Credits

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.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Taeko Ohnuki -- History: 1978-1984


All the way back in early 2012, I wrote my first article on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" regarding singer-songwriter Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子)through her early song "Itsumo Douri". In it, I spoke about how the very first album by Ohnuki I had purchased was her 2-CD BEST set of "History: 1978-1984". Her name was something that I had heard for years through various sources and never knew the lady, but finally my curiosity got the better of me, so when I came across this BEST album, I decided to invest my yen and check it out.

Well, as I also mentioned in "Itsumo Douri"(いつも通り), I guess I wasn't quite ready for the alternately quirky and sweeping stylings of Ms. Ohnuki since after giving it one listen, I simply put it back onto the shelf and let it stay there for a number of years. And I guess I really wasn't ready since at the time I bought it...perhaps in its release year of 1999 or shortly thereafter, Japanese pop music was in a much more different space.

Obviously, I finally got over my hangup and gave it another go into the 21st century. And this time, I had to slap myself in the back of my head since I wondered whatever would possess me to ignore the songs by this lady.

Anyways, the lineup over the 2 CDs represents Ohnuki's output through the following albums:

A) Mignonne (1978), B) Romantique (1980), C) Aventure (1981), D) Cliche (1982), E) Signifie (1983) and F) Cahier (1984)

I've yet to actually cover "Cahier" which is why it hasn't been linked. The other albums have been covered and the songs that appear on "History" will have the corresponding letter next to it to refer to their original albums and follow-up articles. At the same time, there will be linked entries without any letter since they already have their own individual articles.

CD 1

1) Tema Purissima
2) Kuro no Clair (黒のクレール)D)
3) Ai no Yukue(愛の行方)C)
4) Bohemian B)
5) Aventure(アヴァンチュール)C)
6) Kaze no Michi(風の道)
7) RECIPE
8) Mitsuya Cider '84(三ツ矢サイダー’84)
9) El Tourmanie(エル・トゥルマニエ)
10) Umi to Shonen(海と少年) A)
11) Shikisai Toshi(色彩都市) D)
12) Peter Rabbit to Watashi(ピーターラビットとわたし)
13) Cosmos Mitsuketa(宇宙みつけた)
14) Mizuumi(みずうみ)
15) Yokogao(横顔) A)
16) Atarashii Shirt(新しいシャツ)
17) Totsuzen no Okurimono(突然の贈りもの)


Basically although from the title for those dedicated Ohnuki fans, it's assumed that this BEST album is covering her era of French-titled albums and collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一), a few songs from beyond that time into the late 1980s have managed to sneak into the set. In fact, the very first song on CD 1, "Tema Purissima", is the first track from her 13th album, "Purissima" from September 1988.

"Tema Purissima" is away from that European/French sound and the technopop influence that characterized much of Ohnuki's work during the early 1980s. In fact, I'd say that it even sounds like a ballad from a Disney musical, several months before even "The Little Mermaid" was released, starting that whole musical animation ball of wax rolling.


But of course, that period is well represented by "Kuro no Clair". I've already written about it, but it still remains one of her best songs, in my estimation.


"RECIPE" is from "Signifie" and I'm happy to cover it here. It's about the joy of whipping up a dish for that beloved one, and one of the highlights is hearing Ohnuki rattle off her the contents in her spice rack.


Along with creating all those wonderful singles and albums, Ohnuki was also known for whipping up commercial jingles for a number of products. "Mitsuya Cider '84" which starts popping up at the 57-second mark in the above video is one example. I personally miss the drink myself.

CD 2

1) Cahier(カイエ)
2) Grand Prix(グランプリ) C)
3) CARNAVAL B)
4) SIGNE
5) Genwaku(幻惑) E)
6) Natsu ni Koi suru Onna Tachi(夏に恋する女たち) E)
7) Rinbu(輪舞)
8) Amour Levant
9) SONY HANDYCAM
10) Ame no Yoake(雨の夜明け) B)
11) Saigo no Hizuke(最後の日付) C)
12) Metropolitan Museum(メトロポリタン美術館)
13) Hikari no Carnival(光のカーニバル)
14) Kuro no Clair (Reprise)
15) Himawari (ひまわり)



"Cahier", as I said off the top, is an album that I have yet to cover. It is her 8th album from June 1984, and its first track, "Cahier I", is another memorable jingle that Ohnuki had created for Konica Film. I used to hear this "pom pom" song all the time on TV but hadn't known it was Ohnuki. For a camera film ad, the song sounded rather "Lord of the Rings" during a more introspective scene to me.



At 5:50 of the video above is "Rinbu" (Round Dance), a pleasant little ditty that has an arrangement of what sounded like "sweet music" that was popular almost a century ago. I'm sure you can even dance to it....provided with a bit of help of some sherry or something as strong.



At 6:56 of this video is "Amour Levant" which is the French version of "Wakakihi Bourou"(若き日の望楼), a song that was first performed in her album "Romantique". It's pretty rare to see Ohnuki in any sort of conceptual music video and I have to say that she looks lovely in this short version.


The final track of the whole album is "Himawari" (Sunflowers), the theme song from the soundtrack of the 1997 movie "Tokyo Biyori"(東京日和...Fine Tokyo Weather)starring Naoto Takenaka(竹中直人)and Miho Nakayama(中山美穂). It was also released as an Ohnuki single and it's quite the mellow song for a lazy Sunday afternoon. One of the scenes from the movie is the couple enjoying a boat ride..."Himawari" would be the ideal tune for that especially with that liquid introduction, thanks to the guitar and keyboards.

Glad to have gone through the two discs again in preparation for this article. Once I finally "got" Ohnuki, "History: 1978-1984" was the starting point for me to start tracking down those original albums and then going back further in time to her New Music days. What I will need to do now is find out more of her discography from the late 1980s onwards.

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