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, March 29, 2018

Tohoku Shinkansen -- Thru Traffic (Follow-Up)

Wasn't quite sure whether I would get another crack at talking about this album since I basically covered all of the songs there which had been represented by sites such as YouTube. However, last night, I did find two more tracks from the rare and wonderful 1982 album by the duo known as Tohoku Shinkansen(東北新幹線), "Thru Traffic", the only release that came out of the collaboration.

("Last Message" at 38:29)

Actually "September Valentine" is a song that I have already mentioned in the first article on the album but I am going to talk about it again since 1) it's THAT good to me, and 2) it shares something with "Last Message" in that the two represent the jazzier contributions on the album.

I realized on listening to arguably the best version of "September Valentine" which was originally created by Yasuhiro Abe(安部恭弘)and Atsuko Saito(斉藤敦子)that I've long had an affinity for smoky jazz chorus performances. My first example in my life listening to such a combination was the Norman Luboff Choir's take on the Tony Bennett classic "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" when I was a toddler. And then there was the Manhattan Transfer's "Foreign Affair". Both of those standards were arranged in that way always leave me feeling rather wistful and happily melancholy (as weird as that may sound), and would be the type of music that I'd like to hear when leaving an amazing city for a long time.

This is why that Tohoku Shinkansen's take on "September Valentine" was a stroke of genius. I'd always thought that there was a streak of jazz in the earlier versions by Yukio Sasaki(佐々木幸男)and Abe but Narumi and Yamakawa amped the ballad even further by going full jazz. This cover is simply the theme song for strolling in Yamashita Park at night along Yokohama Bay with the brilliant view of Minato Mirai 21 in the background while that significant other is on your arm.

As for "Last Message", which is a solo for Yamakawa behind the mike, this was written by Arisu (or is it Alice?) Sato(佐藤アリス)and composed by Narumi. It kinda has that mix between a standard and a romantic 1950s ballad, perhaps something that a young Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや)could have tackled. It is also the final track for the album so it's a nice way to end this great release on.

To give you an idea about what I mean by those old standard choruses, here is the Norman Luboff Choir. Unfortunately, I couldn't find their version of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" but "But Beautiful" is more than enough to give you an idea of their sound.

And here is the Manhattan Transfer with "Foreign Affair".


  1. I like this blog. It's nice

  2. I've put the entire album up on Youtube, if anyone wants a listen. :)

    1. Much obliged, Iris. Let's share the wealth.:)


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