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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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Anzen Chitai -- VII ~ Yume no Miyako(夢の都)


Well, now...it's been a very long time since I cracked this one open. This was pop/rock band Anzen Chitai's(安全地帯)7th album "Yume no Miyako" (Capital of Dreams) from July 1990. I don't remember much about when I bought it but I could imagine that I, as a big fan of Anzen Chitai, was fairly focused on getting it as the first album of the band that I ever bought in their home country. Moreover, as much as I was impressed with the multi-LP or multi-CD format of the band's "V", "VII", at least with the first batch, arrived in this box with pictures of sky and fluffy clouds encasing the album.

But then listening to Koji Tamaki(玉置浩二)and the guys that first time on the CD player, for whatever reason, I was not all that overwhelmed with the product. In fact, I can admit that I was underwhelmed and only listened to "VII" a few times. Doubly in fact, I think over the past 25 years or so, I can count the number of times I listened to it on one hand!

A few months ago, my brother, who usually doesn't listen to any Japanese pop music, actually requested to borrow almost all of my Anzen Chitai stuff. Partially it was out of curiosity, partially it was also to get some copies made for his sister-in-law who is a huge fan of Tamaki and company. I don't know if he gained any respect or enjoyment from the albums but I did get my albums back and with one of them being "VII", I decided to pop it in again once more. To be honest, since I started "Kayo Kyoku Plus" in January 2012, I hadn't listened to this album at all.


Perhaps the reason that I never particularly accepted "Yume no Miyako" was that compared to the previous albums of "V" and "VI", this one struck me as being a bit more subdued. There didn't seem to be any one track that popped in my mind like the early hits of Anzen Chitai in the early 1980s or even some of the tracks from "V" and "VI" that had a slightly different sound from the band.

All of the tracks for "Yume no Miyako" were written by Goro Matsui(松井五郎)and composed by Tamaki. It was kinda strange listening to it this time around. I had assumed that I would forget most of the tracks but strangely enough, a number of them actually sparked my memory. That was the case with the first song, "Kimi ga Nemuru"(きみは眠る...You Sleep). The opening track has the gravitas of a spaceship launch and that feeling is further enhanced when I look at the inner liner notes with the photographs of the band standing on a plateau and the background of massive mountains in their native Hokkaido.

However, now that I've been paying more attention to the lyrics alongside the music, I realize that "Kimi ga Nemuru"  is a song of despair. Tamaki sings that the world is heading for hell in a hand basket and by the end, the man finally states that perhaps it is better that we just keep on sleeping. Strangely enough, I will be seeing "Blade Runner: 2049" tomorrow.


On the other hand, the second track, "Jounetsu"(情熱...Passion)is a much more high-flying number exhorting youth to look ahead and not back. This was also Anzen Chitai's 20th single released later in November that year. Again, Tamaki's voice is great and all that but I initially got that sense that this was more of an echo of "I Love You Kara Hajimeyou"(I Love Youからはじめよう), the opening track for "VI" rather than a creation that could stand out on its own.


Track 4 is "Seaside Go Go", and it was also the coupling song to "Jounetsu". This is the band just having fun on the beach while the bathing suit set simply twists the night away. I don't know why but I get as much of an impression of 80s pop/rock as I do some of that older surf rock.


Then we have "...Moshi mo"(。。。もしも...If)which sounds me to like a welcome throwback to Anzen Chitai's early years with that distinctive guitar anchoring things. And man, is it an atmospheric ballad with some fairly mystical lyrics by Matsui about love, sorrow and all that jazz. It might be some philosophical reflection but I think listeners will simply be enthralled by Tamaki's vocals once more.

(from 1:16)

Unfortunately the sound isn't the greatest above but "Big Star no Higeki"(Big Starの悲劇...Tragedy of a Big Star)is a funky piece that would have gotten some love from Prince. I think it's also the shortest track on "VII" with Tamaki singing about the trials and tribulations of being that successful superstar. Could be autobiographical with a slice of tongue-in-cheek.


The final track is the title track. "Yume no Miyako" is the one song that I have remembered all these years on the album. It's another timeless Tamaki tune about finding that Valhalla or Shangri-La paradise somewhere out there, with the singer's voice and the guitar conveying that ethereal feeling. Nice way to wrap up the album.

Although I still think that among Anzen Chitai's albums, "VII" is not one of the band's greatest achievements, I have some more appreciation for the release now. There are some gems that, while not shining as brightly, are still gems nonetheless. The album got as high as No. 2 on Oricon.

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