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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ai Saotome/Yumi Arai -- Maho no Kagami (魔法の鏡)

(June 18 2015: Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Saotome version has been taken down but I've got a darn fine cover version by Akina Nakamori.)

It's been a pretty nice few days finding some pleasant kayo kyoku that I hadn't heard in point: Reimy's(麗美)big sister with "Daddy". And then I found a few more tunes from the 1970s, the first of which was this one by late actress Ai Saotome(早乙女愛). "Maho no Kagami" (Magic Mirror) has that nostalgic 70s arrangement that sounds like it would have made for a nice theme song for an afternoon drama with the mellow trumpet and strings. It was arranged by Koji Ryuzaki(竜崎孝路)who had also helped out with songs for many singers including Hibari Misora's(美空ひばり)legendary "Kawa no Nagare no You ni"(川の流れのように)and Candies' "Heart no Ace ga Detekonai"(ハートのエースが出てこない).

Saotome only released two singles of which "Maho no Kagami" was the first one released in March 1976 as the theme song for one of her movies, "Seishun no Kozu"(青春の構図...Salad Day Composition). The actress was born as Satomi Setoguchi(瀬戸口さとみ)in 1958 and hailed from Kagoshima Prefecture. As a high school student, Setoguchi and a friend auditioned within a group of 40,000 young ladies to get that role to act beside heartthrob Hideki Saijo(西城秀樹)in the movie "Ai to Makoto"(愛と誠...The Legend of Love and Sincerity). Guess who won? Once Setoguchi secured the role, she was given the stage name of Ai Saotome, and her big entry into the geinokai brought some huge popularity for her as well.

Tragically, she died from multiple organ failure at the age of 51 in 2010 after living in the United States with her two children.

(karaoke version)

Today's surprise came from the fact that I had actually listened to "Maho no Kagami" before. The Saotome version was a cover of one of Yumi Arai's(荒井由実)tracks from her 2nd album, "Misslim" (1974). It was also the B-side to her 3rd single from the same year, "Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta nara"(やさしさに包まれたたなら)which later became the ending theme for the Hayao Miyazaki film, "Kiki's Delivery Service" in 1989. As soon as I heard the keyboard riffing which launched the Arai original, I went "Hey! I know this!" Compared to the later cover version, Arai's "Maho no Kagami" has a more playfully exotic melody, thanks to Masataka Matsutoya's(松任谷正隆)use of the mandolin.

I have put up my fair share of Yuming songs this year but it's been a very long time since I wrote about a Yumi Arai song. Nice to hear that old New Music again.

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