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, July 26, 2018

Anri - Summer Farewells

I have yet to give a write-up on Anri's(杏里)album of self-covers "Meditation" (November 1987) although I did post an article on one of the songs from that release, "Last Picture Show" early in the blog's history. "Meditation" has stood out for me since I saw it as a farewell album of sorts to the second phase in the singer's career when she enjoyed those funky City Pop years with Toshiki Kadomatsu(角松敏生). Mind you, the album struck me more as a BEST ballad compilation but I also treat it as if Anri had decided to give a final concert number 11 times over.

Earlier in May 1987, though, Anri released her 11th studio album, "Summer Farewells", whose cover is probably my second-favourite picture of Eiko Kawashima(川嶋栄子), next to the cover for her 1983 album "Bi-Ki-Ni" (you can see the cover at the bottom for my article on "Kanashimi ga Tomaranai"). There's something so nostalgic yet cool about seeing her in those high heels in front of a suburban California or Hawaii garage next to the red convertible.

Speaking of nostalgia, the first track is "Dance With Nostalgia" which was written and composed by Anri. Certainly the arrangement has that feeling since it reminds me of American dance-pop from the 1980s. You can take my next opinion however you want, but the song could fit in as background music in any of those Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sylvester Stallone action flicks from that decade. As it is, the lyrics talk about a woman struggling with her own feelings about a guy who may have been her beau but has perhaps moved onto someone else on the dance floor.

I actually thought "Boyfriend"(ボーイフレンド)was released as a single since it has been one of Anri's notable songs from the 1980s but nope it never was, although on the J-Wiki article for "Summer Farewells", it has been labeled as the hyodaikyoku(表題曲)or title song of the album. Anri composed this drive-friendly song with Yumi Yoshimoto(吉元由美)as lyricist. In fact, outside of "Dance With Nostalgia" and the final track on the original LP, "Honolulu Birthday Eve", Yoshimoto wrote all of the other songs. It's got that funky beat but I can't really say that it's either City Pop or even R&B. Perhaps I can dub it Anri Pop.😉

Ahhhh...come in horns! "Happy End de Furaretai"(HAPPYENDでふられたい...I Wanna Be Dumped With A Happy Ending)was the official single, her 20th, that was placed onto "Summer Farewells". Another Yoshimoto/Anri concoction, there is something about this light and bouncy number that is reminiscent of her early 1980s work despite the late 1980s arrangement. Perhaps if there is an overarching lyrical theme to the album, it would probably be tackling the aftermath of a relationship. So far, the three songs that I've written about seem to all deal with the post-breakup era. In this case, the lady in "Happy End de Furaretai" is racing cheerfully off to the airport to head over to Honolulu while the fellow is desperately trying to catch up with her to make amends. The single peaked at No. 17 on Oricon. One other interesting point here is that Yasuharu Ogura(小倉泰治)arranged this one and "Boyfriend", and he along with Yoshimoto and Anri would form the triumvirate who would spearhead the production of the third phase albums from 1988 into something more wholly American R&B. Perhaps the arrival of those horns hinted at the new reincarnation.

Gotta have something a little slower here so here is "Kirisame ni Kiete Yuku"(霧雨に消えてゆく...Fading into the Light Rain)which starts off with a saxophone-led intro that fairly yells out a movie based on Mickey Spillane novels. Although this one is another Yoshimoto/Anri collaboration, this number sounds quite a bit different. It seems to be a mix of Anri Pop, smoky nighttime jazz and maybe even late 70s/early 80s Fashion Pop in Japan. The song certainly takes things back more to the shores of Tokyo and Yokohama. Interestingly though, I would say that there is a glancing resemblance here to Michael Franks' "Antonio's Song", a ballad that Anri would actually cover with Franks himself some years later.

Well, I already mentioned "Honolulu Birthday Eve"(ホノルル・バースデイ・イヴ)so let me use it for the final song for the article. Anri took care of both words and music, and once again, the theme is bittersweet separation for whatever reason. Someone is going to celebrate that important date alone, unfortunately. He/she may have tons of friends around him/her at the pool party but the feeling of loneliness will be paramount. The song has got quite the atmospheric presence although the arrangement here eventually takes on a homier bent once those Hawaiian instruments (through synthesizers) come into play. "Honolulu Birthday Eve" may be bittersweet in tone but Anri's voice packs enough power to make it a grand statement.

"Summer Farewells" hit No. 4 on the album charts and became the 39th-ranked album for 1987. As I said at the top of the article, "Meditation" was Anri's farewell album to the second phase of her long career. If that is indeed so, then I consider "Summer Farewells", ironically enough, to be not so much of a farewell album but more of a transitional release, paying some affectionate tribute to the past, taking advantage of the then-current 80s dance-pop scene, and, with the cooperation of Ogura and Yoshimoto, providing a sneak peek at the new sound, starting with the 1988 "Boogie Woogie Mainland".

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