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.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tatsuro Yamashita -- BOMBER

One of the small pleasures that I have in life occurs when I'm in a full house movie theatre, and a particularly good trailer comes out; the trailer practically elicits more applause and cheers than anything the main movie might provide.

Many years ago, when I was in one such movie house in Toronto, the trailer happened to be for an action-suspense called "Sudden Impact". We, the audience, were automatically thrust into a diner robbery where things were potentially going gravely south when a steely-eyed fellow showed up with his weapon of choice. I remember all of us doing a collective gasp when we saw who belonged to that long arm...and then he said this:

Well, the audience suddenly erupted with the power of a cannon. I thought the trailer itself was going to be nominated for an Oscar.

Ironically, the source album for the song of this article is titled "Go Ahead!" (December 1978). Whew! Just three words away from that iconic threat by Clint Eastwood.

Earlier today, I had a nice talk with fellow City Pop fan and friend, Jerry from Los Angeles who said that one of his favourite songs of the genre was singer-songwriter's Tatsuro Yamashita's(山下達郎)"BOMBER". Beginning with what sounds like a jackhammer and then following up with the snappy rat-a-tat of a drum, "BOMBER" throws us listeners into an urban tale that could easily adorn a story like "Sudden Impact".

According to J-Wiki articles covering both "Go Ahead!" and "BOMBER" which was released as a single (Yamashita's first as a solo singer) in January 1979, Yamashita had become a huge fan of The Isley Brothers and wanted to tackle some of that polyrhythmic hard funk of theirs, and perhaps he wanted to make something that was actually danceable, too. Yamashita did indeed indulge quite happily in the experience as I was listening to those vocals. Kazuo Shiina(椎名和夫), who was behind that guitar solo, and bassist Akihiro Tanaka(田中章弘)also seemed to enjoy themselves as well.

Another reason that I connected "BOMBER" with a movie like "Sudden Impact" is through Minako Yoshida's(吉田美奈子)lyrics which seem to depict the story of a lone-wolf detective going after a particularly eely criminal. But unlike the title, or for that matter, the robbers in the trailer, the culprit reads more like an uncatchable con man...perhaps along the lines of Leonardo DiCaprio's character in "Catch Me If You Can". There is a certain "Les Miserables" element in there as the modern-day Javert intrepidly chases after his Valjean, although this Valjean is more than happy to flaunt his talents and taunt his pursuers.

Although the sound isn't too good in the video, I just had to include Masayuki Suzuki's(鈴木雅之)cover of "BOMBER". Martin has had a good connection with Tats and his wife, Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや), through the cool "Misty Mauve".

One final tidbit of trivia on the song is that according to Yamashita himself through the liner notes in his huge BEST compilation "OPUS All Time Best 1975-2012", "BOMBER" was a huge hit in the Osaka discos (and perhaps not the Tokyo ones). Even he couldn't figure that one out. Perhaps it was the street-like lyrics by Yoshida.

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