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, January 31, 2017

Tomoko Aran -- I'm In Love

Well, considering I've chosen this day to celebrate the 5th anniversary of "Kayo Kyoku Plus", I thought it would be nice to conclude it with a song from my favourite genre of City Pop.

So, why not go with some Tomoko Aran(亜蘭知子)tonight? She may have concocted some of those wonderful summery pop songs for TUBE starting from the middle of the 1980s but earlier on, she was also singing her fair share of cool urban contemporary material.

I found this one mellow tune titled "I'm In Love" from her 3rd album "Fuyuu-Kuukan"(浮遊空間...Floating Spaces)which came out in May 1983. Masatoshi Nishimura(西村麻聡)not only provided the music to this song but was also responsible for the music for most of the tracks on "Fuyuu-Kuukan". Additionally, he co-produced the album with Daiko Nagato(長戸大幸)and arranged all of the tracks, plus he handled the synthesizers during recording; a good amount of multi-tasking there.

Aran provided the lyrics to "I'm In Love" which has that nice vibe reminiscent of some of those old radio-friendly downtown tunes that I used to hear all the time. Her vocals are steady for the most part except for a couple of areas where her voice seems to flutter uncomfortably. Still, I'm not complaining too much here. The album also has another track that I have already written about, "Midnight Pretenders".

Suiyoubi no Campanella -- Aladdin (アラジン)

Well, whatever you want to say about electronic music collective Suiyoubi no Campanella(水曜日のカンパネラ...Wednesday Campanella), they do not lack in imagination when it comes to their music videos.

Nikala provided the first article on KOM_I, Hidefumi Kenmochi(ケンモチヒデフミ)and Dir.F back in April 2015 with "Marie Antoinette" which I thought was a pretty odd title for a technopop tune. But then I read that the band has a thing for naming their songs after figures of folklore and history. Since I first heard about Suiyoubi no Campanella through nikala's article, they've made the leap from indies to major and they've also popped up now and then on episodes of "Music Station".

As I've said, their music videos are all part of the fun. Case in point: "Aladdin" which is a track on their November 2016 digital single, "Superkid". Its music video looks like the group decided to hijack one of the sets from "The Big Lebowski" and have its own little musical. KOM_I provides what looks like her usual off-the-cuff dancing, and even she puts in her own "Lebowski" tribute by licking the bowling ball. All this while I'm hearing a rhythm track that sounds quite a bit like the one that anchored Michael Jackson's "Thriller".

"Aladdin" will be making another appearance in about another week when it shows up as the first track on Suiyoubi no Campanella's 1st album as a major act, "Superman". It's due out on February 8th 2017.

Jun Horie -- Rouge (ルージュ)

Yes, my apologies to Yahoo! Labs for borrowing this photo but I did want to acknowledge that as of yesterday, "Kayo Kyoku Plus" reached its 5th anniversary. It has been quite the lark of a journey since I started things up at the end of January 2012. Over the past 5 years, I've been able to talk with a number of folks who have that same interest in Japanese pop music whether it be Showa Era or Heisei Era, a few of whom have been able to contribute their own articles. Indeed, it has been a good run and although I cannot say with any certainty about how long the trek will last, at this point, I guess the adventure will continue.

Once again, I give my thanks to my fellow contributors JTM, nikala, Marcos V., Noelle, jari, and Larry for their articles over the past several years. And of course, I'm also grateful to all of the commenters for their contributions to the conversation within our own little world.

The very first article I wrote for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" was for Jun Horie's(堀江淳)perky "Memory Glass" (メモリーグラス) from April 1981. This song has remained as one of my musical touchstones from the era that finally got me started down the path of enjoying kayo kyoku. Well then, I think it's most appropriate if I did write another Horie article although (with due respect for the dedicated Horie fans) "Memory Glass" was his only big hit.

"Rouge" was his 2nd single released in October of that same year. This time, the singer-songwriter created this melancholy ballad as a Dear Jane letter. The fellow here has decided to break up with a woman to spare her from any more pain since he now feels that he has been getting too obsessive with her. There's no record about whether "Rouge" charted on Oricon but it was used as the theme song for a TBS drama "Warera Doubutsu Kazoku"(われら動物家族...Our Animal Family).

Also I wanted to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Masaya Nakamura(中村雅哉), the founder of Namco who has been called "the father of Pac-Man" (although wasn't Toru Iwatani who actually designed the game?). He passed away a little over a week ago at the age of 91. While we were all in Japan during that torrid summer of 1981, my classmates enjoyed some tabletop video game fun nearby the Tokyo Prince Hotel...and got some free iced coffee, to boot. That was indeed service! I was never a huge enthusiast about video games but even I enjoyed my occasional round of Pac-Man.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mako Ishino -- Ohkami nanka Kowakunai (狼なんか怖くない)

Hope everyone got through their weekend OK especially with the all of the craziness that's been going on in Canada and the United States over the past couple of days. And that includes the massacre in Quebec City. I can only give my condolences to those who were slain and their families. I've tried not to let too much of the horrors of the outside world seep into this particular nook over the past 5 years but this time I felt that I had to at least acknowledge what has happened.

To go on then to somewhat happier things, I discovered 70s aidoru Mako Ishino's(石野真子)debut single from March 1978, "Ohkami nanka Kowakunai" (I'm Not Afraid of Anything Like A Wolf). It's an adorable piece for Ishino that was written by the legendary Yu Aku(阿久悠)and composed by folk singer Takuro Yoshida(吉田拓郎)with the arrangement done by Shigeru Suzuki(鈴木茂).

I guess the theme for this song would be one of redemption. The wolf that Mako-chan is referring to is a fellow who seems to have a reputation of being rather ravenous for the women but one lady can apparently see right through him and down to the decent guy he really is. As for whether love is putting blinders on the lass, I will have to let you decide on that one.

"Ohkami nanka Kowakunai" may have been released in 1978 but there's something about that says that it could have been something that a teenage Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美)could have done back in her debut year of 1975. That bright and bouncy voice of Ishino also reminded me of the vocals of young Miss Iwasaki back then. And it was a nice touch on whoever choreographed Ishino's performance with the shadow puppet version of a wolf.

As a debut single, it didn't do too badly, getting as high as No. 17 on the Oricon charts. However, she would get her most successful song nearly a couple of years later with "Haru La!La!La!"(春ラ!ラ!ラ!)

