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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Kozo Murashita -- Suna no Onna(砂の女)


I guess that title "Suna no Onna" (Woman in the Dunes) must have unlocked something within the Japanese to make it reusable over and over again. I know that I just wrote about Nako Mizumura's(水村なこ) "Suna no Onna" a few minutes ago, and perhaps there was at least one other song with that same title lurking somewhere in the annals of "Kayo Kyoku Plus". Of course, there is the 1962 novel "Suna no Onna" along with its cinematic adaptation.

Well, after finishing with Mizumura's song, I noticed that there was a song titled "Suna no Onna" by the late singer-songwriter Kozo Murashita(村下孝蔵). I've taken this as an opportunity since I've always enjoyed his material and I haven't actually written up anything about his music in a few least not since his 1991 "Kono Kuni ni Umarete Yokatta"(この国に生まれてよかった). And hey, let's make this a thing with the "Suna no Onna" bandwagon.

Murashita's "Suna no Onna" was written and composed by the singer and arranged by Kimio Mizutani(水谷公生). It was the first track on Murashita's 7th original album "Hidamari"(陽だまり...Sunny Spot) from October 1987. The singer first started out as the amiable folk balladeer but going further into the 1980s, he apparently did like his work on the synthesizers including his big 1983 hit, "Hatsukoi"(初恋). "Suna no Onna" has got the technology in spades so that I couldn't help but place it as a technopop tune although it doesn't go too hard into YMO territory. "Hidamari" managed to peak at No. 33 on Oricon.

Nako Mizumura -- Suna no Onna(砂の女)


Welcome to another Hump Day on KKP! It's been a fairly dreary Wednesday so far here in Toronto. We're not getting soaked but neither are we getting any sun today.

To start off our middle-of-the-week session of "Kayo Kyoku Plus", we have another singer who's a mystery lady. I couldn't find a stitch of information about Nako Mizumura(水村なこ)outside of the fact that she did release some singles here and there, one of them being the 1971 record "Suna no Onna" (Woman in the Dunes). The melody by Yasumi Matsuo*(松尾安巳)with arrangement by Koji Makaino(馬飼野康二)has that late 1960s and early 1970s kayo rumble that I've often associated the more upbeat songs with, and it was interesting when I saw terms such as "kayo soul" and "kayo disco" to describe it. Hmmm...maybe I should have used those in Labels right from the start. In any case, if anyone out there has any information on Mizumura, please let us know. Even the Yahoo Japan search engine couldn't give me anything. By the way, Mieko Arima(有馬三恵子)came up with the lyrics.

*That first name is an educated guess by me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Okamura Kazuyoshi -- Same to Ningyo(サメと人魚)


To refer back to the previous article regarding enka singer Kouhei Fukuda(福田こうへい), also on "Uta Con"(うたコン)was singer-songwriters Yasuyuki Okamura(岡村靖幸)and Kazuyoshi Saito(斉藤和義). Knowing that the NHK Tuesday-night kayo kyoku program has long proven that it's been far more open than its predecessors in allowing current J-Pop singers and bands onto the show (outside of hard rock and metal acts), it was still a little surprising to see Okamura (I believe Saito has appeared once before). Both Okamura and Saito in their Business Casual gear looked very calm and collected when they were being interviewed, and my albeit wrong impression of Okamura had been of him being super jittery based on his performances on stage for songs like his great "Viva Namida"(ビバナミダ).

Actually, this is the first time that Saito has gotten onto KKP since my knowledge of his discography is still rather embryonic. He was singing the ending theme for the anime "Chibi Maruko-chan"(ちびまる子ちゃん)in the most recent episodes to be seen on the now-defunct TV Japan.

Apparently for the past several months, Okamura and Saito have been together as a duo dubbed Okamura Kazuyoshi(岡村和義). Because it is a name of a duo and not a real person in this case, I haven't done the switching of the names into English fashion as I would for any other individual singer on the byline. They've released other songs but this time (and actually, this digital single will be ready for release as of tomorrow on April 17th), "Same to Ningyo" (A Shark and A Mermaid) is a heartfelt rock ballad. With Saito handling the lyrics and both men tackling music and arrangement, it seems to be a song about two people on opposite sides of the track with one of the couple beseeching the other desperately and perhaps in vain to escape together into a better fate as the titular shark and mermaid. But maybe fate has a sadder if more realistic option for them. Incidentally, the music video stars actress Mai Kiryu(木竜麻生).

Kouhei Fukuda -- Shonai Shigure Sake(庄内しぐれ酒)


Unfortunately, I've never been to Yamagata Prefecture in the Tohoku region of Japan but above, here is a video by YouTuber rivideo3 of the Shonai district by the Sea of Japan. I think once when I was teaching a student, he was telling me a bit about Yamagata and its ramen.

(shortened version)

One reason that I'm starting off with a geography lesson here is that when we were watching "Uta Con"(うたコン)earlier this morning, enka singer Kouhei Fukuda(福田こうへい)made his appearance to sing his latest single, his 15th to be exact, "Shonai Shigure Sake" (Early Winter Sake in Shonai), which was released right on New Year's Day 2024. Written by Toyohisa Araki(荒木とよひさ)and composed by Koji Tokuhisa(徳久広司), it's the story of a man from the titular district who has long since moved to the big city but still missing his hometown to which he can never return to, since apparently according to Araki's lyrics, he sold the family homestead. I can imagine the poor lug drinking a cup of sake to the old home.

