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.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mariya Takeuchi -- Variety

Mariya Takeuchi's (竹内まりや)6th album, "Variety", released in April 1984, was her first one since coming back from a 3-year hiatus which included her getting married to Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎). It was also her first one in which she handled both writing and composing chores for all of the songs while Yamashita was in charge of the overall production. Four bona fide hits came from this 11-track album, including the first one above titled "Mou Ichido"もう一度...One More Time). And it's an aptly titled song considering her return from such a long layoff. With backup from her husband on vocals and most of the instruments, "Mou Ichido" has that combination consisting of some of her pre-hiatus American standards sound and a renewed strength and maturity in her voice...especially in her last line of "Let's try again." And though I'm not sure it was intentional or not, the husband-and-wife tandem on the very first track may have signaled to listeners "I'm back and we're doing this together!"

"Variety" was also a very appropriate title for the album. Takeuchi does give tribute to the American musical genres that she did in the past such as country music, Connie Francis-style pop balladry and uptempo standards. But she also gives straight-out rock n' roll and bossa nova a try as well. However, the standout track for me is the 2nd one for "Plastic Love". Up to that time, I didn't think she'd ever written, let alone sing, a track this cool and urban. This song takes the listener firmly into Steely Dan/Manhattan Transfer's pop mode territory. I just love the horns and Yamashita's guitar here. And if you listen very carefully, you may just be able to hear Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子) backing her buddy up near the end.

(a Vocaloid version)

The third track is "Let's Get Married"....a lovely ballad hinting back at Takeuchi's 50s standards days but again with that renewed vigor. Since this tune was made, I'm sure it's been used thousands of times at real wedding parties. The lyrics are slightly too saccharine for my tastes, but I was more of a melody guy anyways. The pipe organs were played by another old friend of the family, Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一) of YMO, and Ernie Watts provides the sax solo. As for the video, I'd like to give my thanks to the good people at Idolmaster; perhaps it was an otaku's video proposal.

Just to throw one more track into the mix, this one is "Broken Heart". It has never been put into any of Takeuchi's BEST compilations but I think this song (along with every other song on the album) is also well worth listening to. It's pure AOR!

"Variety" was a triumphant return for Takeuchi. It hit the No. 1 spot on Oricon and became the 11th-ranked album for the year. For any of her fans, this is one of the albums that needs to be bought. For those who can read Japanese, there is a track-by-track review of the album.

And now there is a follow-up to the album.

VARIETY (1984)
"No dogs were harmed in the production of this blog entry."

Variety in music. Variety in fashion.

"Going to a sock hop, I see."

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