Hachiro Kasuga -- An' Tokya Doshaburi (あん時ゃどしゃ降り)

It's been raining quite a lot recently in Singapore - the early January weather has been pushed back to now. Can't complain, with it cooling the place down to temperatures as low as 24°C during the day and bringing along some chilly winds. It feels good to be able to walk to and fro from the train station to work without breaking a sweat, and not feel like you're being baked like a pineapple tart in a relative's house during Chinese New Year visits.  Also, I find that it's the perfect time for rain-related songs such as Hachiro Kasuga's (春日八郎) "An' Tokya Doshaburi" - overcast skies, rain-streaked windows, and (at night) puddles reflecting light from lamps/buildings provide a better ambiance.

Aw man, young Hachi was really cute...

This 1957 single from the First Enka Singer had its words written by Ryo Yano (矢野亮) and the music done by Toshio Saeki (佐伯としを). "An' Tokya Doshaburi" sounds like a short form/slang for "Ano Toki Doshaburi" and translates to something on the line of "It was raining at that time". Here, Hachi sings about our main character reminiscing about his first love during a downpour - t'was during such a scenario where they met, and later when they broke up. He seems to still have some feelings for her judging by his bitterness, and wonders how she's doing in the present. That's some romance flick stuff right there. Going on to a tangent here but to make this more "Hollywood", in the present timeline, his first love should appear - they recognize each other, he runs up to her (in the rain, of course) and gives her a tight embrace, then they express their ever-present feelings for each other before walking off into the night as a happy couple once again... in the rain. Cliche, but pretty sure it'll still sell.

Coming back to the song, I thought Saeki's score sets the scene well as it sounds like the skies just opened up - the booming horns are like thunder and the crashing cymbals are like the pitter-patter of the rain on the ground.

"An' Tokya Doshaburi" seems to be decently popular since there are a number of covers of it in the recent years by the younger enka singers like Hiroshi Miyama (三山ひろし) and Konomi Mori (杜このみ), whose version I put up.

Happy Chinese New Year to you guys!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Meiko Nakahara -- Mint (ミ・ン・ト)

We've been reading and writing about Meiko Nakahara(中原めいこ)on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" all these years so I think it was about time that I purchased an actual album of hers rather than depend on individual songs on compilation albums. And looking at "Japanese City Pop", I really loved the cover for her 3rd album "Mint" from September 1983. I'm not a graphic artist by any means but there is something about the color and the typography that pushed me to get this album first to represent the singer-songwriter. However, I did do my due diligence and listened to excerpts from the album via (and you can, too). At the same time, though, I did manage to find a few videos with some of the tracks represented; all of them were written and composed by Nakahara.

For as long as I've known about Nakahara, she's had that sprightly voice that reminds me most of another City Pop princess, EPO. One definite aspect of hers is that she loves her Latin; it's popped up on some of her tunes and not surprisingly, it's also imbued into her the first track of "Mint", "Nagisa no Daydream"(渚のDaydream...Daydream on the Beach), some snazzy Latin jazz about ogling and getting into all sorts of trouble on the coast. Nakahara sings an excerpt of that song in her medley above at about 5:30.

Nakahara has also shown that she loves those disco tunes of yesteryear. With Track 3, "Nemuri Hime"(眠り姫...Sleeping Princess), there's a hint of Donna Summer as she sings about being kissed on her feet by that Prince Charming.

Track 6 is "Tsukiyo ni Ki wo Tsukete!"(月夜に気をつけて!...Beware of the Moonlit Night!), a bit more of an innocent City Pop tune which mixes that night drive song with a tongue-in-cheek warning about boy-meets-girl, although I think both boy and girl are just a bit nervous about the interaction. The song was also Nakahara's 4th single from July 1983.

I swear that the opening keyboard for "Sexy Dandy" (Track 7) sounds downright Yuming-esque but then Nakahara brings in her brand of pop and bossa nova. At the same time, there is also something in the arrangement and that saxophone that also had me thinking whether the singer was channeling some 1970s Billy Joel, notably through his ballad "Just The Way You Are".

Fell in love with the cover but now I also have a lot of love and respect for the content of "Mint" as well.

Original Love -- Yume wo Miru Hito (夢を見る人)

After a week of relatively mild weather (+4 C was the peak here...pretty good for Toronto this time of year), it looks like winter has returned in earnest. It's a good Sunday to keep things indoors and knock back a hot chocolate or something.

I heard another wonderful song from the "Light Mellow" series. This is Original Love with "Yume wo Miru Hito" (Dreamers) which, according to excerpts from an interview with vocalist and songwriter Takao Tajima(田島貴男)on J-Wiki, was a really hard song to compose; in fact, it took 6 months to get down the melody that has been described by Tajima as being simple yet melodious

The process may not have been smooth but "Yume wo Miru Hito" sure goes down that way. I think Tajima is quite the songsmith providing this really elegant blend of light funk and pop. For some reason, though, he had been under the impression that a lot of folks would balk at the title but considering the romantic and airy lyrics of having a couple just let go and take that train trip to anywhere, I think this was the perfect title. And the music and words make a nice marriage.

Perhaps either Tajima or the director of the video may have been watching "2001: A Space Odyssey" beforehand but it's a pretty wigged-out visual representation for the song which seems so happy and down-to-earth. Especially when it's so gloomy and cold outside as it is here, it's nice to bring in a bit of sunshine through this song.

"Yume wo Miru Hito" was Original Love's 7th single from April 1995 which peaked at No. 29. It was also a track on his 5th album "Rainbow Race" which came out a month later. That went all the way up to No. 3 on the album charts and ended up as the 96th-ranked release of the year.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sachiko Nishida -- Kurenai Hotel (くれないホテル)

Not quite sure if the above building is actually a hotel. It is located next to the ocean in the city of Ito and that bright colour of crimson was such that I just had to grab a shot.

So when I found this song by Sachiko Nishida(西田佐知子), "Kurenai Hotel" (Crimson Hotel), I was automatically reminded of that photograph from my trip to Japan. The song itself was Nishida's 86th single from April 1969, and it's an intriguing ballad which seems to weave a bit into Folk through that harmonica and then what would have been considered Shibuya-kei if it had been created 20 years later because of those plucky violins. This was one of Kyohei Tsutsumi's(筒美京平)early creations and I guess the song kinda showed that he was quite interested in pushing his abilities in different directions. Jun Hashimoto(橋本淳)provided the lyrics about this mysterious hotel shrouded in fog which has been the source of many a sad end to romance. I guess the titular place was truly a place just to sleep or cry.

