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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, July 23, 2015

Minako Yoshida -- Twilight Zone


Well, I read on an old post that I had gotten Minako Yoshida's(吉田美奈子)"Twilight Zone" back around October 2013, and aside from the absolutely gorgeous "Koi wa Ryuusei"(恋は流星...Shooting Star of Love), I hadn't done anything about the album. That ends now.

The long lag between getting Yoshida's 5th album from March 1977 and finally doing a writeup on it is due to my initial reactions to the album. I had already heard some of her later, funkier work from the early 1980s so when it came to listening to "Twilight Zone", I was caught a bit off-guard at how intimate and introspective it sounded overall. It was as if she had recorded the album while performing at a basement Shinjuku live house with her and the piano just a few feet away from the nearest audience member. To be honest, I was intimidated at how I was even going to talk about it on the blog.

Yoshida was responsible for all of the writing and composing.


Track 2 has that very feeling of intimate introspection. Titled "Love", it's an atmospheric ballad with images like midnight streets, wafting smoke and the wings of sprites. Melodically, there's some soul-searching and hope in there, and listening to Yoshida, I can understand why she was once called the Laura Nyro of Japan after having listened to some of the late Nyro's works on YouTube.


"Runner" , Track 3, is a more uptempo piece which feels quite uplifting as well. I love the horns and the arrangement here which brings back some of my memories of 70s soul from the old radio. I don't think Yoshida ever intended for the title to refer to an actual jogger since I don't think the jogging craze had even begun, but I could imagine a music video of the song showing such an urban athlete happily and dutifully running around the streets of The Big Apple just after a major storm to take advantage of the refreshing coolness and the returning sun in time for dusk. Perhaps the song might be a spiritual child to the album title.


"Melody" , Track 4, is a wonderful gospel-tinged tribute to the city. It's just the balm to listen to after a long day at the office with a beer or a glass of wine. The intro reminded me of some of the ol' satisfied organ that played at the end of the really old episodes of "Saturday Night Live" way back when, and it's the late Hiroshi Sato(佐藤博)who's responsible for the organ solo here.

The final track is the title track itself which is another epic piece in which Yoshida seems to be longing for that twilight zone to come back into her life. The first few minutes are uncertain ones for the heroine here until the zone arrives and the tempo picks up. I can only imagine the exciting city once again when that happens. 

(Unfortunately the video has been taken down)

I have to leave off with "Koi wa Ryuusei, Part II". It didn't make it onto "Twilight Zone" but it should have. Some very fine riffing here. The liner notes had among all of the musicians, Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)on guitar and Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)on percussion and background vocals, so it would be nice to know that the two of them were also involved in the jam session.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this! I was blown away by, and aaaalways get thrilled listening to, Yoshida Minako's "Town". I always wondered what this "sound", this subset of R&B was called. So it's "City Pop"...

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Glove Slap, and thanks for your comments. "Town" is one fine song, isn't it? The album "Twilight Zone" is a bit quieter and more introspective but no less wonderful. :)

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