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 10, 2020

Happy (Belated) 40th Birthday, Rydeen!

Well, giving myself the Gibbs Slap upside my head once more since I'm about 19 days late to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Yellow Magic Orchestra's beloved creation "Rydeen". Yep, it was released as YMO's 2nd single on June 21st 1980, although it had already gotten its introduction through the album "Solid State Survivor" the previous year in September. I had just been wrapping things up for the night when I saw some of those YouTube videos for the tune and out of curiosity, I checked the J-Wiki article. Wow! 40 years...

Not sure, but I think "Rydeen" may be the one song on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" that has gotten the most follow-ups, including this one. I remember that Marcos V. covered its cover by E-Girls in 2014 and then anime fans got reminded about it through "Sound! Euphonium".

Now, how do I celebrate it? Well, I can mention that "Rydeen" has been used in a commercial.

This is the one for Pocky with Yukihiro Takahashi(高橋幸宏), Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一)and Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)themselves appearing in 2014. They just had to be there!

I've been hearing about it for years, but "Rydeen" was also used as the theme song for a long-running game show in Italy called "Bis".

I also just learned that "Rydeen" has been used by Tokyo Giants supporters to cheer on their baseball team.

Plus, it has been used as the entrance theme for pro wrestler Ricky Steamboat whenever he comes to Japan.

Finally, there are all of the remix versions for "Rydeen" on YouTube of which I've enjoyed Chick Norman's tributes above and below. If any of you have any other recommendations, please let me know.

What can I say about one of the cornerstone songs that helped usher me into the wonderful world of popular Japanese music? Fell in love with "Rydeen" and have yet to fall out. I've loved all of YMO's catchy technopop tunes all these years but why has "Rydeen" pulled such a spell on me? I guess it's because when I do hear it, I recall how Japan was simply bursting with energy, industry and technology at the time of its release. If there are homemade music videos using the song, I will always envisage tons of Japanese commuters, trains and other vehicles racing all over TO-KI-O at breakneck speed. Maybe one fellow was right..."Rydeen" was the theme song for Japan in the 1980s.

My only wish right now is that somehow it gets used in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 (if the Games do occur). Anyways, Happy 40th!

Chiyono Yoshino -- Slow Dance ni Sasowarete(スローダンスに誘われて)

I gather that there is some sort of record in this. To explain, this is the first time probably in "Kayo Kyoku Plus" history that I've written about two City Pop songs by two different female singers, each with the Japanese word sasowarete on the same day. One is the first article I did earlier this afternoon, Eri Hayakawa's(早川英梨)"Sasowarete Natsu"(誘われて夏).

This article is on pop singer Chiyono Yoshino's(吉野千代乃)3rd single "Slow Dance ni Sasowarete" (Invite Me For A Slow Dance) from October 1986. Sweet, sultry and smoky, nonetheless I was at first wondering whether the song could still be categorized as a City Pop number but I couldn't help but feel the urban contemporary nature of it all. Even though there isn't a really huge boppy bass in there, there is the bluesy saxophone, and the strings and keyboard bring that certain air of sophisticated pop.

"Slow Dance ni Sasowarete" was written by Goro Matsui(松井五郎)and composed by Hideya Nakazaki(中崎英也), and is the first track on Yoshino's 2nd album "SLOW DANCE" which came out on the same day as the single. I've just got the one album by her, "Montage" as you can see in the photo at the top but from listening to some of her other tunes on YouTube, I really ought to invest some more of her back catalog. She's starting to strike me as one of the more underrated pop singers in the 1980s.

Masaki Ueda -- Wagamama(わがまま)

Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之), who is currently the sophomore anison singer, has been given the eternal title of The King of Love Songs. Well, to share the wealth so to speak, perhaps I can knight another wonderfully cool crooner as The King of Kansai Soul. The recipient of that sword tap on the shoulder is Masaki Ueda(上田正樹), born in Kyoto and partly schooled in Hyogo Prefecture, and who's been most famous to me for his "Osaka Bay Blues" originally recorded in 1982.

In the same year that Martin came out with one of my favourite songs by him, "Mou Namida wa Iranai"(もう涙はいらない), Ueda released his September 1992 single "Wagamama" (Selfish). When I first heard "Wagamama", I automatically recognized his similarly smoky vocals but this time with a City Pop arrangement that reflected those early 1990s, primarily through the synths and other keyboards. Once again, it's all about the champagne-and-caviar feeling for that era of City Pop although I think by 1992, the Economic Bubble had already burst.

Written and composed by Ueda, the mellow and loving melody also has lyrics of some consternation from the protagonist who's actually hoping the affair will end but not because of any loss of love. Apparently the whole thing has been too exquisitely painful.

To end the article, I guess my final comparison between Suzuki and Ueda is that whereas the former looks like a nightclubbing tough guy, I've always found the latter to be more of the professorial cool guy. Would be interesting to know whether the two soul singers have ever collaborated.

Masaru Imada -- Andalusia no Kaze(アンダルシアの風)

To be honest, I wasn't quite sure where Andalusia was initially which goes to show how much my geography has deteriorated over the decades. However, I did find out from Wikipedia that it " the southern autonomous community in Peninsular Spain.", and with Jere Travels' video of the region, I could witness how lovely it is.

My curiosity in the area was sparked by this first and title track from jazz pianist and arranger Masaru Imada's(今田勝)1980 album "Andalusia no Kaze" (Andalusian Breeze). I've yet to find out much about Imada aside from what I gleaned from his brief description at Tower Records which states that he was born in Tokyo in 1932 and he graduated from Meiji University. He's had a dynamic career as a top musician at various events including concerts and festivals.

The last statement for that Tower Records description mentions that Imada likes to go for a beautiful and romantic sound based on Latin rhythms. "Andalusia no Kaze" has that in spades and I'd also like to add that guitarist Kazumi Watanabe(渡辺香津美), who I covered just recently through one of his own tracks in the same year, is also contributing his talents on "Andalusia no Kaze" the album. Indeed, it's as smooth as freshly-polished glass, and his piano often sounds like peals of bells.

Eri Hayakawa (Atsuko Nina) -- Sasowarete Natsu(誘われて夏)

To begin, the song of this article is titled "Sasowarete Natsu" (Tempt Me, Summer). For the past several days, Toronto has been in a heat wave and it's very possible that this will continue for at least another week, though there looks to be some rain coming during the weekend. Therefore at this point, I'm more than willing to say "Don't Tempt Me, Summer", although admittedly, Tokyo summers are still far more fiery.

