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.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Asami Seto, Nao Toyama, Atsumi Tanezaki, Maaya Uchida, Yurika Kubo & Inori Minase -- Fukashigi no Carte(不可思議のカルテ)


Never heard of this anime or the series of light novels that it originated from (then again, my anime buddy has developed an allergy against light novels for the past several years, so it's no surprise that he's never informed me), but by chance the other day, I heard the ending theme for "Seishun Buta Yaro wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai"(青春ブタ野郎はバニーガール先輩の夢を見ない...Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai), "Fukashigi no Carte" (Inexplicable Carte). I think I heard it for the first time when it was used as the ending music for one of those anime compilation videos on YouTube whether it be KHORnime or one of the other channels.


I only took a glance at some of the scenes and apparently it's some psychological slice-of-life involving a bunch of high school girls and their relationships with one rather blunt-talking high school boy (would explain why I seem to have only caught scenes where he's being yelled at). The Fall 2018 anime had a pretty high-powered cast including Maaya Uchida(内田真礼)and Inori Minase(水瀬いのり)who also hail from "Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?"(ご注文はうさぎですか), along with Nao Toyama(東山奈央), Atsumi Tanezaki(種崎敦美), Asami Seto(瀬戸麻沙美) and Yurika Kubo(久保ユリカ).

Getting back to "Fukashigi no Carte", I like it because of the cool jazziness of it all although I wouldn't place it strictly as a jazz piece, and I noticed a reggae rhythm in there, too. Strangely enough, there is something Ringo Shiina(椎名林檎)about it as well; not sure if she's even ever provided an anison. It just relays a feeling of a pleasant nighttime walk through the metropolis for me. Ameko Kodama(児玉雨子)and Hidehiro Kawai(カワイヒデヒロ)were responsible for lyrics and music respectively. The above video has all of the seiyuu singing together.


At the end of most of the episodes, the seiyuu performed "Fukashigi no Carte" separately although everyone got together for the song for the first and last episodes. The above video features Seto's part while the video below stars Toyama.


Boz Scaggs -- Lowdown


Here's another one from my Reminiscings of Youth file and this time we're going to June 1976. Yes, the age when bell-bottoms and wide lapels were king! Yes, I was indeed alive back then and actually saw them being worn...since I was one of those people.😰

I had barely remembered Boz Scaggs' "Lowdown" which was released in that month and year. Before recently happily re-acquainting myself with this enormously cool and funky Scaggs' trademark number, what I had retained in my noggin was that blast of horns that came in twice during the song. In fact, I hadn't even been aware that it was Scaggs' tune. Up until recently, the one song that was still in my memory for him was his ballad "We're All Alone". Both songs were included on the B-side of his 1976 album "Silk Degrees", a hit release that peaked at No. 2 on US Billboard and the Canadian charts (via "RPM" magazine) and ended up on the respective year-end charts at No. 17.

Of course, getting to play it again over and over through YouTube, I realized (again) that there was some mighty wonderful funk and groove surrounding those appearances of the horns. "Lowdown" was my aural time machine heading back for a Saturday night on the town in downtown Toronto or New York City (it was mostly school nights back then for me...no disco!😭). Plus, backing up the singer were future members of the band Toto: David Paich, David Hungate and Jeff Porcaro. Now I rather wonder whether Scaggs and "Lowdown" were also influences on the Japanese City Pop scene along with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers.

Up to now, in the ROY articles, I've brought in the kayo hits via Oricon or even those singers/bands that had their debut in the introductory month of the featured song. But this time, I've decided to go with three of the award winners at the Japan Record Awards for 1976. The connection among the three songs was that all of them were given lyrics by the late great Yu Aku(阿久悠)!

Grand Prize: Harumi Miyako -- Kita no Yado kara



Best New Artist: Kenji Niinuma -- Yome ni Konaika



Best New Artist: Pink Lady -- Pepper Keibu


Hibari Children Chorus -- Gamera no Uta(ガメラの歌)


Nothing like a good kaiju movie on Sunday afternoon, and it was around this time almost 50 years ago that from time to time that one of the Buffalo New York television affiliates would throw on a movie starring Godzilla, Mothra or Gamera battling another gigantic threat to Tokyo. I think Gamera the lovable monster turtle, though, usually showed up on the Toronto channel, CITY-TV during the 1970s. The above is actually a scene from "Dai Kaijuu Kuuchuusen Gamera Tai Gyaos"(大怪獣空中戦 ガメラ対ギャオス...Gamera vs. Gyaos)which was first released in Japanese theatres in March 1967. Actually, I kinda recall seeing the Gyaos movie.


The theme for "Gamera Tai Gyaos" was "Gamera no Uta" (Gamera's Song). Now, back in early 2017, I had already written about "Gamera March"(ガメラマーチ), which was the first song associated with Gamera that I'd heard as a kid when one of its movies came out, and that was for the 1968 entry "Gamera vs. Viras".

With this earlier "Gamera no Uta", though, this was less a baseball championship march in comparison with "Gamera March", and more of a samba-based dance at the Club Tropicana as performed by the Hibari Children Chorusひばり児童合唱団). I'm not sure whether the big guy was even capable of it, but maybe he could swivel his back legs to this one. Hidemasa Nagata(永田秀雅), the producer of the movies, wrote the words to "Gamera no Uta", as he did for "Gamera March", while Akira Komachi(小町昭)took care of the music.

Yumiko Okayasu -- Yellow Moonlight


A Good Sunday to you as we come to the end of May 2020 and perhaps to the start of some normalcy from this pandemic.


Continuing on with our weekend of Matts, commenter Matt K. informed me about this 1985 song by Yumiko Okayasu(岡安由美子)because it was composed by the fascinating Kazuhiro Nishimatsu(西松一博). Nishimatsu has resided on these pages of "Kayo Kyoku Plus" because of his fairly City Pop 1981 debut album "Good Times" and then his very intriguing second album, "Bouekifu Monogatari"(貿易風物語)from 1985 which brought in his love of techno jazz.

With "Yellow Moonlight", which was a track on Okayasu's first album "Yume e no Setsuzokushi"(夢への接続詩...Dream Connection), Nishimatsu managed to make a hybrid of those styles that were present from both albums. Beginning with some techno jazz swing, the keyboards then enter the dance floor with a mellow urban contemporary melody, and the two just weave in and out with each other in a pleasant little dance that also include that wailing guitar of early City Pop. Okayasu herself was responsible for the lyrics.

