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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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Anzen Chitai -- Remember to Remember


Y'know, I'm not sure when I bought Anzen Chitai's (安全地帯)"Remember to Remember", the band's very first album from January 1983. Up until that point, my perception of Koji Tamaki (玉置浩二)and the guys had originated from their breakthrough hit, "Wine-Red no Kokoro" (ワインレッドの心)which wouldn't come out until almost a year later in November of that year, and from that point, I gathered all of their studio albums up to their eighth effort. So for me, I'd assumed that the Anzen Chitai mythos started from their 2nd album, "II".


But I finally decided to make the collection more complete and one day, I got "Remember to Remember" at one of the Tokyo music stores. Purely from a superficial level, it still remains a bit apart from its descendant albums since: 1) the title is an English expression instead of a number, 2) almost all of the tracks are also in English, and 3) the photo of Koji and company on the back cover makes them look like a backup band in need of a lead vocalist ("Where's Yosui?" is what I thought). Finally, 4) that picture at the front looks more suited for a J-AOR compilation album.

However, I started listening to the band's first track and their 3rd single from April 1983, "Las Vegas Typhoon"(ラスベガス・タイフーン). And my first thought was that it sounded like a lost Anzen Chitai song coming back into the fold (all of them were). The Anzen Chitai sound of silk and dark chocolate was already in there. There was a fair bit of thunder in the music by Tamaki but it all seemed to part to form a calm eye when the vocalist began to sing the lyrics by Yukio Matsuo(松尾由紀夫). His voice just flowed and cut through the air like a glider. The one thing about the words that amused me was that the first two lines seemed to paraphrase that famous motto about the titlular city, "Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas".


There is a bit more speed in the 2nd track, "Run of Luck". I'm not sure if both Tamaki and Matsuo had gambling on the brain when they were getting the above song and this track together (the two created most of the songs on "Remember to Remember"), but there was another similarity with the two songs in that they both wrangled about the trials and tribulations of love.




By the time I got to the 3rd track of "Age", I realized that the Tamaki I was hearing was the one who had yet to develop a lot of that darkness whenever his voice dove into the lower registers. Those vocals seemed to still have just those angel wings instead of the additional devil's tail. Still, listening to this song, I definitely got those images of East Shinjuku on a Friday or Saturday night with all of the hustling and bustling among the young and naive/not-naive. This track also served as the B-side to the aforementioned "Las Vegas Typhoon".

http://music.163.com/#/song?id=681495

Another song that stood out to me was "I'll Be On My Way", the band's 2nd single from October 1982. With the brassy sax and the rest of the arrangement, it didn't quite sound like the usual Anzen Chitai song although Tamaki's vocals probably reassured all of his fans that "I'll Be On My Way" was part of his discography. And indeed, Tamaki and Matsuo worked on this one as well, but with help from Motoki Shimizu(清水宗己) and Patrick Napukum (just going with the katakana here so not sure if this is the right Romaji spelling) on the lyrics. Speaking about reassurances, "I'll Be On My Way" is the usual on-the-road song with an uptempo beat in which the lonely driver will make his way through no matter what the challenges are in terms of distance and romance.

http://music.163.com/#/song?id=681506

The final song for the article is the soothing "Fuyu City-1"(冬CITY-1...Winter City-1). The title sounds like one segment of a shopping mall up in Hokkaido, but the feeling is more like that picture on the front cover of the album. Tamaki sings about a man on a date with a woman in a tea room one fading winter afternoon as he wonders about his (and her) feelings and their plans. In one verse, he mentions about suggesting to go off to see some horses via his car with the sunroof which really does make me think about Xmas up in Japan's northernmost main island, Anzen Chitai's home turf.

At the beginning, I mentioned that "Remember to Remember" had some differences between it and the rest of the later albums. But I also said that those differences were superficial. The album may not have been the spark to launch Anzen Chitai's career up into the stratosphere, but I think the songs here are still worthy additions in the band's list of great tunes and not just musical prototypes for the band's sound.

"Where's Yosui?"



9 comments:

  1. Hey, hi. This isn't really related to this post, but I'm super glad I found a blog like this. As a Japanese speaker who will likely end up at some sort of work-based karaoke session at some point in his life, I've been trying to learn a lot of songs lately from a wider range of decades. I'm currently very into Shizuka Kudo, and I'm looking further into Eikichi Yazawa. The problem with him though is that his discography is so huge that I've got no idea where to start. I figured I should learn 時間よ止まれ, and I've already got New Grand Hotel down, but do you have any other Yazawa recommendations that might impress people older than me (mid 20s)?
    I also just really enjoy late 80s/early 90s J-pop. Like, a lot. If I love Shizuka Kudo, what else from around that time might I love?

