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, April 30, 2014

Mariko Takahashi/Ami Ozaki/Junichi Kamiyama -- Heart & Hard: Toki ni wa Tsuyoku, Toki ni wa Yasashiku (ハート&ハード:時には強く時には優しく)

(karaoke version)

One of the longer titles of a J-Pop/kayo kyoku song I've ever come across, "Heart & Hard: Toki ni wa Tsuyoku, Toki ni wa Yasashiku" (Strong At Times, Kind At Times) has become one of my favourite Mariko Takahashi (高橋真梨子)ballads over the years. I first heard it on a BEST compilation CD of her works that I bought years ago, and although it didn't grab me initially, it was able to grow on me rather nicely.

It's another wonderful Takahashi-and-Ami Ozaki collaboration just like the former's first solo single, "Anata no Sora wo Tobitai"(あなたの空を翔びたい)from 1978. The version at the link above is actually from her "Special Best -- Sing" album of 1995; there is a bit more of an urban kick to that version but I prefer her original from June 1979 which came out as her 3rd single. That original version has a softer edge with a lilting piano and strings that belie Takahashi's pop/folk roots from her time with Pedro & Capricious, but also contains a fine electric guitar is that instrumental combination with her voice that made me fall in love with her material in the first place. There is also a bit that reminds me of  Yumi Arai's (荒井由美)"Sotsugyo Shashin"(卒業写真) in the refrain.

"Heart & Hard" was also included on her 2nd album, "Sunny Afternoon" which was released in February 1980.

Ami Ozaki(尾崎亜美), the writer and composer for the song, has done a lot of covers of her contributions to other singers over the years but I'm not certain whether her version of "Heart & Hard" ever came out even as a track on one of her albums. However, here she is above with her cover of the ballad in concert.

Purely by accident, I discovered a jazz version of "Heart & Hard" by composer-arranger Junichi Kamiyama(神山純一) that sounded pretty good so I have put it up as well. It's a track on one of Kamiyama's series of tribute albums "JAZZ de Kiku" covering various artists such as Takahashi. The full title is "JAZZ de Kiku: Takahashi Mariko Sakuhinshu -- Hagayui Kuchibiru"(JAZZで聴く~高橋真梨子作品集~はがゆい唇....Listening Through Jazz: The Mariko Takahashi Collection -- Impatient Lips).

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