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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

SHAMBARA -- Solid Dance


There was a spoken intro on some ancient TV show about there being a million stories out there in the city. Well, in my beloved hobby, I've come across quite a few stories myself as we have worked on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" as we approach our 5th anniversary.


But first some prelude. During my short walk through YouTube last night, I encountered another one of those Future Funk creations by Macross 82-99 with Conscious Thoughts titled "Idol Talk Pt. II". Sometimes I give these videos a shot since I have heard some pretty good Japanese City Pop through all the remixing, and that was certainly the case back in the summer when I discovered Cindy's "Watashi Tachi wo Shinjiteite"(私達を信じていて)through an Artzie Music video.


Lightning struck again! I found the song being kneaded and molded in the Macross remix to be quite cool so I started searching. And it didn't take too long before I found out that the original was "Solid Dance" by the group SHAMBARA.

Perhaps I should say supergroup here since the band consisted of folks from the realm of J-Fusion and City Pop. There were two members from the legendary fusion group Casiopea (カシオペア), Tetsuo Sakurai/櫻井哲夫 (bass) and Akira Jimbo/神保彰 (drums & percussion), joined by two lovely vocalists, Yurie Kokubu(国分友里恵)and Kaoru Akimoto(秋元薫)who have given their contributions to the Japanese form of urban contemporary during the 1980s, and the latter lady has even had one of her own songs made into a popular Macross 82-99 piece. Nozomi Furukawa(古川望)and Kunihiko Ryo(梁邦彦)rounded out SHAMBARA on guitar and keyboards respectively. Although I have only heard the one song by the band so far, it seems like Sakurai and Jimbo wanted to go for a more active and funky sound.

I don't know about the dance in "Solid Dance" but the song is solid. You've got these funky musicians and songbirds putting out this tune that rather screamed out Bubble Era Tokyo just before the bubble did inevitably burst. There is the fat bass, the champagne synths and the wonderful shared vocals by Kokubu and Akimoto for a musical trip through the nighttime megalopolis.


The track which may have been whipped by the two fellows from Casiopea (couldn't track down the information on words & music) was put onto SHAMBARA's first and, I assume, only self-titled album from 1989.

As for the story part, I got this from the J-Wiki article on the band which dealt virtually with just some of the sturm und drang that accompanied the birth of SHAMBARA. Supposedly, Sakurai and Jimbo had been having some differences in opinion in terms of the direction of the band with the rest of the Casiopea members for some time so when they decided to start up this SHAMBARA project in 1988, there was resistance from those members. At the time, Casiopea had just decided to take a break from performing but its leader and guitarist Issei Noro(野呂一生)along with keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya(向谷実)believed that the continuation of SHAMBARA would lead to some problems in getting Casiopea back up and running so they demanded that Sakurai and Jimbo cease and desist. But the conclusion was that the two decided to leave the band permanently (although according to the Casiopea J-Wiki article, it looks like Jimbo at least mended fences as a current support drummer). Usually I'm not too crazy about airing dirty laundry on these pages but it was interesting on how the band got started. Still, if any of the members do read this article and disagree with what I've translated above, please let me know.

However for all that, the life of SHAMBARA didn't last that much longer. In 1990, Sakurai and Jimbo decided to bring things back to fusion but instead of heading back to Casiopea, the duo created another unit called Jimsaku (ジンサク) which lasted for 8 years. From what I've read, the album "SHAMBARA" is about as rare as one can get since any production has been discontinued.

7 comments:

  1. I am still on the fence with many of these 'Future Funk' producers who are basically sampling large portions of 70s/70s J-Pop and then putting those samples on top of anime that they did not make either. I think it's too much appropriation, both of the sounds and the visuals.

    It's one thing if you're the Beastie Boys and you're taking hundreds of samples of beats to make "Paul's Boutique" but the 'Future Funk' guys- I don't sense enough creativity. It's more like they should just do remixes of City Pop instead of claiming those samples as their own.

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    1. There was one fellow who I found out was a DJ commenting on YouTube about stuff by Artzie Music and the like. Let's say that he was far from happy from what the fellows were doing.

      I don't have anything against the Future Funk guys in particular although a lot of the stuff that they've been putting up recently hasn't included the 80s City Pop. However, I am hoping that some of the listeners have started cultivating a love for the original City Pop and the older kayo kyoku because of it. I actually ended up buying a couple of albums because I discovered the singers' songs being used in the Future Funk mashups.

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    2. My take on the Future funk /vapor wave sound is if it helps people to discover the originals of some of these 70's and 80's classics from the land of the rising sun all the better.

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  2. Another great project !! sadly they only released one CD in 1989. Been meaning to pick it up when i have the time and more importantly the extra money to order it. :)

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    1. Hope you can track it down. It might be one of the rarest of the rare.

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  3. It's on Amazon in the 30 to 40 USD range. I would have liked to get it from Amazon Japan , but it wouldn't export it to my Canadian address :( .The shipping method they use is DHL worldwide, so you get your order in 2 or 3 days.

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    1. When I decided to get some of the albums from Tower Records, they introduced me to Tenso.com for deliveries from Japan to my home here in Canada. It'll add another $20 or so to the price but I've been able to get albums that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. :)

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Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.