    Sorry to be both a bother and very wordy~

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    1. Hi, Victor. Thanks for your comments, and I hear you about ending up at a work-based karaoke session. This will be an inevitability if you are working in Japan. As you may have guessed, I'm not a huge Yazawa fan since I have yet to put up anything by the singer, but I have to admit that he does have the charisma. However, perhaps you can try out his late 80s "Somebody's Night". Maybe I'll work on that song pretty soon.

      As for late 80s aidoru, since you mention Kudo, you might like Yoko Oginome and Miho Nakayama, especially the former since Oginome also had quite a few uptempo hits.

      Let me know who else you might like and I'll see if I can recommend some karaoke songs.

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    2. Fun! Sorry for the late reply. I kind of guessed you weren't a huge Yazawa fan, but I figured you'd be worth a shot anyway. I'll look into everything you suggested when I've got some time and get back to you!

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    3. I totally forgot to bookmark this post, so I lost it. I forgot it was Anzen Chitai.
      Anyway, thanks for all the great recommendations! I took to Yoko Oginome pretty well, particularly "Stranger Tonight", and while I was looking for more about her I was able to dig up a lot of other stuff I really enjoyed. I am just enamored with Yui Asaka at the moment; "C-Girl" is now the most embarrassingly wonderful thing on my ipod. I've also taken a real liking to Akina Nakamori ("Slow Motion" BLEW MY MIND), Yuka Onishi (she looks EXACTLY like a friend of mine), and Junko Mihara (not sure about her politics yet). I was really loving Minako Honda, too, but then I found out she died and I got too sad to keep looking into her. Anyway, I discovered this site called Encyclopedia Idollica, and even though the site author is really obnoxious, it's been a pretty great resource. Between this site and Idollica, I'm confident I'll be able to drown myself in a pool of Silver Age J-pop, just like I've always wanted. Thanks for being my diving board!

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    4. Hi again, Victor. "Silver Age J-Pop"....that's a pretty good nickname for the good old stuff. I'm kinda hoping that there will be others who can start delving into it like you have.

      The aidoru you mentioned above rather takes me back to some of those old "Best 10" video tapes and back issues of "Myojo" I used to read. I think Yui Asaka took quite well to swimwear in particular. :)

      If you liked the early Akina Nakamori stuff, you should take a gander at some of the aidoru tunes from the early 80s. The songs had a particular style, especially with the disco strings sometimes.

      Always a pleasure to help folks when it comes to this topic. And you're pretty lucky since you are in the source country right now. Be careful about your wallet. I sometimes went a little overboard in my purchases when I was there. :)

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    5. Sadly, I'm not actually in Japan right now. I'm working my way up to it. I need a bit of money stashed away before moving to another country! Book-Off will be my friend for this stuff (as it was last time), and I'm looking forward to scoring some great old stuff in embarrassing quantities. The last time I was in Japan, it was for four months, and I came back with 50 CDs. Living next to a Book-Off was bad for my mental health.

      To really drive home my thanks, let me tell you my favorite recent story. My brother and I were driving our Japanese friend who's in her late 30s to an event at her friend's church, and Shizuka Kudo came on the CD I burned for the car. My friend sat there thinking for a moment, then says "Wait, how do you know Shizuka Kudo?" Then we sang along to Kuchibiru Kara Biyaku and life was just beautiful. There was also some enka one there. It was a really good time. Thanks for helping make that happen!

      I look forward to expanding my musical horizons even further. It's just thrilling to me that there's this treasure trove of fun Japanese songs that came out before I was even born (I'm 24).

      本当に本当にありがとうございます!

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    6. Yup, it's never exactly cheap when it comes to a trip to Japan. I gotta keep an eye on those exchange rates. The next time I go there, I will definitely be heading for my old haunts but will be more specific in what I'm hunting for.

      One of my small pleasures has been getting some of the reactions when I pick out some obscure song at karaoke or recognize some song off the radio. Some of my middle-aged students kinda get that Warner Bros cartoon reaction of shock. "YOU KNOW THIS IN CANADA?"

      Please keep on the search. Even though I've been listening to Japanese music intently for over 3 decades, it's amazing how much new and appealing stuff I keep encountering.

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  2. I agree the fellow above.
    This blog is a treasure!!!
    I'm studying this language as well,but even if i'm not likely to end up goin' to a karaoke(don't like it),this site has a lot of interesting stuff for a music lover girll like me.
    Keep on good writing,please! ;-)
    P.D:Don't you have an account@jpopsuki? There's a lot of obscure stuff there too!

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    1. Thanks, Anonymous for the compliment. Hope you will continue to take a read.

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