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, May 5, 2016

Hi-Fi Set -- Mizuiro no Wagon (水色のワゴン)

Here on "Kayo Kyoku Plus", we've written about Christmas songs and summer holiday songs. Never had I thought that I would ever write about a tune that was specifically about Golden Week, the several-day long holiday that bridges April and May in Japan each year. Well, the words "Golden Week" actually don't pop up in Shun Taguchi's(田口俊)lyrics for "Mizuiro no Wagon" (Light Blue Wagon) but the GW sentiment is certainly there: a fellow is heading back to his hometown from the big city to attend an old flame's wedding sometime in May. Now I don't think I had ever gone to anyone's wedding in Japan during Golden Week; it's usually all about the traveling and leisure but hey, I think it's possible.

Suffice it to say that I am putting up this cheerful ditty by vocal group Hi-Fi Set(ハイ・ファイ・セット)on what is officially the final day of Golden Week, aka Boys' Day. Mind you, as I write this it's already May 6th 2016 over in my old stomping grounds so there are a number of companies who are dragging their employees back to work including my own student (although he and his wife got to go to Seoul for a short vacation earlier this week).

As I recall mentioning to my fellow City Pop-loving collaborator, nikala, one time, my knowledge of Hi-Fi Set before starting up the blog was restricted to their Yuming-covering days of the 1970s. But then, my friend put up "Sunao ni Naritai"(素直になりたい), the group's 20th single from January 1984 and realized that Junko Yamamoto, Toshihiko Yamamoto and Shigeru Okawa(山本潤子・山本俊彦・大川茂)were still out there releasing records during the 1980s. They were putting out some fairly high-profile material as well in the 1990s that I was aware about during my JET days but their 1980s period had been basically a tabula rasa to me at the time.

"Mizuiro no Wagon" was the follow-up single to "Sunao ni Naritai" which came out in May 1984 (although a couple of weeks after GW), and the remarkable thing about this cruising tune was how much the melody by the late Toshihiko Yamamoto and its arrangement by Hiroshi Shinkawa(新川博)reminded me of how US vocal group, The Manhattan Transfer, sounded with their own urban contemporary songs at the time. The comparison can be done right from the beginning and goes straight down the highway including that harmonica. Hi-Fi Set and one other vocal group from Japan, Circus, were always groups that I associated with the Transfer so listening to "Mizuiro no Wagon" simply adds ammunition to my supposition. The song, by the way, was also the first track on Hi-Fi Set's 12th album "Pasadena Park" which had come out beforehand in February 1984.

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