Credits

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 30, 2014

Mariko Takahashi -- Triad


This picture of Mariko Takahashi(高橋真梨子)for her 9th album, "Triad", was the very first image I had for the veteran singer. The album came out in September 1984 and I was lucky to get my own audiotape copy of it when my parents had come back from a trip in Japan. I first heard Takahashi via episodes of "Sounds of Japan" as early as 1982, so for that couple of years, I'd wondered what the lady with the golden pipes looked like.

As it turned out, she was a FOX! That is some fine facial bone structure there.



However, let's get onto the music. My request for Mariko Takahashi to Mom wasn't anything specific. I hadn't known anything about the singer's list of albums or singles at the time; all I had was the lovely songs that I'd heard from "Sounds of Japan" such as her famous ballad "For You". I was pretty ravenous for anything by her. So I was celebrating my own little Xmas Day as I tore off the plastic wrapping from around the tape.

The most celebrated song on the album is "Momo Iro Toiki" (桃色吐息)which was also her 10th single from May of that year. It was a song that I had heard through "Sounds of Japan" that I wrote about a couple of years ago, and it had a different exotic feel from the other ballads that I heard on the radio. Because of that, it took a little while for it to grow on me but I was finally able to accept it as one of Takahashi's trademark songs.

(NOTE: Since music163 is dead, you can hear excerpts of the song at this link. Just scroll down.)


Up to the time that I had first heard Takahashi on the radio, my emerging interest in Japanese pop music basically consisted of aidoru and the Yellow Magic Orchestra. "Sounds of Japan" helped expand my world a lot more, and a good part of the heavy lifting there was due to Takahashi and her mature sound. "Triad", as my very first album of hers, confirmed that sound. The first song, "Joji Queen"(祥寺クイーン)brings me right into downtown Tokyo at night with that great warm sound of the horns and her just-as-sweet voice. Out of all of the tracks, this would be the one that I would love to hear live on stage. As for the definition of the title, I tried to track down the meaning of "Joji" but saw the characters as being part of various temples' names and not its own word. I tried seeing if it were a place name but no dice there either. And for the longest time, whenever I listened to "Joji Queen", I always heard Takahashi pronounce it as "Georgia Queen". Perhaps I still should. Takahashi herself was responsible for the vocals while Ryo Matsuda(松田良)took care of the cool music.


"Modern Deja Vu"(モダン・デジャブ)was written by Goro Matsui(松井五郎)and composed by Keiichi Oku(奥慶一)who also played the keyboards for the second track. Through those keyboards, the song takes on some of that foreign lands flavour that a number of hit pop songs adopted half a decade previously. I'm not totally sure about my understanding of Matsui's lyrics but they seem to be relating about a woman reliving some of her memories with an old flame. As with "Joji Queen", my images with this one are nothing less very high-style and elegant. This woman doesn't eat at The Golden Arches....French for her probably means the finest pate de fois gras, not fries.


"Wasurenai"(忘れない...Never Forget You)is another ballad that most likely shouldn't be heard by anyone just after a romantic breakup. May induce a heavy loss of lachrymal fluid. Another Matsui song with Anzen Chitai's Koji Tamaki's(玉置浩二)contribution to the melody, it's a bittersweet but fond goodbye to a relationship and the song takes on a feeling of a lullaby as the protagonist slowly goes to sleep after a healthy cry.


But it's not all love-gone-south balladry. Track 8 has the jazzy and jolly "Atarashii Gosenshi"(新しい五線紙...A New Sheet of Music)composed by Matsuda again and written by Masako Arikawa(有川正沙子). Given a Latin Jazz kick, Takahashi sings cheerfully about love-going-somewhere....maybe south, maybe a short or long round trip. Perhaps Arikawa was channeling an old Hollywood screwball comedy involving a bickering singing couple who decide to split up the act and go off on separate trains. The woman though gives a bon voyage to her (maybe) ex-partner at the station, and encourages him to write a new score on that titular sheet of music. Well, as with a lot of the old comedies, Judy and Mickey/Cary and Kate will get back together again.

So, what was my initial impression of "Triad"? Well, my "Sounds of Japan" exposure to Mariko Takahashi was via her most soaring ballads such as the aforementioned "For You", so listening to my first Mariko album, I thought the songs here were more down-to-earth. Whereas "For You" would be imagined being sung in the heavens or on a similarly arranged stage, the tracks on "Triad" had more of that contemporary nightclub feel. My education in that area of popular music progressed further. Of course, I'm gonna have to cover some of the other tracks that I didn't get to later on.

And what I found out about "Triad" is that it managed to become the 34th-ranked album of 1984 and it even won Album of the Year honours at the Japan Record Awards.


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