Looks like "Kayo Kyoku Plus" viewers will be getting a double dose of Akina Nakamori（中森明菜）this week after Marcos V.'s splendid article on the thrilling "Melancholy Festa" (メランコリー・フェスタ) last night. And why not? Folks can compare that 1984 song when Akina was still an early 80s aidoru with that higher-pitched voice to the tracks on her July 1989 album "Cruise" when her vocals were much lower and richer and she had long become that pop superstar in Japan.
I first wrote about "Cruise" almost exactly 9 years ago as one of the early articles on KKP in which I spoke about four of the tracks, and since I already wrote about the circumstances surrounding the July 1989 album's release, you can read about them in the original article. As I may have indicated there, "Cruise" was quite the contemplative and melancholy album with the singer herself seemingly appearing as a beautiful but fragile flower. Crazy as it sounds, I actually neglected to add how it did on the charts: No. 1 on Oricon and the No. 31 album of the year.
Strangely enough, it had been my intent to post this one up on her birthday back on July 13th instead of "Refrain"（リ・フ・レ・イ・ン）, but I gather that I fell under the charms of that B-side to her "Kita Wing"（北ウィング）hit. But allow me to make amends now with the remaining six tracks on "Cruise" after doing four of them in the original article.
When I first heard "Cruise" after purchasing it during my orientation session on the JET Programme in Tokyo, it was akin to having a particularly rich buffet; I hadn't been too fond of her immediately preceding albums but "Cruise" was something that angled a little differently but still there was a lot to digest at great leisure. Track 2, for example, is "Akai Mystery"（赤い不思議...Red Mystery）, a song characterized by Akina's distant and haunting vocals, a just-as-haunting synthesizer, and what sounds like a murmuring bassoon. "Akai Mystery" was written and composed by singer-songwriter Akiko Kosaka（小坂明子）and arranged by Kazuo Shiina（椎名和夫）, and it could have made for the ideal theme song for one of those frequent weekly TV suspense-mystery shows in Japan as doubts are seeping through the cracks of a relationship.
For a song titled "Ranbi"（乱火...Raging Fire）, it actually comes across as a quietly tragic tune thanks to the music and arrangement by Kisaburo Suzuki（鈴木キサブロー）and Koji Makaino（馬飼野康二） respectively. I'm not sure if I've read into Akira Ohtsu's（大津あきら）lyrics correctly but the story rendered here almost feels like some sort of sadomasochism as a woman relentlessly goes through periods of tenderness and despair like the regular tides at the Bay of Fundy.
"Standing in Blue" is a jazzy and relatively upbeat song on "Cruise" that also has some hints of the old exotic kayo of the late 1970s. Written by SHOW, composed by Osny Melo and arranged by Satoshi Nakamura（中村哲）, the song is about someone realizing that a remembrance of an old romance has also become a revelation that they have been able to move onto better pastures since the breakup. I'd like to add there is that torch song feeling, too.