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.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fujimal Yoshino -- YOSHINO FUJIMAL

Crockett, Tubbs...and Yoshino?

Took a walk outside today. Fortunately there's an industrial park area near my home that's largely devoid of vehicular traffic outside of driving school training cars and taxis on break so it's nice to take that healthy stroll. Couldn't ask for a more gorgeous day either. It definitely feels like a June weekend out there with the sun and warmth.

Perhaps another reason for my sunnier countenance is that I'm here to talk about my latest acquisitions, and this time it didn't take a quarter of a year for them to get over here from Japan. Tracked EMS is the way to go if you're in Canada and you want your Japanese CDs to get here within a week or so.

One of those discs is guitarist-songwriter Fujimal Yoshino's(芳野藤丸)debut solo album, "YOSHINO FUJIMAL" from 1982. After listening and then writing an article on two of the album's songs, the really chipper "Who Are You?" which starts things off and then the ballad "Girl's In Love With Me", it was time for me to pull the trigger. So far, I've heard it twice and no regrets whatsoever.

I read some of the liner notes for "YOSHINO FUJIMAL" and apparently the impetus for Yoshino to come out with his own release was his old buddy, Makoto Matsushita(松下誠), coming out with his debut album "First Light" the previous year. Yoshino loved the sound and wanted to get in on that City Pop/J-AOR action and thus he set out to get his own project done.

An interesting thing comparing "YOSHINO FUJIMAL" and "First Light" is that whereas the latter album takes Matsushita into American West Coast AOR territory, I think Yoshino keeps things solidly in Japan, albeit in the big megalopolis of Tokyo. It's not so much the Ventura Freeway as it is the Bayside Highway.

As I said above, "Who Are You?" is the first track on the original Side A of the LP, which has been dubbed "in the DAY time" while Side B is "in the NIGHT time". Track 2 is "Midnight Plus 1", which I guess would be the day time technically although things are still pitch dark out there if that title is indeed signalling 1am.

The beat is pretty brisk, thanks to Fujimal who composed all of the tracks, and the City Pop tropes are in there with a boss bass and pleasant keyboard as the man himself sings about what sounds like a guy out there on the roads not to paint the town red but just doing his job, perhaps making deliveries. It's not usually something from City Pop I would hear since my impression is that partying in Tokyo is the theme for a lot of the genre's tunes. "Midnight Plus 1" does have that shaki-shaki beat of getting things done on the clock.

Yoshihiko Ando(安藤芳彦)took care of the lyrics and helping out on backing chorus is that Princess of City Pop, EPO.

The last track on "in the DAY time" is "Freeway 5 to South" is another road song although with some more introspection with Kazuko Kobayashi's(小林和子)lyrics against the otherwise sunny upbeat melody by Yoshino. And as one commenter on YouTube said, the chorus work is excellent. One of the guys taking part there happens to be Matsushita who also plies some of his guitar work on a few of the other tracks.

The aforementioned "Girl's In Love With Me" is "in the NIGHT time" along with this one "Shang-hide Night" which sounds quite bright and skippy considering the time of the day. Ando again took care of lyrics, and although the title might hint at Shanghai, I think the song describes a night out in Yokohama's Chinatown.

As I said, "YOSHINO FUJIMAL" is a keeper for all those City Pop fans out there. It would definitely be a pleasure to hear this album and then go straight to Matsushita's "First Light" again for an aural comparison. By the way, the above video is a new more "get down" version of "Midnight Plus 1" from 2014 that isn't on the album.

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