Matt also let me know that he didn't know anything about the singer outside of the fact that "Yellow Moonlight" was a Nishimatsu composition. I didn't know anything about her either but she does have a J-Wiki article, so I was able to glean the following information. Born in Tokyo, she graduated from the Joshibi University of Art and Design, and is a singer, actress and car racer. Beginning her career in show business as a member of a street performance team, she became a host of the late-night TV show "All-Night Fuji", and then went into acting and singing. She started auto racing from the 1990s and is currently the director behind her own team, Heart-in-Heart Racing Team. As for music, she released a total of 3 albums and 2 singles up to 1987.


If I'm not mistaken, that is Okayasu up in the thumbnail for the video above and she appears at about 6:58 as she races with a bunch of other celebrities. The video below has her in a commercial for a Subaru.


Saturday, May 30, 2020

Anzen Chitai -- Kikkake no Wink(きっかけのWink)


How does that saying go, "Happiness is a warm blanket, Charlie Brown"? Well, I guess for this situation, I can put it as "Happiness is finding a new Anzen Chitai song".


Yes, indeed. I've been a fan of Koji Tamaki's(玉置浩二)band for almost four decades and it's only within the last few weeks that I first heard "Kikkake no Wink" (The Wink That Started It). Perhaps now I should hand in my entire collection of Anzen Chitai(安全地帯)albums in shame...or not. Then again, it was a B-side to the band's December 1987 16th single "Juliet", which I do know very well as this dreamy ballad from their 1988 album "Anzen Chitai VI", and quite often B-sides have tended to become forgotten when it comes to retrospective releases. Yes, I know...excuses, excuses.

Once again, it is lyricist Goro Matsui(松井五郎)and composer Tamaki behind the breezy "Kikkake no Wink", and although it is a B-side, it's another finely-honed Anzen Chitai song. I'd say from the first few listenings to the upbeat number, it sounds like one of their older songs that would have belonged to their very first album "Remember to Remember" given the horn-heavy production that went into "V". It's quite different from "Juliet" and comes across as Juliet and her Romeo heading off on a joyful spree in a resort town following the heavily romantic courtship on the A-side.

Anyways, I'm very happy to make your acquaintance, "Kikkake no Wink". Welcome to the Anzen Chitai file on KKP! Before I do go for tonight, I should mention that this particular B-side did make it onto a couple of BEST albums: the 1994 "Anzen Chitai Another Collection ~ Album Mishuuroku Kyoku Shuu"安全地帯 アナザー・コレクション -アルバム未収録曲集-...The Unrecorded Song Collection Album)and the 2005 "Anzen Chitai COMPLETE BEST".

Ruiko Kurahashi -- Yume no Tochuu(夢の途中)


I don't know where or when exactly I first heard Ruiko Kurahashi's(倉橋ルイ子)splendid cover of Takao Kisugi's(来生たかお)"Yume no Tochuu" (In The Middle of a Dream) which was also Hiroko Yakushimaru's(薬師丸ひろ子)"Sailor Fuku to Kikanjuu"(セーラー服と機関銃)in the early 1980s. However, I figure that it could have been Tower Records or HMV in Shibuya since they have the various listening posts.

(29:34)

Doesn't really matter. Kurahashi's version of "Yume no Tochuu" has got that added delight of her vocals and bossa nova in the arrangement which makes for a nice contrast with Kisugi's straight-ahead pop take and Yakushimaru's two different versions, one of which had the more dramatic urban contemporary melody line to match her 1981 breakthrough role in the movie "Sailor Fuku to Kikanjuu".

Although as YouTube uploader Danillo Freire has mentioned, it's available on her "Golden Best" album (which seems to be sold out at CD Japan at least), "Yume no Tochuu" was originally a track on her own tribute LP to the works of Takao Kisugi, "THANKS ~ Kisugi Takao O-Sakuhinshuu"(来生たかおお作品集...The Takao Kisugi Collection)released in December 1983. I actually saw that album sold at the old/used music shop RecoFan in Shibuya, but alas at the time, I didn't think that I would ever see a record player again let alone actually purchase one in the mid-2010s. My loss.😞

Sayuri Yoshinaga -- Asu no Hanayome(あすの花嫁)


Ahhh...to be young, footloose and fancy-free in early 1960s Japan as the nation was coming out from the shadow of the early postwar years. Not quite certain who the really popular actresses in Hollywood were at around the same time: were they Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn? I think I may have a slightly stronger handle when it comes to the Japanese equivalent...Sayuri Yoshinaga(吉永小百合).


Of course, Yoshinaga has been represented on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" for a long while. One of the first songs that I put up on the blog in that first year of existence was "Itsudemo Yume wo"(いつでも夢を), her 1962 duet with Yukio Hashi(橋幸夫)that has become a kayo classic and a song that I heard early in my life.

Well, the B-side of that single was "Asu no Hanayome" (Tomorrow's Bride), this time only performed by Yoshinaga. Written and composed by the same duo behind "Itsudemo Yume wo", lyricist Takao Saeki(佐伯孝夫)and composer Tadashi Yoshida(吉田正), this was the theme song for a 1962 Yoshinaga movie of the same name regarding a young woman born and raised on Shodo Island (just off of Kagawa Prefecture) but starting a new life as a student at a university in Kobe on the mainland. Of course, from what I've seen in the above video, she encounters all sorts of ups and downs including those of the romantic variety, everything to sate a Sayurist.

Not surprisingly, "Asu no Hanayome" has a similar sound to the much more famous "Itsudemo Yume wo" but it comes across as a sleepier and more contented ballad.

Asako Toki -- Fried Noodles


Hope everyone is having a good weekend out there. My province of Ontario is gradually re-opening for business as it appears that our Premier is aiming for a regionalized approach. For instance, it's possible that the eastern part will go into Stage II earlier since the infection rates are nowhere near as high as they are in Toronto. Overall, although the rate of daily new cases is still pretty high in the 300s, we're being reassured that we are past the peak for at least the first wave.

Anyways, getting past my COVID-19 report, one of my friends has been making good use of his Stay Home time. Before the pandemic walloped us, he was working as a librarian but he and his family have obviously been taking advantage of their love for cooking by posting up some of their creations on Facebook. I neither have my friend's level of enthusiasm nor his obvious talent but I'm still taking care of the roast chicken and steak within my family's schedule of dinner.

