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.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Kazuhiro Nishimatsu -- Good Times

As the adage goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover".

My semi-annual purchases of CDs went off without a hitch and among them is Kazuhiro Nishimatsu's(西松一博)debut album "Good Times". And I definitely have had some good times with this one, but my assumptions that this was a totally City Pop album were rather like a sieve trying to hold water. In fact, this wasn't the only disc that had that sort of revelation but I'll talk about that one later next week.

Commenter Matt and I were talking about Nishimatsu's second album from 1985, "Bouekifu Monogatari"(貿易風物語), and I could describe that one as a techno-cabaret with the singer-songwriter holding court in his own nightclub on Coruscant. From listening to "My Last Lady" and "Crescent Night"(クレッセント・ナイト)from his first album for which I've already provided articles and that cover of Nishimatsu in sunglasses, skinny black tie and sharp gray suit, my natural assumption was that "Good Times" was all about the Japanese metropolitan music circa 1980s.

Well, not exactly. Actually, "Good Times" has a fairly interesting mix of other genres along with the City Pop/AOR. In fact, the title track and Nishimatsu's debut single "Good Times" is more of a hint of what he would provide in his second album. Composed by the singer and written by Chii Uchida(内田栞)and Aki Fukunaga*(福永史), this is a song that Toshikazu Kanazawa(金澤寿和)from referred to as old-timey in the liner notes for the remastered album. I would heartily agree. The setting for "Good Times" would have Nishimatsu wearing a brown derby and playing away on an upright piano in some 1920s bar in New York or Berlin. Heck, there's even a bunch of fellows giving some "La-la-las" as the song fades away.

*That first name has a number of readings for both men and women so I'm taking a wild guess here. Once again, if anyone knows the correct reading for the lyricist, please let me know.

"Back Street" still retains some of that old-timey but there's also some nighttime jazz. Moreover, I can even hear a bit of City Pop and perhaps a tad of Billy Joel's "The Stranger" in there, too. In "Back Street" and the other tracks, I think that although Nishimatsu has shown the ability to go really high in his vocals, he can also provide some low growl in his voice a bit on the Tom Waits side of things, if not quite down to Waits' level. Overall, it has that sound of how some of the 1970s pop singers over here in North America were interpreting some of that jazz in their pop songs. Kumiko Tomoi(友井久美子)provided the words while Nishimatsu and Kyoko Matsumiya(松宮恭子)composed the music. Incidentally, both this one and the song below get cut off before the end.

Kanazawa refers to this track "Moon Island" as having some of that Phil Spector style although there isn't that famous Wall of Sound. It's a relaxing and sun-dappled number contemporary AOR featuring some of those higher tones from Nishimatsu, and is worthy of some Corona while listening to it. Akira Ohtsu(大津あきら)and the singer were behind this one.

Since I did get the remastered version, there were six bonus tracks included onto the original album. One of those extra songs came through his Aragon days and is quite different from the tone of "Good Times". This would be "Bloodbath Highway" created by Nishimatsu and lyricist LEO. In contrast to the horror-hinting title, this was an image song for the anime motion picture "Crusher Joe" from 1985, and it has a poppy New Wave vibe.

Another one of the bonus tracks and my last video for the article is "Saiteru Otoko no"(咲いてるオトコの...Man In Bloom)which was Nishimatsu's 4th single from 1983. Unlike the other tracks, Nishimatsu had nothing to do with its creation which was left to lyricist Fumiko Okada(岡田冨美子)and composer Kisaburo Suzuki(鈴木キサブロー). This is somewhat of a frenetic number done in a tango-esque style that was also used as the campaign song for a car commercial, apparently.

I would have loved to have covered some of the other tracks on "Good Times" since they were also created by folks such as Etsuko & Takao Kisugi(来生えつこ・来生たかお)and Yoko Aki(阿木燿子)and further reflect some of the genres that have been heard here. Plus, most of the tracks were arranged by Akira Inoue and Tsuyoshi Kon(井上鑑・今剛). However, they aren't currently on YouTube or on any other video platform so I hope that they appear someday. In the meantime, then, I can say that "Good Times" is an enjoyably variegated first album by Nishimatsu which is also a prelude to what I will look forward to in "Bouekifu Monogatari" (still haven't got it...yet).


  1. Hi J-Canuck, absolutely love "Good Times" from what I've heard of it and I can definitely hear some elements of "Bouekifuu Monogatari" throughout the tracks that do exist on YouTube. It's such a shame that that album's been taken down entirely with only "A Night of Blue Roses" remaining as its own video, but I'm sure it'll resurface someday once all the copyright issues get cleared up.

    With that being said, however, I do hope to see some more Nishimatsu stuff on YT in the future—I wonder if he's ever made any live appearances on any of the major Japanese music shows back then (Yoru no Hit Studio is the only example that springs to mind at the moment). While "Good Times" was apparently effectively overshadowed by Akira Terao's wildly-popular "Reflections" album from what I've gathered I've definitely seen more obscure singers appear on Japanese television during the decade.

    1. Hi, Matt.

      Glad that you could concur about "Good Times", and it's always a battle between YouTube uploaders and the powers-that-be about those videos. I'm also fairly confident that some part of "Bouekifu Monogatari" will return online.

      I guess with all of these albums including those belonging to Nishimatsu getting their light of day again after so many decades, there is perhaps a feeling of redemption. My impression is that there are some Japanese who are still scratching their over heads (including some in the recording industry) as to why the more obscure Japanese albums are suddenly getting appraised and praise, but that's fine. I think there are also other Japanese folks who are also seeing the light, too.


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