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, December 29, 2017

Yumi Arai/Elephant Kashimashi -- Kageriyuku Heya(翳りゆく部屋)

Long ago, I'd bought a 2-CD pack titled "Super Best of Yumi Arai" which of course held a good chunk of The Queen of New Music's musical output from the early to mid-1970s.

At that point, although I had already collected quite a few of Yuming's(ユーミン)works (80s and 90s) since she changed her last name to Matsutoya(松任谷由実), I hadn't really known too much about her early discography when she was still an Arai(荒井由実). So these two discs were pretty eye-opening. In particular, the final song on CD 2 had as much impact on me as her 12th single "Futou wo Wataru Kaze"(埠頭を渡る風)from 1978.

"Kageriyuku Heya" (The Darkening Room) starts off with this regal pipe organ which I found out was located at St. Mary's Cathedral Church in the Mejiro district of Tokyo (don't bother tracking it down, it was replaced by a new instrument in 2004). That introduction made me wonder whether there was special significance about this particular tune.

As it turns out, "Kageriyuku Heya" was not only Yuming's 7th single from March 1976 (the B-side is the gentler "Velvet Easter") but it was additionally her final single as Yumi Arai. So without looking at the lyrics, I had always wondered whether the song was meant to act as a coda to that first era of New Music or to commemorate the fact that she was about to get married. Well, the answer to that According to the lyrics' translation that I found at "Misa-chan's J-Pop Blog", the elegiac ballad is a pretty epic aftermath description of a romance which has gone down in flames. I guess if a relationship has to die, let it die hard.

I have to admit that I didn't like the song at first but then again, my ears and mind took their time to get used to and then enjoy Yumi Arai's entire catalogue of music. Now "Kageriyuku Heya" stands out as one of the more interesting songs that I have ever heard from Yuming. It hit No. 10 on Oricon and ended up as the 43rd-ranking single of 1976. Although it was never placed on an original album, it was placed on Yuming's very first BEST compilation, "YUMING BRAND" which was released some 3 months after this single, and then a much later collection of her hits "sweet,bitter sweet〜YUMING BALLAD BEST" in 2001. Of course, there is "Super Best of Yumi Arai" that came out in 1996.

Elephant Kashimashi(エレファントカシマシ)is a rock band that I had heard about for years but only because the lead singer, Hiroji Miyamoto(宮本浩次), had a penchant for scraggling up his hair constantly whenever he showed up for TV interviews. Medicated shampoo was my usual suggestion for him.

But I have to say that Miyamoto and his band give a rousing rock n' blues version of "Kageriyuku Heya". And the vocalist reminds me quite a bit of Masamune Kusano(草野マサムネ)from Spitz in the quieter parts of his delivery. Elephant Kashimashi's cover of the song was recorded on their 18th album "STARTING OVER" from January 2008 which peaked at No. 7 on Oricon.

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