However, on a more musically pleasant note, this "Sasowarete Natsu" is the first single by Eri Hayakawa(早川英梨)from 1979. As explained in her first article on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" nearly a year ago, the originally named Atsuko Iwai(岩井敦子)from Osaka took on the stage name of Eri Hayakawa for a couple of years and then went to a new moniker, Atsuko Nina(二名敦子).

In the J-Wiki article for Nina, it's pointed out that Hayakawa's "Sasowarete Natsu" doesn't really follow the City Pop rhythms that she would later adopt from her first album "City" in 1981. But I will respectfully disagree with that statement since I think the bossa nova involved in Yuji Ohno's(大野雄二)melody was an ingredient (along with jazz, R&B, disco, etc.) in what made City Pop what it was in the late 70s and early 80s. Machiko Ryu(竜真知子)provided Hayakawa with the lyrics for this debut of hers that reminds me of the first stage of Miharu Koshi's(越美晴)career when she debuted at around the same time with "Love Step", and was also going along the City Pop line. In any case, I'll have that tall glass of caipirinha right now.🍹

"Sasowarete Natsu" is available on a recent re-release of Hayakawa's "City" album as a bonus track. The singer had released a second single under her first stage name, "Kiri no Liverpool"(霧のリバプール...Foggy Liverpool) before that album came out.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Hisayo Inamori (hie) -- Heavenly Sweet

This is my heavenly sweet since I was born: apple pie. It was first the typical smooth pastry crust but in the last couple of decades, I've fallen hard for the crumble-top version.

It's been months since I put this song onto the backlog but I figure that it got there since music master Tomita Lab(冨田ラボ)was behind the melody for "Heavenly Sweet", the 2nd single for fashion model, seiyuu and singer Hisayo Inamori(稲森寿世). This was released in August 2008 with Inamori and LINDEN providing the lyrics. According to her J-Wiki profile, she has gone under the name hie for any of her music activities while going with her full name when going with her other endeavors.

At first, "Heavenly Sweet" struck me in the beginning as a potential synthpop tune but then the warm Tomita touch flowed in like a tide. There is that feeling of bossa and those familiar key shifts which always give me that nearly ASMR reaction down my spine. Yup, that's my Tomita Lab, I thought! The single barely made it onto the Top 100 of Oricon by coming in at exactly No. 100 and was used as the theme and image songs for a couple of TV shows.

In addition, from her J-Wiki profile, she greatly admires singer Ringo Shiina(椎名林檎)and actress/singer Mari Natsuki(夏木マリ)along with Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez. Her hobbies include Internet surfing and DJ'ing.

Down the Ginza Line


This is pure Thursday whimsy on my part. For the past few days, I'd been thinking about doing an article involving one of the main subway lines in Tokyo, the Ginza Line which according to Wikipedia is the oldest subway line in Asia, having started on December 30th 1927. Obviously, I have no intention on giving a history lesson on the line but I do want to feature some of the kayo kyoku that have some attachment to the five areas whose subway stations are on the Ginza Line. However, I won't be giving any major information on the songs since the links will take you to the original articles. All I just want to do is relate the walk and a few impressions along the way.

Ah yes, the walk. I also received some inspiration to do this because I still remember my just-as-whimsical but totally insane-and-exhausting decision one day during the Golden Week holidays to actually walk down the streets that have the Ginza Line underneath all the way from Asakusa Station to Shibuya Station. My feet are still muttering to me years later "I'm still not letting you live this down!".😠

Just to let you know in advance, most of the tunes listed here are in the older kayo genres of enka and Mood Kayo, probably because when they were first recorded, there was an interest in putting the various neighbourhoods of Tokyo into music when the metropolis was getting back on its feet in the postwar period and pulling in lots of young people from all around Japan for work.

1. (1959) Komadori Shimai -- Asakusa Shimai (浅草姉妹)

I got off at Asakusa Station to start the trek on that day in May. Asakusa still garners a lot of affection as a place where I was working for a couple of years (1995-1997) early in my Tokyo career as an English conversation teacher. Got to see the Samba Festival and the Sumida River Fireworks Festival, and frankly speaking, every day was pretty much a festival with Kaminarimon and Nakamise Dori just around the corner from the school. The shopping streets were great for getting everything from some of the cheesiest Japan-themed souvenirs to some really soft and crunchy yaki manjuu.

Before I made the decision to go ahead with this project article, I had hesitated a bit specifically because I had covered Asakusa and Komadori Shimai during my series of articles while I was on my 2017 trip to Tokyo. Then again, I figured at my age, I was already repeating old stories to my buddies in person so why not do the same in print?

Places frequented often (PFO): Kaminarimon, Asakusa Matsuya, Nakamise and Shin-Nakamise Dori

2. (1964) Hachiro Izawa -- Ahh, Ueno Eki (あゝ上野駅)

A 20-minute walk from Asakusa got me to Ueno...not bad at all. I must have performed this major walk on May 3rd, aka Constitution Day, since I did see the ultra-right extremists getting their gear ready near Ueno Station (including the ear-splitting megaphones) while the riot police were setting up their vans.

Ueno also holds a dear spot in my heart since it was the area where I had received my training at NOVA for a couple of months before I was assigned to Asakusa. There was a lot of shopping and noshing to be had in this area since there was the Ameyoko shopping street and I got to learn a lot about the places with bento boxes for lunch. Speaking of Ueno Station, that place has undergone a lot of renovation in the years that I was living in Japan. It was a fair bit grottier back then but it's been gussied up with stylish cafés, restaurants and the like.

PFO: Ueno Station, Ueno Park, Ameyoko, Takeya Department Store (for the bento)

3.  (1961) Yujiro Ishihara & Junko Makimura -- Ginza no Koi no Monogatari (銀座の恋の物語)

The walk took me from the older traditional districts to the more modern and skyscraper-filled parts of the city, and that includes Ginza. I may have gotten lunch here during the epic walk, but if so, I can assure readers that it wasn't at any of the swanky joints that Ishihara probably frequented. Most likely, it was at the very first McDonalds in the nation, just south of the main intersection (I believe that it closed down years ago). The fact that the counterperson recognized me with a huge smile meant that I had frequented it way too much.

I really enjoyed walking up and down the main drag of Chuo Dori especially when the street was closed on the weekends (weather permitting). Also wonderful were the various stores that I could afford especially Yamano Music which was one source for my CD buying.

