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, August 7, 2020

Takuya Takahashi -- Fantastic Love In Wonderland

Found another one of those obscure artists in City Pop land recently. In contemporary times, the name Tatsuya Takahashi(高橋拓也)may ring a bell with sports fans since according to J-Wiki, one person with that moniker is a rugby player while another fellow with the same name right down to the kanji is a soccer player.

However, the Tatsuya Takahashi for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" purposes is a singer-songwriter in the City Pop/AOR genres, I believe. I managed to find a brief biography on the fellow on a pretty threadbare site. Apparently, he was born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1954. Graduating from Toyo University in Tokyo, Takahashi joined a band, LOU, in 1975, and at a national folk music festival where musicians Hiroshi Kamayatsu(かまやつひろし)and Kazuo Zaitsu(財津和夫)were judging, the band was able to win the grand prize. About a year, the band came out with an album "LOU" which was produced by Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司). As a solo singer, Takahashi debuted in 1979 with a single "Kanashimi no Festa"(哀しみのフェスタ...Melancholy Festa) and an album "Feel So Cool".

Then came his second album "Fantastic Love In Wonderland" in 1980. I was fortunate to come across the A-side of this release thanks to the uploader Kitaefu C Team no Blog(きたへふCチームのブログ)some weeks ago. The first track is "Coast-Line", written and composed by Takahashi, which is, as its title would suggest, a car stereo-friendly tune for that drive down the shore. With a slight whisper in his voice, which sounds like a fairly less nasal version of Hiromi Go's(郷ひろみ)vocals, he does make summer all the more inviting.

At 4:20 is "Natural Life" which was composed by Takahashi but written by Yumi Morita(森田由美). It has more of that City Pop beat with a bit of West Coast AOR, and I swear that light rasp in his voice here makes him sound more like a proto Hideaki Tokunaga(徳永英明)perhaps at a lower octave. Then at 8:19, Morita and Takahashi team up once more for "Ni-dome no Summer Story"(2度目のSUMMER STORY...The Second Summer Story) which kinda threw me for a loop at first since I'd thought that the jokers in the recording studio decided to ratchet up Takahashi's voice before I realized that it was a duet between him and a female singer who I couldn't track down. "Ni-dome no Summer Story" has an old-timey jazzy circus sort of feeling to it, rather reminiscent of some of Shinji Harada's(原田真二)works.

"Shadow on the Wall" at 12:09 by Morita and Takahashi takes things back to a City Pop with a cool stomping beat as the singer takes on a more crooning tone. The wailing guitar of the genre is welcomed back here and it gets my compliments, and especially with the added background chorus in the second verse, I get some Makoto Matsushita and Fujimal Yoshino(松下誠・芳野藤丸)vibes. Of course, there is also a sax solo and the whole exercise begs one to hit the pavement amid the skyscrapers of Tokyo.

Finally, Track 5 to complete Side A is "Akiya-Sunset" at 16:11 which begins with what sounds like a gentle surf hitting the sands. This final song which was taken care of entirely by Takahashi is not surprisingly a very relaxing and classy AOR tune with a touch of Latin which demands that titular sunset and a few drinks on an ocean-facing balcony.

Well, thanks Takuya (and Kitaefu C Team no Blog)! You sold me on "Fantastic Love In Wonderland" and I would love to get my own copy if it even exists on CD.

The YouTube channel also provides Side B right here but I'll leave that for a future date. According to one other miniscule page, Takahashi released another single in 1979 called "Secret Season" which was apparently arranged by Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一). Plus at Hip Tank Records, you can also see the cover of that first single by Takahashi, "Kanashimi no Festa" with the smiling visage of the singer himself.


  1. What a cool find! This album isn't even available on Amazon's Japanese site, so it must be relatively obscure. Takuya's somewhat raspy vocal delivery adds a unique flavor to some rather tasty arrangements. 'Shadow on the Wall' is a stand-out track with that infectious groove and superb guitar + sax solo. Shades of Chu Kosaka and Akira Terao.

    1. Morning, Michael.

      Yeah, it looks like unless Tower Records decides to give the album some of that remastering love, it may be up to auctions to track this rarity down. It's a good album and I would be interested in hearing Side B pretty soon.


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