However, recently I've subscribed to food researcher Koh Kentetsu's YouTube channel. Koh is a fellow who I've seen on NHK with his own show about traveling around Asia in search of the region's local specialties. When I went to his channel, I discovered the above video for making crispy chicken steak with Japanese-style onion sauce and saw it as scrumptious enough that I decided to make it for the family last night.


It didn't come out too badly but I have two observations: ① Chicken over here is usually sold bone-in while in Japan, it's boneless and ② Gas heats hotter than electricity at any particular setting. The sauce isn't bad but I think it's frankly a tad too sweet for my taste especially when onions can generate their own sweetness when fried. I do enjoy the crispy skin on chicken so when I make this next time, I'll go for something more savory in the sauce or simply pour shoyu on the finished dish.


All of the above preamble for my culinary prowess (or lack of it) is due to the foodie article that I wrote under Author's Picks the other day, and the fact that commenter Matthew Cole was kind enough to inform me of another food-based J-Pop song by Asako Toki(土岐麻子).

"Fried Noodles" is a dish...a quirky song created by Toki and DJ/singer-songwriter G. Rina for the former's 2017 album "Pink", and it's an 80s-ish technopop tune with some funky bass thrown in for good measure. Not sure at all, but it seems as if Toki may have been providing her own foodie report through music about a recent trip to a nation in Southeast Asia. Shrimp and mushrooms are apparently her toppings of choice; that's good for me, too, but I would also include water chestnuts and cha siu pork.


Recently, I've been curious about life in Singapore, and of course, that includes the cuisine there. One day, I will have to visit and visit the hawker centres.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Naoki Watanabe -- Veranda no Carib(ベランダのカリブ)


Nope, not exactly a view from a veranda but it was actually a shot that I took from the pier in Mexico during the family cruise back in 2017. Kinda hard to imagine people taking cruises nowadays but perhaps when the pandemic is all over...🙏


Yet another lovely song that I found on "Light Mellow ~ Moment" recently, this is "Veranda no Carib" (Veranda Over The Caribbean) by musician/songwriter Naoki Watanabe(渡辺直樹). He got to finally sing the number through his first of four original albums "She" released in 1987.

Watanabe armed with his bass has been with a number of his bands in his career which is now approaching 50 years. He and Ichiro Nitta(新田一郎)started up the brass funk band Spectrum (officially, Watanabe is known as Spectre No. 4), and then he later joined up with other City Pop giants such as Makoto Matsushita(松下誠)and Fujimal Yoshino(芳野藤丸)on AB's. In fact, fellow AB's bandmate Yoshihiko Ando(安藤芳彦)provided the lyrics to "Veranda no Carib" to the Watanabe-penned song.

I have to say that Watanabe has got a pretty resonant mid-level voice as he sings "Veranda no Carib" and Ando's lyrics indeed take his partner out onto a cruise liner in the Caribbean. Not surprisingly, the 5-minute song has that same effect as a relaxing nap on the outer deck of the Harmony of the Seas while docked by Puerto Vallarta for the day.

Ah, final thing: I was just reminded that Watanabe's sister is singer Shoko Minami(南翔子)who is also represented on KKP via "Nakimane"(泣きまね).

Yasuhiro Kido -- Love Magic


I listened to this song some hours earlier in the afternoon and then again just now following dinner, and I have an interesting thought about it. Perhaps it was the chicken steak in Japanese-style onion sauce that did it.


Yasuhiro Kido's(木戸やすひろ)"Love Magic" is one interesting mix. A track from his lone 1978 album "Kid", it was composed by him and given lyrics by Toyohisa Araki(荒木とよひさ), and it's one of those songs that has some different genre flavours. For instance, it starts off with a bit of contemporary jazz before Kido goes into his singing while I hear some City Pop here and then even some 70s art pop there, courtesy of Queen and Electric Light Orchestra. Plus, Kido's delivery and the overall arrangement reminded me of some of the work of Shinji Harada(原田真二).

There was mention of the word wine in "Love Magic", and I think perhaps if I were to make an analogy here, there is that feeling of all sorts of flavour notes in this aural glass of vintage red. As for that interesting thought I spoke of in the first paragraph, I kinda figure that if the band Kirinji(キリンジ)in their current form had been around in the 1970s, "Love Magic" is the sort of tune that they would have distilled. I ought to make that chicken steak more often.

Asami Kado -- Morning Kiss



As I've mentioned in the past, singer-songwriter Asami Kado(門あさ美)was seen to be one of the representatives of a certain type of especially refined pop known as fashion music, the name that was put onto her by the media. It's the sort of music where you expect any music video for that singer to have her lying on a chaise longue quietly asking "My grape please...".

Well, the lead track on Kado's 1979 debut album "Fascination", which has both the title track and "Blue", is "Morning Kiss", written and composed by her. I wouldn't say that it was fashion music this time around since on hearing this one, I can't really imagine the singer lying down; in fact, I would say that she was fairly skipping about town with a parasol over her head. As well, I really couldn't dub this one as either a City Pop or an AOR tune (seems a little energetic for the latter genre), so I will go with New Music and regular pop.

For such a bouncy (hm...maybe I shouldn't be using that particular word😊 considering the circumstances here) song, Kado's lyrics describe a young lady simply enjoying waking up next to her bedmate in the early hours. Living life well, I see.

Tomoko Kuwae -- WHOSE WHO


Over the decades, there have been some singers who have been seen as one-hit wonders such as Saburo Tokito(時任三郎)for the comic vitamin-drink hit, "Yuuki no Shirushi"(勇気のしるし)and Akiko Kobayashi(小林明子)for "Fall in Love". However, even if that particular song has been the only thing that has gained them fame and fortune, their die-hard fans (and that includes me for both Tokito and Kobayashi) know that that they've continued to provide some fine music for years.


That can also apply to singer Tomoko Kuwae(桑江知子). Whenever she has appeared on TV, it is to almost always sing "Watashi no Heart wa Stop Motion"(私のハートはストップモーション), her only hit and first single in 1979. It's a light and breezy kayo that can open up all of those nostalgia pores like heat in a sauna. Of course, that song has already been given its due here on "Kayo Kyoku Plus", and some years after that, I was able to cover a 1990 song by her called "Tasogare wo Wine ni Somete"(黄昏をワインに染めて)which is an example of those lush ballads that I often heard at that time last century.