PFO: Yamano Music, Ito-Ya (stationery shop), Mitsukoshi Department Store, Yamaha Music Shop

4. (1968) Los Indios -- Como Esta Akasaka ?(コモエスタ赤坂)

After having moved from Ginza and then through Shimbashi, Toranomon and Tameike-Sanno, I finally reached Akasaka-Mitsuke Station which is at one edge of another swanky neighbourhood, Akasaka. Things were getting rather sweaty for me by that point and I walked over another 500 metres before I stopped off at a parkette right next to the Canadian Embassy. To be honest, I didn't really hit Akasaka all that much aside from invitations from friends and students to certain restaurants and bars. Basically, I had to go there on my own to renew my passport at the embassy.

The Akasaka stop was when my legs and feet started to cry "Uncle!" along with some very choice expletives to my face. My physical condition was beginning to mourn just like Los Indios' chorus which is why I was thankful for the many vending machines that provided opportunities to replenish my fluids. But the message was sent loud and clear: I was pushing things.

PFO: Canadian Embassy

5. (1994) Masayuki Suzuki & Momoko Kikuchi -- Shibuya de Go-ji (渋谷で5時)

Approximately 6 hours of fairly constant walking later after having started from Asakusa Station, I finally arrived (ambled, limped, oozed) in the Teen Mecca of Shibuya. My legs were toast by that point and I was moving like a penguin and The Blob. My memory is a blur after that and I can only surmise that I found some sort of café to stylishly collapse in for an hour or so.

Shibuya was definitely one of my favourite areas and the sparkling Suzuki/Kikuchi duet reflected how I felt about it whether it be day or night. It may be seen as the area for the adolescents but with the various establishments covering the gamut between cutesy and glamourous, it appealed and attracted everyone of all ages. Of course, when I did land in Shibuya, I was sure to visit Tower Records and RecoFan. Not after the walk, though.

PFO: Tower Records, RecoFan, Tokyu Hands, HMV, Parco, Hachiko Square

Somehow I dragged myself up the steps and took the Ginza Line back to Nihombashi Station and switched over to the Tozai Line to head home. I was indeed grateful for the remainder of Golden Week since it took that long for my feet to deflate back to their normal 27.5 cm size. Still, it was quite the odyssey passing through so many different neighbourhoods. I'm glad that I let my whimsy do the talking and the walking.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Masa Takagi -- Omoide ga Ohsugite(想い出が多すぎて)

About four years earlier, I had written about singer-songwriter Masa Takagi's(高木麻早)debut single "Hitoribocchi no Heya" (ひとりぼっちの部屋) from 1973, a folk song that sounded so country-western that I wondered whether she had actually gone to visit the relevant part of the United States for inspiration. Well, that was a big hit for her, but she had other singles to release as well.

For instance, her 2nd single was "Omoide ga Ohsugite" (So Many Memories) released in January 1974, and this one sounds more conventionally folk. Written by fellow folk singers Jiro Sugita(杉田二郎)and Osamu Kitayama(北山修)and composed by Takagi, the singer goes into the aftermath of a relationship and admits that there are too many cherished memories for her to ever completely forget the time with her former boyfriend. Most of the song has her voice, a guitar and some percussion, but then to add some depth, the strings then come on in to finish off.

I don't know how "Omoide ga Ohsugite" did on Oricon; I hope it did quite well since I enjoy the relaxation that comes with the song. Mitsuo Hagita(萩田光雄)handled the arrangement.

Candies/℃-ute -- Shochū Omimai Mōshiagemasu(暑中お見舞い申し上げます)

We're not quite yet at midsummer but watching last night's "Uta Kon"(うたコン), there was that light theme of summery songs and then I also thought about the Ochuugen(御中元)season which represents the time of summer gift-giving in Japan. Whenever I entered a supermarket or department store anywhere there during the hot season, I would always see these huge boxes of anything food-related ranging from coffee to meat being sold. I myself never partook in the tradition since I saw Ochuugen as basically being a corporate way of thanking clients for their continued patronage. Mind you, I was tempted to purchase one of those boxes of AGF Coffee or Nippon Ham for myself.

In any case, one of the summer songs that got featured through old footage on last night's "Uta Kon" was "Shochū Omimai Mōshiagemasu" (Midsummer Greetings). This was Candies'(キャンディーズ)14th single from June 1977 that I had never heard before last night. Written by Makoto Kitajo(喜多條忠)and composed by Juichi Sase(佐瀬寿一), the trio sing about going over to meet the beloved beau during summer for all sorts of romance under the hot sun. The arrangement was handled by Koji Makaino(馬飼野康二).

The nostalgia is strong with this one with its Candies-esque arrangement. But one thing that I have to say is that some of that pounding piano reminded me of Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" for some reason. "Shochū Omimai Mōshiagemasu" peaked at No. 5 and became the 39th-ranked single of the year, selling around 320,000 records according to the J-Wiki article for the song. It is also a track on Candies' 9th album "Candy Label" which was released in September 1977. Not surprisingly, "Shochū Omimai Mōshiagemasu" was also used as the campaign tune for a Japan Post commercial for summer greeting postcards.

Another point about the song is that during its rise into the Top 10, Candies held a concert in July that year at the Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall in Tokyo where they blurted out their intention to disband. Man, I hope that the ladies' manager and other staff were in on the announcement beforehand. Sure enough, eight months later, Candies had their final roundup in April 1978.

There have been a number of covers of "Shochū Omimai Mōshiagemasu" over the years including the one performed by Hello Project's ℃-ute as their 9th single in July 2009. Aside from a bit of synthesizer updating, the arrangement is pretty much the same, and even ℃-ute is performing in very similar outfits to the ones worn originally by Candies.

Because we're on the summer kick right now, after watching "Uta Kon" last night, I'd wondered about doing a list of summer songs, especially on seeing Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里)perform her classic "Summertime Blues". However, my mind must have gone a bit swoony from the heat since I'd already provided Part 1 and Part 2 of such a list almost a couple of years ago. Please peruse those if you wish.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Taneko Seki/Hiroshi Inoue -- Ame ni Saku Hana(雨に咲く花)

I gather that this is one of the few older kayo kyoku that I have first found out about without needing the guidance of "Uta Kon"(うたコン)or another similar music show.

Through my browsings via YouTube and tips from commenters and collaborators, I've been able to find out about a lot of the more contemporary music in City Pop and the like, but this time around, some after-dinner exploration had me discover something from nearly a century back.

Taneko Seki(関種子)who lived from 1907-1990 was a Showa-Era singer hailing from Okayama Prefecture who began her career as a classical soprano. She made her debut on records at Columbia Records in 1931 and had hit upon hit until in 1935, she recorded the theme song for the movie "Toppa Muden"(突破無電...Breakthrough Wireless), "Ame ni Saku Hana" (The Flowers That Bloom in the Rain) which became an even bigger hit for Seki, selling around half a million records.

