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 2, 2016

Kenji Sawada -- Miserareta Yoru (魅せられた夜)

Any knowledge that I have about singer Kenji Sawada(沢田研二)has really been just on two periods of his career: his time as a member of The Tigers during the Group Sounds era of the late 1960s and then his exciting period from the late 1970s into the 1980s as a glam rocker/New Wave artist (or artiste). To be honest, I'm still a bit hazy about that in-between time in the early 1970s when he started out as a member of the rock group PYG and then went solo afterwards.

My first-ever article on Sawada was his 6th single, "Kiken na Futari"(危険なふたり), his first No. 1 hit from April 1973, which whenever I listen to it still has quintessentially 1970s energetic kayo sound with the strings and electric guitar. The melody wouldn't be anything that I would have heard in Canada or the United States at the time. However, today I encountered on YouTube his 8th single that was released later that year in November, "Miserareta Yoru" (A Captivating Night), and like that title, I was immediately captivated by the keyboard work right from note one. It was definitely a type of song that I had never heard from Julie before to the extent that I have classified it as New Music.

And well, there's a reason for that. "Misearareta Yoru" is actually a cover of a French song sung by the late Israeli pop singer Mike Brant, "Mais dans la lumière", in 1971. Jean Renard was responsible for the original words and music that had the song sound much more epic. That heavy horn intro also reminded me of a lot of passages in much later hip hop songs. Overall, the song seemed to represent a fellow coming out of an exceedingly dark time in his life before joyfully shedding that huge burden from the top of the Eiffel Tower. It's rather sad, though, that Brant, who had been suffering from depression, finally took his own life in 1975.

Julie's cover comes off as being quite a bit more lighthearted and wistful with Kazumi Yasui(安井かずみ)writing the Japanese lyrics for him, although the line of quickly repeated "Je t'aime" was retained. The dark time had already been sloughed off some time back and it was already well into that jaunty walk. However, it's still the music that has hooked me onto this one....something that sounds strangely mod. Apparently, according to J-Wiki, it was the Takayuki Inoue Band(井上堯之バンド)who backed him up on "Miserareta Yoru" which peaked at No. 3 on Oricon. It ended up becoming the 24th-ranked single of the following year.

Always like coming across something old that is new to me.

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