Almost a year ago, I wrote about a new Hi-Fi Set（ハイ・ファイ・セット）song that I liked called "Memorandum"（メモランダム）that was recorded in the late 1970s, and on doing the search for any information, found out that it had originally been composed by a fellow named Yoichi Takizawa（滝沢洋一）. At the end of the article, I mentioned that I would love to get my hands on the 1978 album that had Takizawa's cover of "Memorandum", "Leonids no Kanata ni" (Beyond Leonids). At the time, I had assumed that it was going to be one of the rarest of the rare (it wasn't even listed in "Japanese City Pop") but in actual fact, Tower Records had started releasing the CD version of the original LP since mid-2015. So, it became one of my purchases during my annual Xmas binge.
"Leonids no Kanata ni" was the only album released by singer-songwriter Takizawa although he did put out some singles afterwards. I think even looking at the cover of the man bopping about in the heavens, he kinda reminded me of Le Petit Prince, and so I was expecting to have a pretty interesting time listening to this. Incidentally, all of the tracks were composed by Takizawa although he shares lyric duties with a number of pretty bigwig writers.
The album starts off with a romantic and bluesy/jazzy number called "Saishuu Bus"（最終バス...The Last Bus）whose lyrics were provided by Junichiro Yamaguchi（山口純一郎）. It seems to be about a fellow getting off that final bus for the night and schlumping his way home (yes, I definitely know the feeling). Not sure if he's broken up with his girlfriend or has gone through the wringer at work but he's not too content with his lot. Still, I love the music and that bluesy guitar solo at the end was wonderful.
From listening to "Saishuu Bus", I was reminded of Yoshitaka Minami's（南佳孝）"COOL" which was the first track from another similar-in-tone album of his, "Seventh Avenue South". And in fact, there is a certain similarity of Takizawa's vocals to those of Minami with a dollop of Shinji Harada（原田真二）who had his own debut album in the same year as Takizawa's launch.
The title track "Leonids no Kanata ni" which was written and composed by Takizawa has that rousing taking-a-drive feeling of the 1970s. Not surprisingly, the singer has written the song as a romantic adventure for a couple into the stars. Hiroshi Sato（佐藤博）handled the keyboards (and arrangements) on all of the tracks, and in fact, the entire album had a lot of famous Japanese sessions musicians coming in on the project including Tatsuo Hayashi（林立夫）and Jun Aoyama（青山純）on drums, Shigeru Suzuki（鈴木茂）on guitar and Jake H. Concepcion on alto sax.
"High Up To The Sky" is a nice slice of bossa-influenced Resort Pop with that familiar City Pop instrumentation of what I like to call Perrier keyboards (good on you, Mr. Sato, wherever you are). Machiko Ryu（竜真知子）handled the lyrics here.
The last song that I'm gonna feature is "New Caledonia". Now, I'm not sure whether this sort of Latin is native to New Caledonia but it seems to have that cruise ship-friendly beat of the Caribbean. Takizawa handled words and music here, too.
As opposed to the original LP, the "Leonids no Kanata ni" CD comes with bonus tracks that have the A and B sides to a couple of his singles. However, I will cover those (if possible) in separate articles since those tunes sound quite different from the album tracks. Basically, my feeling is that Takizawa's sole album is a solid but not classic release. The individual songs are fine but going through the whole disc, there was a slight feeling of sameness threatening to invade my ears so I was glad for those 4 bonus tracks. Also on that Tower Records article for the album, it is mentioned that Takizawa has gone on to create tunes in the aidoru and anime genres so I would be interested in seeing if I ever come across those (or perhaps I already have).