Written by Kikutaro Takahashi(高橋菊太郎)and composed by Fujio Ikeda(池田不二男), the tango-esque "Ame ni Saku Hana" is about a woman lamenting the loss of her romantic affair. She likens the flowers in the rain to her love probably losing its petals.

About a quarter-century later, singer/actor Hiroshi Inoue(井上ひろし)covered "Ame ni Saku Hana" in July 1960. Born in Yokohama in 1941, he had been a rockabilly singer with an early form of The Drifters troupe in 1958 but left the group a year later.

His "Ame ni Saku Hana" is more in the Mood Kayo vein with that bluesy sax, the twangy guitar and that percussive piano. I automatically got those images of smoke-filled nightclubs and tumblers filled with whisky on the rocks. Inoue's cover was a huge hit since it sold a million records according to a November 1991 issue of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper via J-Wiki. In that same J-Wiki article, the Mood Kayo "Ame ni Saku Hana" was such a hit that it sparked a boom of singers of that decade in covering some of the old classics including Frank Nagai's(フランク永井)take on "Kimi Koishi" (君恋し)in 1961, originally sung by Teiichi Futamura(二村定一)back in 1928.

Inoue also appeared once on the Kohaku Utagassen in 1961 although it was to perform a different song. In 1985, he had started learning how to cook in his education on how to run a restaurant but tragically in September of that year, he suffered a fatal myocardial infarction at the age of 44.

Leon Niihama -- Kimi wo Motomete(君を求めて)

I think the musical arrangement of enka and perhaps even Mood Kayo is changing in at least some of their songs. The genres might even be melding. Enka in decades past to me was always about the traditional instruments including the koto, the shamisen and the shakuhachi whereas Mood Kayo often involved Latin and/or jazz rhythms with a brassy orchestra behind the singer. But nowadays, when the new breed of enka singers lands on TV to perform their latest, there seems to be more of an injection of rock (and maybe even R&B) at times, and it sounds like the songwriters have been asked to throw in some more pizzazz at the expense of some majesty. Not that I begrudge this development. Everything evolves over time...languages have done so, and I see music as a language.

My little internal analysis comes on the heels of "Kimi wo Motomete" (Desiring You) which is the first of enka singer Leon Niihama's(新浜レオン)digital download singles that was released in May this year. He had actually debuted in 2019 with three CD singles under his belt. In fact, Niihama was heralded as having made his debut on the very first day of the Reiwa Era, according to the J-Wiki article about him. To add onto the interest, the lad is the very first enka singer under the Being label, the same entertainment conglomerate taking care of acts such as B'z and Mai Kuraki(倉木麻衣).

I first saw him on last week's "Uta Kon"(うたコン)performing "Kimi wo Motomete" which has that mix of the more contemporary enka laden with electric guitar and dynamic horns and some of that Latin spice from Mood Kayo albeit with more hip-swiveling. I'd say that there is enough action in Koji Makaino's(馬飼野康二)melody that "Kimi wo Motomete" could even do well as a theme song for a current tokusatsu show. Keiko Serizawa(セリザワケイコ)provided the lyrics of a man really crying out for his lady in love.

Watching his performance on "Uta Kon" and then seeing the official music video (in its full glory!), I rather wonder if Niihama is seen in the same light when Kiyoshi Hikawa(氷川きよし)made his grand entrance into the spotlight two decades earlier. Would he be the new Boy Prince of enka? I could imagine Hikawa looking at Niihama and sighing wistfully "Yes, I remember it well...".

For a bit more trivia on Niihama, he was born in 1996 as Yuuki Takajo(高城勇貴)in Shirai City, Chiba Prefecture. He's the son of another enka singer Yasuo Takajo(高城靖雄), and in February 2020, Niihama won Best New Artist honours in the enka/kayo kyoku field at the Japan Gold Disc Awards.

Kumiko Hara -- Ku-gatsu no Kaigara(九月の貝がら)

A few years ago, I featured a jazz singer Kumiko Hara(原久美子)with her City Pop "Magic Night". Originating from her 1979 2nd album "Neppu"(熱風...Tropical Wind), it was a rollicking and funky piece that showed what an enjoyable evening in Tokyo could be like back in the day.

Well, today's article focuses on the track that immediately followed "Magic Night" on "Neppu". Beginning with a light jazz piano intro and populated with silky strings, "Ku-gatsu no Kaigara", which translates directly as "September Seashell" but has the English subtitle of "Fading Love", is quite the different animal. It's much more of an introspective and melancholy ballad that takes things into the chaise lounge-friendly Fashion Music area. As soon as I heard it for the first time, I was reminded of singers such as Ruiko Kurahashi(倉橋ルイ子)and Mayumi Itsuwa(五輪真弓). It makes for quite the contrast with the preceding "Magic Night". Perhaps "Ku-gatsu no Kaigara" acts as the regretful requiem sequel for a bit too much of that magic night.

The ballad was composed by Hiroki Inui(乾裕樹)and written by Namiko or Minako Saki(崎南海子), who may actually be a poet. "Neppu" is another rare album that I may have my eye on.

Monday, July 6, 2020

135 -- Tokio no Kao(トキオの顔)

This is a most interesting band that I've discovered only recently. Known as 135 (Ichi-Go-San), vocalist/guitarist Shigeto Kajihara(梶原茂人), keyboardist/bassist Shigeharu Takagi*(高木茂治)and percussionist Yoshihiro Honda(本田義博)first started up in 1986, and have released a dozen original albums and seventeen singles up to 2003. According to J-Wiki, the trio first began under the somewhat less ambiguous name of West Wood (probably because they initially had wanted to do West Coast music) but then decided to change it to 135, after the 135th meridian east, the line of longitude that runs through Kyoto and Hyogo Prefectures in Japan.

"Tokio no Kao" (The Face of Tokyo), from their debut album "135" from February 1987, definitely doesn't sound like West Coast AOR. I guess that I can call it more along the lines of World Music, perhaps. There is some hint of reggae in the intro but then it pours into something more exotic with Kajihara's vocals reminding me of the delivery of the bands Picasso and H2O, and the music reminiscent of the works of Aragon.

I'd be interested in picking the band's brains on their impression of the face of the capital city of Japan since the music is far and away from anything that I could perceive of Tokyo. The usual musical images that I have of the megalopolis is either enka-based or something quite City Pop. It's almost as if 135 had entered a completely different realm of tiny festival-loving villages in an alt-universe Europe.