At the same time, there was something to Nishida's delivery of "Kurenai Hotel" that had me thinking along the lines of that mix of Folk and even enka. The song didn't become a hit, only peaking at No. 81 on Oricon. However, according to J-Wiki, it has been covered by artists such as The Peanuts and Chiyo Okamura(奥村チヨ), and songwriters Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎), Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)and Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一)have praised it as one of their favourite Tsutsumi compositions.

Plus, I did find a number of videos showing folks doing their own karaoke version of "Kurenai Hotel" as above. Also, there is even a true Kurenai Hotel located near Kumamoto Station.

Yosuke Tagawa -- Lui-Lui

Long ago in an inner city apartment far far away, I vaguely remember hearing "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen probably through an episode of "American Bandstand" or as one of the sample songs played on those K-Tel record commercials.

Well, here is "Lui-Lui" by Yosuke Tagawa(太川陽介), and yes, the only reason I referred to "Louie Louie" is simply because the titles looked similar. They're not even pronounced anywhere near the same. Anyways, I had never heard of this song and for that matter, I had never heard of Tagawa although my parents apparently recognized his older self on sight when they saw him on NHK's "Asaichi"(あさイチ)morning show yesterday. Although he is an actor and a tarento now, he did have a fairly long career as a singer ranging from 1976 to 1985 with the first number of years in aidoru mode.

Seeing old video of him performing this particular song had me interested in finding out more about him. It isn't everyday that I see a 70s male aidoru that wasn't part of the Shin-Gosanke(新御三家)triumvirate of Hiromi Go, Hideki Saijo and Goro Noguchi(郷ひろみ・西城秀樹・野口五郎). "Lui-Lui" was Tagawa's 3rd single from July 1977 and it turned out to be his biggest hit, winning a Newcomer's Prize at the Japan Record Awards and getting nominated for a similar prize at the Japan Kayo Awards the same year, although the song didn't actually get all that far up the Oricon charts, placing at No. 38 on the weeklies and selling about 63,000 records.

Still, "Lui-Lui" has got plenty of sunny bounce in Shunichi Tokura's(都倉俊一)music (and Tokura helped create a lot of Pink Lady's hits in the same decade) and there's all that cute choreography which could have made the song a hit during the year-end parties if people could play the karaoke version on those 8-track tapes. Shinichi Ishihara(石原信一)came up with the lyrics, including the delivery of the title itself accompanied with that hand gesture resembling a capital L.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Selfish -- Jiyu ni Natte (自由になって)

Heck of a name for a band. I found out about this 90s trio called Selfish while listening to one of the discs (Dream, to be exact) from the "Light Mellow" series of J-AOR/City Pop. They made their first big splash when they won the Grand Prix at the Yamaha-sponsored Band Explosion in 1991 and then released their debut album in 1993, "Colors of Love".

There isn't a lot of information available about Selfish online except that the trio comes from Fukuoka and it stands out for its combination of vocalist Hiroyuki Imura(井村裕之), drummer Yukihiro Matsumoto(松本幸裕)and trumpeter Naoki Otsubo(大坪直樹)with guest musicians to round out the performances. Now, the fellow to the very right of the cover for "Colors of Love" is Imura, and he's got quite the pipes for this one track I heard on that "Light Mellow" CD, "Jiyu ni Natte" (Be Free) which was originally from that debut album. I especially liked the part where he went "Oh, oh, oh, oh..." in the main part of the song along with that intro with the synths. Otsubo wrote and composed the song.

Selfish's genres are AOR and urban contemporary which are just up my alley. It's nice to hear another band along the lines of Sing Like Talking. Apparently, they released just two albums before breaking up for a while but according to the liner notes inside my "Light Mellow" CD, Selfish got back together in the early 2010s to perform live. Wouldn't mind if I could get my hands on "Colors of Love" someday.

For those folks who might be interested in how City Pop fared in the 1990s, I found some of the information about Selfish on this amazing blog called "90-Nendai City Pop Kirokubo"(90年代シティーポップ記録簿...90s City Pop Record). Also from that same "Light Mellow" CD I found "Jiyu ni Natte", there is Toko Furuuchi's(古内東子)smooth-as-silk "Somewhere in Tokyo" which I have already written about.

ALFEE -- Cinderella wa Nemurenai (シンデレラは眠れない)

I put this photo up before showing a small temple of sorts to the band ALFEE when my anime buddy, our benefactor and I visited a traditional restaurant in Yoyogi a few years ago. Called Uogashi(魚がし), it not only serves sushi but also a lot of the comfort food the Japanese love such as miso soup, grilled mackerel and tons of rice. And the owners are apparently huge fans of ALFEE.

"Cinderella wa Nemurenai" (Cinderella Can't Sleep) was the band's 20th single from February 1985. I've been a casual fan of ALFEE so I didn't pick up on the following until I read about it, but perhaps the die-hard fans did notice that with this rocker, this had been the first time in 8 years that the folksy-looking Konosuke Sakazaki(坂崎幸之助)was the lead vocalist. Also, there was apparently some surprise at seeing Sakazaki handling a set of syn-drums on stage instead of holding his usual guitar like his two compadres, Toshihiko Takamizawa(高見沢俊彦)and Masaru Sakurai(桜井賢).

I had heard "Cinderella wa Nemurenai" before but, come to think of it, there is a bit more of that synth sound in this particular ALFEE outing when compared with some of their other 80s hits. Although Takamizawa was not the main mike this time, he and Ken Takahashi(高橋研)took care of the lyrics about a guy pining for his little Cinderella while Takamizawa also provided the music.

The song became the 2nd No. 1 for the band immediately after their first chart-topper, the epic "Koibito Tachi no Pavement"(恋人達のぺイヴメント)from October 1984. It also ended up as the 15th-ranked single for 1985. It was also placed on ALFEE's "THE BEST SONGS" which was released in December that year. That compilation peaked at No. 5 on the Oricon weeklies.

All-Points Bulletin: Name This Tune "Mysterious Singer - 冬のリヴィエラ (Fuyu no Riviera)"

Commenter Too-Tsie sent me a message about this cover of Shinichi Mori's(森進一)"Fuyu no Riviera" last night, asking me who the singer is here. Lebro Gea was the YouTube uploader (and the video is titled as above) and apparently the song was found on an old 1990s tape.