Song No. 3 in the Kuwae file is "WHOSE WHO", a song whose title could potentially strike terror in grammar teachers😏, but still has me in its thrall as a nice funky City Pop number. Originally released as a track on her 1983 album, "Tomoko 1 I Can't Wait", I was able to first hear it as a part of "Light Mellow ~ Moment" recently. Lyrics are by Arisu Sato(佐藤ありす)as Kuwae sings about a woman realizing that a complicated love triangle is on the verge of forming, and the funk is provided by singer-songwriter Tatsushi Umegaki(梅垣達志). Incidentally, I love that particular synth that comes in between Kuwae's vocals; I've heard it before in other City Pop songs, probably Junko Yagami's(八神純子)contributions, and I will dub that particular sound Cool Steel.😎

Kuwae has that appealing vocal quality which balances between light and rich, so I'm a tad surprised that she wasn't able to garner any more big hits on the scale of "Watashi no Heart wa Stop Motion". But as I said before, her supporters know what's what and who's who.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Seishiro Kusunose -- Boukensha-tachi(冒険者たち)



I think that this is more on the AOR or Resort Pop side of things (by way of Hakone or Shonan) than straight City Pop, but I refuse to split hairs here. Seishiro Kusunose's(楠瀬誠志郎)"Boukensha-tachi" (The Adventurers) is definitely one song to chase the blues away while bombing down the highway.

His 3rd single and also the title track from his 2nd album both released on the same day in April 1987, "Boukensha-tachi" begins gloriously with that guitar and no one should be blamed if they think that Kusunose was channeling some of that inner Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)through the song. In fact, according to his J-Wiki file, the singer-songwriter focused on those wonderful harmonies of Tats for a lot of his early songs, and he had even worked as part of the background chorus for the City Pop legend himself.

Indeed, Kusunose was behind the music with Akira Inoue(井上鑑handling the arrangement. The lyrics were by Shigeru Okawa(大川茂), one-third of the vocal group Hi-Fi Set(ハイ・ファイ・セット).

J-Canuck's Foodie Kayo/Kenji Endo -- Curry Rice(カレーライス)


A little over three weeks following my last Author's Picks article on traveling around the world, I decided to go for another one. This time, though, it's on the topic of food.


Obviously when one thinks about world travel, one also has to consider the cuisine in those far-flung places. However, in actual fact, my inspiration to create this article wasn't based on trips to those nations, but the NHK program titled "Sara Meshi"(サラメシ). The show focuses on the working class in all sorts of industries and what they go for in terms of lunch with the title being an abbreviation of "salaryman's meal". It's hosted by veteran actor Kiichi Nakai(中井貴一)who narrates it as if he were trying to become an anime character. The lovely thing about "Sara Meshi" is that it doesn't only show the workers' bento but also presents some of those people's favourite eateries during the busy noon hour.


I think this has been a relatively recent segment to the show but at the end, "Sara Meshi" has also been focusing on the beloved restaurants and dishes for those famous folks who have departed this mortal coil. For example, one episode featured the late Hideki Saijo's(西城秀樹)favourite restaurant and his steak don.

Now, the impetus for me to write up this Foodie Kayo list was last night's episode in which folk singer-songwriter Kenji Endo(遠藤賢司)who had passed away in late 2017 was given his tribute through an eatery that he once frequented. His beloved dish there was curry rice, and not surprisingly, one of his big hits was "Curry Rice" from 1972 which sold around 100,000 records. The fiddle was played by Masahiro Takekawa(武川雅寛), a member of the band Moonriders as Endo quietly intones his love for the dish.

Up to now, I've had various types of curry with rice or naan: Indian, Thai, Pakistani and Indonesian. However, in my early days, it was always about the Japanese style over the rice thanks to those S&B cubes or powder. It was spicy to be sure but not fiery.

How about some of those other foodie kayo?

1. Akiko Yano -- Ramen Tabetai (1984)


COVID-19 has meant that access to those ramen restaurants here in Toronto has plummeted to zero for me since I don't live anywhere near one, although I still have my Cup Noodles and Sapporo Ichiban options. Until the restaurants are back up and running for dine-in service, I will be happy enough getting my aural version with the cool and funky Yano(矢野顕子)song.


2. Mariya Takeuchi -- Fushigi na Peach Pie (1980)


"Fushigi na Peach Pie"(不思議なピーチパイ)is as young and adorable as Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや)was back in those early days, and as the original article indicates, this was a song that was only performed by Mariya with Kazumi Yasui(安井かずみ)and Kazuhiko Kato(加藤和彦)doing the songwriting duties here. I've had peach pie before and it's fine although a bit tart. But I still prefer my apple pie over anything else in that category.


3. Masatoshi Hamada & Noriyuki Makihara -- Chicken Rice (2004)


Never thought that I would actually hear a song paying tribute to the classic yoshoku dish, but Noriyuki Makihara(槇原敬之)pulled it off and had good buddy, comedian Masatoshi Hamada(浜田雅功), pair up with him to perform this folksy number. I've had chicken rice on its own before but usually it is the majority component for the bigger dish of rice omelette when it's buried under a carpet of creamy beaten egg slid from a hot frying pan.


4. Masato Shimon -- Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun (1975) from 1:56


In the attempts to be perfectly transparent here, I don't think I ever dove into taiyaki all that much during my years in Japan. I mean, anko is splendid and all that, but I can't really say that it was a go-to sweet for me. But obviously, I was very much in the minority in the country, and Shimon's(子門真人)famous "Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun"(およげ!たいやきくん)may still be the biggest selling single of all time. You might want to check the Guinness Book of World Records, though.


5. Kirinji -- Pizza VS. Hamburger (2019)


Man! Do I really have to choose? Just glad that the title wasn't "Pizza VS. Hamburger VS. Hot Dog VS. Ramen". Kirinji(キリンジ)apparently wanted to make this somewhat humorous track from their 2019 "cherish" a walk into the gastronomic version of "The Twilight Zone" where someone like William Shatner or Jack Klugman has to make that impossible decision between comfort foods. Still, the musical path is a fun one to take.