Meiko Nakahara/TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND feat. Sumire Uesaka -- R-R-R-Russian Roulette(ロ・ロ・ロ・ロシアン・ルーレット)

I'd heard of the expression Russian Roulette a number of times as a kid but never actually knew what it meant until that famous scene from "The Deer Hunter" starring Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken. The scene didn't exactly sit well with me since up to then roulette had always been about that fun spinning game in Las Vegas (or as my high school history teacher used to say: Lost Wages).

Many years later, I found out that the concept behind Russian Roulette also lent itself to many a humorous scene in anime (and it has occurred in real life, usually at year-end parties). Not that cute girls put guns to their heads but they would have a game in which there were some cream puffs that they had to ingest with only one of them containing something atypical and gross such as spicy mustard. That was indeed the case in one episode of "Gabriel Dropout".

Even more recently, the concept came to the fore with balloons in the second season of "Kaguya-sama".

I never expected that there would ever be a kayo with an actual title of "R-R-R-Russian Roulette", but indeed there was and it was written, composed and performed by Meiko Nakahara(中原めいこ). For the past several entries, the articles have been mainly focusing on her purely City Pop material in the 1980s going into the 1990s such as "Friday Night", but I remember that the first song that I had ever heard by her was "Kimi Tachi Kiwi Papaya Mango da ne" (君たちキウイ・パパヤ・マンゴだね), the zany tropical fruit boogie-woogie tune.

Arranged by Jun Sato(佐藤準), Nakahara's "R-R-R-Russian Roulette" was Nakahara's 9th single from July 1985, and it was the opening theme for the television anime "Dirty Pair"(ダーティペア). With a high-octane vibe bringing in elements of City Pop and rock (and some dance remix tropes), it's raucous and sexy and perfect as the song for the show of two troublemaking trouble consultants. In all likelihood, for anyone within 100 metres radius of the Dirty Pair, it was pretty much playing Russian Roulette with their lives.

I figured that "R-R-R-Russian Roulette" would be ripe for covering some day, and sure enough, it got its opportunity thanks to TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND with the inspired help of quirky seiyuu/singer Sumire Uesaka(上坂すみれ)who is famous for her studies of Russia/USSR culture. The Technoboys and Uesaka turn the song into a delectable synthpop treat which made its way onto the former's November 2017 single "Magical Circle", although it didn't have any direct connection with the updated anime "Mahoujin Guruguru"(魔法陣グルグル...Magical Circle Guruguru).

For another "Dirty Pair" anison sung by a City Pop legend, try out Miki Matsubara's(松原みき)"Safari Eyes".

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Trade Love (ELIKA) -- Sunny Summer Days

Yesterday, it was a drive from San Francisco to California's wine country via J Utah's marvelous driving videos. Today, it was down south through Malibu, and the reason for another virtual drive this hot weekend is that this time I was listening to YouTube channel Sentimental Tokyo's "Summer Edition IV: The Lost Summer「90s」" compilation of City Pop/AOR tracks.

It was another pleasant drive although this time around there was quite a gap in times with the Malibu drive lasting around 40 minutes while the City Pop compilation video was a little over an hour, but that's fine. If you wanna give it the City Pop Radio treatment, you can always choose another J Utah video to finish things up. The wonderful thing is that while listening and enjoying the drive, I got to hear some new stuff; the second track, for instance.

And that would be "Sunny Summer Days" by Trade Love, aka ELIKA. Actually, I posted an ELIKA tune around 18 months ago "Kono Mune wo Dakishimete"(この胸を抱きしめて), a coupling song for her 5th single "Midnight Party"(ミッドナイト・パーティ)in June 1992. However, some time into the 1990s, she decided to take on a new moniker for a while, Trade Love, and her first single under that name was "Sunny Summer Days", a dynamic and refreshing splash of pop music that came out in April 1995.

I mentioned this in the article for "Kono Mune wo Dakishimete", but I think that similarity in Trade Love's vocals with those of ZARD is also in "Sunny Summer Days". The lyrics were provided by the singer under her real name of Erika Shimakage(島影江里香)while Kazuya Daimon(大門一也)was responsible for the happy music which I could imagine being categorized as Resort Pop. It definitely heralds a pleasant summer drive down to the beach.

"Sunny Summer Days" was the first of two singles that came under Trade Love, and the song was also a part of Trade Love's sole album "paradise door" which was released in July of that year. Incidentally, "Sunny Summer Days" was also used the ending theme for a sports show on NTV. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this song as well as the drive and the City Pop compilation as well.

Toshiyuki Honda -- Burnin' Waves (single track)

Last month, I presented saxophonist Toshiyuki Honda's(本多俊之)"Living in the City", a sunny and mellow track from his 1980 "Easy Breathing". Well this time around, I'm going back further to his 1978 debut album "Burnin' Waves" for that title track.

"Burnin' Waves" the track starts off the album, and it just sounds so New York back in the day with those tight horns, the funky bass and the keyboard. I think the only thing missing here is its own TV detective show set in Brooklyn for which it can act as the theme song. I can just imagine the streetwise private eye strutting down the street like John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever" saying hello to all of the shop owners, romancing a lot of women, and crushing perps under his fists while having that love-hate relationship with a police lieutenant. Good golly, it's even got jazz flute in there.

A small bit of trivia about Honda. As I was scrolling down the J-Wiki article, I discovered that he had an uncredited role as a Self-Defence Forces soldier in the 1992 "Godzilla vs. Mothra".

Masaharu Fukuyama -- Kazoku ni Narou yo(家族になろうよ)

For the very first Masaharu Fukuyama(福山雅治)article I provided on "Kayo Kyoku Plus", "Gang★", I actually described the comely singer-songwriter and actor as a Japanese incarnation of the Doctor from "Doctor Who". At the time I was a pretty big fan of the sci-fi franchise and Fukuyama himself was starring in the drama "Galileo" as that eccentric crime-solving physicist.

Nowadays, though, I've been seeing the fellow as one of the nicest invitees to a party that one could ever have (David Tennant seems to be that, too). He just strikes me as the guy you want to have to take care of the conversation on the sofa or even provide some music while the host of the party is busy with other things such as cooking and greeting more guests at the door. I haven't really seen too many of his interviews but from what I have watched, perhaps I can say that he's one of the more down-to-earth celebrities that I've seen on TV.

