I wrote an article several months ago about Chikuzen Sato's（佐藤竹善）cover of the AOR classic "What You Won't Do For Love" originally by Bobby Caldwell and the fact that it came from Sato's first album of covers, "Cornerstones" from 1995. Having become a fan of his work with Sing Like Talking, I just had to see what the smooth-singing Sato could do on his own.
Well, here is the opening track from "Cornerstones", "No One There". And it looks like Sato was rarin' to get crackin'. Starting with what sounds like a bit of steel drum calypso, he just gets into some of that wonderful AOR groove with that great voice of his. From this song, there isn't much different (at least, at that time) between his solo stuff and his work with SLT, but that's not a bad thing at all. He knows a great hook when he hears it, and I do love that electric guitar during the bridge.
As I said, "Cornerstones" is a cover album, and "No One There" is a cover of a song by singer-songwriter Eric Tagg. Released also as the first track on Tagg's 1982 album, "Dreamwalkin'", I only heard this for the first time tonight, and I'm rather kicking myself up the keester just some months before I enter my second half-century because I had never heard of this guy before. As regular readers of "Kayo Kyoku Plus" may have already surmised, I often gravitate to City Pop in Japan and its equivalent of radio-friendly AOR/adult contemporary music from the 70s and 80s. And listening to the original "No One There", there is much for me to enjoy in the arrangements. Visions of Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and James Ingram are dancing around my head as I write this. There is no blistering guitar here but the keyboards and the soft horns are swoon-worthy for me.
There is an article about Tagg at a website dedicated to Canadian songwriter David Foster who has helped musicians in both Japan and North America, and in the article, the author mentions that Tagg should have been up there with folks like Daryl Hall and Luther Vandross. Instead, he is just one of those best-kept secrets. Of course, music and musicians are a very personal and subjective choice, so for me at least, I would agree that Tagg should have deserved a bit more profile. However, along with those leading lights already mentioned, I have to say that at least according to his vocals in "No One There", he sounds quite a bit like Kenny Loggins before he entered the "Danger Zone".
According to that same article, Tagg had some mighty fine help backing him up. Foster himself was on the keyboards, Nathan East on bass, Lee Ritenour on guitar and Jerry Hey and company on horns. All of them have been seen in the liner notes of a lot of Japanese singers' albums as well.
P.S. I just discovered that I did hear Eric Tagg all the way back in my salad days. It was on "Is It You?" (1981), an AM radio regular and I even have a copy of the song on one of my AOR compilations but the track was always listed under Lee Ritenour's name.