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 20, 2021

Naomi Chiaki -- Amagumo (song)(あまぐも)


Commenter Justin, a few days ago, referred me to Xerf Xpec's recent upload, smoky singer Naomi Chiaki's(ちあきなおみ)January 1978 studio album "Amagumo" (Rain Clouds) . She recorded quite the conversation piece since it brings together three musical acts that I hadn't expected would work together. For one thing, Chiaki, someone that I've usually associated with Mood Kayo and regular Japanese pop, has the backup of the band Godiego(ゴダイゴ), and for another, all of Side A of the original record was written and composed by the late singer-songwriter Eigo Kawashima(河島英五), the man behind the introspective folk classic and karaoke favourite, "Sake to Namida to Otoko to Onna" (酒と泪と男と女).

I've heard the first couple of tracks including the title track from "Amagumo", and I think that all involved including Chiaki were going for something different from their own worlds. At this point, I'd say that the album was perhaps going into a more City Pop direction but without having heard the other tracks thus far, I will go with 1970s New Music for now.

However with the first track, "Amagumo", there is something very sensual and sultry which matches the smokiness of Chiaki's voice. In the first several seconds of the song, there is a feeling of early morning hours but when all of the instruments come into literal play, I realize that it is most likely a case of a setting sometime during a rainy day as the title hints at, with Chiaki or her avatar being in a very hip coffee house somewhere in Shinjuku or Roppongi while she stares through the window with spatters of raindrops.

Kawashima's melody weaves among City Pop, jazz and the more urbane corner of New Music so it's not particularly easy to categorize "Amagumo" into one particular genre. But there are obviously no complaints from me about it as this song also reminds me of how another wonderfully cool chanteuse, Mai Yamane(山根麻衣), started out a few years later. One last observation about the album itself is how similar the silhouette of Chiaki is to the one given on the cover of Bill Evans' famous "Waltz for Debby". Was this some sort of homage to the amazing jazz pianist?

From Wikipedia


  1. As a long-time lurker, it's very surreal to see a post emerge from a suggestion I made! I'm a big fan of Naomi and just loved listening to this album. Another big interest is hearing the same guys behind Monkey Magic backing Naomi with such moody, sultry grooves.

    I don't know the policy for tipping you off to more songs I find browsing on YouTube, but I do have some more favorites I've come across and would love to know more about, if you're interested. :)

    I do want to add a possible correction in that, according to Discogs, Naomi did do at least 4 more albums before retiring (two cover albums of chanson songs, then two kayo albums of original material).

    1. Hi, Justin.

      Good to read that you did come across the article. You are quite right about the correction (and thanks for that). It turns out that "Amagumo" was her final album for just Nippon Columbia and not her last release overall. I have made the correction above.

      As for letting me know about new songs, I'm fine with that but I also have a rather large backlog of songs which I am trying to get through so perhaps once in a while, I should be OK with a suggestion.

    2. Hello J,

      Yes, it took a bit of time finding free time to fully write out my thoughts. It's also my first time commenting on a Blogspot blog, so thanks for bearing any mistakes on my part ^^;

      That's totally fair about the suggestions, thanks for letting me know!

    3. Hello again, and no problems here. Thanks very much for your comments and any suggestions that you may have in the future.


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