6. Rina Sato & Asuka Ohgame -- Egao ni Naru (2015)


Had to throw in an anison since I believe that the anime industry has also been a frequent purveyor of foodie-ism over the years. And one such show that gave new meaning to the words foodie porn is "Koufuku Graffiti"(幸福グラフィティー)which I'll be wrapping up viewing for the umpteenth time later tonight. All of the performed songs are great concoctions but I have an especial affinity for the ending theme "Egao ni Naru"(笑顔になる)because of its addressing of all of the scrumptious dishes in the lyrics and the sunny Bacharach-esque arrangement.

I know that I've left at least one other food-based tune out of the list and there are probably quite a lot of other such songs, but the above is my reflection. If any of you readers out there have your own choices, please let me know.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Ichiro Fujiyama -- Nagasaki no Kane(長崎の鐘)



Currently with the adapted biography of composer Yuuji Koseki(古関裕而)being televised as the NHK morning serial drama "Yell"(エール), the network has also been providing 5-minute vignettes of some of Koseki's work. The themes for the Hanshin Tigers baseball team, "Rokko Oroshi"(六甲おろし)and everyone's favourite heroic moth, "Mothra", have already been given their due in the vignettes.


Another song that has been featured is the elegiac "Nagasaki no Kane", inspired by the January 1949 Takashi Nagai(永井隆)book of the same name with the translation of "The Bells of Nagasaki", which referred to the bells of Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki. The song itself was released as a single later in July with Koseki providing the melody while Hachiro Sato(サトウハチロー)was behind the lyrics.

Veteran kayo singer Ichiro Fujiyama(藤山一郎)was the first to record "Nagasaki no Kane", and in the vignette, singer and TV personality Akihiro Miwa(美輪明宏)noted that the song was perhaps one of the first kayo to feature a combination of major and minor chords to reflect both sorrow and hope with the additional help of a women's chorus. That was a pretty noteworthy point Miwa made since I've often heard Japanese pop songs from way back that had that similar pattern of sad-and-happy melodies.


According to the J-Wiki article on the song, "Nagasaki no Kane" never made any direct reference to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki itself but referred to all those who suffered because of the war. Lyricist Sato himself had lost a brother in the Hiroshima bombing.

It would be years before I realized how much of an association Fujiyama had with NHK's Kohaku Utagassen because of his traditional role as the orchestra conductor when it was time to wrap the show up with the annual playing of "Hotaru no Hikari"(蛍の光). I've also now learned that Fujiyama was one of the performers at the very first edition of the Kohaku on NHK Radio back on January 3rd 1951 in which he sang "Nagasaki no Kane". He would perform the song again on the 1964, 1973 and 1979 editions.

JUJU -- Remember (The Good Times)

(If any of you at NHK disagree with me putting up the picture, please let me
know and it'll be promptly taken down.)

Recently, I've gotten into watching another NHK program via TV Japan once "Uta Kon"(うたコン)finishes up on Tuesday night. Titled "Sekai wa Hoshiimono ni Afureteru"(世界はほしいモノにあるふれてる...This World is Filled With Wants), it's a show about Japanese buyers for various shops searching all over the world for unique wares, and it stars singer JUJU and actor/singer Haruma Miura(三浦春馬). In all honesty, though, my timing hasn't been too good since due to COVID-19, "Sekai wa Hoshiimono ni Afureteru" has had to curtail its main function of showing the buyers traveling the Earth, so we've been watching reruns for the past few weeks. But those reruns themselves have been entertaining in showing some of those products and the lifestyles that they've helped in shaping in those nations such as Italy and Denmark.


The theme song for the show is performed by JUJU and it's called "Remember (The Good Times)". Now, I've been hearing about JUJU for years and have seen her appear on the aforementioned "Uta Kon" a few times here and there, but wasn't aware that she had initially aimed to become a jazz singer. I had assumed that it was always about the R&B through soul and hip-hop with her, though she also sings in those genres.

So I was pleasantly surprised on hearing the full version of "Remember". The theme only gets a very brief appearance on the show, and it's so quiet that I couldn't even identify it as a Big Band swing number. It's just a shade under three minutes but during its short time, it manages to pack in a lot of good ol' jazzy schmaltz. "Remember" is the first track on JUJU's 3rd jazz cover album "Delicious ~ JUJU's Jazz 3rd Dish" released in December 2018, and for whatever bizarre reason, I've also treated the final month of the year with all of that Xmas cheer to be a fine time for jazz. Kiyoshi Matsuo(松尾潔)wrote the lyrics for the song (as well as produce the entire album) with Daisuke Kawaguchi(川口大輔)providing the melody and handling the arrangements. "Delicious" hit No. 11 on Oricon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Kirinji -- Koi no Kehai(恋の気配)


It was my anime buddy who first informed me about the singer-songwriter kotringo(コトリンゴ), aka Rieko Miyoshi三吉里絵子)because of her version of the classic folk song "Kanashikute Yarikirenai"(悲しくてやりきれない)as the theme song for the acclaimed movie "Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni"(この世界の片隅に)that we watched at his place a few years ago. Then, I realized on watching episodes of one of my favourite anime "Koufuku Graffiti"(幸福グラフィティー), the Osaka-born singer had also composed the show's eclectic soundtrack, although the theme songs weren't handled by her.


Another surprise regarding kotringo was in store for me on learning that she had been a member of the band Kirinji(キリンジ)between 2013 and 2017, and she joined one of my favourite bands in the same year that founding member Yasuyuki Horigome(堀込泰行)had left for his own solo work. I read one comment underneath one Kirinji YouTube video which stated that when kotringo was with them that the band was truly special back at that time and that she's still missed.

That is indeed high praise considering that I've been very impressed with Kirinji's last two albums, "Ai wo aru dake, Subete"(愛をあるだけ、すべて)and "Cherish" which were produced after kotringo's departure. I can only imagine what Kirinji must have been like back then, but I got a little inspiration just recently on hearing "Koi no Kehai" (The Sign of Love), a track from Kirinji's 12th album "Neo", released in August 2016 and the final album with kotringo as a band member.

Written and composed by Kirinji vocalist Takaki Horigome(堀米孝樹), kotringo is the main vocalist here, and that delicate and breathy voice of hers really helps lift the amazing and soothing melody. The arrangement is also helped by that quirky spacey keyboard that hints at what Kirinji was going to do in the next two albums. Other lovely ingredients are the onomatopoeia used in the lyrics, the whistling and what sounds like a steel pedal guitar. Something undeniably strange and romantic is taking place surrounding the lyrics depicting the classic illustration of autumn being the season of love fading away in Japanese music.


