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.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Anri -- Neutral

Yep, just a few more days before we officially enter Summer 2015, so I figure it is time to bring in another Anri(杏里)album. This time, it is "Neutral" from June 1991, her 15th original album whose title sounds awfully bland for a typical Anri release, especially during that time when she (composer) and her go-to team of lyricist Yumi Yoshimoto(吉元由美), arranger Yasuharu Ogura(小倉泰治), and Jerry Hey and his horns were coming up with all those high-octane upbeat tunes. I remember her 13th album, "Circuit of Rainbow" as being one of the first CDs that I bought while working up in the mountains of Gunma; "Neutral" would be one of my last purchases before heading home.

(excerpts from the whole album)

No singles were included on "Circuit of Rainbow", but there were three for "Neutral" including the first track above, "Back to the Basic". Anri took care of both writing and composing duties for her 25th single from June 1991, and I remember it as being the commercial song for a Toshiba VCR. The original music video was pretty dynamic, too, as I recall, with all of the usual fast rhythms and choreography that I had gotten accustomed to hearing and seeing in an Anri tune...with CG.

The album version has the extended mix which starts off with what sounds like an audio time trip through a woman's life (that frankly gets a bit weary with all of the "I love you") before the synths and the Hey horns burst in like gangbusters. Strangely enough, it's not all about the hedonism. In fact, Anri seems to be pushing folks to not focus on the luxury seaside life at the expense of the basics of life. It's my favourite track which is not to say that it's all downhill after that...there are also some other gems.

(refer to itunes above)

One such gem is "Ku-gatsu no Hometown kara"(9月のHometownから...From the September Hometown)which had Anri and Yoshimoto cook up this comfortable song about discovering and savoring the love. It may be set in September but it's one of those songs that can be enjoyed on any Sunday morning although in keeping with the overall theme of the album, the lovers are most likely waking up on some tropical island paradise somewhere. With the summer coming to a close, I'm pretty sure a lot of folks would also love to be in that sort of setting.

(karaoke version)

"Sweet Emotion" is Anri's 24th single from February 1991 which was another oft-heard CM song, this time for Kanebo Cosmetics. I also like the album remix version here as well although I was never all that enamored with the singer's rapping here and in some of the other tracks. All of the typical remixing effects that seemed to have been crammed into the song had me getting nostalgic about all those 12-inch singles that I used to buy on LP back in university.

"Private - Sold Out" has that soul that reminds me of a Kahoru Kohiruimaki(小比類巻かほる)song. It's got that nighttime urban vibe as a couple paint the town red, energized by that first feeling of love for each other. I especially love the horns and sax here. 

The last track also happens to be Anri's 26th single, "Uso nara Yasashiku"(嘘ならやさしく...If It's a Lie, Then Be Gentle)from August 1991. There's also plenty of energy and Hey horns in there but the feeling is decidedly more bitter as the song goes into a relationship on its last legs...with amputation imminent. One half of the soon-to-be former item has decided to shack up with somebody else but just won't blurt it out although the other half is stubbornly holding out for a chance.

"Neutral" managed to reach as high as No. 2 on Oricon but unfortunately didn't place in the annual Top 50 rankings. Obviously, Anri continued to keep on with the summery sounds for many more years, but that period of time from the late 80s into the early 90s ending with this album was the notable one for me when it came to the singer's big embrace of American R&B.

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