Credits

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, October 3, 2015

Hiromi Iwasaki -- Diamant (ぎやまん)


A small and slightly nutty anecdote here today. As you regular readers of "Kayo Kyoku Plus" probably already know, I've been a pretty big fan of Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美)since I first heard her back in 1981 with her cover of "Sumire Iro no Namida"(すみれ色の涙), and so my image of lovely Hiromi was always her in that shimmering long black hair that dropped all the way down to her lower back, the bright wide smile and her elegant fashion sense (I was only beginning to hear her 70s material and had yet to see her in her teenage short bob).

So when I saw some of her albums on sale at Wah Yueh in Chinatown, I absolutely couldn't believe that it was her on that cover of her album "Diamant" (pronounced "Giaman" according to the hiragana). She looked like an avant-garde snowflake, for heaven' sake! It was such that I even refused to buy the album for several months. I actually ended up getting her later LPs, "Cinema" and "Wa Ga Ma Ma" first at my old shop. However, after hearing some of the smooth songs from "Diamant" on my friend's audiotape, I finally relented and picked up the album. I'm sure the cashier was probably thinking "Well,what took you so long?"

Seeing some of the covers from her previous albums and then finding out that "Diamant" was her first domestically-produced album in a couple of years, I guess Iwasaki and the producers at Victor wanted to shake things up a bit in the photography. Vive la neige!


One of the songs that helped persuade me to finally purchase "Diamant" was the opening track "Koi Kujaku"(恋孔雀...Love Peacock). Goro Matsui(松井五郎), who was also working a lot with Anzen Chitai(安全地帯)at the time, provided the lyrics to almost all of the tracks on Iwasaki's 15th album from June 1985 including this one, while Yoichi Takizawa(滝沢洋一)came up with an atmospheric melody that reminded me a bit of some of those Anzen Chitai ballads. Along with that dreamy music, Matsui's lyrics are just as dreamy about the concept of love.


By the way, one characteristic of the album is that all of the titles were written in rather elegant kanji so I was grateful that there was the hiragana beside the more esoterically-titled tracks to help me read them, if not really understand them. Case in point was the first song on Side B of the LP, "Gi Shuushi"(偽終止...Fake Cessation). Etsuko Yamakawa(山川恵津子)was the one behind the music here which starts off like something that was meant for a sad clown before going into some contemporary pop about uncertainty in a relationship. It seems as if Iwasaki is the angel/devil whispering doubts into a woman about her sleeping partner next to her.


Back in my first-year East Asian history class at the University of Toronto, I learned about the expression "mobo, moga" to refer to the modern boys and girls during the Taisho Era. The moga especially was an equivalent to the flapper girls in the 1920s Jazz Age of the United States. I never heard it used outside of my classroom in Sidney Smith Hall...except for this song by Hiromi-chan called "Yokohama Moga"(横浜嬢...Yokohama Modern Girl). Matsui and Yamakawa were also behind this atypical track that sounds so loosey-goosey that it could have been sung by an 80s aidoru. And instead of the Taisho Era, the lyrics seem to describe painting the town red in a BMW in one of Japan's great cities in the last years of the Showa Era. The computer yelling "Mo-ga, Mo-ga" is admittedly a bit annoying.


There is something quite Manhattan Transfer-esque about "Kuchibiru Misui"(唇未遂...Attempted Kiss), and since I was a big fan of the Transfer in the 80s, this is a song that I also appreciate. This time, it was Keiichi Oku(奥慶一)of the Moonriders who took care of the city-&-champagne music about what seems to be a one-night stand with a "don't call me, maybe I'll call you" sensibility. Nice (I'm being snarky here). There is that nice sax added with the fine backup chorus.


Some nice 80s pop/rock beats here with my final song, "Kaze Kankei"(風関係...Windy Relationship), another Matsui/Oku collaboration. Iwasaki had a good hold on these urban contemporary "love done wrong" songs back then. That would probably explain how popular she was for providing those ending themes to suspense dramas on TV.

