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, April 26, 2017


There are a couple of observations that I have for the vocal group Hi-Fi Set(ハイ・ファイ・セット). First off, for a group that had their heyday in the 1970s, Junko Yamamoto(山本潤子), Toshihiko Yamamoto(山本俊彦)and Shigeru Okawa(大川茂)have had a lot of representation on YouTube. It's great to see a lot of their videos there. Secondly, and perhaps this may not be totally accurate, my impression is that the group seems to enjoy singing about school-related stuff.

Case in point: their "TWO IN THE PARTY", a track from Hi-Fi Set's 8th album "Quarter Rest" from 1979. With lyrics by Mami Kikuchi(菊池まみ), the Yamamotos and Okawa croon about a young lady, perhaps in her twenties, looking forward to what seems like the swankiest school reunion in the city. More importantly, the lass is anticipating catching up with an old friend (wink, wink). There are even some party sound effects to add to the atmosphere.

The music by mellow composer Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司)starts off with a funky riff that sounds a lot like it came from an R&B song I used to hear on radio here in Toronto back in the 1970s so I'm wondering if there had been some liberal borrowing. However, the music then heads back into familiar Hi-Fi Set territory with a mix of swingy jazz and downtown feeling. Of course, there are those wonderful harmonies by the trio. May want to pick up some of those old albums of theirs in the near future.


  1. As soon as I heard it I started humming "Games People Play" by the Spinners (1975). Then again I lived in Philly in the 70's, and most of their songs cannibalized each other - like a musical ouroboros ;) Thank you for putting up the Hi-Fi Set - I was completely unaware of them, and as a long-time Manhattan Transfer fan my YouTube downloader is working overtime. Is this type of "cocktail jazz" popular in general, or only for a select subset of people with taste and sophistication (like us) ?

    1. Hi, T-cat.

      Thanks for reminding me what the original song with that riff was. I will definitely have to check that one out tonight. Way back when, Japanese songwriters didn't hesitate too much in lifting various riffs from songs across the Pacific.

      I was reading in one of the booklets that came with the "Good Times Diva" series of kayo that the latter half of the 1970s was a time when kayo kyoku was bringing in some of the more "exotic" melodies since I guess the Japanese were starting to swoon ever more about traveling to foreign locales.

      So I think some of that cocktail jazz was part of it. Hi-Fi Set can definitely be seen as the Japanese version of the Transfer (also a big fan here) but I think another vocal group Circus was also similar although that group didn't emulate the Transfer aesthetic all the time. But their first big hit was definitely cocktail jazz, "Mr. Summertime" in 1978.

      And singer-songwriter Keiko Maruyama came up with her own landmark tune, "Douzo Kono Mama" (1976), that always reminded me of Henry Mancini music from the 1960s ("Pink Panther", "Shot In The Dark", etc.).

    2. Ah, also if you want to check out that "Good Times Diva" series, I've got an article for that as well.

    3. Good stuff, thanks! Just unpacking an package now .... another recent easter egg that I found is in Negicco's “Aidoru Bakari Kikanaide” - they pulled the big riff right out of "Love Machine" by the Miracles (if only they could have kept the bass growl). I don't look at it as copying - it's "recycling".

  2. The riff in this song is an exact copy of the riff from Raydio's "You Can't Change That" also from 1979. I'm assuming this song came out after the Raydio one, but then again given Ray Parker Jr's history of borrowing from other artists.

    1. Hello, Marko.

      I wouldn't be surprised if "Two In the Party" came out after "You Can't Change That". Especially into the 1980s, there were a number of examples of lifting of riffs from Western songs into Japanese ones. There was even a Yoko Oginome tune that borrowed the bass riff from Level 42's "Lessons In Love" which rather irked me for a long time.

      Yep, I knew about the Parker and Huey Lewis dispute. Still, I like both "Ghostbusters" and "I Wanna A New Drug".


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