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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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

EPO -- Poptracks


As I mentioned when I wrote the article on EPO's oh-so-sunny single, "Sanbanme no Shiawase"(三番目の幸せ), I had first received the album that it appeared on, "Poptracks" as a tape lent to me by a university friend over a quarter-century ago. It was the first EPO album that I had heard and gave it my frequent ear on the tape recorder. Many years later, I would finally get the CD itself. Speaking of the CD, I get the impression that EPO may have had a bigger say than most in how the cover was photographed. Usually with an Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)or a Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)album, there would be a full head shot of the singer either beaming at the camera or giving a come-hither expression. On the other hand, EPO seemed to want to become part of the pop art cover design on a number of her albums aside from her first two releases "Downtown" and "Goodies". Not that I'm complaining at all...she was rather fetching back then. Another more vivid cover would be the one for "Vitamin EPO".

In any case, getting to the topic at hand, I wanted to talk about a few of the tracks on EPO's 10th album from December 1987, "Poptracks". As the lead track "Sanbanme no Shiawase" would hint, the singer-songwriter has gone further afield from her City Poppy beginnings; in fact, I would say that first song is perfect for a seaside town away from the metropolis.


(from 4:05)

Track 2 is "Someday". I also wrote on the original article for "Sanbanme no Shiawase" that this song by Tatsuro Yamashita and Minako Yoshida(山下達郎・吉田美奈子)was created as a rebuttal tune for the former song. While "Sanbanme" touted the joy of enjoying life solo, the peppier "Someday" had EPO singing about trying to find that special someone. 

The two impressions I got from "Poptracks" is that, as the title indicates, the songs are all more on the straight pop side without too much of the urban feeling.


The other impression is that the album also has its share of covers. EPO tries her hand at a number of the older poppier kayo. Track 3 is a cover of Yuko Asano's浅野ゆう子)bizarrely titled "Sexy Bus Stop" by Jun Hashimoto and Kyohei Tsutsumi(橋本淳・筒美京平)from the early 1970s which seems to start off like a country hoedown. It's not the best track on the album since I think the backup vocals sound a bit off for some reason but Ms. Sato keeps her usual high energy levels so that I still like it to a certain extent.





Track 4 is my favourite original track, "Sayonara wa 2B no Enpitsu"(さよならは2Bの鉛筆...Goodbye is a 2B Pencil), written and composed by EPO. Although I said that "Poptracks" was more on the straight pop side, there's something quite cool and urban contemporary about the arrangements. The song is about the sad kiss-off to a summertime romance...in pencil, apparently (maybe the lovebirds are still in elementary school?). The AOR/City Pop band Sentimental City Romance is backing her up here and they also do so for two of the cover songs on the album.

I have to say that I'm a huge fan of Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子), but I think even EPO gives an even better performance of one of Ohnuki's standards, "Yokogao"(横顔)which is Track 5. It's because EPO has that ability to up the cheeriness quotient and also to bring in one of her vocal signatures of scatting.


My final song from the album tonight is "Try to Call" which was naturally used for a KDD phone commercial. This was another EPO creation on the soul/funk side of things with the singer going for a surprisingly high-pitched Minnie Ripperton-like intro. Here, EPO is encouraging those lovers, post-spat, to pick up that phone and make amends before it's too late. Coincidentally, the final track of the album is her cover of Ripperton's "Loving You". To be frankly honest, I don't think Ripperton's spirit has anything to worry about with EPO's cover.

(full album)

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