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, September 16, 2014

Maki Watase -- message d'amour

I didn't know anything of Maki Watase's(渡瀬マキ)initial foray into the geinokai as a late 80s aidoru, but once I arrived in Japan for my stint on the JET Programme back in 1989, I really got to know her as the spunky lead vocal for the rock band Lindberg. Then, returning for my longer stay in 1994, I didn't hear much from the band at all and naturally assumed that Lindberg had had its 15 minutes of fame and would now be immortalized through karaoke, TV retrospectives and the occasional nostalgia tour.

However, as I was browsing through one of the CD shops one day in the mid-90s, I came across the album that you see at the top. I hadn't been too clear at the time of the name of Spunky but I thought that the lady with the wistful expression on her face standing on the boardwalk looked awfully familiar. Then, I saw the sign promoting this album "message d'amour" and there was the name of Maki Watase of Lindberg fame written on it. Well, I was intrigued right then and there. That sure didn't look like the cover of a rock album.

I plunked down my yen and placed the disc into my old Onkyo. The first track of Watase's first solo album was the title track itself, and it was definitely different non-Lindbergian. Instead of the rockin' guitars and the screamin' vocals, I heard a saucy intro before the music slid smoothly into a soft bossa groove that would have befit Miki Imai(今井美樹). And instead of Watase bellowing, I got her fairly purring into the mike at a pretty darn high register.

Watase wrote the lyrics about sending a letter to an absent or former lover while she's traveling through an old favourite spot of theirs, and the music was by Hiroshi 'Monsieur' Kamayatsu(かまやつひろし), former member of Group Sounds band The Spiders. Considering his somewhat wild and cool ol' fogey appearance on TV, I've always been pleasantly surprised when he is able to whip up these comforting tunes like this one. He also had a hand in Miki Imai's "Tea For Two" on her "Lluvia" album back in 1991.

Maki Watase is just another example of singers going off on a musical tangent away from their bands or units. Shoko Aida(相田翔子)from aidoru duo Wink went into similar territory and Kazumasa Oda(小田和正)veered into more urban contemporary territory from his folk rock group, Off Course, although admittedly the band was tending toward that genre after 1980.

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