Monday, July 24, 2017
Mariko Takahashi -- dear (Follow-Up)
Hope all of you had a fine weekend. Had my usual anime-and-food routine with my friend yesterday. I may have overindulged a bit with the noshing, though. A lot of protein in that round.
Anyways, one of the nicest things that I have discovered recently is that the folks at Apple iTunes have been uploading a lot of Japanese albums past and present online. Nope, it's not like the online music163/NetEase where you can hear the entire song. It's more along the lines of song excerpts but the length of time for each song is a fair bit longer than what I could get at Amazon.jp, for example. Furthermore, especially when there are certain singers for whom only a few select songs get onto YouTube, the Apple iTunes site has been quite useful since there is more variety.
That is the one reason that I'm going over "dear" by Mariko Takahashi（高橋真梨子）again. Another reason is that "dear" is the first album (Takahashi's 6th from April 1982) that I ever covered on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" all the way back in 2012, and, no pun intended, it is truly a dear album to me.
Along with the first article on the album, I have also covered certain other tracks from "dear" individually: "Stop My Love", "Farewell" and "Samba Magic" so you can all take a look at them, too. Basically, I'm just wrapping things up here.
The first song I will be covering is Track 3 as shown on the iTunes site, "See You Again...Kaze ni Kuchitsukete"（SEE YOU AGAIN ・・・風にくちづけて...Kiss The Wind）. At first, I had been planning just to cover this one individually but realizing that Apple generosity, I decided to take on the remainder of the album. However, the reason I wanted to write about "See You Again" is that it is the very first Mariko Takahashi song that I ever heard, thanks to "Sounds of Japan" one night. That song, along with a few others by folks such as Iruka（イルカ）and Junko Yagami（八神純子）convinced me that there was interesting music beyond aidoru, YMO and enka.
Now, as I said above, Apple only provides snippets, as generous as those are. But since that snippet for "See You Again" is available enough, I can at least let you know and let you hear that discovery that was wondrous pop for me. I mean, it is a Western-sounding pop tune but I don't know I would have ever heard something like that in Canada or the United States. Written by Akira Ohtsu（大津あきら）and composed by Kisaburo Suzuki（鈴木キサブロ）, it is a melodic paean to the saying "Parting is such sweet sorrow". But it has quite the warm and lush arrangement with the Joe Group strings and the other musicians which frankly did bring the city of Tokyo into my head. And although unfortunately the instrumental bridge isn't included in the excerpt, the guitar solo is soaring. To my delight, I found out that the solo was by Fujimal Yoshino（吉野藤丸）who is already represented on the blog, and partially thanks to him and the beautiful voice of the singer herself, I determined that the works of Takahashi were meant to be further explored.
Yup, this is probably one of the longest opinions about a single song that I've ever written in an album article but "See You Again" was one of the linchpins for me where kayo kyoku was concerned.
Track 6 is "Chiisana Metamorphoze"（小さなメタモルフォーゼ...A Little Metamorphosis）is the perfect dusk/dawn song. I would probably go with dawn (although the lyrics have the setting of night) since Takahashi's delivery and the arrangement by Nobuo Kurata（倉田信雄）, who also handles the keyboards here, hint at something wonderful coming over the horizon. Jake H. Concepcion provides another wonderful solo on soprano saxophone. Kingo Hamada（浜田金吾）came up with the slightly coy music while Yoriko Kido（城戸依子）provided lyrics.
Track 8 is "Tear", definitely a night time tune of sophisticated pop for broken hearts. Takahashi seems to love a number of ballads with strings.
The final track is "Hyoryusha e"（漂流者へ...To The Castaways）which always sounded like a lullaby to me. But it's one of those tear-inducing ballads about women being the ones who love while men being the ones who drift away for various reasons. I think the killer part is at the end when Takahashi and the music box both slowly turn down for the night...or forever. Ouch! Ami Ozaki（尾崎亜美）provided words and lyrics here.
Yup, as I said, they are just excerpts but hopefully they are long enough so that the album might be worth purchasing if you are a purveyor of the lusher and urbane side of Japanese New Music. A few of the tracks got me started on my path for appreciating Japanese pop music at last.