I first wrote about the band So Nice back in 2015 through the song that I found by them on YouTube, "Kousoku Douro"（光速道路）, and I was so charmed by its resemblance to Tatsuro Yamashita（山下達郎）and Sugar Babe that I wanted to hear more. Well, I got to hear more through another song that came from their album "Love" (1979), "Love Sick", and then and there I decided that if I could ever track a CD version of this album, I would happily purchase it.
To be honest, I did have my doubts since as I had written on "Kousoku Douro", there was a very limited number of LPs released of "Love", and I had felt that for such an obscure album, it probably wouldn't be converted into a CD. Happily, I was wrong...it did get its conversion a number of years ago, so when I discovered that it was indeed the case through Tower Records Japan...goodbye yen.
Now, aside from the two tracks already featured on YouTube, there is just the entire album up there, so I'm not sure how long this will stay up but hopefully it will be there long enough for people to have a sample of the music and make their own judgments.
Track 1 is the one-minute-and-thirty-two-second prelude with the title of "So Nice", presumably involving the entire band spearheaded by Katsuyuki Kamakura（鎌倉克行）and Misako Matsushima（松島美砂子）in a bit of sunrise harmony.
Track 3, "Last Kiss" at 5:42 is a sweet and sultry number by Kamakura about a couple snuggling up at night on the beach, and if this had been the first song by So Nice that I heard, then I would have totally believed that this was an unknown track by Sugar Babe. The guitar and percussion reminded me of some of the summery love songs from the 1950s and 1960s, something that Yamashita was inspired by when it came to his music.
Matsushima is behind the mike for Track 5, "Tight Night" (15:51), a cool piece of 1970s City Pop/New Music. I love the keyboard work and there is some of that wonderful bass and percolating guitar in there. Considering the lengths of many of the tracks, I think the band wasn't particularly looking for Oricon fame but just loved to jam together. Good for them and us.
One standout is Track 8 "Earth Mover" (33:38), a sad tale of love lost in the big city done up as a slow funk as Kamakura sings about hoping for that title machine to smash down everything around him. It's time for the guitars to shine here. As such, I don't think "Earth Mover" is solely a City Pop song as it invites in some rock in the latter half.
My last song for tonight is "Dancing All Night Long" at 45:34. When I saw the title, I imagined that it was going to be a disco gig but instead it feels somewhat more old-fashioned as if a couple of friends having a dance in the middle of a street party. Once again, there is the yell of Sugar Babe going through my head as Kamakura and Matsushima perform this one.
Well, "Love" may not be all that rare but it's still quite special. I don't know whether So Nice ever put out a follow-up album but if not, the band left a nice little legacy. Plus, it's a good disc to put on during a sunny Sunday.