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.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Ami Ozaki -- Hot Baby

I loved Ami Ozaki's(尾崎亜美)"Wanderer In Love", wrote about it, and now I've gone ahead and bought the album it originated from. "Hot Baby" from May 1981 looks pretty darn cute with that envelope design of the times, and I kinda wished that the light blue flap actually worked, but I'm just griping a bit much there.

Anyways, "Hot Baby" is the love child project between Ami Ozaki and David Foster, with the former handling all of the songwriting while the latter took care of the arrangement. Plus, a few members from the band TOTO such as Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro helped out, and even Foster's partner from Airplay, Jay Graydon, joined in the fun. Talk about AOR from both sides of the Pacific!

Track 1 is "Love Is Easy", a rousing number that gets the album launched into the stratosphere via the City Pop airplane fueled by Tom Scott's sax solo and some fine keyboard work. There is also a hint of Latin in the mix so that I'm kinda reminded of some of Junko Yagami's(八神純子)songs from the late 1970s. "Love Is Easy" was also Ozaki's 13th single which came out on the same day as "Hot Baby".

"Prism Train" is another rollicking one backed up by Lukather's guitar and Porcaro's drums. Plus, if that's Foster helping Ozaki behind the keyboards, then he just brought back all of my memories of AM pop radio from my high school days.

Man, I know one has to suffer for one's art, but really?

Pretty amusing and ironic about "Cat's Eye"(キャッツアイ)since it was Ozaki who gave teenager Anri(杏里)her big break with "Olivia wo Kikinagara"(オリビアを聴きながら)back in 1978, and then Anri would get an even bigger hit in 1983 with another "Cat's Eye" (although that was created by other songwriters). Ozaki's "Cat's Eye" is a wholly different animal (no pun intended), and to echo kaz-shin from "Music Avenue", it's a very cute track to the point that I couldn't quite believe that Foster also arranged this one. I would say that it's probably the most Japanese poppiest song on "Hot Baby".

The final song for the article and the final track for the original album (two bonus tracks have been added to the CD version) is "Serenade"(蒼夜曲), which was also Ozaki's 12th single from 1980. The single version is one of the bonus tracks while the album version was recorded in Los Angeles with the rest of "Hot Baby".

According to kaz-shin, reviews were mixed on the album version of "Serenade", with folks preferring to go with the original single version. Although both are fine to me, if I had to choose, I would go with the single version that you can hear immediately above this paragraph. This version is almost a minute longer than the album take, and has more time to breathe. Plus, I like its simpler and slightly more sweeping feeling.

Recently, the City Pop community on Facebook has been putting up their fine choices for recommendations through singles and albums. I would certainly put "Hot Baby" up there.

It's been a David Foster week for me. Not only did I get the Ozaki/Foster collaboration but I also ended up getting that Airplay album. Had no idea that Foster was even in a band until just a few months ago. I should hand in my Canadian passport in shame. 😁

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