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.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Yumi Matsutoya -- Neue Musik: Yumi Matsutoya Complete Best Vol. 1

I started the BEST category over a couple of years ago with Akina Nakamori(中森明菜), so I figured it was time that the Queen of New Music finally got her due in this area. After all, she's got well more than 50 blog entries here as a singer and as a songwriter.

Not quite sure when I first heard the news that Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実)was going to release her first BEST album as Yumi Matsutoya. But I know that it was a resolutely foregone conclusion that I was going to pick it up lickety-split since at that point I had been a fan of hers right from the "Sounds of Japan" and Kuri days up to that point in my time in Japan...a span of about 16 years. Now that first sentence in this paragraph might be coming off as a bit weird for those who don't know about the history of Yuming(ユーミン). Well, the singer-songwriter actually had already released a couple of BEST albums in 1976 and 1977 but they were of her songs while she was still the unmarried Yumi Arai(荒井由実). Once she married her colleague in the recording studio, arranger Masataka Matsutoya(松任谷正隆), the hits kept on coming out but there was no BEST album for those 20 years under the name Yumi Matsutoya until 1998.

I even remember when and where I got "Neue Musik" (the German translation for New Music, don'cha know?). The album was released back in November 1998 so I figure that I was already wearing the jacket and the weather had already chilled down somewhat. It must have been early in the work week since I purchased "Neue Musik" at the Shinseido CD shop at JR Chiba Station, and that was where I had to go to catch the company bus to that heavy industries company 20 minutes away on Mondays and Tuesday nights to teach my English classes. If I know myself, I probably unwrapped the album as soon as I got onto that mini-bus.

In any case, here is THE BEST album that I had been waiting for: "Neue Musik: Yumi Matsutoya Complete Best Volume 1".


1. Mamotte Agetai  守ってあげたい
2. Koibito ga Santa Claus  恋人がサンタクロース
3. Blizzard
4. Surf Tengoku, Ski Tengoku サーフ天国、スキー天国
5. Diamond Dust ga Kienuma ni  ダイヤモンドダストが消えぬまに
6. Kiminaki Sekai  きみなき世界
7. Sweet Dreams  
8. No Side  ノーサイド
9. Toki wo Kakeru Shojo  時をかける少女
10. Dandelion ~ Osozaki no Tanpopo  ダンデライオン〜遅咲きのたんぽぽ
11. Valentine's Radio
12. Seishun no Regret  青春のリグレット
13. Hello, My Friend
14. Destiny
15. Futou wo Wataru Kaze  埠頭を渡る風

The biggest surprise about making this article is that although several of the tracks have already been profiled, there are still a number of them that haven't.

One that I have yet to cover is "Destiny". During the production of "Neue Musik", there was a campaign for fans to vote on their top Yuming tunes, and this one took No. 1. Originally a track on her December 1979 album, "Kanashii Hodo Otenki"(悲しいほどお天気...The Weather's So Good, It's Sad), it has that interesting mix of cool and comical in the arrangement, and the lyrics seem to also possess a bit of a dual nature about someone finally realizing he/she was loved by someone really close only to find out the romantic opportunity has passed. But as Yuming delivers "Ikigai no kanashii destiny" (生きがいの悲しいdestiny...the sad inevitable destiny), I'm not quite sure whether she is being literal or somewhat sarcastic as in the two could-have-been lovers getting together again by fate and one of them snarking off to the other "So we meet again..."

Not surprisingly, the song was used as the theme for a series of Fuji-TV drama specials titled "Kisetsu Hazure no Kaigan Monogatari"(季節はずれの海岸物語...Unseasonal Seashore Story)(1988-1994) which dealt with a coffee shop owner, the ex-wife who still helps him out at the shop and the young lady who lives next door. "Destiny" got a new boost in the popularity department and according to J-Wiki, it has become a must-sing at any of Yuming's concerts.

"Kiminaki Sekai"(A World Without You)is a track from her 1997 album "Suyuya no Nami"(スユアの波...Wave of the Suvuya). As I've said in some of the past articles on Yuming, my really big interest in her songs started fading from around the early 1990s but once in a while, there would be a song or two that would pop up from that point onward that would get my attention. "Kiminaki Sekai" is one of them and although it won't be up there with "Mamotte Agetai" or "Blizzard", it's one of those songs that is interesting for that soft reggae rhythm, the higher Yuming vocals and the violin section that she seemed to increasingly rely upon during those years.

"Diamond Dust ga Kienuma ni" (Before The Diamond Dust Fades) is the title track from Yuming's 19th album from 1987. I first heard it on an old VHS tape of her fantastic "Wings of Light" concert tour where the singer and the ladies made like mermaids. Listening to the song and seeing that title, I had this image of enjoying that elegant life on the town, although the lyrics make this a Christmas tune as the first verse talks about a happy couple enjoying the Holidays at some South Seas resort while the second verse takes place a year later when the lady is now celebrating the Yuletide alone, post-breakup. Y'know...I think I'll just enjoy it with my own idea in mind.

