I was listening to my BEST compilation of Junko Ohashi（大橋純子）a few days ago, and despite her big hits with the dreamy "Silhouette Romance"（シルエット・ロマンス）of 1981 and the slightly more kayo-sounding "Tasogare My Love"（たそがれ マイ・ラブ）earlier in 1978, I have to say that Ohashi was probably right at her prime singing those soulful numbers with that powerful voice during the 1970s.
Another example is her 6th single from September 1977, "Mister Smile". I don't know how it did on the charts and perhaps it was one of those hidden beauties that got buried under the enka and kayo pop of that decade, but for purveyors of City Pop and New Music, I think it's one of those Ohashi songs that deserves some mention.
Composed by Ken Sato（佐藤健）and written by Takashi Matsumoto（松本隆）, "Mister Smile" is one of those lovelorn soul numbers in which Ohashi cries out in sympathy for a fellow (perhaps it's a kataomoi relationship) who has had sticks and stones of all kinds thrown at him but still manages to keep that smile. She might be expressing her pity and love for any rookie eigyo-man or worker in the service industry in Tokyo.
Composer Sato also arranged "Mister Smile" and I love the way how he starts things off with the musical equivalent of a sunrise opening on another day at the salt mines before the triumphant horns come in. It just seems to have Mister Smile going through the usual day of keeping his happy upper lip no matter the trial or the tribulation. This is the City Pop for the modern worker.
Not even sure which album it was originally tracked on. Perhaps "Mister Smile" has only become available on the BEST compilations.
I already wrote about "Telephone Number" some months ago but I couldn't resist putting in the moe video with the song by YouTuber l1o2q3u4i5n. It's hilarious, sweet and urban all at the same time. Awoo!