Whoever did the cover sounds very good but I couldn't identify the singer and Noelle also took a listen but also struck out. Therefore I'm putting out the APB since an old friend was able to name a tune on my first APB a few months back. Hopefully, there may be some kayo veterans out there who may be more successful in naming this singer. Keep your fingers crossed, Too-Tsie!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Yumeko Kitaoka -- Yume wo Ageyo (夢をあげよう)

Some days ago, I received a recommendation from commenter Henrique about an aidoru that I had never heard about. Her stage name is Yumeko Kitaoka(北岡夢子)but was born Kikuko Nakayama(中山貴久子)in Taito Ward, Tokyo, in 1971.

I took a gander at some of her songs and the one that I have enjoyed the most so far is her 4th single "Yume wo Ageyo" (Let's Offer Our Dreams) from February 1989, thanks to some sparkly arrangement by Jun Sato(佐藤準). The composer and lyricist are Tetsuro Kugisaki(釘崎哲朗)and Teruhiko Inoue(井上輝彦)respectively. The song almost takes things into urban contemporary territory. Nope, as even Henrique mentioned, Kitaoka's vocals wouldn't have chanteuses like Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美)shaking in their boots but as an aidoru, she wasn't too bad at all and certainly Kugisaki's melody is quite pleasant.

Kitaoka made her debut in April 1988 with "Akogare"(憧憬...Longing)and would release a total of 1 original album and 7 singles with the last one in June 1991 being a cover of Seiko Matsuda's(松田聖子)"Miami Gozen Go-ji "(マイアミ午前5時). According to her J-Wiki profile, the singer is a big fan of Seiko-chan. Her record company at the time was For Life Records; the management had been planning to promote her strongly but then another up-and-coming singer under their wing, enka singer Sakura Yamato(大和さくら), scored a big hit with her debut number. I have no idea about how the policy on promoting singers went at those companies back then, but apparently the powers-that-be at For Life felt that they couldn't back two singers at the same time so all of the support went behind Yamato instead. Ironically enough though, a few years after Kitaoka had put an end to her singing career, Yamato would do the same in 1994 and not come back.

Kitaoka also did some acting on television but basically disappeared from the scene after 2001. However, on some variety special in 2014, she finally reappeared just for that show on which it was learned that she had gotten married.

Katsumi Horii Project -- Skyscraper

One of my favourite areas of Tokyo is West Shinjuku since it has that spectacular grouping of skyscrapers. I used to teach a group of employees in that neighbourhood on Monday afternoons so I would usually walk among the towers including the Keio Plaza Hotel, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (always struck me as resembling the SDF-1 from "Macross"), the Shinjuku I-Land Tower and the newest addition, the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower (which is the tallest structure seen in the photo although the TMG Building is taller). For that last one, though, as I was walking past it, I noticed that there were a couple of large geodesic spheres bracketing the Cocoon which had me wondering whether the architect was compensating for something.

During one of my browsings last night on YouTube, I discovered this nice and funky instrumental tune in the fusion realm called "Skyscraper". It was concocted by music master Katsumi Horii(堀井勝美)under his title of the Katsumi Horii Project as a track for one of his albums "Lovers" back in August 1993. Between 1987 and 1998, he put out 12 albums and 1 single under his project banner. "Skyscraper" has that sunny image of life in the big city, and although I think Horii was looking at New York City for his inspiration, I was just as happy to envision West Shinjuku while I was listening to the song.

According to his J-Wiki profile, he's listed as a composer, an arranger, a producer and a university lecturer who has created music for movies, TV dramas, anime, commercials and stage productions. In fact, he even provided the soundtracks for several of the "Doraemon"(ドラえもん)movie series in the early 2000s.

Renka -- Adazakura (徒桜)

The current trend in anime has been to provide shows of varying lengths. The 30-minute programs are still the standard but in recent years, we've also been getting tinier versions ranging from 2-10 minutes.

One of the more interesting short anime that I came across starting from late last year has been "Nobunaga no Shinobi"(信長の忍び...Nobunaga's Ninja)with the Crunchyroll English title of "Ninja Girl and Samurai Master". Hovering around 5 minutes per episode, it's probably the closest to old-fashioned scatterbrain comedy that I've ever seen in anime (yes, I'm actually comparing it to an ancient Hollywood genre that had Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn). Perhaps the size of the show had something to do with it, but the humour in medieval Japan has been pretty rapid-fire, and I think the animators even put it in the old Japanese equivalent of a drummer's rim shot whenever the tsukkomi comes and the scene changes over.

I've also liked the first opening theme for "Nobunaga no Shinobi", "Adazakura" (Ephemeral Cherry Blossoms) by Renka(蓮花), because of her high and creamy vocals and also due to the melody which just seems to soar over the ground like a warrior going into battle on horseback. It seems a bit incongruous with the nutty nature of the show but it works very well for me regardless.

(cover by GUMI)

And the full version of "Adazakura" is even more enjoyable with a bit more of the rock mixed in with the ethereal piano. Renka took care of the lyrics while Kazuya of the band Universe provided the melody. The song was released in November 2016 as a digital single but also in December as a CD at the Winter Comiket according to Wikipedia.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

RIO -- Manatsu no Koi (真夏の恋)

Saturday night as a kid was almost always spent at home...mostly watching "Hockey Night In Canada" on CBC with the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens. As a young adult in Japan all those years, Saturday night was usually about the variety shows. This was my usual lineup.

At 8pm, it was Fuji-TV's "Mecha-Mecha Iketeru!" (めちゃ×2イケてるッ!...What A COOL We Are!) with the Osakan comedy duo Ninety-Nine leading a motley group of other comedians in all sorts of nutty behaviour. Can't believe it's been on now for over 20 years.

Then at 9 o'clock, I switched over to TV Tokyo to catch "Shutsubotsu! Admatic Tengoku"(出没!アド街ック天国...Pop! Admatic Heaven), an hour-long travelogue focusing on the shops, restaurants and other attractions in a specified neighbourhood of Tokyo, although occasionally it has gone over to other parts of Japan and even overseas.

At 10 in the early days of my stay in Japan, I did watch NTV's "Yoru mo Hippare"(夜もヒッパレ), that one big celeb karaoke blast but that finished its run in the early 2000s so after that, I wasn't quite sure what I caught then. Also in the 1990s, there was a short-lived round of half-hour zaniness at 11 on Fuji-TV again with The Tunnels' "Hammer Price", an auction show for some of the more intriguing pop culture oddities such as a jar containing water that the late porn star-turned-tarento Ai Iijima(飯島愛)had bathed in and even Robert DeNiro's attempt at Japanese calligraphy.