If guest Fukuyama were to entertain his fellow partygoers, then this is the song that I would envisage him performing. His 27th single from August 2011, "Kazoku ni Narou yo" (Hey, Let's Become a Family) is so homey and comfortable that a fireplace and a pot of soup would miraculously appear right by the stereo. Written and composed and arranged by Fukuyama with help by Akira Inoue(井上鑑), the lyrics were created during the downtime faced by the singer when his nationwide tour had been interrupted because of the 2011 earthquake in the Tohoku region. The song then became the campaign tune for a Recruit magazine specializing in weddings called "Zexy".

"Kazoku ni Narou yo" hit No. 1 on Oricon and became the No. 20 single for 2011. On CD, the song went Platinum with it selling 155,000 copies in its first week of release alone. Even bigger news was that, according to "Oricon Music", with the success of this single, Fukuyama became the solo male artist in Japanese pop music history to sell the largest number of singles and albums combined (approx. 13 million singles and 8 million albums), taking over from Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi(長渕剛)who had held the record for 22 years.

The song also garnered an invitation from NHK to the Kokahu Utagassen for 2011 in which Fukuyama performed it at the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Centre. "Kazoku ni Narou yo" is also a track on his 11th original album "Human" which was released in April 2014. This album was in the No. 1 spot for 2 weeks running and was the No. 7 album of the year, going Platinum.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Tatsuro Yamashita -- Sunshine ~ Ai no Kin Iro(愛の金色)

Yes, I took a lovely virtual drive from San Francisco down to California wine country, thanks to the latest J Utah video, and my musical accompaniment for most of it was Come Along Radio's latest entry, Rocket Brown's "Summer Connection: City Pop Mix #1". It's nice to have the likes of Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子), Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや), Circus(サーカス)and the others being your sidekick in the passenger seat while taking that road trip in the Golden State.

One of the songs on the playlist was one that I hadn't heard by the great Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎), "Sunshine ~ Ai no Kin Iro" (Love's Golden Colour), because I have yet to get the source album "Moonglow" from October 1979.  Incidentally, the album also contains "Storm", "Hot Shot" and "Touch Me Lightly", songs that I have also covered.

"Sunshine" seems to be the right song for that J Utah drive into Napa Valley just from the title alone, but of course, there's more with this one. There's simply that melody of happily moving somewhere, the sunny chorus and Tats' repeated manta of SUNSHINE. He could break the clouds and let the rays penetrate. Would like to know though who was on the synthesizer during the instrumental break and would like to confirm whether it was indeed Minako Yoshida(吉田美奈子)and/or Taeko Ohnuki backing him up. However, we did get that famous Tats falsetto right as "Sunshine" was fading away.

I hear that Van Paugam has got his own mix up. Maybe I can try that one out along with J Utah's drive through Malibu tomorrow.🌞

Should also mention that realizing the current situation in the United States regarding COVID-19, I hope that everyone down south is keeping safe but enjoying their Fourth of July.

Momoe Yamaguchi -- Rinne(輪廻)

Happy weekend as I slowly broil in my own juices. Yes, it's a hot one in the big T.O. today and will be for at least a week. Perhaps I can interest you in a mild segue as I provide another smoldering Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵)song.

Commenter Jim Laker and I were talking about one of the most famous 1970s aidoru and he was kind enough to introduce this first track "Rinne" (Reincarnation) from Yamaguchi's album "This is my trial" from October 1980. As I've probably mentioned before, I haven't been a die-hard fan of hers but definitely knew and enjoyed her hits to the extent that I've got a couple of her BEST compilations, so it's still a time of exploration when it comes to her original studio albums of which "This is my trial" was her 22nd and final album before retiring from show business at the age of 21. It did very well on Oricon by placing in at No. 4.

"Rinne" is a bewitching number. It starts off rather spookily before the late-career sultry vocals of Yamaguchi come to the fore as she purrs about being a woman of ice who will always prefer coming back over and over as a woman so that she can cloud men's minds and wrap them around her fingers in one grand game. I guess that my description almost describes Yamaguchi as a superhero or supervillain on the same level as The Shadow, Dr. Strange or Catwoman. The music by Ryudo Uzaki(宇崎竜童)and arrangement by Mitsuo Hagita(萩田光雄)strikes me as being rather appropriate as a theme song for a larger-than-life figure of the darkness. Of course, if Uzaki is there, then his wife Yoko Aki(阿木燿子)is also there with the lyrics.

Overall, I found "Rinne" to be emblematic of the songs that she put forth when she collaborated with Uzaki and Aki such as "Imitation Gold"...about that cynical and hard-bitten woman wiser beyond her years. And a question popped up in my noggin about which era of Momoe-chan I preferred. Was it the early 70s when I kept envisioning her in that very short haircut and high school uniform while singing lyrics that may have shocked listeners with their rawness a la "Hito Natsu no Keiken"(ひと夏経験)or was it the late 70s when that more mature image of the singer caught up to her and her songs? Mind you, even during that latter part of her time on the stage, she had hits through more innocent entries such as "Yume Saki Annainin"(夢先案内人), which had also been created by Uzaki and Aki, and the classic "Ii Hi Tabidachi"(いい日旅立ち).

For me, although I've enjoyed Momoe all throughout that decade that she held court in the fans' eyes on stage, TV, radio and movies, I would probably go with her late 70s era. The reason for that is because of that collaboration with Uzaki and Aki and that persona of a toughened and older seen-it-all, done-it-all woman in the fancy dress (have I mentioned that she retired at the age of 21?) with the lower and more intimidating voice. When she was performing, she came off as attractive yet hard-to-approach, hard but maybe(?) with a soft centre.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Stardust Revue -- Omoide ni Kawaru made(想い出にかわるまで)

Wow! Haven't used this photo as a thumbnail for a long time, and this was taken over 10 years ago when the English school where I was teaching at was located in Nakano-Sakaue, Tokyo (west of Shinjuku). The view was from the window right by the table where the student and teacher had their lesson, and it faced east toward the skyscrapers in West Shinjuku including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (basically City Hall). Always loved the fact that I could take this shot at sunset.

Appropriately enough, I have another City Pop tune for tonight, but this one is straight out of the 1980s. This would be the band Stardust Revue(スターダストレビュー)and their 6th single "Omoide ni Kawaru made" (Until My Memories Change) from January 1985.

Nice beat in there carrying the melody along, and it reminds me a lot of the rhythm in Minako Yoshida's(吉田美奈子)classic "TOWN". Words and music were provided by band keyboardist Yasuhiro Mitani(三谷泰弘)and those lyrics tell of a melancholy story of the breakup and resulting shock for a fellow possibly at high noon and by a major intersection. Not exactly looking for privacy, I take it? Well, the music is pretty jaunty anyways. The single was also included in Stardust Revue's March 1985 3rd album "Thank You".

