Credits

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, February 14, 2019

Junko Mihara -- Silky Rain(シルキー・レイン)


The only time up to now that I've written a Junko Mihara(三原じゅん子)song was all the way back in July 2012 for "Honki de Love Me Good"(ホンキでLove Me Good)which got Mihara her one and only appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen on New Year's Eve 1982. To be honest, it was the only Mihara song that I got to know.


In that article for "Honki de Love Me Good", I noted that at the time Mihara had been trying to get elected into Japan's House of Councillors. Well, the now-former singer/actress did get voted in and since then, she's apparently held a number of positions including one as Acting Director of the Public Speeches Division in the Liberal Democratic Party.

However, let's return to her music days, shall we? Although I hadn't been totally floored by Mihara's appearance on the Shibuya stage at the Kohaku (albeit, she sounded as if she had a menagerie's worth of butterflies in her stomach), I was curious about what else she had recorded in the early 1980s. I found one song from her 1983 studio album "Windy City ~ Junko In Chicago" titled "Silky Rain".

Her voice sounds quite a bit steadier here, and I like "Silky Rain" for its mix of urban contemporary and a bit of dramatic pop/rock. One observation that I've had is that she seemed to have a slightly breathier and deeper version of Akina Nakamori's(中森明菜)voice back then, and I have to admit that the arrangement of "Silky Rain" is pretty reminiscent of what Nakamori was also singing in those early days of her career. Daisuke Inoue(井上大輔)was responsible for the music while Etsuko Kisugi(来生えつこ)took care of the lyrics. I'm now interested in getting the album just for that cover of her and Chicago alone.

My discovery of "Silky Rain" was thanks to hearing it on Van Paugam's City Pop Radio last night. As most of you City Pop fans have already found out, his entire YouTube channel was terminated outright sometime in the last 24 hours which is a pity. Although I wasn't totally surprised that the radio was taken out (even VP hinted that the end may have been near), I was taken aback that the entire channel was wiped out since there was at least one video of his on the history of City Pop that I thought was quite educational. It's too bad that people will no longer be able to see that and it's even worse that the radio is now gone.

I went to Van Paugam's City Pop radio at least once a day and though I very rarely joined the streaming conversation, I did enjoy watching some of the banter that took place. The conversations didn't always involve City Pop or Japanese music per se but that was OK with me. It just seemed like an Internet version of a friendly and open club for people around the world to chat and enjoy each other's company. The club is now closed unfortunately, and though I can understand why JASRAC or other institutions would have said "Enough is enough", I only hope that they can relate to why a lot of us aren't too happy tonight. I ended up getting ideas to write articles on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" and I even ended up getting albums because of what I found on the radio so I'm fairly sure that others have done the latter as well.

Still, I don't want to portray this as a elegy for Van Paugam because he does have other venues that he can use to spread the gospel of City Pop and he has done very well for himself through events and even media interviews. I wish him all the best and thank him for all he's done up to now.

4 comments:

  1. Hi J-C and happy V-day ! I love her voice; deep and smokey - seems to go with her personality. She's had a rather interesting life - check out the "Mihara Junko Monogatari" cartoon on her site: http://www.miharajunco.org/profile/ Also, maybe the greatest EP cover ever for 口唇からショット・ガン (can't get a link to post, but I got the 45 just for the sleeve). Sort of fits a Valentine motif. Sort of.
    Amen re: Van Paugam - what's a radio (Internet) for if not to sell music?

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    1. Hi, T-cat.

      Just saw the cartoon. Looks like she went through a "what-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger" type of life. That first picture was especially sad to see.

      I also saw the cover for "Kuchibiru kara Shotgun" through Yahoo Images. Yes, it indeed seals the image that I had for Mihara in her singing days.

      Looks like Van Paugam has gone underground. He's set up an unlisted version of his radio on YouTube via his Twitter account. He's definitely not going down without a fight. :)

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  2. Hello J-Canuck,

    Good catch! I like hearing a female vocalist that sings in a lower range. They seem to be much more rare - especially these days.

    The late 70s/80s were littered with these talented but eventually also-ran artists across the planet.

    However, if they’re lucky, they do turn their short-lived fame into future successes in other areas.

    Speaking of that album cover, I’m trying to figure out where that photo was taken. I used to visit Chicago a lot in the late aughts but since the image was taken in the mid 1980s I may not be able to find it. It was like that Hatsumi Shibata album photo for “Show Me The Way/Party is Over” 7 inch single of early 80s Korea Town in Los Angeles. That area has definitely changed in the last 30 some odd years.

    Sorry to hear about Van Paugam’s channel. But it was only a matter of time. The JASRAC, and Japanese IP holders in general, really do not like it when people use their IPs without permission or renumeration.

    I’ll take that back, they do turn a blind eye if you are not garnering too much money and/or attention using said IPs.

    That being said, I see that some of his deleted content is still on (ahem) other platforms but I won’t say where. Let Google be your guide.

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Chasing Showa!

      Yep, I like the lower-voiced singers as well, such as Akina after the first few years (although I will still not touch "Fushigi" again) and Kahoru Kohiruimaki. Although it's too bad that a lot of these singers never made it big, it's great for people like me who can discover them again.

      The Mihara album cover for "Windy City" is distinctive, isn't it? The songs that I've heard so far are pretty darn good and the cover is the icing on the cake. I will have to see if I can get a copy of it. Kinda wonder how Mihara the parliamentarian thinks of her music after so many years.

      Yup, I'm sorry about Van Paugam, but I think from his recent postings, even he knew that time was short. Having said that, I wonder if there isn't some sort of happy medium that can be found between JASRAC and folks like VP. I was actually checking out the JASRAC website a few years ago about how to go about paying royalties.

      I have found some songs whose videos have been up for over a decade without anyone clamping down on them since they were so obscure along with the singers. Luckily, I like those folks as much as I do the hitmakers. At this point, anything by the Johnny's groups in recent years and any hit songs will get struck relatively quickly. That original video for "Plastic Love" finally got the axe some weeks ago, but it's a bit like a hydra: one video gets struck, a few more come up in its place.

      I haven't searched for VP's other sites and probably won't since I'm happy enough with his YouTube and Twitter feeds. Plus the less I know, the better it could be for him.:)

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