Y'know, don't have to say yes
to EVERY idea the photographer suggests...


2. Saigo no Uso  最後の嘘
5. Aoi Air Mail 青いエアメイル
6. VOYAGER ~ Hizuke no nai Bohyou  VOYAGER〜日付のない墓標
9. Rondo  輪舞曲
14. groove in retro
15. Ai wa...I Can't Wait For You, Anymore  愛は…I can't wait for you,anymore

One of my favourite Yuming songs is "Aoi Air Mail" (Blue Air Mail) since it has something of that old country-folk lilt and especially with this one, it seems like the singer has that innocent tone in her delivery. I'm not certain whether the protagonist in this story had ever had a relationship with the fellow in the song, but whatever the connection, it's all in the past (close to a decade) now although she still has a soft spot for him and wonders about how he is doing. The interesting piece of trivia here is that this had been planned to go to Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美)to sing, but the deal wasn't done.

"Aoi Air Mail" comes from Yuming's 7th album, "Olive" in July 1979 which had quite the glamourous cover for her. Perhaps it was her saying that this was no longer the age of New Musician Yumi Arai but of pop superstar Yumi Matsutoya. The frustrating thing is that I saw this very album being sold at Wah Yueh but never got it for some reason, something that I kick myself for. Still, it's not as if it's a rare commodity...a few clicks online should be fine enough.

"VOYAGER ~ Hizuke no nai Bohyou" (The Headstone Without A Date) is a song that I first heard through "Neue Musik". At first, I thought it would also have been on her 15th album, "VOYAGER" but that had been released in December 1983 and this particular song came out a couple of months later in February 1984. It turned out to be Yuming's 20th single without an album and was used as the theme song for a Japanese sci-fi film with an international cast starring Tomokazu Miura(三浦友和), the husband of retired singer Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵)

Titled "Sayonara, Jupiter"(さよならジュピター...Bye-bye, Jupiter), it was filmed as a parallel flick to "2010: The Year We Make Contact", the sequel to "2001: A Space Odyssey". And seeing the above stills from the movie in the YouTube video above, I definitely got that "Space: 1999" vibe, perhaps not all that of a shock since I always thought the Gerry Anderson series was paying some tribute to the legendary Stanley Kubrick film. Unlike the just-as-legendary theme song for "2001", "Also sprach Zarathustra", though, "Hizuke no nai Bohyou" is not an epic ground-shaking anthem but a very comforting ballad about loving that soldier who now must take off for parts unknown never to return. The song reached No. 9 on Oricon.

My last song for the article is one of the two completely new songs that came on Disc 2 of "Neue Musik", "Ai wa...I Can't Wait For You Anymore", a short-but-sweet Burt Bacharesque song whose cast of characters reads like a "Yuming, this is YOUR life" list. From her Arai days, there is Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)on bass and Shigeru Suzuki(鈴木茂)on electric guitar from Tin Pan Alley while Jerry Hey and Gary Grant bring in the horns from her days in the late 80s and early 90s, and Junko Yamamoto(山本潤子)from Hi-Fi Set is one of the backing vocalists. I like the song except for that somewhat annoying "ooooooooooh" which ends the verses.

I've only featured six of the songs from this BEST album, but a good chunk of the others spread over the 2 CDs have already been profiled, and the few that I have yet to cover, I'd like to do so in their own articles. "Neue Musik" didn't need any time to hit No. 1 on the charts and within those last 2 months of the year, it managed to become the 5th-ranked album of 1998 selling 3.8 million copies.

It was finally good to get all of the all-star songs together to listen in a couple of hours, and since that time, Yuming has put out a few more BEST albums.


  1. I'm only familiar with her work from Sakuban Oaishimashou, but I like Mamotte Agetai a lot. Thanks for the links!

    1. Hi Ragnar!

      And that's a fine album to know by Yuming...probably the closest she's ever come to a City Pop/J-AOR release. "Mamotte Agetai" may just be one of the finest ballads that she's ever created.

  2. I feel like Yuming is a whole genre to herself. A prolific legend that I don't know how to approach or where to start with. Anyway after meaning to listen to her stuff for years I saw this collection used in a Japanese bookstore in Sydney for $10 and bought it. Changed my world. Have since picked up everything I could since. Will continue to do so. No Matsutoya album has dissapointed me yet. I'm still trying to fully appreciate what I have and will no doubt do so for many years.

    1. Hello again.

      Y' might have a point there. Just her way of singing and the fact that she's been around so long. You certainly got a bargain in getting that collection for just $10. Good start!

      For me, my favourite time for Yuming has been her 70s-early 90s period. Still, trying to fill in gaps here and there since there are albums during that time that I have yet to acquire.


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