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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Kazuhito Murata -- Hitokakera no Natsu(ひとかけらの夏)

Well, nikala beat me by over three years, but I finally got my own copy of the late Kazuhito Murata's(村田和人)"Hitokakera no Natsu" (Fragments of Summer), his second album released in June 1983, from the good folks at Tower Records. She was the one who brought Murata onto the blog through his sunny 3rd single "Ippon no Ongaku"(一本の音楽).

After hearing some of his other material on YouTube, I had decided to get one of Murata's albums and I had been thinking of getting his BEST compilation to get an overall taste. However, his BEST was sold out so, remembering nikala's article, I made the order for "Hitokakera no Natsu". Certainly haven't regretted getting it.

Overall impressions from the first listen? Well, Murata owes a lot to Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)in terms of his singing and the arrangement. As nikala pointed out, Yamashita was the one who launched Murata's career in 1978, and in fact, Mr. Summer City Pop took care of the arrangement for many of the tracks on "Hitokakera no Natsu", including "So Long, Mrs.".

Murata took care of the 70s Margaritaville melody while keyboardist Yoshihiko Ando(安藤芳彦)came up with the lyrics weaving the bittersweet story of a fellow giving his good wishes to a former flame on her wedding day. The setting might be a church but all I'm getting is beach umbrella-and-Corona vibes...a nice place to be these days. The above live version, which was recorded in 1988, is included in the re-released album and Murata even pays a cute tribute to his mentor Tats near the end. The original version also included Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや)as one of the chorus and Yamashita working a number of the instruments.

"Catching The Sun" might sound from the title like more of the sunny beachside AOR but Murata's 2nd single from August 1982 is a jazzy little number for the most part, although a bit of that AOR sound comes in somewhere in the middle. Murata took care of everything here. The above video is the original single version that has also been added as a bonus track to the album, but I prefer the album version since it has a genuine jazz group helping out.

Ando and Murata teamed up again for "Yasashisa ni Good-bye"(やさしさにGood-bye...Good-bye to Kindness), and this is about as close to Yamashita that I've heard so far on the album. Perhaps I can even call this a "Mura-shita" effort? Tats once again provides a lot of instruments as he handles not only the electric guitar, but also a 12-string guitar, an auto harp and percussion. The song is once again about Murata reminiscing over a past romance and one of their summer days together.

I guess Murata really liked those lovelorn ballads. "Illusion"(幻影)was once again composed by him but this particular number was written by Mariya Takeuchi with her husband arranging it and on most of the instruments in the original version.

To finish up, I would like to quote Yamashita himself when it comes to Murata's "Hitokakera no Natsu" (which is a keeper): We've got summer right here in our hearts (from "The Theme From Big Wave").

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