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.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Yumi Matsutoya -- Pearl Pierce

"Pearl Pierce", Yumi Matsutoya's(松任谷由実)13th original album from June 1982, was one of my targets of purchase when I went over to Japan this past October on the strength of what was basically the title track "Shinju no Pierce"(真珠のピアス)and that fascinating green cover. I could get it very easily at Yamano Music in Ginza.

According to J-Wiki, "Pearl Pierce" is apparently Yuming's favourite album (I would still go with "No Side" and "Love Wars" for my own favourite albums by her), and the overall theme is about the life of the female company (office lady -- OL) employee in the big city. As I've mentioned in one of the other articles involving Yuming, the veteran singer-songwriter has always enjoyed using her observations of women and their situations to incorporate them into her lyrics which might explain why she loves this album so much. 

The first track is "Yokoso Kagayaku Jikan e"(ようこそ輝く時間へ...Welcome to the Shining Time)which was supposed to have been inspired by a ride on the Sky Flower at Korakuen Amusement Park in central Tokyo. When I hear it though, I'm reminded of an expression that I used to hear from a few of my teaching colleagues back in rural Gunma which was "Neon ga yonderu"(ネオンが呼んでる), and it was accompanied by a humourous gesture reminiscent of jazz hands. I guess the closest translation for the expression would be "The bright lights and big city are beckoning", and the song strikes me as somewhat of a lyrical invitation for the young to reap the benefits of a night painting the town red. Considering the decade, the temptation must have been mighty attractive for the ladies after work.

One other notable thing about Track 1 is that the opening slightly mesmerizing guitar riff sounds a lot like the one which starts off the title track from Quincy Jones' "The Dude".

(cover version)

"Lunchtime ga Owaru koro"(ランチタイムが終わる頃...Around the End of Lunchtime)has been reported to be 80s aidoru Yoko Minamino's(南野陽子)favourite Yuming tune, and it also has a specific Tokyo setting, Hibiya Park. The OL in question is having lunch on a bench there, and the music is suitably quieter and more contemplative. Yuming picks up on some of the tropes of having that bento solo: heading into the crowded restaurant, preparing to hear that chime in the office building signalling the end of lunch and even lightly pounding those back muscles to get all warmed up again for the afternoon part of work at the desk.

(karaoke version)

"Focus"(フォーカス)is a mid-tempo groove fest about the employee getting all excited about that long-hoped-for first date with a guy she knew back in high school. She thought she'd lost sight of him once graduation happened but fate lent a helping hand in having them meet up again, and by the sound of the music, it looks like they may end up going to one of those skyscraper-top restaurants (Italian or French) with that lovely nighttime view.

(karaoke version)

One of the songs from Side B of the original LP, "DANG DANG" was one that I actually first heard on a BEST album, "Neue Musik". Like the rest of the tracks for "Pearl Pierce" though, this was never an official single. The title was always rather intriguing to me...kinda sounding like a repeated admonition from an old Western. However, in this song it's used as a steely mantra after a woman has just been rejected on the phone by a guy she has eyes for with the guy simply stating "You're not my type". The woman then vows to do her mightiest to get over the heartbreak and stay somehow in touch with the long as the other woman doesn't know about it. I'd always wondered why Yuming really put the vocal emphasis on the title, and I guess it's her way of showing how determined the protagonist is in getting back on that saddle.

(karaoke version)

The one new track that really struck a chord with me was the 2nd-last track, "Shousoku"(消息...Contact). It's as if Yuming was channeling her inner Carly Simon and/or David Foster with a ballad that just has the words "romantic" and "wistful" soaking into her words and music. The OL is on a platform when she sees that special someone she used to know or never got to know on the other side waiting for the next train. If it were the dead of winter, the sighs would be extra smoky.

Well, "Pearl Pierce" struck a chord with fans when it did come out. It hit No. 1 on the album charts and became the 9th-ranked album of the year, winning a Best Album prize along with efforts by Miyuki Nakajima(中島みゆき)and Southern All Stars(サザン・オール・スターズ)at the 1982 Japan Record Awards.

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