The only track on "Diamant" which wasn't written by Matsui is "Kesshin"(決心)which was provided by Keisuke Yamakawa(山川啓介)and Oku as her 36th single. I wrote about that song much earlier. Also, I have yet to write about one other notable song on its own, "Yume Karyuudo"(夢狩人...Dream Hunter)which I should do pretty soon.

"Diamant" peaked at No. 13 on Oricon in its LP form but soared up to No. 5 as a CD. As for my story at the top, the take-away from here is that I shouldn't judge a record by its cover. And Hiromi-as-a-snowflake aside, it's another fine album by her.


8 comments:

  1. Hi!
    I understand why you were reluctant to buy this album. We don't recognise her on the cover. It is same thing with her self cover album "Never Again".
    "Kesshin" was her last successful song I believe. Since Hiromi had taken her independence in 1984 she appeared less in music and tv shows. For example during the 1985 year she didn't do any performance in "Yoru no Hit Studio". It is why there are very few videos of this period. Have you ever watch her concert in Egypt in 1986 ?

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    1. Hello, Kenji.

      Yes, I guess after a certain period, perhaps she no longer needed to appear on TV at least regularly to promote her music. I never had the opportunity to watch her Egypt concert back then. Basically, I've only been able to catch her on TV through the music shows via all those old VHS tapes I rented. From some of the concert footage I've seen on YouTube, she seems to have had some fine dynamic performances.

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    2. Here the entire concert. It is the DVD from Hiromi's 30th anniversary box. Please enjoy it.
      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLth6HY3DLskbJYn6frpILEtyu5GNDtXeg
      You should watch her recital concert in 1982 et 1983. You can find them on Youtube easily.
      I don't think she no longer needed to appear on TV. According to an old fan it is because she didn't have the good acquaintances anymore. Today, despite her sales, she is very busy, appears on TV shows and radios and makes concerts . Just look at her schedule on her official website. She needs to make great efforts to promote her last cd or her concerts (the best example is for concert in New-York I believe).
      After 1985 she did a short actress career. Her famous role was in the drama "男女7人秋物語".

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    3. I've seen clips of her in a series with her old schoolmate Kimiko Ikegami (you've got a clip of her graduation ceremony). That's probably the series you're talking about.

      On the acquaintances thing, she noted a couple of years ago that Momoe gave her exactly this bit of advice when she was starting out. It didn't really matter what she thought her career as an idol or singer should be, but as long as she cultivated enough good contacts, she'll do well. Rather cynical of Momoe I thought, as she was only 16 at the time (so I'm guessing), but prescient all the same.

      If you could, could you upload clips of her late 70s/early 80s performances that are hosted elsewhere? I love her ringing belt that was at its peak around that time.

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    4. Kimiko Ikegami had a role in "男女7人夏物語" (1986) Hiromi had a role in the sequel called "男女7人秋物語" (1987).
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDORHa9Hrg8
      For the videos of Hiromi send me a private on youtube or via google plus. I don't want to share them in public.
      For the moment please enjoy this video
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3TmJAz5X1

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    5. Hi, Kenji.

      Thanks for the access to her concert in Egypt. I just caught the first several minutes. Quite impressive for her to be singing in front of the pyramid, and a nice arrangement of "Romance"...quite City Poppish. And she looked quite dramatic in that exotic outfit.

      Just going into the conversation that you and Anonymous are having, I remember seeing some of "男女7人秋物語" with Hiromi in it. I think by that time, she was able to cultivate enough fame and a dedicated fandom that she could pretty much release albums/singles without needing to appear on the TV circuit. I could understand if she wanted to avoid the TV limelight. Often singers had to do some pretty crazy things on the variety shows. I once saw Hiromi on the Drifters' old comedy hour and she and one other aidoru had to dress up in these huge baby dresses and feet for one skit.

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  2. A question/request for Kenji France. Is there any way of watching the videos marked as private in your playlists?

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    1. Hi
      The videos marked as private are not mine. But I have them on my computers so I can reup them to you. If you like especially a year or a song I will reupload for you the video. Feel free to send me a private message.

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