Another reason that I went with vocalist Kaname Nemoto(根本要)and his band was that I just saw them on an episode of NHK's "Lunch ON!" show about working folks and their lunch habits. Apparently, Nemoto does love his spicy curry!

Kimiko Kasai/Noriko Miyamoto -- Yarikake no Jinsei(やりかけの人生)

When it comes to soulful female vocalists from the era of City Pop, I can easily identify them as Kimiko Kasai(笠井紀美子)and Noriko Miyamoto(宮本典子). So I gather that it's no surprise that the two songstresses have performed the same song on their own albums.

That song is "Yarikake no Jinsei" (A Life in Progress), and Kasai was the first to record it onto her 1977 album "Tokyo Special". It's a dreamy ballad that has that 1970s City Pop Haze effect from the keyboards, and with that saxophone accompanying Kasai's silky vocals, I couldn't help but feel that the city that's been channeled here is New York City with the singer herself looking out at the Big Apple from the top of a brownstone. There's something quite dusky about the arrangement as well.

Jazz bassist Isao Suzuki(鈴木勲)was behind the melody for "Yarikake no Jinsei" while Kazumi Yasui(安井かずみ)came up with the lyrics. Suzuki was also responsible for collaborating with Miyamoto for her 1978 single "Push" for which her cover of "Yarikake no Jinsei" was the B-side. Given an additional English title, "My Life" (and English lyrics for Miyamoto), the cover is just slightly more upbeat, maybe a bit more disco, with Suzuki's bass taking over for that saxophonist from the Kasai original. Otherwise, the arrangement is pretty much the same in my estimation although overall with Miyamoto's take, the feeling is more striding downtown than contemplating life on that brownstone.

Crazy Ken Band -- Ivory

It was a fairly good catch of interesting acts on "Uta Kon"(うたコン)the other day as the show continues its new normal of no audience and combination of live guests and past performance footage. One group that I was happy to see was Crazy Ken Band(クレイジーケンバンド).

The ever-cool Ken Yokoyama(横山剣)and his group were there to perform "Ivory" from their first single in about 5 years, "Ivory ep" which was released last month. Nice and summery, I love that underlying groove and the horns that take me back to Bobby Caldwell and "What You Won't Do For Love". Some good ol' relaxing cocktail-friendly AOR with some jazz thrown in. The end even has me thinking of that New Music from Yumi Arai(荒井由実).

Furthermore, the music video brought back all sorts of memories since some of the traveling scenery reminds me of some of the trains that I took west of Shibuya Station to see some students in places like Den'en-Chofu and Tamagawa Gakuen. Supposedly, it's the view from Ken's car but I still like to think that it's from one of the lines that I rode.

Mika Nakashima -- Aroma

Good heavens! It's been a long time since I wrote about Mika Nakashima(中島美嘉). Was able to find one of her appealing jazzy ballads from "Love Addict".

Like that title "Aroma", the song is quite heady in the intro with the aural twinkling and the bluesy guitar. Written by Nakashima and composed by singer-songwriter Yoshiko Goshima(五島良子), "Aroma" has that attraction of listening to it in an intimate basement club...the one with that brick wall behind the performer. Along with the guitar and groovy keyboards, I do hear those drum brushes sliding on the snare and a more subtle bass puffing away. Lovely solo they have, too.

Nakashima's lyrics are bittersweet. She describes someone recovering from a relationship that didn't end too well. There's the hurt and resentment but also the aroma of the former lover that she still can't quite let go of.

"Aroma" first made its appearance in "Resistance", Nakashima's first mini-album from November 2002 and it hit No. 1 for 2 weeks. The one version that I have is her live performance of the song that has been recorded onto "Love Addict" that came out in April 2003 and peaked at No. 5.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Akemi Misawa & Hiroshi Wada and Mahina Stars -- Shima no Blues(島のブルース)

When I first got started on my hobby of enjoying kayo kyoku decades ago, there were a number of audiotapes belonging to my parents. One was a compilation of hits (which I actually bought for them as a souvenir during the 1981 trip to Japan) that helped me discover some singers such as Mizue Takada(高田みづえ)and Yujiro Ishihara(石原裕次郎), another was a Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし)BEST tape, and there was another one that I hadn't bought but somehow came into their possession (maybe my brother got it when he went over to Japan the following year).

That mystery tape was for an enka singer named Akemi Misawa(三沢あけみ). I never played it and had no idea who she was. Moreover, I certainly haven't seen her appear on shows such as "Uta Kon"(うたコン)during my time back in Toronto, so I finally decided to do some digging. Born in Nagano Prefecture as Toshiko Miyashita(宮下登志子)in 1945, she became one of the fresh-faced newcomers as an actress in 1960 via the Toei New Face audition process, sponsored by the Toei (Movie) Company.

In 1963, Misawa debuted as a singer with "Furare Jouzu ni Hore Jouzu"(ふられ上手にほれ上手...Good at Rejection and Good at Falling in Love)but certain powers-that-be decided that she was simply too sexy for the small screen and didn't allow her to appear on TV for that particular song...not a great way to sell a record. However, karma paid her back most kindly with her 2nd single later that year, "Shima no Blues" (Island Blues) which she recorded as a duet with Mood Kayo group Hiroshi Wada and Mahina Stars(和田弘とマヒナスターズ).

A huge hit for both Mahina Stars and Misawa, "Shima no Blues" is a go-touchi(ご当地ソング)song or an enka/Mood kayo number about a certain city or region. In this case, "Shima no Blues" was referring to Amami Oshima(奄美大島), a large island belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture. It's become known as the home of many rare and endangered species of fauna.

Getting back to the song itself, it's quite the majestic enka number with lyrics by Shizuo Yoshikawa(吉川静夫), and it contains some whistling that I had first thought was someone in the audience providing his/her approval. However, the composer for "Shima no Blues", Masanobu Tokuchi(渡久地政信), actually whistled this during recording (according to J-Wiki), but I don't know what the significance of this is. Is it some sort of Amami Oshima tradition?

Although the original recording of "Shima no Blues" is that duet between Misawa and Mahina Stars, so far I could only find the one video of them singing it together in the video near the top (the one so nice apparently that the uploader recorded it twice). The other videos on YouTube have Misawa singing the song as a solo, including the one performance by her on the 1963 Kohaku Utagassen. She also earned a Best New Artist prize at the Japan Record Awards that year. Her history on the Kohaku has totaled 5 appearances with the 1968 Kohaku being the last one to date.

