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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Masataka Matsutoya -- Kiri no Orita Asa (霜の降りた朝)

The name Matsutoya for listeners of Japanese popular music almost always conjures up one other name: Yuming (ユーミン), aka Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実). As for any "Kayo Kyoku Plus" reader who's leafed through the Labels section, my Yuming file is one of the larger categories in the blog, and a good majority of the entries are of her 1970s and 1980s material when she was both Yumi Arai(荒井由実)and Yumi Matsutoya.

Then, there is the other Matsutoya, Masataka Matsutoya(松任谷正隆), Yuming's husband and a longtime music producer & musician who has been represented on this blog via a few entries for other singers. Of course, he's been involved with his wife's projects but I've never heard his voice in a singing capacity. And if the information that I found in J-Wiki is correct, then he would have tried not to get himself behind a mike for recording purposes.

However, apparently to fulfill contractual obligations way back when, he ended up recording his only solo album for release in November 1977. Titled "Yoru no Tabibito"(夜の旅人...Night Travelers), it's been described in the book "Japanese City Pop" by Yutaka Kimura(木村ユタカ)on Page 34 as "...a must-have for City Pop fans", and according to J-Wiki, the album cover was designed by Yuming herself. As it is, though, Masataka pointed out in 2013 on his own radio program on Radio Nippon that he has only listened to "Yoru no Tabibito" a smattering of times since it was recorded.

I've only listened to one track from the album (all of the songs were written and composed by him), "Kiri no Orita Asa" (The Morning The Fog Rolled In), and no, I don't think Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)or Kazumasa Oda(小田和正)ever curled in a corner in fear of his abilities but he's not bad on this relaxing song which seems to veer from epic balladry to something that is almost as sing-songy as a children's tune. I wouldn't call this particular track an example of City Pop by any means, though. It's probably more along the lines of New Music, and it might be personal bias on my part, but Masataka sang it in the way that Yuming would have (is that actually her I hear in the background?) at the time. I would probably equate it with anything that Gilbert O. Sullivan released.

Masataka may not ever put "Kiri no Orita Asa" or the other tracks on "Yoru no Tabibito" on heavy rotation, but I certainly would be interested in getting my hands on the album. Although it may be hard to acquire, I don't think it's one of the rarest of the rare since J-Wiki has said that a Blu-Spec CD of "Yoru no Tabibito" was released in 2015.

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