Thursday, May 31, 2018
Mariko Takahashi -- Monologue（モノローグ）
You would think that I was trying to go for an ethereal effect with the camera to match the similar beauty that is evoked from the lovely Mariko Takahashi（高橋真梨子）on the cover of her 3rd album "Monologue". Of course, you would be wrong...just couldn't get the darn thing to focus properly.😒
Indeed this is one of the early releases by Takahashi, coming out in August 1980. To be honest, I feel like I have already spoken a good deal of the album already since three of the songs from "Monologue" are already represented on the blog, the hopeful "Runner"（ランナー）, the jazzy "Uramado"（裏窓）and the epic "Aphrodite"（アフロディーテ）.
Still, despite the fact that original Takahashi songs are hard to find on YouTube, I think it's worthy to bring "Monologue" to light since I am a Takahashi fan and I think it's always good to introduce onto the blog an album that's not specifically aidoru, City Pop or enka. A lot of her songs are simply wonderful collaborations of great pop arrangements and her just-as-great voice. So, you can refer to the iTunes site for excerpts.
It's kinda too bad that "Daybreak"（デイブレイク）, the second track, has its fine introduction cut off at iTunes since it is one of my favourite tunes. The ballad is another showcase for Takahashi's voice as she sings of a woman enjoying the early hours while resting beside her lover in bed. The always reliable Etsuko and Takao Kisugi（来生えつこ・来生たかお）came up with this one.
Track 3, "Mary's Song" was actually written and composed by Takahashi herself. From back in those days, I think the singer was one of the few alongside Mariya Takeuchi（竹内まりや）who liked to tackle something with a bit of a country twang. But it's not all country-&-western here. There is also something in the arrangement that is vaguely reminiscent of background music for a wholesome Japanese comedy-drama show. Considering the title and her whole participation in the songwriting process here, I believe that there is something of an autobiographical element in "Mary's Song" as she looks back at a supposedly silly young girl.
"Monologue" is an overall great album for Takahashi fans but I have to say that another standout track is "Yuunagi"（夕なぎ...Evening Calm）, her tribute to the sea. Another creation by the Kisugis, this song is the quintessential Takahashi ballad that got me to like her in the first place: great vocals, heartrending arrangement with a bit of rock guitar in there for some added oomph. The highlight is when she sings out the word "etranger"...I'm glad that the excerpt at least carried that part.
JASRAC and perhaps even Ms. Takahashi herself may not be too thrilled about albums like "Monologue" getting online without proper payment, but still, I think it's great when there's at least an opportunity for folks who may be getting into the older Japanese pop to come across the samples. Even when I was still living in Japan, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to find the singer's earliest CDs on the music store shelves.