I was listening to Disc 1 of Tatsuro Yamashita's（山下達郎）"OPUS 〜ALL TIME BEST 1975-2012〜" earlier this afternoon. Gotta say that even one disc of his is enough to uplift the spirit...right from his starting days of New Music going into his years of City Pop. I'm also happy to say that there is still a number of songs by him to explore for the blog.
One such song is "Parade". Now I actually introduced the song many months ago back in 2015 through EPO's cover of it in her well-regarded 1982 album "Goodies". I did say there that I would talk about Tats' original "soon" but of course, me being me, promises are often forgotten and I did the same here. Well, as I have always said, better late than never.
"Parade" was originally a track on the album "NIAGARA TRIANGLE Vol.1" from March 1976. The album involved having Yamashita collaborate with fellow singer-songwriters Eiichi Ohtaki（大滝詠一）and Ginji Ito（伊藤銀次）to get some songs together on the same LP. They were also helped out by Tats' buddy from his old band Sugar Babe, Taeko Ohnuki（大貫妙子）, Minako Yoshida（吉田美奈子）and two-thirds of the future Yellow Magic Orchestra, Haruomi Hosono（細野晴臣）and Ryuichi Sakamoto（坂本龍一）among some other big lights in New Music.
As for "Parade", whereas the track on that 2012 BEST compilation cuts to the chase, apparently the original version is book-ended by a rolling piano intro and some sort of background music at the end. Perhaps Yamashita wanted "Parade" to feel as if the song suddenly burst in like a real impromptu parade down the main street, capturing everyone's attention for those few minutes. I can also say it's like a melodic sunny day with that nice dollop of 70s soul put in there to support his joyous vocals (I always envision colourful balloons floating into the sky as I hear him).
Considering that I've often featured Yamashita's late 70s/early 80s City Pop work, "Parade" is an interesting example of some happy-go-lucky New Music without too much of that feeling of being in the big city. However, it is darn summery which has been another characteristic of his discography.
As someone who used to catch the Fuji-TV morning kids' program "Ponkikies"（ポンキッキーズ）after waking up, the above video is natsukashii. It was the custom of the program to provide a happy musical ending to each episode and I did remember this thing about a group of talented girls bopping about with brolleys while a song was playing. I just didn't know at the time that it was Tats and "Parade".
For some reason, "Parade" was even released as a single (his 26th) in January 1994, perhaps in favourable response to the "Ponkikies" ending. It did modestly well by peaking at No. 29. As for "NIAGARA TRIANGLE Vol.1", it also reached as high as No. 29 as an LP.