I promise that we are getting close to the song of this article but if you can bear with me for a few more lines. At 11:30 also on Fuji-TV, there was the music-variety show "Love Love Aishiteiru"(Love Love 愛している)with Johnny's Entertainment duo Kinki Kids that had a good run from 1996 to 2001. But when that came to a close, I switched over to TBS for that 11:30 slot to watch a late-night foodie program called "Chuubou desu yo!"(チューボーですよ). The official English title was "Saturday Night Chubaw!" but I don't think that really helps in the translation. The direct translation would come out as "Hey! It's The Kitchen!"

Anyways this show had started up several months before I arrived in Japan for my second stint as an English conversation teacher. Veteran celebrity Masaaki Sakai(堺正章)was the host with a TBS announcer as an assistant and every week, a guest would show up so that everyone could (try to) cook up a theme dish. At the same time, there would be cuts over to the chefs of three different restaurants which specialized in that very dish to show off their distinct approaches to cooking it up nice and tasty. It was a nice way to finish up a Saturday night before retiring unless I was planning to stay up to watch "Countdown TV" on the same channel at 1:30. However, getting hunger pangs after watching "Chuubou desu yo!" wasn't too good.

The opening theme came on for just a mere 30 seconds or so but it was definitely memorable which is the sign of a good opener. And all these years, I had thought that it was just a glorified jingle for the show.

However, there was indeed a full version of the song. It was by a band called RIO and in September 1994, it was released as a single titled "Manatsu no Koi" (Midsummer Love). And it's actually a pretty catchy song. The lyrics were provided by the vocalist Mike (ミケ) with the music composed by the keyboardist Tatsunosuke(たつのすけ). I couldn't find anything about RIO on J-Wiki but on a blog, I found out that the band had first formed among a few university students back in 1984 with their major debut coming in 1991. "Manatsu no Koi" turned out to be their final of 6 singles before they broke up in 1995. Three albums also came out of the relationship with the first one, "Savi Wavi" being released in 1990 when RIO was still an indies band.

Alas, all good things come to an end, and "Chuubou desu yo!" ended its 22-year run on Christmas Eve last year.

Ai & Aki/Hiroshi Kano & Hiroko Hattori -- Roppongi Atari (六本木あたり)

The above photo shows the escalator heading up to Roppongi Hills. I think it's been about a decade since this huge commercial complex made its presence known as this huge hunk of modernity in what was once perceived as a somewhat faded area of bars, clubs and discos. Since then, another major mall has opened up not too far away called Tokyo Midtown and so there have been some new visitor streams flowing into this particular area of the megalopolis.

I've been to both malls fairly often, especially Roppongi Hills since I used to teach one of my students in a 4th floor cafe on Mondays there and also because there's a major cineplex. There is also a major bookstore that I dropped in on as well and I used to frequent the Burger King in the basement below that store. Sometimes in the evenings, my friends and I also went down into the Old Roppongi area on the main drag to have dinner at the Tony Romas or the Hard Rock Cafe. And no, I never hit any of the clubs or discos there (and that includes the notorious Gas Panic) since drinking was never my thing and I hung up my dance shoes years ago. Halloween was always interesting since there were plenty of costumed folks walking up and down the street, and that was even before the holiday became the huge event it has now become.

Considering how I've seen Roppongi over the last several years, I simply can't see the neighbourhood as being conducive for Mood Kayo now. Maybe there's a bit more of a rock vibe or even classical music when it comes to Roppongi Hills, so I guess the song I'm going to talk about here is a time capsule of sorts since it hearkens back to an age when the old nightclubs and bars held sway during the really good ol' days of Japan's economic boom.

Earlier tonight, I caught the usual episode of "Uta Kon" (うたコン) on TV Japan after which I started perusing for some Mood Kayo that I hadn't heard, and after sampling a number of songs, I came across this frisky number. And providence was indeed smiling upon me. It just happened to be a song that I had once taped on one of my cheap and ancient Canadian Tire Mastercraft cassettes from an episode of "Sounds of Japan" on CHIN-FM only to stupidly erase the thing by accident. I never remembered the title or the singers behind it. But the melody stayed with me all these decades and I amazing re-acquainted with it. The same happy re-discovery occurred with a Kenji Sawada(沢田研二)single from that same tape a few years ago.

The title is "Roppongi Atari" (Around Roppongi), and the original version was released in 1981. Further intriguing me was the fact that there has been some mystery surrounding the song as I've discovered. For one thing, it apparently never became a huge hit but it's remained a popular tune to tackle at the karaoke boxes. And why not? As I said, it's an especially perky Mood Kayo composed by Hikaru Taketani(武谷光)with a nice combo of twinkly keyboards and purring guitars. Plus the lyrics by Sanetomo/Maya/Machi/Minori Ikeda池田真知 many readings for that given name)and Katsumi Mineo(峰尾勝己)have the young lovers painting the town red in the titular area.

But that's not the main mystery. I thought it would just be a simple matter of identifying the singers in this duet. However, I could barely find any information on the duo of Ai & Aki (あい&AKI). There was nothing listed in J-Wiki and it took me a number of minutes through the search engines before I could get even a smidgen of data on who these folks were, and even that wasn't absolute concrete. However, according to this Japanese-language blog, Aki is supposedly this actor Akihiro Shimizu(清水昭博); he does have a J-Wiki entry but there is no mention of him recording "Roppongi Atari". The female half of the duo is a singer, Ai Mizugi (みずぎあい), who had debuted in 1977 with Japan Victor. The blog entry also states that Mizugi had been in a race alongside her contemporaries including Mizue Takada(高田みづえ)and Ikue Sakakibara(榊原郁恵)for Best Newcomer.

A couple of years later in 1983, the duo apparently re-recorded "Roppongi Atari" under a new name, Ai & Yu(あい&優).

Its staying power was such that another duo gave it another try in 1994. This time, it was a couple of enka singers Hiroshi Kano(加納ひろし)and Hiroko Hattori(服部浩子)who sang "Roppongi Atari" with a slightly different arrangement although the energy of having a crazy time in the titular area was still there.

With less than a week to go before I reach the 5th anniversary of "Kayo Kyoku Plus", I had been wondering about why I've been continuing all this. Solving the mystery of this song gave me one prime reason right here. And there are still a few other long-lost songs that I've yet to unearth from my memories again. The adventure continues!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tomoyo Kurosawa -- Field Trip!!

