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.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Tombo-chan -- Kokoro Hagureta Hi kara/Kaigansen(心はぐれた日から・海岸線)

Happy Saturday night to all of you folks. And I'm hoping that everyone in Japan is hanging in there OK while Typhoon No. 12 is coursing through the nation. I've got my student to teach in a few hours so I will be gleaning all the details from him, I'm sure.

Killing two birds with one stone here. First off, I'm introducing a band here for the first time that I only found out for the first time last night. Secondly, this is another example where a music group or singer of the 1970s decided to switch genres going into the next decade, so I've decided to show two different songs by the same group from the two separate decades.

As I mentioned, I had never heard of the folk duo Tombo-chan(とんぼちゃん)until the night before. Hailing from Akita Prefecture, two high school buddies, Toyonobu Ito and Yoshimitsu Ichikawa(伊藤豊昇・市川善光)formed their music act in 1972. Now for those who know their Japanese, the word tombo means dragonfly, and on first seeing the name, I had naturally assumed that was what the band name was all about since the dragonfly is a rather amiable countryside insect, a pleasant enough creature to represent folk musicians. Actually, though, I was wrong. Ito's and Ichikawa's nicknames were Toyo(とよ)and Yonbo(よんぼ)respectively so when they made the band, they decided to merge the two nicknames to form Tombo and add the -chan.

In 1974, Tombo-chan entered a national folk song festival in which they were runners-up with their song "Seikatsu"(生活...Life)and also won a prize in songwriting. Later that year in September, they made their official debut with the single "Kai kara no Himitsu"(貝がらの秘密...A Secret From A Shell).

The first song I would like to feature here, though, is the title track from their 3rd album, "Kokoro Hagureta Hi kara" (From The Day That My Heart Was Broken). The album came out in November 1975. The song is quite jovial despite the theme of breaking hearts, and what popped out at me here were the sharp strings that seemed to slice out from the air. I'm not quite sure if they were meant to represent the harshness of romantic upset but they do add to the traveling beat. Additionally, as we near the end of the song, the melody then seems to take on an added rumbling funkiness as if Tombo-chan wanted to bring in a bit of suspenseful James Bond for some reason. It's an interesting introduction to this duo from Akita.

In 1977, the duo decided to shed the -chan suffix from their name to become simply Tombo. And with a switch over to another record company, Ito and Ichikawa may have changed their sound for at least one album to the more urban AOR. Their 10th album "Flash Back" released in June 1981 includes the Perrier-friendly "Kaigansen" (Shoreline), an oh-so-smooth bossa-influenced ballad that had me thinking of the titular shoreline and wrapping a sweater around my waist. Plus a nice cocktail would fit in quite nicely here, too.

Tombo finally broke up in June 1982 with the end of their final concert in Nagoya. On the strength of the two songs I've featured here tonight, though, I wouldn't mind owning both "Kokoro Hagureta Hi kara" and "Flash Back". It's amazing what I can still find even after doing this blog for 6.5 years.

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