Over the years in Japan, there were a lot of longtime presences in the form of CD albums that I kept on seeing whenever I went into Tower Records in Shibuya. My curiosity finally got the better for me with one of those artists and I finally got an album by UA and a number of her singles which I haven't regretted since. But there were others who I left unpurchased. One such group was Clammbon（クラムボン） and I think I ought to try to rectify that situation.
Another band that I'm starting to have the same feelings for is Love Tambourines（ラヴ・タンバリンズ）. It seems as if they always had one of their albums on prominent display on the shelves on the first floor or on the J-Pop floor. And yet, this was a group whose time only lasted between 1991 and 1995. For me, the face of Love Tambourines was ELLIE who now goes by the name ELI (still the same pronunciation), but I never found out what kind of music the group represented.
Well, reading their article on J-Wiki, Shibuya-kei was their bag. In fact, the article pointed out that ELLIE had been put alongside Kahimi Karie（カヒミ・カリイ）as one of "the divas of Shibuya-kei", especially with the release of their 1994 single "Midnight Parade". One of the songs on that disc was "Spend The Day Without You" and I heard it first before looking them up on J-Wiki.
Yup, I realize that Shibuya-kei incorporates a lot of influences such as French ye-ye, soul, DeVol scores, and the like but on listening to "Spend The Day Without You", the first impression for me was that this was a sunny soul song of the 1970s (aside from the spacey keyboard solo), plain and simple, old-style R&B. It didn't automatically dawn on me that this was part of the Shibuya-kei family alongside the works of Karie and Pizzicato 5. For one thing, ELLIE's vocals seem so fresh and raw, and my feelings about Shibuya-kei is that there is a lot of smoothness in the production. Plus, there is something in her delivery that reminds me of Gladys Knight, especially through her signature song with The Pips, "Midnight Train To Georgia", although I realize that Knight's voice is more velvety.
Although Love Tambourines disbanded over 20 years ago, ELI is still performing and released her first single in 11 years only two months ago, "Stay Gold". And it looks like she's using her old nom de artiste again.