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.

Monday, October 19, 2015

EPO -- Goodies

I was looking to get this 2nd album by EPO for the longest time and it finally did come last week. Way back when as a resident in Japan, I actually had the opportunity to get her November 1980 release of "Goodies" when the recording companies went on that remastering boom of old albums, but I let the chance slip away from me and couldn't find the CD anywhere in Tokyo. So, cue over to 2015 and I finally got it from Tower Records online if not in person.

Of course, being a longtime EPO fan, I got "Goodies" since it has maintained its reputation as being the finest of any of Ms. Sato's releases. Plus, that so-1980s City Pop design of the cover with the genre's symbolic airplane taking off for foreign climes was pretty irresistible. Its fame among the fans is partially due to a couple of tracks that I've already covered elsewhere in the blog, "Ame no Kennel Douri"(雨のケンネル通り)and "Park Ave. 1981". Those two songs bring the quintessential EPO fun, and I think that's what "Goodies" was all about; bringing the goodies to the listener's ears. Compared to her debut album "Downtown" (never wrote on the album, but here is the article on the single itself), the singer seemed to have gained in confidence and decided that it was time to party in Tokyo as if it were 1980.

(whole album)

Along with the above two tracks, EPO continues the good times with Track 3 (5:50), "Shuumatsu wa Week-end de"(週末は"WEEK-END"で...The Weekend). Written by the singer and composed by Peter Schwaltz, there is a certain whimsy to the proceedings here as EPO doesn't talk about spending any ordinary weekend but spending those two days in an old-fashioned nightclub circa the 1930s with some good ol' Big Band sound. The whimsy factor gets further pushed up with Schwaltz using a bank of synths to squeak out all those horns. EPO may just have beat Taco's cover of "Puttin' On The Ritz" by a few years.

Side A of the original LP was all recorded over in the United States (NYC and LA), but Track 4 on that side is actually a cover of an old tune, "Parade" by Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎). Just as she made her cover of Tats' "Downtown" her own, EPO brings that certain brightness to this track with her vocals and the really upbeat arrangement. Being recorded Stateside, the backing band all consisted of Western session musicians and backup singers. The one supreme standout among that group was one backup vocal which belonged to none other than Luther Vandross! I will have to write about the Yamashita original very soon.

Track 5 is "Cheer Girl" which would usually translate into regular English as "cheerleader", but for this song that was wholly created by EPO, I think the lyrics are less about some high school girl on the side of the gridiron and more about a young lady having some fine days with her beau. It starts out sounding like a mellow J-AOR tune in the afternoon before the arrangement takes the listener downtown (no inside pun intended) via City Pop. Once again, Luther Vandross, Brenda White and Yvonne Lewis are backing her up here.

Over to Side B whose songs were all recorded in Japan. "Drive Song" (21:26) is another EPO creation which has that quintessential EPO sound of light disco and her own happy backing vocals. Drinking and driving is bad, folks, so I'm not going to intimate that the singer got behind the wheel after downing a few cocktails but with this song, it sounds like she put the Pink Lady and Singapore Sling right into the car itself before she took the Toyota down into the bright lights of Tokyo. Good days, they must have been.

Last but not least is the title track (31:58) written and composed by the singer which is the finale for the album. I had heard "Goodies" before many years back but it was good to get the reminder. I'd say that it is a fine City Pop ballad to be savored after a wonderful night on the town, and there is that combination of Hiroki Ito's(伊藤広規)bass and Nobuyuki Shimizu's(清水信之)keyboards that just makes the whole song. Positioning it right at the end was a great choice since it puts a definite period on her statement of fun for the album in general.

As I said at the top, "Goodies" is reputed to be EPO's finest album. I didn't quite get that wonderful feeling of surprise and delight with the album after tearing open the wrapper but that was only because I had already heard a number of the tracks already separately over the years. So it was more of welcoming old friends with the tracks. However, the album has already gained a place on my shelves as a great acquisition. And hopefully, it will become a great acquisition via tangible CD or download for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.