Credits

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 10, 2013

Yumi Matsutoya, Kazumasa Oda, Kazuo Zaitsu -- Ima Dakara (今だから)



Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my dream supergroup. I was so giddy when I found out that this existed, you could have knocked me over with a feather. "Ima Dakara" (今だから) got three prolific artists writing, composing, and singing a song together at the forefront, Ryuichi Sakamoto (坂本龍一) in the background providing the arrangement, and Sadistic Mika Band's (サディスティック・ミカ・バンド) members, Yukihiro Takahashi (高橋幸宏), Tsugutoshi Goto (後藤次利) and Masayoshi Takanaka (高中正義) included, playing the instruments. By that time, Yuming has already established herself as the reigning Queen of New Music, Sakamoto and Takahashi were techno-pop superstars, and the other guys from Sadistic Mika Band also held respectable positions in the New Music scene. Kazumasa Oda (小田和正) and Kazuo Zaitsu (財津和夫) were well-known as leaders of Off Course and Tulip, former folk bands that were now heading into new directions within City Pop and New Music. I can just picture a group of Toshiba EMI executives sitting at a big table and having a discussion amongst themselves about the easiest way to have that No.1 Weekly Oricon position in the bag, when one of them suggests to just throw a bunch of big-name artists together and see what happens. Their experiment sure worked out, as the single held the No.1 spot not for one but two weeks on the charts, then became No.1-ranked single of the month of June and the 16-ranked single of 1985 with 366,000 units sold. Not too shabby.

"Ima Dakara" itself is an impressive song that succeeds in merging all these talents together and highlighting their individual styles without dragging for too long. The urban-ish pop melody and the light techno arrangement balance each other out well, in my opinion. I'm not sure what Zaitsu's schedule was like at the time, but the composition seems to have more of Yuming and Oda in it and very little of him. What I like the most about the song, though, is how their voices contrast with each other. This is not just a collaboration between three experienced songwriters, but also three very distinctive vocalists, conversing with one another in their unique styles before coming together in glorious harmony at the end of the chorus.


Here's everyone performing the song on June 15th, 1985 at the International Youth Year (国際青年年記念) concert event All Together Now, which was kinda like a Japanese version of Live Aid in a sense that it was a massive multi-stage concert featuring many famous artists and bands. The video quality is poor, but it's just wonderful seeing these three on stage putting on a show with Sakamoto and Sadistic Mika Band backing them up. Or should I call it Sadistic Yuming Band (as they called themselves for this event) featuring Kazumasa Oda and Kazuo Zaitsu? You might've made this observation already, but by mid-80's Yuming has transformed into an energetic stage performer, a far cry from her former days as mellow Yumi Arai.

On a side note, in 2004 Oda and Zaitsu performed a duet version of "Ima Dakara" at Oda's annual Christmas no Yakusoku concert. Youtube doesn't have a video of it, but there was an amusing little banter going on between the two singer-pals as they were introducing the song. Because Yuming couldn't make it to the show for one reason or another, Oda reluctantly announced that he was going to sing her lines while Zaitsu teased him for how awkward that would look. Gotta love those two.

Source: zambotgo from Yahoo! Blogs

2 comments:

  1. Hi, nikala.

    Thanks for posting this song up. Over the years, I had heard about this one but never got around to investigating it...ironic, since I'm a big fan of the lot of them. Just watching the entire bunch on the stage there must have had eyes boggling and jaws dropping. If cellphone cameras had existed back then, they would've been popping all over the arena.

    Listening to the song, probably because Sakamoto had been behind the arrangements, I could even feel a bit of Taeko Ohnuki in there as well. It just has that nice technopoppy feel of Asian.

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  2. Thanks Nikala for this great post on 「今だから」 one of my favorite songs. You're definitely right, this is was an absolute "Avengers" style 'dream team' collaboration with 小田和正, 財津和夫, 坂本龍一, サディスティック・ミカ・バンド and ユーミン all on one song. I kind of wished they had released an entire album together as one unit but I guess that might have been a bit problematic. The live performance video you included was also a great treat indeed as I've never seen the live performance of this song.

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