For an enka of regret, "Shonai Shigure Sake" possesses a lot of brio (especially with that electric guitar wailing away in there) in its melody. Perhaps the hint is that all is not lost and that he can go back home again, although Fukuda sings that though he wants to head back in the worst way, he simply can't do so now. 

The Fukuda file might be more of an annual thing when it comes to his singles. About a year ago, I wrote about his 14th single, "Tenkuu no Shiro"(天空の城).

Monday, April 15, 2024

Tadao Inoue & 5110 Band -- Cherry-Pink to Kawaii Olive(チェリーピンクとかわいいオリーブ)


I think the above was my Rum & Coke made by the robot bartender on the Harmony of the Seas back in 2017. In retrospect, I don't think it was the right cocktail to challenge the robot on since with a Rum & Coke, it's simply rum and Coca-Cola with none of that shaking needed. But on the other hand, I didn't want to look like Jabba the Hutt in front of my own family because I drank something that was way above my punching level. 

My memories to you are going to go back even further now when I mention Perez Prado's "Cherry-Pink and Apple Blossom-White" from 1955. It's a familiar song by the King of Mambo because it was on that RCA compilation record collection that we got with our huge stereo. Yup, that trumpet does it for me.

Not sure whether the late singer-songwriter Tadao Inoue(井上忠夫)had found inspiration from Prado's magnum opus to create "Cherry-Pink to Kawaii Olive" (Cherry-Pink and Cute Olive) which was the B-side to his 1980 single "Aa, Kimi wa Subete ga Atarashii"(ああ、君はすべてが新しい...Ahh, Everything About You is New). At first, I was a little confused when I heard it. It's certainly a happy tropical margarita of a song with Inoue throwing out the cocktails like Tom Cruise's drinks in "Cocktail" (yes, there was a time when he wasn't Ethan Hunt), but Inoue liberally throws out the title of Side A as part of the lyrics in this song, which had me wondering whether YouTuber Crescent Moon had made a mistake in identifying the song. Yes, I had thought it was "Aa, Kimi wa Subete ga Atarashii" and not "Cherry-Pink to Kawaii Olive" but when I checked out the single's original liner sheet on Google, I could confirm that the song I heard was indeed the B-side and not the A-side. Inoue apparently really enjoyed that title "Aa, Kimi wa Subete ga Atarashii" so much that he was more than happy to sling it around on both sides.

The single was recorded as the final one of four releases in 1979 and 1980 under the name of Tadao Inoue & 5110 Band(井上忠夫と5110・BAND). Reiko Yukawa(湯川れい子)provided the lyrics for "Cherry-Pink to Kawaii Olive" while Tadashige Matsui(松井忠重)arranged Inoue's melody. This record would be the final one for the singer to record under his real name of Tadao which he had used since his days with the Group Sounds band Jackey Yoshikawa and his Blue Comets(ジャッキー吉川とブルー・コメッツ). From 1981, he would release his material under the name Daisuke Inoue(井上大輔).

Time Travel Songs

Good Free Photos

After I put up Kana Hanazawa's(花澤香菜)"Time Machine wa Totsuzen ni"(タイムマシーンは突然に)onto "Kayo Kyoku Plus" the other day, I came to the realization that there were quite a few songs in Japan regarding time travel or at least there was some mention of it in the title. In fact, I found a few that I hadn't covered but perhaps I will in a future article. But in the meantime, here are a few that we did cover over the years.

(1978) Shinji Harada -- Time Travel

(1984) Taeko Ohnuki -- Metropolitan Museum (メトロポリタン美術館)

(1986) Mariya Takeuchi -- Toki no Tabibito(時空の旅人)

(1986) Mariya Takeuchi -- Time Stranger ~ Teco no Tehma(タイムストレンジャー 〜テコのテーマ〜)(check link for "Toki no Tabibito")

(1986) Seiko Matsuda -- Jikan Ryokou (時間旅行)

(2024) Kana Hanazawa -- Time Machine wa Totsuzen ni(タイムマシーンは突然に)

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Taeko Ohnuki -- Koibito-tachi no Jikoku(恋人たちの時刻)


It was a couple of years ago when YouTuber Marty McFlies v2 posted the soundtrack to a 1987 movie called "Koibito-tachi no Jikoku" (Lovers' Time). He quickly made it clear that he wasn't a fan of the album whose music was mostly created by Joe Hisaishi(久石譲), and for me as well, I found it a little too languid for my tastes. Generally, I don't really listen to soundtracks all that frequently now and that even includes the ones by John Williams.

But Marty and I also agree that the Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子)-created theme song for the movie which shares the same title is a lovely one. "Koibito-tachi no Jikoku" indeed plays into the early 1980s atmosphere of the singer-songwriter when she was lovingly embracing some of that wonderful French sound as she collaborated with the late Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一). As arranged by Kazuhiko Kato(加藤和彦)and saxophonist Yasuaki Shimizu(清水靖晃), "Koibito-tachi no Jikoku" waltzes grandly from sadness to hope while Ohnuki has that characteristic soft lilt to her vocals. Of course, for the coolness factor, Shimizu comes in with that solo saxophone which sounds like he was busking on the busy streets of Paris. The song was also a track on Ohnuki's 12th studio album "A Slice of Life" from October 1987. In fact, I gave my own paragraph on the song when I looked at the album back in 2020.