The previous year of 2016 had some pretty good anime for me. There were the calming slice-of-life shows such as "Flying Witch" (ふらいんぐうぃっち) and ones packing a bit more drama including the just-concluded "Hibike! Euphonium"(響け! ユーフォニアム). Then there were the science fiction-adventures like "Kuromukuro" (クロムクロ) and "Active Raid". That latter show was quite fun as it mixed the usual armoured robots with the often-inane bureaucracy and personal interactions of working inside a company. However, I thought that final episode of the second season just crunched things together a little too quickly for my liking.

Illustrating my need for a guide book on the casts of characters and singers for the various theme songs, I didn't find out until well after the fact that there was one connection between "Active Raid" and "Hibike! Euphonium". And that connection was seiyuu/singer Tomoyo Kurosawa(黒沢ともよ). She has been getting accolades on the scale of Meryl Streep about her performance as the main character of Kumiko Omae(黄前久美子)on "Euphonium" over that show's two seasons. There's even a YouTube video depicting all of her vocal quirks as you can see above. I figure she may as well start writing up her acceptance speech for any anime award she will get.

However, I also found out that she's been doing her fair share of anison. Kurosawa also had a minor role on "Active Raid" as the perky AI, Liko, and in-character, she provided the ending theme for the second season, "Field Trip!!" Instead of being an instant earworm, "Field Trip!!" did more of a slow burn to finally implant itself into my brain. Written by Mehko Yamamoto(山本メーコ)and composed by IKUO, I think the song is about Liko's desire to get out of her digital environment and enjoy a fun day out in the city. Considering some of the mayhem that happens even within Public Mobile Assault Unit Eight, I don't quite blame her.

I guess another reason that "Field Trip!!" has finally touched down with me is perhaps that the arrangement has some nostalgia, strange as it may be to admit. Shades of Ayumi Hamasaki(浜崎あゆみ)and Trance music keep dancing about in my head.

Michiya Mihashi -- Onna Sendou Uta (おんな船頭唄)

As was also the case with Noelle when she wrote her article on Michiya Mihashi's(三橋美智也)festive "Iwate no Osho-san"(岩手の和尚さん)a couple of days ago, I also saw the tribute to the late singer of minyo and enka during last week's "Uta Kon" (うたコン).

Although I don't think this ballad got into the tribute on the NHK show, I think "Onna Sendou Uta" (The Oarswoman) probably has had its day in the sun and will most likely get its due some more times. For one thing, J-Wiki has posted it as Mihashi's first hit after its release in 1955. Mihashi had been singing professionally since 1942 so for him to finally get that first big hit after 13 years or so was not an insignificant achievement.

The blurb on J-Wiki didn't talk about how many records of "Onna Sendou Uta" were sold and it was still years before the Oricon charts began but I can speculate about the keys to the song's success. I think one would be those high-tone vocals of Mihashi after years mastering the minyo genre. That down-to-earth and down-home delivery also tied into that well-worn trope of unrequited love...this time, that love was for the titular woman working a job that automatically brought up those homespun images of life in the old country. With young people flooding into the cities at the time to help crank up the Japanese economy again, listening to those lyrics must have touched a few sentimental nerves.

Ironically, "Onna Sendou Uta" had originally been intended for another up-and-coming singer at King Records, Tsutae Nishimura(西村つた江). However, the director behind the recording thought that with the high delivery right from the beginning, Mihashi would have been a better choice behind the mike, and so the minyo singer was given his chance. And as they say, a star was born.

The song was written by Tetsuro Fujima(藤間哲郎)and composed by Toshiro Yamaguchi(山口俊郎). "Onna Sendou Uta" was never sung in any of Mihashi's 14 appearances on the Kohaku Utagassen.

Momoko Kikuchi -- Mystical Composer (ミスティカルコンポーザー)

Momoko Kikuchi(菊池桃子)has turned out to be quite the fascinating aidoru for me. Sure, she came out with the usual cutesy tunes such as "Say Yes!" but at the same time, she also released songs that were surprisingly adult contemporary in nature...right into City Pop or J-AOR.

Case in point: "Mystical Composer" which was a track on Kikuchi's 3rd album, "Adventure" from June 1986. Somehow those whispery/breathy vocals blend in well with Tetsuji Hayashi's(林哲司)mellow music; that melody sounds just tailor-made for anything in the discography of Omega Tribe, another Hayashi client (the fellow was also behind "Say Yes!"). And yet, this was an 80s aidoru taking care of this song and a number of other similar tunes. Marcos and I were talking about the current group Especia as this aidoru crew tackling the genre but I'm starting to think whether Momoko was the ultimate progenitor of marrying City Pop and aidoru.

Junko Sato(佐藤純子)wrote the lyrics about the young lady who has fallen head-over-heels for this wonderful weaver of music while seemingly surrounded by the environment that would make up a cover for a City Pop compilation album: a turning turntable and being on that roof of a sports car with the wind blowing by. Considering the title and lyrics, I kinda wonder how Hayashi must have been feeling.

Although I couldn't find any information on J-Wiki indicating it as so, I also wonder whether the powers-that-be had always wanted to mold the singer into this unique teen idol of adult contemporary music. I mean, the titles for her first 3 albums were "Ocean Side", "Tropic of Capricorn" and "Adventure". Those titles practically scream City Pop, Resort Pop and AOR. It's a wonder that there was no image of a soaring plane (the unofficial symbol of City Pop) not-so-subtly pasted on any of those albums.

When I decided to post up this song, I had also been surmising that someone like Artzie Music would have arranged "Mystical Composer" into a piece of Future Funk. Well, the above remix isn't by him but by someone called FauXFaX.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Akira Terao -- Guuzen (偶然)

I was writing about Akira Terao's(寺尾聰)old Group Sounds days with The Savage a few nights ago when I came across this video with a song by him.

(excerpt only)

Titled "Guuzen" (Suddenly), the crooning vocals were unmistakably by Terao but the music itself didn't sound like the City Pop of the early 1980s. Basically his output represented on the blog has been through his remarkable album "Reflections". However, I came across quite a find since the music sounded as if it originated much later in the decade or even going into the 1990s.

And as it turned out, I was spot-on. "Guuzen" was a track on his 4th album (his 3rd for Toshiba EMI) "Standard" which came out in February 1987. The ballad is still very much in the urban contemporary vein, and with Terao also being a long-time actor, I could see him in any music video looking straight out a rainy window of some bar with a very hangdog expression due to the love of his life no longer there for him. There will no longer be any sudden meetings with her as Masako Arikawa's(有川正沙子)lyrics relate. Kenji Takamizu(高水健司)provided the scotch-on-the-rocks-friendly music. Most likely, past midnight, the kindly bartender will call a taxi to pick up the forlorn fellow.