At this rate, once I return to buying CDs again, I'm going to have to add "Neo" to the Kirinji collection. By the way, the album had the highest ranking in the band's career by placing at No. 11 on Oricon, although I don't know how well their latest album "cherish" has fared.

Wyenra (ゑんら) - UKIYO

I hope everyone has been dealing with these times the best way possible. I sure am trying, amidst online classes and assignments, to dedicate myself to my hobbies, including the Animal Crossing craze.

While exercising, I have been listening to some music I wanted to pick up for a while, mostly modern aidoru. One of these is the album I am going to cover.

 

Wyenra (ゑんら) is one of my favorite idol groups of the last few years. It was formed in 2018 after Hikari Takiguchi and Misato Miira (formerly known as Misato Misaki) departed from their former group to seek creative independence. They scouted Hikari's younger sister and also an idol, Kirara, and set to produce their own act. The peculiar name is based on the smoke youkai Enra/Enenra, derived of the wish of becoming an unrestricted musical act. However, the theme of Japanese youkai and other folklore is recurrent in the group's songs and overall aesthetic.

Last year's UKIYO is the first full album of the group, promoted with the tagline "looking to become 'scary-cute'." Mixing some traditional idol music elements with waltzy and techno sounds, each song has its own charm and I will be covering a few of my favorites.



The first track of the album is Unbalance (アンバランス), which I consider Wyenra's trademark song. It is has a distinctive pop sound and it is very catchy, with repetitive but nice guitar instrumentals and phrases accompained by drums that keep the mind focused in the tune. The composition is courtesy of koma'n, a singer-songwriter who rose to fame doing Vocaloid covers and has been responsible for a few of Wyenra's songs. The group's leader Misato is also their creative producer, penning most of the lyrics, as well as providing the illustrations for the cover arts and merchandise. I think Unbalance is a very good entrance into Wyenra's sound, but definitely only a fraction of what they have to offer.


This is what I'm talking about. Mayoi Jibakurei (迷い地縛霊) is one of my absolute favorite Wyenra songs. The title translates to something like "lost landbound spirit" - the ghost that cannot understand why it died, so it stays tied to the place of death. Judging by the lyrics, this can be taken as a metaphor, which amplifies the sort of despair and hurry one can feel while listening to the song. This track really is one of its kind and helps defining the "scary" side of Wyenra's character.

Retro Hanako (レトロ花子) is a softer tune based on the popular urban legend of the toilet-haunting ghost "Hanako-san". With an almost acoustic-sounding arrangement, this song makes me feel nostalgic, with the lyrics also alluding to reminiscing about the memories of Hanako-chan, who lives in the subject's memory even after they became an adult, even talking about... Being Hanako-chan themselves. Who knows?

Remember the tagline for this album - Horror Kawaii (ホラーかわいい) is a very upbeat traditional idol song that mixes a bit of sadness and despair with cuteness and romantic love. The lyrics were penned by the whole group while the composition is also credited to koma'n. Misato and Hikari's former group drop was also known for high-tempo cutesy songs such as this one, so it's nice to see them exploring a similar formula with a more individual twist.


To wrap it up, this is probably my most listened song in the past month: Yakuneko (厄猫). This is a very fun piece composed by Jun Matsumoto, frequent member of support bands for artists such as Chara and Kana Adachi. The bass and piano sounds jump around while the members sing about a "mischievous cat, deceiving cat" who looks to no means to see their needs met, leaving the subject with no other option than to stop caring about them anymore. I got hooked into this one since I first listened to the instrumental version.

It is my first time covering an entire album and it was hard to squeeze it down to a few tracks, but I feel like this is already one of the albums of the year for me. It's a breath of fresh air since Wyenra keep on doing their own thing, not overlapping too much with any other modern idols and also offering a hint of nostalgic sounds and a good variety of music. While it's definitely still an idol group with its perks and quirks, I would recommend giving a listen to this album and, if possible, the previous mini-album KEMURI, which has some more songs worth looking into.

I hope everyone stays as safe as possible and do not forget to keep doing your favorite things. I will definitely keep listening to a lot of idol music. Some of Akina's albums are up for streaming and a few concerts were uploaded to YouTube, so I might get around to a re-re-re-relisten...

Iyo Matsumoto -- Love Me Tender(ラブ・ミー・テンダー)


It seems as if those first two singles by 80s aidoru Iyo Matsumoto(松本伊代)were quite happy with "used" song titles from the past. There is, of course, her debut single and arguably her most famous song, "Sentimental Journey"(センチメンタルジャーニー)whose namesake happens to belong to one of the jazz classics from yesteryear.


Then, there is her follow-up single released in February 1982, "Love Me Tender". Of course, there was a 1956 ballad with that very title by the King of Rock and Roll that has become a common selection at the karaoke bars and boxes for decades.

Iyo-chan's "Love Me Tender" is neither rock n' roll nor a ballad, to say the least. It is a cute little aidoru ditty that seems to have incorporated a bit of that Doobie Bounce and a background chorus that had me thinking of the Manhattan Transfer or the Norman Luboff Choir from the 1960s. Written by Reiko Yukawa(湯川れい子)and composed by Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平), it's a fun and smooth teenybopper song that can go with her "Sentimental Journey", which had also been created by the tandem of Yukawa and Tsutsumi. "Love Me Tender" just missed out on another Top 10 ranking by peaking at No. 11 and it finished 1982 as the No. 89 single of the year. According to J-Wiki, it stands as her 3rd-most successful single, selling a little over 160,000 records.


Monday, May 25, 2020

Masayuki Kishi -- Machikado no Pretender(街角のプリテンダー)



Looks like we've come to the Bailey's Irish Crème portion of City Pop this afternoon. This is the sweet and mellow "Machikado no Pretender" (Street Corner Pretender) which was written, composed and performed by Masayuki Kishi(岸正之).

Basically the title track from his 1984 2nd and final album to date, "Pretender", I couldn't relax any more in my chair without breaking laws of physics while listening to it. Those languid keyboards keep the atmosphere on a very even but gently swaying keel while the listener is perhaps enjoying that liqueur I mentioned off the top. It's good ol' City Pop/J-AOR but I can't really see the setting in any sort of swanky club; it's more of a Sunday afternoon hammock environment, in my opinion. In addition, the arrangement here reminds me somewhat of what Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実)was doing at around the same time.

