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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Seri Ishikawa/Reiko Kato -- Moonlight Surfer (ムーンライト・サーファー)

I think one of the reasons that the Japanese have been so much in love with Hawaii is surfing. There is nothing more that hints at the pure hedonistic pleasure of leisure than hanging ten on that surfboard on a big wave. And for folks who have often been perceived to approach the act of work like a military mission, hitting the surf must feel like to some as absolute joy.

"Moonlight Surfer" is a song that I've got a couple of copies of. I've got the original by Seri Ishikawa (石川セリ)but over the past Christmas as I was listening to one of my latest acquisitions in the form of "Moonlight Island" by Haruko Kuwana(桑名晴子), there was a cover of Ishikawa's 8th single from 1979. However, the Kuwana version cannot be found anywhere on the Net but hearing it on the CD was enough for me to talk about the original.

The single may have come out in 1979 but it was originally the first track on Ishikawa's 3rd album, "Kimagure"(気まぐれ...Whimsy)which was released in June 1977. Written and composed by rock singer Haruo Nakamura(中村治雄), it's about that girl tagging along with her guy who just has this thing for trying to catch that wave at night. There is that hint of 50s in the arrangements, although the tinkling piano intro had me first thinking whether it was Yuming behind the melody as was the case with "Asayake ga Kieru Mae ni"(朝焼けが消える前に), but it soon became apparent that it musically described that trip down to the beach in that old DeSoto with the surfboards tied up on top.

Marcos V. covered pin-up model-turned-singer/actress/tarento Reiko Kato(かとうれいこ)for her song "Love Motion", and he mentioned about her Eurobeat tunes. Kato's cover of "Moonlight Surfer" had none of that influence, instead going for a slightly reggae beat when it was released as her 3rd single in October 1991. I never knew Kato as a singer since I primarily saw her as a regular on various variety shows on the telly, but she's got a pretty good voice, and especially with her cover here, she does have quite a bit of enthusiasm for the material.

Sorry, only daylight surfers here.


  1. Hi, J-Canuck.

    I really liked this song with the Hawaiian “luau” sound, but the Oriental sounding synths that were slightly added in the second half caught me really off-guard, to be honest. They were a nice addition, though.

    As for Kato, she played with the Eurobeat sound very early in her career, but soon dumped the sound around the time “Moonlight Surfer” came out” and started recording more acoustic types of pop songs in future releases. In fact, Eurobeat as a genre was not going anywhere after 1990, and it would have to wait until 1995 to make huge waves in J-Pop charts again with Namie Amuro’s “TRY ME ~Watashi wo Shinjite~”.

    Now, about her cover, I was also surprised by how well she managed to sing it. As she was a gravure aidoru, we would never expect her to be a nice singer like she was. I like her very much and still plan to buy one of her old CDs someday (so many things to buy that even hurts).

    In the end, even if I’m a Reiko Kato symphatizer, I still prefer the original version.

    1. Hi, Marcos.

      Yeah, Seri Ishikawa was a recent discovery and she's got an interesting delivery and choices of song. Definitely far away from the enka and aidoru of that time.

      I was indeed pleasantly surprised by Kato. Usually when I think of pin-up idols and/or tarento releasing a record, the Yellow Alert starts sounding off in my head, but Kato was pretty darn mellow.


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