The Delgados -- The Light Before We Land / op. -- Dopo Il Sogno ~ Yume no Ato ni (夢のあとに)

My anime buddy came back from his trip to Japan last weekend so we were able to meet up for our first anime-and-food session for 2017 yesterday.

As he did on a previous trip to the country a few years back when he visited the city of Oarai in tribute to the anime "Girls Und Panzer", my friend did another anime-based pilgrimage...this time to the city of Hirosaki up in Aomori Prefecture due to last year's lovely "Flying Witch" (ふらいんぐうぃっち). Unfortunately I can't relay any of his fine photographs of the place but perhaps this video up above will do.

At the time, there was some a major snowstorm whipping through the area which was broadcast on NHK News and when I mentioned to my family that my friend was up there, one of them basically stated "Is he nuts?!". To be honest, my friend also wondered about his judgement when he first reached the city and saw the snow falling fast and thick, but he was able to do everything that he wanted to achieve including visiting the places depicted in "Flying Witch" and engorging on everything with apples in it and that included curried rice with apple chunks.

Of course, the session included the anison and this time, he pulled out a song that I hadn't heard before although the anime title itself rang a bell: "Gunslinger Girl" which came out in October 2003. My friend actually purchased the Blu-Ray for the first season (the second season was apparently horrible), and he described the story line about these teenage girls undergoing tragic fates only to get the RoboCop treatment and become cybernetic assassins (yes, it is an anime, isn't it?) ultimately facing another tragic fate.

After that description, I said that I wouldn't be too interested in watching the series but I have to say that I was very taken with the opening theme, "The Light Before We Land" by Scottish band The Delgados. I mean, to say that this song is hauntingly beautiful is an understatement. After hearing that intro a few more times, I've basically trained the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up and salute. Plus, listening to the song and watching the introduction of these adolescent killers has put a capital 'P' onto the word pathos.

"The Light Before We Land" would also be just the song to finish off some sort of revisionist Western where pretty much every character gets killed off with the one survivor limping off into the sunset. And there's even a feeling of a 007 theme in there as well. The song, by the way, is a track on The Delgados' 2002 album "HATE".

Well, when you have such atmosphere for the opening theme, I gather that the ending theme has to pack a punch as well. And that would be "Dopo Il Signo ~ Yume no Ato ni" (After A Dream) which is a Toshihiko Sahashi(佐橋俊彦)and Nanae Mimura(三村奈々恵)arrangement of an original work, "Après un rêve" by French composer Gabriel Fauré with lyrics by Keiko Ueno (うえのけいこ). The singer was simply listed as op. (pronounced Opus).

Heck, that ending sounds like something that would be played in some sort of Mafia-based movie during a montage of killings. Perhaps I've been watching "The Godfather" a bit too much.

Forgive me...after hearing these two songs, I think I wanna look out the window at the rain for a few hours.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Michiya Mihashi -- Iwate no Osho-san (岩手の和尚さん)

This article isn't on Hiroshi Tachi, but I thought this snapshot of him from an "Abunai Deka" episode I found on Twitter thoroughly represents how I felt as I watched the "Uta Kon" tribute to the Minyo superstar from Hakodate, Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也). "Uta Kon" is definitely taking a step in the right direction with their weekly tributes to singers/songwriters from bygone days. Now if they could just do that for the rest of the Yon'nin Shu and the likes of Yujiro Ishihara, that'd be great.

Besides a brief history of him, a good number of Michi's hits were highlighted via the night's guests and the VTR clips. I felt glad that I knew and I liked almost all of what was being mentioned save for one or two. There were my old and perennial favourites like "Hoshikuzu no Machi" (星屑の町) and "Kojou" (古城), and the newly acquired "Ringo no Mura kara" (リンゴ村から) and "Akai Yuhi no Furusato" (赤い夕陽の故郷). However, I was sort of hoping to hear this tune that's both a favourite and relatively new to my Michi playlist, "Iwate no Osho-san". It would definitely have spiced things up, especially since the tribute focused more on his serious and/or melancholic tracks.

With the musical styling by Kenji Yoshidaya (吉田矢健治) , "Iwate no Osho-san" feels like fusion of East and West. The former would be from the screaming trumpets and droning horns that provide an Oriental vibe that befits a song that revolves around a monk; the latter comes from the catchy, upbeat percussions which have a Latin touch. Ryo Yano's (矢野亮) lyrics then has Mihashi singing about what I think are monks from the said prefecture coming down from the frigid mountains to the main village to celebrate some festival. From how Yoshidaya's score changes from quiet to raucous within the first few seconds of the song, the abbots must've been meditating or going about their peaceful lives before they realise it's time head down the mountain to "PARTY HARRDD!!!"... Well, maybe not too hard.

"Iwate no Osho-san" was released in 1958 and was also one of Mihashi's many successes. Looking at the J-Wiki, it wasn't one of his top 18 enka-yo hits, so perhaps that was why it wasn't featured on "Uta Kon" - or at least there wasn't time to include it.

One thing I've realised about the tributes to Michi I've watched (mostly online, until now) is that they don't talk about his disco phase. I thought that there would be minimally some mention of it since that was quite a transition he made in the 70's, but I guess not. I wonder if it wasn't that memorable, or many only want to remember the veteran by his enka and minyo, and disco which may have been seen as an act of folly. Too bad, "Disco Tengoku" (ディスコ天国) on the NHK stage would've been incredible.

Here's Kouhei Fukuda's (福田こうへい) rendition of "Iwate no Osho-san" to round things up. It was from this great "Special Stage" on a "Shin Nippon no Uta" episode where I discovered this song - there were tributes to a whole barrage of showa era enka/ryukoka singers.

Dang, would'ya look at that smile. This album doesn't have
the song, but it's really amusing.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Serani Poji -- Boku no Mashu (僕のマシュ…)

Just last night, I was talking about how the technopop or New Wave genre in Japan was quite a bit deeper than I had thought all those decades ago through the song "Myun Myun" (ミュンミュン) by Chakra (チャクラ). And of course, all throughout this blog's existence, I've been remarking about how many hidden delights have revealed themselves from City Pop.

Well, now I can add R&B to the list and from an unusual source...a Sega Dreamcast game that was first sold in 2000. Called "Roommania #203", it was some sort of simulation game which involved trying to get some young fellow to do stuff in a room; I was never a big fan of video games so the concept for this game hasn't exactly floored me but I found out about this one song that is in the game that has.