Being a song in tribute to Amami Oshima, minyo artists associated with the island have covered "Shima no Blues" over the years. As for Misawa, she has recorded 30 singles and several albums up to 2011, but ironically her list of acting performances is actually fairly short according to J-Wiki. She has also been currently hosting a kayo program on satellite TV.

Original Love -- Kaze no Uta wo Kike(風の歌を聴け)

One of the earliest songs that I wrote about on the blog was Original Love's "Asahi no Ataru Michi" (朝日のあたる道), the band's 6th single from April 1994. As I mentioned in that article, it was my first exposure to Takao Tajima(田島貴男)when he still had a number of people with him under the Original Love name, and I heard it in my friend's car one rainy day. "Asahi no Ataru Michi" was this blend of fun pop, soul and jazz that struck me as being quite different from what was hot during those times in music when the Komuro Boom was beginning its steamroller run and while guitar pop/rock bands such as Mr. Children and Spitz held sway.

Well, it didn't take long until I copied my friend and bought the album that had "Asahi no Ataru Michi", "Kaze no Uta wo Kike" (Hear the Song of the Wind), Original Love's 4th album released in June 1994. According to J-Wiki, it hit No. 1 and ended up as the 63rd-ranked album of the year. But for all that, I played the whole album on my Onkyo in my apartment in Ichikawa...and then put it into my shelf of compact discs for several years without playing it again. I gave the same indifferent treatment to Taeko Ohnuki's(大貫妙子)"History 1978-1984", and the reason was the same: as I would find out many years later, it wasn't at all the fact that the songs were bad; I myself was simply not quite ready to embrace either Original Love or Ohnuki because they both dared to provide songs which went in all sorts of directions.

I'm definitely much older and a little wiser now as I appreciate both albums. With "Kaze no Uta wo Kike", there is a lot to chew on in terms of what vocalist and songwriter Tajima provided here. And here I start with Track 1, "The Rover".

Now when it comes to remembering anything called Rover, I'm someone who's very much in the minority since it's not a name of a dog that comes to my mind first. For me, Rover means that terrifying gigantic white balloon/enforcer from the 1960s British thriller series "The Prisoner". Rover scared me into the crack between sofa cushions when I saw it capture errant Villagers, and I think it actually got a shoutout in the final episode for Season 2 of "Kaguya-sama: Love is War" last weekend.

Ahhh, but now, I can sleep more soundly now that Rover can refer to "The Rover" by Original Love. Written and composed by Tajima (unless noted otherwise, all tracks have been handled by Tajima), the music video for this first track sure shows one heck of a crazy road trip accompanied by just-as-crazy film footage. I'm sure hoping that at least the driver didn't have any illicit chemical compounds in his system, but the video goes back-and-forth between frolicking in the desert and then whooping it up in some go-go dance club from the 1960s. I had been wondering what the deal was with those photos in the album's cover booklet...and it turned out to be colour shots of the dancers.

There's some good ol' James Brown-like funkin' going on with Tajima and the gang, and apparently according to the description of the song by Tajima in the J-Wiki article, "The Rover" was based on a re-arrangement of an earlier song "Ai no Circuit"(愛のサーキット...Love Circuit)from Original Love's 1992 album "Kesshou"(結晶...Crystal)and a whole lot of experimentation. It certainly sounds like the band enjoyed going into this song like me going through a tenderloin steak. Incidentally, the lovely Yuiko Tsubokura(坪倉唯子)provides backing vocals on a number of the tracks including this one.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the actual track from "Kaze no Uta wo Kike", but "Jisa wo Kakeru Omoi"(時差を駆ける想い...Memories Running Through the Time Difference), which is being performed here on Tajima's "Hitori Soul Show" (Soul Show by One) released in June 2012, is the one other song besides "Asahi no Ataru Michi" that I remembered even after that first listening to the album. I believe one reason is the bossa nova in the melody devised by Tajima and bassist Hideyuki Komatsu(小松秀行), and although I hadn't realized it at the time, I was always quite attracted to the genre. There is something so very romantic and sweeping about "Jisa wo Kakeru Omoi", and yet according to Tajima, the lyrics are all just based on his childhood memories of running around with buddies and smelling that wonderful soup before dinnertime. Those memories came flooding back to him as he was on a plane either heading over to or coming back from Morocco in 1993 for filming.

There's some more of that home movie camera style for the video of "It's A Wonderful World", and according to Tajima, the song was inspired by the works of Curtis Mayfield. Tajima also remarked that it was the first time that he had ever sung an entire song in the higher registers of his voice so he had been a tad worried about how it would go at recording, but as it turned out, he did it in one take. Some fine 70s New York funk and soul included here.

"Futatsu no Te no You ni"(二つの手のように...Like Two Hands)sounds like the perfect summer love song as created by Tajima and keyboardist Ryutaro Kihara(木原龍太郎). All it needs is a park to stroll in. Love the harmonies between Tajima and the rest of the band as well as the horns. The singer stated that he realized that there were at least some spiritual similarities between the song and Yumi Arai's(荒井由実)"Kitto Ieru"(きっと言える), so perhaps this would be the New Music entry of the album?

One more track that I will provide here is "Fiesta"(フィエスタ). Now throughout the years of writing in "Kayo Kyoku Plus", I've been able to gain names for some of the famous musical riffs that I've heard over and over again from various sources including The Doobie Bounce and Steely Dan's Mu Chord. Recently, I found out about The Bo Diddley Beat from TV Tropes, and it's been a rock n' roll rhythm that I've also heard in a number of songs such as George Michael's "Faith" and "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow as mentioned in the TV Tropes article.

It looks like I'm hearing that now in "Fiesta" and just from the happy raucous music, my initial impression was that Tajima was channeling some wonderful experience down in New Orleans or somewhere in the Deep South of the United States. However, Tajima in the J-Wiki article for the album has remarked that he was using a Second Line rhythm; the remark has a direct link to the J-Wiki and then the English Wikipedia article on the Second Line tradition of people following a parading band with their own dancing and walking. He also said that he had initially wanted to create something that was comforting in the form of a hymn. Perhaps the end result didn't come out as a hymn, but personally speaking from what little I know of funeral traditions in New Orleans, "Fiesta" is still quite comforting since I assume that the funeral procession down there is one of some celebration and joy over the life that was lived by the person.

Finally, Tajima states that "Fiesta" may be the one track on "Kaze no Uta wo Kike" to reflect what the album is all about. If that is indeed the case, then I think the vocalist was trying to illustrate the celebration and joy of music in general through different modes. Why keep the music chained to one style in one album when there are so many other styles to explore and have fun with? Be free!