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.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Harry Hosono & The Yellow Magic Band/Haruomi Hosono & Chisato Moritaka -- Tokyo Rush (東京ラッシュ)

For those tourists who have never encountered a Tokyo rush hour before, my advice is "DON'T". Honestly speaking, the greenhorns would be taking their lives in their hands (and having them squeezed to death on the trains and subways). Because I was living the life of an English conversation teacher, I was able to avoid the crazed rush hours most of the time due to my staggered and flexible hours. However, once in a while, I would have to get onto the Tozai Line after 8am or after 6pm, and it was there and then that I truly discovered how certain laws of physics could be broken all too easily in The Big Sushi. Nope, along with Tokyo summers, rush hours are one of the few aspects of life in the megalopolis that I don't miss at all.

So, on that note, I give you "Tokyo Rush" by Harry Hosono & The Yellow Magic Band(ハリー細野とイエロー・マジック・バンド). Now, for you folks who might be acquainted with Hosono for his work with another group of enterprising musicians, you may think that I have just given you an alternate universe name of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. But such is not the case here. The Yellow Magic Band happens to be another group of folks helping Harry out just before YMO appeared on the scene to wow folks with their brand of technopop. Mind you, his future bandmates, Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto(高橋幸宏・坂本龍一)were also involved with YMB.

Between his time with the rock group Happy End in the early 1970s and Yellow Magic Orchestra in the later part of the decade, Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)was focusing his solo work on a more tropical and exotic bent through a series of albums including "Paraiso"(はらいそ), his fourth solo album from April 1978. "Tokyo Rush" was the first track on the album, and it is included on my recent "Light Mellow" CD acquisition. According to the liner notes from "Light Mellow - Wave", Hosono wrote and composed this funky ditty about trying to get out of one of the planet's most congested cities for holiday climes as a bit of New York fusion. Now I know what fusion music is (or was) but not quite sure about the New York variant, but listening to "Tokyo Rush", I gather that it might refer to that rollicking beat which sounds like a yellow Manhattan cab coursing through the grid of streets. There is even some goofball honking in there.

Wow! Harry even made a proper music video way back when. "Tokyo Rush", with all of the sound effects and his onomatopoeia and the repeated echoes of the title, is just a fun little introduction to the album that has that City Pop/New Music feel while hinting at the technopop direction that Hosono was on the verge of making.

Even looking at the overall album, "Paraiso" was chock-filled with some big music names. Not only were Takahashi and Sakamoto there but there was guitarist Shigeru Suzuki(鈴木茂)also from Happy End, drummer Tatsuo Hayashi(林立夫), keyboardist Hiroshi Sato(佐藤博)and singer-songwriter Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子)as a backup singer. Basically, it was a transitioning group of folks from YMO and Tin Pan Alley.

I first heard about "Tokyo Rush", though, from fellow collaborator Marcos V, I believe, when he posted this video on another website. The video automatically caught my eye since it was a cover version featuring Hosono and former techno aidoru of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Chisato Moritaka(森高千里). I never would have imagined this collaboration but then I remember that there was a series of commercials which featured the two of them as husband and wife. Hosono may have been known by either Haruomi or Harry but when I saw him acting as the devoted spouse to Moritaka, all I wanted to name him then was "You lucky bastard!" (forgive my language).

The video for this "Tokyo Rush" has Moritaka in the driver's seat figuratively speaking while Hosono is in it literally. The video version may be shorter by a minute but there seems to be going on in this video than in the original one with Hosono's "wife" acting appealingly goofy, which is what the song was originally going for anyways. As was the case with "Paraiso", "Tokyo Rush" also leads off an album, this time Moritaka's 13th album from May 1998, "Kotoshi no Natsu wa More Better"(今年の夏はモア・ベター...This Summer is More Better)which was produced by Hosono.

Probably by this time next week, that rush to get out of Tokyo will be in full swing as folks and families take off for the Obon holidays.

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