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, May 27, 2017

Momoe Yamaguchi -- Tokyo no Sora no Shita Anata wa (東京の空の下あなたは)

As I've often said here, one of the reasons that I've enjoyed adding onto the blog for so long now is that I've been able to encounter some rare gems among all the kayo kyoku. Once again, it's all about the iceberg analogy. However this time, it has to do with a rare tune but by a well-established singer.

There has been that comparison between the quintessential 70s aidoru Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵)and 80s aidoru Akina Nakamori(中森明菜). I've mentioned before that both singers became known as these teenage stars with a certain darkness and talent that came out in their respective discographies. And as Nakamori gradually turned into a pop superstar, the tone of her Oricon-friendly singles diverged from her more eclectic albums starting from the mid-1980s.

Perhaps Yamaguchi had a similar thing going in the latter half of her decade although to a smaller extent. One of my first entries about her involved her 1979 album "L.A. Blue" which fascinated me since a number of her tracks there had her exploring some American-style AOR and perhaps even City Pop. Until that point, I had always known her for those Oricon chart-toppers which were solidly within that kayo kyoku sphere.

Now I find out that this wasn't her first foray into recording outside of Japan. In 1977, she had also gone overseas to London to record her 12th album "Golden Flight". Although the album has one of her landmark songs, "Imitation Gold", I don't know how the rest of the songs sound...were they more into the New Music vein? One thing about the tracks on that album is that a majority of them are titled in full-cap romaji. Would be interesting to find out. For a singer who purportedly said that she only continued her career simply to provide for her family and retired as soon as she got married, I think Momoe tried to spread her wings out a bit, professionally speaking.

Even regarding that special album, there was a special song that had been recorded but ultimately didn't get placed onto "Golden Flight". Titled "Tokyo no Sora no Shita Anata wa" (You, Under the Tokyo Sky), it was never even made into a single or even a B-side of one, although it was performed by Momoe a number of times at her concerts. In fact, it finally saw the light of day in 2003 as the only song on the 24th disc of the 24 discs of "MOMOE PREMIUM", that huge CD-BOX set...26 years after the fact.

My question is "Why the heck did you keep it under wraps for so long?!" It's a wonderful song to me. Starting out with a wacka-wacka electric guitar, "Tokyo no Sora no Shita Anata wa" rolls out to a pretty propulsive Latin beat to accompany those familiar Momoe vocals. The song probably wouldn't belong on "L.A. Blue" but it's certainly not the usual stuff by her that I have been accustomed to. I'd say that the arrangement was more along the lines of another singer who was up and coming at the time, Junko Yagami(八神純子). Still, Yamaguchi made this her own tune. It's short but oh-so-sweet. And if I had the funds, I would get "MOMOE PREMIUM" just to get this song; I will have to hope for that bonus or lottery win. Perhaps I can still aim for "Golden Flight" and "L.A. Blue".

The creator of the song was Shigeru Amano(天野滋)who was a member of the folk group NSP. Now that is a group I'm going to have to cover shortly.

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