The other observation is that there have been a lot of kayo with the word machikado in the title. Not quite sure what the special significance of the street corner is, but maybe it's about that fateful person at the urban crux of two important directions in terms of both time and space. Without getting into too much philosophizing, I'll leave it at that.

Yukari Yamamoto -- Mou Sukoshi Jikan wo Kudasai(もう少し時間を下さい)


There's that taste of summer out there. It's sunny and warm but we Canadians all still have to do that social distancing that we've been performing for the past couple of months. Incidentally, my congratulations to Japan for having its restrictions lifted; I really hope that any second wave of COVID-19 there is minimal.

It was an hour's walk all around including 5 minutes within the establishment itself, but for the first time in over 2 months, I actually set foot in a bricks-and-mortar shop that didn't sell food or medicine. My target was an office supplies store not too far from my home where I needed to pick up a printer toner cartridge and some printer paper. Didn't particularly go all starry-eyed when I was inside while remarking "So, this is what a store looks like! It's bigger on the inside than on the outside. It's a TARDIS!". I simply picked up, purchased and went home.


Let's start this final full week of May on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" with a 1970s aidoru who didn't stay on that career track for very long. I present Yukari Yamamoto(山本由香利)from the city of Kobe and Oita Prefecture who made her debut in September 1975 after tutelage from the late songwriter Masaaki Hirao(平尾昌晃)with "Komugi Iro no Omoide"(小麦色の思い出...Golden Brown Memories).

Actually, though, the song for this article is the B-side for that single, "Mou Sukoshi Jikan wo Kudasai" (A Little More of Your Time). It's a 1970s tune so wistful that it should have adorned the soundtrack for a shojo anime during that decade. Written by Haruo Hayashi(林春生)and composed by Hirao himself, the silky strings and those certain keyboards smack the nerves just right for that relaxing nostalgia flavour.

Between 1975 and 1978, Yamamoto released 6 singles and one album, and at the time, she had been groomed to be that teenybopper singer, but it looks like sometime down the line, she decided that she was better suited for acting. Since then she has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Takeshi Kitayama -- Tsugaru Otoko Bushi(津軽おとこ節)


This enka tune probably comes under the category of "You can take the man out of his hometown, but you can't take the hometown out of the man".

Yup, Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎)under his songwriting pen name of Joji Hara(原譲二)was responsible for creating "Tsugaru Otoko Bushi" (A Tsugaru Man's Melody) for his deshi and son-in-law, enka singer Takeshi Kitayama(北山たけし). This is his April 2018 single, and as would be the case for any traditional kayo with a geographical region, "man" and "melody" in the title, it's got a goodly amount of brio in the music featuring shamisen and shakuhachi.


According to the YouTube explanation for the above shortened video, "Tsugaru Otoko Bushi" was the single commemorating Kitayama's 15th anniversary in the singing business, and though he was actually born at the southern end of the nation in Fukuoka, the way that he proudly sings this particular enka, he sounds like a man born and bred in the northern part of the country in the snowy Tsugaru district of Aomori Prefecture. As I mentioned off the top, the lad may have left Tsugaru for the capital but Tsugaru never left his heart, and he's probably more than happy to return to the home and hearth once his job is done south.

Kohei Dojima -- Benjamin, Sora wo Niramu(ベンジャミン、空を睨む)


Yep, yep...I pulled off another Van Paugam on Friday night. This time, it was with the J Utah drive through nighttime Singapore (I hope that Noelle and Karen are doing OK there) while listening to "Light Mellow ~ Moment". Love that drive up the main street approaching the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel at about 47:00.


There was a Kohei Dojima(堂島孝平)song on "Moment" but it wasn't available on YouTube. So, seeing that it's been a while since I put up one of his tunes, I found "Benjamin, Sora wo Niramu" (Benjamin, Stares at the Sky), a track from his 12th album, "VIVAP", released in July 2010. Written and composed by Dojima, I'm not quite sure what the tune is about....perhaps Benjamin is a curious fellow (or dog) entranced by what the sky offers, but it's a plenty catchy pop number with buzzy guitar, and I can only imagine old Ben is having a ball of a time outside....with some strutting and dancing about.

"Benjamin" may not quite fit the evening drive through Singapore, but hey, I still quite the like the cut of Dojima's jib musically speaking. "VIVAP" has got the singer cutting a particularly whimsical figure on the cover.

Maaya Sakamoto -- Kayoubi(火曜日)


Realizing that considering the title, maybe I'm jumping the gun by putting this one up on a Sunday, but it's a very pleasant Sunday-worthy ballad.


I'm talking about singer-seiyuu Maaya Sakamoto's(坂本真綾)"Kayoubi" (Tuesday), a track from her November 2019 10th album "Kyou dake no Ongaku"(今日だけの音楽...Music for Just Today). This was another recommendation from that commenter who had also recommended fellow voice actor Saori Hayami's(早見沙織)"Yuuei"(遊泳)the other day with the reason being that both songs were created by former Kirinji member Yasuyuki Horigome(堀込泰行).

Like Hayami and "Yuuei", Sakamoto's "Kayoubi" has nothing to do with an anime as far as I know, but sometimes I think it would have been placed as an ideal ending tune for one. It's as calming as chamomile tea as the singer reminisces about a past romance that was abruptly ended on a Tuesday, and judging from the music, it looks like it was a fairly bittersweet breakup with the emphasis on the sweet part. The arrangement reminds me a bit of a Tomita Lab concoction. As for "Kyou dake no Ongaku", the album managed to reach No. 11 on Oricon.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Special Jam Company with Shun Sakai -- Dancing Waves


From listening to the "Light Mellow ~ City" album, I encountered a nice collaboration between a singer Shun Sakai(酒井俊)and a fusion band Special Jam Company centered around alto saxophonist Genji Sawai(沢井原児and keyboardist Yasuo Ogata(緒方泰男. This unit was formed due to a session one night involving singer-songwriter Minako Yoshida(吉田美奈子)at a live house called Jirokichi in one of the outer hubs of Tokyo, Koenji. As for Sakai, she has specialized in blues and jazz and made her debut in 1976 with a stint at a Roppongi club called Misty.


