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, March 4, 2012

Yumi Arai/Hi-Fi Set -- Sotsugyou Shashin (卒業写真)

The ultimate graduation song in Japan. And what better song to finally introduce "The Queen of New Music" herself, Yumi Arai(荒い由実), later to be known as Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実), and forever known as Yuming(ユーミン)! She's been in the business for over 40 years, but arguably her very best stuff came from the 70s before she got married to Masataka Matsutoya(松任谷正隆).

Though "Sotsugyou Shashin" (Graduation Photo) talks of looking back on those old high school memories via the leaves of a graduation album, the song has been used in just about every school ceremony and television retrospective at this time of year. And it has been covered by various singers throughout the decades including Ayumi Hamasaki(浜崎あゆみ) and Kobukuro(コブクロ). Even Rita Coolidge did her own version of the song in 2003 through a tribute album to Yuming.

"Sotsugyou Shashin"was released as the second track on Yuming's third album, "COBALT HOUR" in June 1975. The album apparently had a very long run on the charts as it became the 2nd-best selling album for 1976! Her original version, written and composed by the singer herself, has her singing as if she were still a happy-go-lucky high school girl against a bluesy arrangement.

But probably the definitive version belongs to the singing group, Hi-Fi Set. This was a trio consisting of Junko Yamamoto (山本潤子), her husband Toshihiko Yamamoto(山本俊彦)and Shigeru Okawa(大川茂), and they specialized in choral renditions. One bit of shocking trivia is that none other than Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣), one-third of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, was the one who came up with the group's name. Hi-Fi Set's version was actually released as a track on the trio's first and eponymous album and as a single more than 4 months before Yuming's version came out. Their "Sotsgyou Shashin"(arranged by Katsuhisa Hattori...服部克久) sounds more regal for lack of a better word. The song opens with a French horn in a melody that reminds me of some British war vets going over old times in a V.A hospital. At least, that's the way I heard it when I first did so 30 years ago. The song became a successful hit for the group as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.