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.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Takao Kisugi -- Asai Yume (浅い夢)

Before all of the hits that he wrote for singers like Akina Nakamori (中森明菜)and Hiroko Yakushimaru(薬師丸ひろ子), and before his own hits of "Goodbye Day" and "My Luxury Night" over 30 years ago, singer-composer Takao Kisugi (来生たかお)began his solo career with a tenderhearted ballad for which one fan wondered why no one hadn't given it much notice. Well, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

"Asai Yume" (Shallow Dream) was a song that I heard on his BEST compilation, but it was originally his debut single from October 1976. And I think as his launch song, it matched his style and personality. As I remember, Kisugi's appearances on TV were pretty rare and at the times that he did come onto a music show, he was a calm and unassuming fellow. In addition, his songs, including his own covers of tunes like "Second Love", usually came off as gentle and dreamy. "Asai Yume" has that same feeling so I can say that it probably set the template for a Kisugi feels like waking up just when the sun is breaking through the horizon and the air is cool and pleasant. I can only speculate since I obviously wasn't monitoring events in Japanese music too seriously in the mid-70s, but considering the very popular aidoru and enka wings of pop music at the time, perhaps it wasn't too surprising that the debut of a former guitarist on Yosui Inoue's (井上陽水)old band wasn't more heralded. I've often used the iceberg analogy when it comes to some of the songs on "Kayo Kyoku Plus", and I think Kisugi's debut single and album of the same name are in that part of the ice under water as a potential treasure to be discovered later.

As would become the case for so many of his songs, his sister Etsuko (来生えつこ)wrote the lyrics to Takao's music. For me, what I like about "Asai Yume" is the use of only piano and strings to accompany his voice. Even for a ballad of his making, the combination of just these instruments and his cool vocals make it stand out all the more.

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