It's called "Boku no Mashu" (My Love, Marshmallow) by a music unit called Serani Poji (セラニポージ) that was brought together for the purposes of the game. Man, it's got that old-style R&B beat that I love and miss and it came out on the group's debut album "manamoon" (まなもぉん) which was released a few months before the game in October 1999. Some of the other songs on the album sound pretty good as well although they are in different genres. The album also acts as the official soundtrack for "Roommania #203".

The more laid-back Gentle Whisper version of the song is also pretty darn easy on the ears. Pretty darn good timing as well since the J-R&B boom during the turn of the century was in full swing. Wish the pendulum would swing back once more. I realize the vocalist here has a whispery and cutesy voice but I can't help but feel if PSY-S had gone more into a soulful direction, this could have been one of their tunes.

Serani Poji consists of three members: Yukichi (ゆきち) from the pop group CECIL, actress/singer Yumi Higashino(東野佑美), and Tomoko Sasaki(ササキトモコ)who was responsible for the music behind the game. A few more releases by the unit came out before it decided to go into "hibernation" as it described its status in 2004. However, the group woke up once more to release a new album in 2010 titled "Merry Go Round Jailhouse".

And here is a sample of the game as provided in English, although I'm more interested in the soundtrack.

The Savage -- Itsumademo Itsumademo (いつまでもいつまでも)

Almost a month ago, I featured Akira Terao's(寺尾聰)debut album as a solo artist, "Futari no Fuusen ~ Koibito to Issho ni Kiite Kudasai"(二人の風船 ~ 恋人と一緒に聴いて下さい)from 1970 where I also mentioned about his membership in the Group Sounds band, The Savage(ザ・サベージ).

Well, I managed to track down The Savage's debut single "Itsumademo Itsumademo" from July 1966. Realizing that the word itsumademo can be translated as always or no matter what, I've decided to go with "Never Ever" according to how it's used in the lyric "Itsumademo, itsumademo, hanashitakunai" (いつまでも、いつまでも、離したくない...I never ever want to let you go). From that line, you can guess it is an ardent love song.

Although Terao was a co-vocalist for the band, guitarist Yoshio Okujima(奥島吉雄)was the lead vocal here for "Itsumademo Itsumademo" and I have to say that I really like his deep resonant tones. Considering that The Savage started out in 1963 as an instrumental band, it must have been quite the find that both Okujima and Terao could hold a tune rather nicely.

The president of the talent agency Hori Productions at the time, Takeo Hori(堀威夫), asked Ben Sasaki(佐々木勉)to compose and write a song for the up-and-coming The Savage since Sasaki himself was seen as an up-and-coming songwriter with his eye on the genre of garage folk. It was Hori's intriguing plan to have a nice folk song start off the Group Sounds phase of The Savage in line with some of the folk ballads sung by Yuzo Kayama(加山雄三)and Mike Maki(マイク眞木). I'm not quite sure how Okujima, Terao and the rest of the band felt about their boss' plan but as it turned out, "Itsumademo Itsumademo" became a hit and a standard in both the folk and Group Sounds genres. And to be honest, for my ears, its arrangement still strikes me as being quite firmly as a GS ballad. Perhaps, it can still be a song to be played at Japanese wedding receptions.

(empty karaoke version)

As for The Savage, the band shifted in its lineup a fair bit but in the beginning it was an electric guitar group fronted by Okujima, Renkichi Hayashi(林廉吉)on guitar, Shuurou Matsuda(松田守朗)on bass and Takashi Kondo(近藤タカシ)on drums although he was eventually replaced by the late Yoshio Oba(大場吉雄). In 1965, Oba and Matsuda left the band with Terao coming in at bass and Junichi Watanabe(渡辺純一)becoming the 3rd drummer.

Supposedly the name of the band originated from a hit song by the British band The Shadows "Savage" and that was about as close to wild as Okujima and company would get. Even the J-Wiki article pointed out that their appearance on stage was more on the gentlemanly side. Judging from the cover of their first single, I think they would be the guys who would be warmly welcomed by any bobbysoxer's mother with milk and cookies.

As for Ben Sasaki, he was the same fellow behind hits such as the Mood Kayo classic "Wakarete mo Suki na Hito"(別れても好きな人)by Los Indios and Silvia(ロス・インディオス&シルヴィア), and "Natsu no Ojosan"(夏のお嬢さん)the 70s aidoru hit for Ikue Sakakibara(榊原郁恵). Unfortunately, he passed away at the young age of 46 in March 1985.

ASKA/Saburo Tokito -- Kimi ga Ai wo Katare (君が愛を語れ)

This ballad by Ryo Aska(飛鳥涼)rang a bell with me when I heard it on YouTube and it turns out that it is on my purchase of his June 1991 album "Scene II". It was also the coupling song for his mammoth hit single "Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame"(はじまりはいつも雨)which had been released earlier in March that year.

Written and composed by the singer-songwriter, "Kimi ga Ai wo Katare" (Express Your Love) starts off with some pretty piano to relate the story of some fellow who finally got the message that he was loved despite his own doubts about the relationship. I think the diagnosis here was that although he had been hearing, he really hadn't been listening. Well, it looks like that has been resolved happily and he has given standing orders to his significant other to let him know that specific reassurance whenever he falters.

Of course, being an Aska ballad, there will always be that sense of epicness (forgive me, I realize that it isn't a real word) infused in the arrangement, and sure enough, the second half sounds like the clouds parting to let the rays of sunshiny wisdom and joy filter into the guy's brain. I would say that there is even some passing resemblance to The Beatles' "Hey Jude" near the end. Break out the swaying glow sticks!

Gotta include the concert performance of "Kimi ga Ai wo Katare" with an orchestra although I think the original recorded version still takes the gold medal in terms of glory.

Now the whole reason that I've put this ballad up in the first place was that I was actually looking for any Saburo Tokito(時任三郎)songs featured online. Up to this point, I was able to profile a couple of songs by the actor/singer, his bluesy and romantic "Kawa no Nagare wo Daite Nemuritai"(川の流れを抱いて眠りたい)from 1981 and his comic hit, "Yuuki no Shirushi"(勇気のしるし)which was the jingle for all those Regain power drink commercials a decade later. And those songs were profiled way back in 2012.

Unfortunately, Tokito will probably only be known for his skills as a kakkoii thespian since I really wasn't able to find anything except videos representing the above two songs. However, I found out that he covered Aska's "Kimi ga Ai wo Katare" in June 1992 as his 16th single for which the above video is a cover.

Going back to Aska, I know about his personal problems from last year and I hope he gets better.