Now, the track from "City" by Special Jam Company and Sakai, "Indian Summer"インディアン・サマーisn't anywhere on YouTube, but I was able to find its trackmate, "Dancing Waves" from their 1979 album "City Vibration" (nice shoutout to the Holiday Inn, by the way). With jazz guitarist Junshi Yamagishi(山岸潤史and Sandii on backing vocals, "Dancing Waves" makes for a nice percolating number with a good stretch of jazz instrumental thanks to Sakai's free-as-a-bird vocals, unrelenting samba-esque percussion, light fingers on the piano, and Sawai's honeyed sax solo.


Good heavens! I don't know how long it's been since I've stayed at a Holiday Inn. The first one was probably in Montreal back in 1980 but the last time may have been for a wedding reception in Toronto later that decade. I had no complaints about it but it was never all that much about the amenities for me. As long as the mattress was firm enough and the bedbugs didn't bite, I was cool.

Hi-Fi Set -- Shiawase ni Naru tame(幸せになるため)


The thumbnail photo is from my Musashi-Kosugi-residing friends' condo. It's a nice sunset shot and an appropriate one for this song.


"Shiawase ni Naru tame" (To Be Happy) was vocal group Hi-Fi Set's(ハイ・ファイ・セット)6th single from June 1976. Written by Yumi Arai(荒井由実), composed by Kunihiko Murai(村井邦彦)and arranged by Masataka Matsutoya(松任谷正隆), this reassuring country-type ballad (thank you, harmonica) is about the trip home at dusk and despite the hardships, things will be OK. Maybe loved ones are apart due to circumstances but they will be back together again. I would say that the song would even be fine for all of us under our current circumstances.

Right now, Ontario hasn't had a great week in terms of COVID-19 but the Premier had warned us some time ago that there were going to be darker days ahead. But by the same token, I'm hoping that there will be some brighter ones coming up, too.

Hiromi Iwasaki -- Akai Ito(赤い糸)


Really nice start to the weekend, and I'm not just talking about the summery weather outside that Toronto is feeling.


I wrote about Hiromi Iwasaki's(岩崎宏美)huge 1982 hit "Madonna-tachi no Lullaby"(聖母たちのララバイ)all the way back in July 2012, and when I did so, I had also been hoping that I would also be able to cover the B-side of her 28th single. Alas, searching around YouTube hadn't been too successful for many years.

That is, until last night. I was listening to one of my albums and was about to turn in when just for the heck of it, I decided to see if there was anything new in the Iwasaki file on YouTube and so once again as I've been doing for the past 8 years, I threw in "Akai Ito" (Red String) into the search engine on the site. Well, voila! The B-side was there!😍

Now, why have I been obsessing about a B-side for a singer's mega hit for almost a decade? Well, a lot of it is for sentimental reasons. When my brother had gone on his Toronto Japanese Language School graduation trip in the summer of 1982, a year after my own odyssey there, he brought back a few 45" singles including "Madonna-tachi no Lullaby", and both sides got a lot of airplay. To be honest, I haven't caught sight of the record in my home for decades, but I know that it's hidden somewhere in the dark corners.

The other reason for my search is that, well, it is a Hiromi song, and very frequently, a Hiromi song, even if it's not an A-side, is still quite polished in my estimation. "Akai Ito" also falls under that category, and just to let you know, I still have been able to listen to it despite the missing situation of that 45" because I managed to pick up a few BEST albums for the lass with her A-sides and B-sides years ago. "Akai Ito", when compared to its much more dramatic A-side, certainly comes off as a B-side; it may not be as flashy but it's got that certain air of mystery and wistfulness with an arrangement by Mitsuo Hagita(萩田光雄)that has a similar urban contemporary sheen to that of the more pop version of "Madonna-tachi no Lullaby" that is the A-side.

Asunaro(あすなろ)was responsible for the melody while Hikaru Yamazaki(山崎光)provided the lyrics. Back in 1982, when I still trying to grapple with the fact that I'd fallen hard for Japanese pop culture, I had no idea what this red string was all about. Now I know that it has something to do with the red string of fate that's an East Asian belief...something often along the lines of star-crossed lovers. For me, though, "Akai Ito" is just another one of those "missing" songs that I've been searching for and able to find again online, much to my happiness. Hopefully, it stays up for a good while. Oh, as a P.S., the last reason that I've been loving that single? Hiromi's splendid visage on the cover!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Kenjiro Sakiya -- Lavender no Naka de(ラベンダーの中で)



I did visit Hokkaido years ago but only Sapporo, so I missed out on the famous lavender fields of Furano. As the video above from the YouTube channel, Good Day Hokkaido, shows you, the lavender spreads out like a huge rolling carpet to produce what is probably one of the most famous landscapes in Japan. Since I've missed my opportunity, I think the only lavender that I'll come across in the near future will still be through an aerosol can.


Now, according to Wikipedia, lavender isn't native to South America but man, am I really liking this Latin-spiced song by Kenjiro Sakiya(崎谷健次郎)titled "Lavender no Naka de" (In the Lavender). Originally from his March 1988 album "Realism", that's some nice bossa nova arranged in this peppy number by Sakiya and lyricist Rinko Yuuki(有木林子). And that arrangement reminds me a bit of 80s group Matt Bianco. I may need to spray the room with lavender after hearing this...well, I may need to spray the room regardless after dinner. All joking aside, this song alone would make me want to purchase "Realism", if available.

However, though, a remastered version of "Realism" was released last year with a healthy number of bonus tracks. Happily, "Lavender no Naka de" is still in there.

Meiko Nakahara -- Yoru wa Musical(夜はMusical)


Matt K. let me know about this song by Meiko Nakahara(中原めいこ). As we City Pop fans know, she was one of the mainstays for music of the genre throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s.


Well, according to the first song on Side B of the original LP for her May 1985 album "Chaki Chaki Club", Nakahara can take things back a few decades into jazz. And so she came up with "Yoru wa Musical" (The Night is a Musical), another one of her creations with Jun Sato(佐藤準)handling the arrangement.

Sounding a bit like "As Time Goes By" from "Casablanca" here and even Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" there, Nakahara looks perfectly at home behind the ivories in that really swanky club somewhere in Ginza, Roppongi or Akasaka. It's nice to know that she can also handle a good torch ballad from the old days. My only experience in actually seeing a musical was on those two cruises in the Caribbean a few years ago, but if I can ever see one downtown at Massey Hall or The Princess of Wales Theatre, I would pay my way to see "Crazy For You", that tribute to Gershwin. I even bought the soundtrack years ago, but I've yet to see it in person.