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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shigeru Suzuki/Mariya Takeuchi -- Hachibu Onpu no Uta (8分音符の詩)

I mentioned a couple of nights ago that on EPO's "Ame no Kennel Douri"(雨のケンネル通り) that I had been in the midst of tackling a rather thorny translation assignment. Well, I'm basically done with it now, more or less. Not particularly proud of the results but I did the best I could and will be very glad to see the back of it when I hand it in tomorrow morning.

So, on that note, I will invite you to listen along to a good ol' wind down song...something that I could really use. I found one in the form of Shigeru Suzuki's(鈴木茂)"Hachibu Onpu no Uta" (8-Note Song) which was originally on his 2nd solo album, "Lagoon" from 1976. The guitarist and vocalist from the legendary band Happy End carried on the tradition with his old bandmates Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣), Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆)and the late Eiichi Ohtaki(大瀧詠一)and stretched out his musical wings to become a session musician, an arranger and a solo artist. A number of his albums have popped up in "Japanese City Pop", so his name is one that I have seen quite often over the past several years, and was quite curious about his output outside what he has done as an arranger.

Suzuki composed the languid "Hachibu Onpu no Uta" while his buddy Matsumoto came up with the old-fashioned lyrics of giving that titular song to a lover while appreciating the hand-crafted musical instruments and perhaps the old-school music. With Suzuki's late-night arrangement, the atmosphere is one of that tiny, smoky and entirely comfy jazz bar as that whiskey-on-the-rocks is sliding down the oak.

Well, the reason that I even found out about the song at all was through another album listed in "Japanese City Pop". The album in question was from 1978 and it was a compilation titled "Loft Sessions Vol. 1" which featured a number of singers performing at a live house in Tokyo called Loft (not to be confused with the funky household goods store of the same name in Shibuya). One of those singers on the album happened to be a pre-debut Mariya Takeuchi (perhaps by a few months) doing a cover version of "Hachibu Onpu no Uta". I didn't know most of the singers on the album but as soon as I read about Takeuchi's participation, I knew that I just had to purchase this one. I was surprised to discover that I could get it fairly easily from the Net.

Still, I didn't expect that I would ever find something as rare as a pre-debut Mariya featured on YouTube, but I could find the page selling "Loft Sessions Vol. 1" as shown above. Just scroll down the page to reach the song samples. As is usually the case, the samples are only 45 seconds each but you can still get the gist of Mariya's sound back then. Also, she sang Track 5 "Hollywood Cafe", so give those two, and for that matter, the rest of the songs a whirl. (Listen to the full versions here.)

In any case, if it weren't for "Loft Sessions Vol. 1", I wouldn't have been led to the original version by Suzuki, and since from what I've read about his "Lagoon" being one of the seminal City Pop albums of the 70s, I'm now garnering to acquire that one as well in the not-too-distant future.

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