|Photo from Amazon.jp|
Now, I'm not saying that this is my absolute favourite release or the best album by the chanteuse. My personal favourite is "dear" from 1982, which for me doesn't have a single track that I don't like tremendously. When it comes to her albums, there is a mix of tracks that appeal and don't quite appeal to me, and "Garland" more or less falls in this category. However, there is one particular song, the first track that I had been hoping to feature via YouTube or NetEase pretty much since I started "Kayo Kyoku Plus", but none of the songs from the album have popped up on the former, and "Garland" was never placed on the latter (and NetEase is no longer functioning online for me). So, I'm doing the somewhat unusual thing of using the very brief samples via Amazon.jp to feature the three songs from this album tonight. Better than nothing.
So, as for that first track...it is "Nigai Rhapsody"（にがいラプソディ...Bitter Rhapsody）. Despite the bittersweet title, it is one of my very favourite Takahashi tunes. Written by Akira Ohtsu（大津あきら）and composed by Kenji Omura（大村憲司）, it just sounds so cool to me...certainly with those opening notes by the keyboards and the percolating rhythms that flow in before the singer's sultry tones take centre stage. It might be about a love gone wrong but it comes across as one of those City Pop tunes that would be great listening to on the car radio. It's just too bad that we can only hear it for just 45 seconds online.
Track 2 is "Gokai"（誤解...Misunderstandings）. When I first heard it, I just thought it was a rather weird arrangement of a bit of twangy electric guitar against a soft reggae beat; it took a while to get used to it but I was willing to give Koji Tamaki（玉置浩二）of Anzen Chitai, who not only composed "Gokai" but provided backup vocals, a chance. And over the years, I'm happy to say that the song has grown on me with its happy-go-lucky beat. Ohtsu also took care of the lyrics here.
However, what got me to buy "Garland" in the first place was the final 9th track "Twilight Cool"（トワイライト・クール）which I had first heard on an episode of "Sounds of Japan" on the radio way back when. Like "Gokai", it also has a happy-go-lucky beat but more through the filter of a 1950s/1960s teenybopper ballad. It sounds like something that Mariya Takeuchi（竹内まりや）would have sung early in her career but Takahashi definitely makes it her own here. And compared to the cool drama of that first track of "Nigai Rhapsody", "Twilight Cool" is a nice pleasant stroll down the residential street and a good way to end the album. Ken Sato（佐藤健）composed the song with Ohtsu on lyrics.
As I said at the top, "Garland" is not quite "dear" in my estimation as a Mariko Takahashi fan but even the rest of the songs have started touching a few of the nostalgia nerves.