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.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Yoko Oginome -- 246 Connexion (246コネクション)

Yup, I've mentioned it a number of times in past Yoko Oginome(荻野目洋子)articles and finally here it is. "246 Connexion" is Yoko-chan's 7th album from July 1987. And after borrowing it from a friend initially, I decided to get my own copy and bought it at Wah Yueh one day. It was my go-to tape (or one of them anyways), especially during those university all-nighters when I needed to stay awake will I typed out my essays on my old Brother typewriter. Green tea also helped.

I've already written about a couple of the tracks on the album in previous articles: "Sayonara no Kajitsutachi"(さよならの果実たち)and "Wangan Taiyozoku"(湾岸太陽族). Except for that latter track which was composed by Minoru Yamazaki(山崎稔), the others were created by Masao Urino(売野雅勇)on lyrics and Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)on music.

"246 Connexion" is the ultimate Yoko Oginome album for fans since virtually all of the tracks except the final one reflects that high energy beat that the singer had always been known for. Track 1, "246 Planet Girls"(246プラネット・ガールズ)starts things off thusly with an intro that reminds me of Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero". This is why I got the album and why I turned to my tape past midnight. The opening song about all sorts of girls having a wild time in the big city gave me that boost equivalent to a bottle of Yunker.

In fact, I would say that the entire album seems to have been devoted for a hedonistic night out in the city or the highways. It's a pity that I couldn't find many of the tracks represented on YouTube but here is "Babylon A Go Go"(バビロン A GO GO)which also has that bit of Eurobeat, a bit of Latin and a desire on my part about how Yoko would have danced to his one on stage. I'm not sure whether Urino and Tsutsumi had based the song on a particular disco in Tokyo but I would have gone with either the Lexington Queen or Julianas.

To be honest, this song "Shonen no Saigo no Natsu"(少年の最後の夏...A Boy's Last Summer)annoyed the heck out of me. At the time, I was just starting to become aware that Japanese pop composers didn't hesitate to take riffs from Western songs and use them for their own creations. But when Tsutsumi lifted the intro from Level 42's "Lessons In Love" (one of my favourite 80s tunes) for this song, I actually wanted to slap the guy silly for pilfering. It doesn't annoy me as much anymore since frankly time has blunted down those overly sharp edges of righteousness, and the actual refrain is something worthy of hearing again and again.

What I hadn't realized was that "Shonen no Saigo no Natsu" was the ending theme for the cinema version of an OVA series called "Baribari Densetsu"(バリバリ伝説...Baribari Legend)that had come out in August 1987. The anime about street-racing motorcycles and their riders also had Oginome starring as the girlfriend of one of the main characters.

"Wangan Taiyozoku (Version II)" is a version of Oginome's 7th single that has an extra layer of horns for fortified oomph and pleasure for her fans. If "246 Planet Girls" launched things, then this one was the uptempo song that was the 2nd-last track before the relatively ballad-like song to finish things off.

For the first time in over 25 years, I played my old tape on the stereo...fearful that it would crunch it up as it did my Hiroko Yakushimaru tape a few weeks ago. However it seems like cleaning the capstan and heads, and then making sure "246 Connexion" was rewound tight without any slack seems to have earned it survival. Sure, the music is now more higher-pitched and Yoko's voice is now approaching that of Minnie Mouse on my copy but, hey, the good times still roll. As I said, I've basically gotten over my annoyance over "Shonen no Saigo no Natsu", but those backup vocals sound pretty dated.

The album peaked at No. 2 on Oricon.

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