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, June 4, 2019

Mother Goose -- Panorama House(パノラマ・ハウス)

I didn't think that I had a snowball's chance in Hell in getting this album by 1970s band Mother Goose(マザー・グース)because of the group's relative obscurity, although from listening to songs of theirs like "Marine Blue"(マリン・ブルー)and "Boekifu ni Sarasarete"(貿易風にさらされて), I did like their mellow vibe with varying levels of sunniness. However, I needn't have worried too much since Tower Records does have both their albums "Indian Summer" (September 1976) and "Panorama House" (June 1977). And now I have the latter album.

Even before getting into the music, I was able to glean one bit of interesting information from the liner notes for "Panorama House". Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)wasn't the only New Musician who had taken an interest in the trio of singer-songwriters Mayumi Kaneda(金田真由美), Yumiko Kyoda(京田由美子)and Sachie Takada(高田幸枝). Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実)herself contributed some glowing comments about Mother Goose in the notes, and in fact, the cover with the empty glass and straw happened to have been illustrated by Yuming herself! Apparently the trio visited the Matsutoyas' residence shortly after their wedding and she did the illustration right then and there. I'm awfully glad that Yuming decided to make singing and songwriting her main bread n' butter, but if she had ever decided to go into a different field, I think illustration would have done right by her as well.

Unfortunately, aside from the single version of "Marine Blue" that has been represented by its own YouTube video, the only other evidence of "Panorama House" on the service is through a video with the whole album by uploader remoteconsole. But he/she has kindly provided time information underneath the video, and of course I will mention the times for the tracks that I introduce here, too.

Reading the liner notes, the writer, Yoshi Nagato(長門芳郎), certainly has thrown in a number of specific genres describing the individual tunes. They include folk rock and swamp rock balladry; I actually had to remind myself of what the latter sounded like through a check into YouTube itself.

First up is "Sunrise Girl" which has been described in the notes as a short n' sweet slice of Latin soul written and composed by Kyoda and arranged by Chuei Yoshikawa(吉川忠英). It's the type of beginning that would invite a sip through that glass that Yuming has drawn on the cover.

"Watashi no Doctor"(私のドクター...My Doctor)at 2:50 is described as a pop/soul number a la Tin Pan Alley(ティン・パン・アレー)featuring strings and saxophone. Kyoda provides words and music here as well. I don't know Tin Pan Alley so well that I can immediately sense the similarity between this particular number and a typical song by Haruomi Hosono's(細野晴臣)old unit, but there's a fair split between mystery and action here, including an interesting bridge involving the romantic sax and some very punchy percussion as if there were parallel stories taking place. Kyoda's lyrics are also intriguing since they may involve the protagonist whimsically asking either for a good friend to come by and take the blues away or an actual medical professional to come and cure her of her neuroses.

At 11:48 is "Otsuna Game"(おつなゲーム...A Stylish Game)with Kaneda on lyrics and Kyoda on music. Arranged with a happy looseness that even includes some warming up before the song finally gets started, it has the trio in a humourous back-and-forth about a couple's relationship. Some nice Dixieland jazz with violin work reminiscent of Stephane Grappelli. This is the type of music that I also used to hear on AM radio in that same decade where some of the bands wanted to bring back some of that old-timey cheer.

Then there is "Nagaremono"(流れ者...Stranger)at 23:40 which is that swamp rock ballad that Nagato was referring to in the notes. It's quite the romantic sweep of a tune about a person who's had enough of the cold city and wants to head somewhere warmer, physically and spiritually. I could easily hear this as a City Pop tune but the steel pedal and the harmonica bring in the country. Perhaps the fellow in the song can actually make his immediate world a better paradise in the metropolis instead. Takada took care of this one.

My final contribution here is the album version of "Marine Blue" at 8:00. The single version, which was the B-side to Mother Goose's final single "Boekifu ni Sarasarete" from November 1977 and has been included as a bonus track, was arranged by Tats himself and has its own article on "Kayo Kyoku Plus". That one has a richer and more of an open sunset (for lack of a better way to describe it) arrangement, whereas the album version comes off as being mostly more contemplative and intimate as if it had been meant to be performed in front of good friends and family at a home party. I'm sure that I will come up with more comparisons in the years to come as I continue to play "Panorama House", but I like both versions equally for their differences.

"Panorama House" is appropriately titled since I've been able to get quite a wide swath of styles from Mother Goose. Although it can obviously be played at any time of the day or night, I probably would prefer to hear it sometime in the afternoon. You can have a go at it yourself and let me know what you think.


  1. Hello Canuck,

    Yuming is a graduate of a very well-known art school, Tama Art University where she majored in Japanese paintings. She has used her own paintings for her album's inner sleeves.

    The title of the track #4, おつなゲーム can be written with a kanji "乙なゲーム". "Otsu-na" here means "stylish" or "smart". 

    I remember one of the members falling ill at about the time of their breakup. There's not much info on what exactly happened to them.

    Thank you for the article. It was a blast from the past!


    1. Hi, Kaz.

      Thanks for the information on Yuming and also on the right way to translate "Otsuna Game". Not sure what happened to one of those members at the time of the breakup, but it looks like all of them are currently doing well.

      Always a pleasure talking about some of the unsung singers!


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