" for her debut album, "Chabako Trick" (1979), her 1st single was "Yellow Magic Carnival" created by Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣). During her high school years, she was even involved in a band with Motoharu Sano(佐野元春).

In 1982, the pop band Juicy Fruits gave their own cover of "Tokio Tsushin" as the final track on their 4th album, "Ni-juu Nana Fun no Koi"(27分の恋...27-Minute Love). This version has a bit more of a rock-n'-roll kick than the original but the Frenchness still comes out. And the other remarkable thing about it is that Atsuko Okuno's(奥野敦子)voice is a whole lot mellower compared to her vocals from the band's debut single, "Jenny wa Gokigen Naname"(ジェニーはご機嫌ななめ)in 1980.

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