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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, July 16, 2019

Minako Honda -- OVERSEA



As I’ve written years ago in my article for “That’sThe Way I Want It”, Minako Honda’s (本田美奈子) “OVERSEA” album, released in June 1987, is my go-to one in the late singer’s discography. Maybe it’s not her strongest offer, but it’s easily the one I like the most and, very recently, I was finally able to buy my own copy of the album, surprisingly enough, here in my own country, Brazil (it’s a relief not to pay for import taxes).


After the release of “1986 no Marilyn” (1986年のマリリン) and the album “LIPS”, both representing her famous Madonna-wannabe phase, Minako Honda took a plane to London and started working with a myriad of musicians, which resulted in an album called “CANCEL” and two interesting singles, “the Cross-Ai no Juujika-” (愛の十字架) and “Crazy nights / Golden Days”, produced by Gary Moore and Queen’s Brian May, respectively. Also, girl surely had a somewhat crazy schedule back then, since she had to go back to Japan between all the networking and recording sessions to promote the stuff there, her main and mostly sole market.


Between all the work in London, Honda still found some time to release a Japanese-produced single, the nice “Oneway Generation”, and, soon enough, was already working on a new album, but this time in the US, with musicians who had worked in La Toya Jackson’s then latest album, “Imagination”. It’s no wonder the aptly titled “OVERSEA”, the final result of this American project (by the way, Honda recorded the whole album in English), is a collection R&B and synthesized-funk of the mid-80s, such as the opening song “Sneak Away” and the already covered “That’s The Way I Want It”, with the occasional soulful ballad, “Take It or Leave it” (an Evie Sands cover, originally released in the 1974 album, “Estate of Mind”) being my favorite example of these, thrown away in the middle of it.


A heavier funk sound is introduced in the album’s second half by the single “Heart Break”, thanks to its sick and relentlessly hypnotic bass sequence that catches all the attention. And there’s also “Plaything”, which follows it, standing as one of the airy and light R&B songs more in the lines of “That’s The Way I Want It”.



The final song is called “You Can Do It”, and it’s also an Evie Sands cover, but this time from her 1979 album, “Suspended Animation”. With it, the funk is back, but this time is the muscular, groovier and more laid-back version of genre, making this song one of the highlights of the album. Love the bass, the synths and even Honda’s performance here.


The “OVERSEA” album reached #4 on the Oricon charts, selling around 58,000 copies (source: http://wagamamakorin.client.jp/saku-minako.html). After its release, but also of “Midnight Swing” in December 1987, Minako Honda changed her music style once more, becoming the frontwoman of the all-female hard rock band Minako with Wild Cats in 1988. Anyway, that’s when my interest in her faded away.

Finally, to see the musicians who worked on “OVERSEA”, here’s the link to the album’s Discogs page: https://www.discogs.com/pt_BR/Minako-Honda-Oversea/release/6088147.

3 comments:

  1. Hi, Marcos.

    Hope you're keeping warm. Very natsukashii listening to this album due to those very 80s arrangements. My favourites so far have been “That’s The Way I Want It” and "Take It or Leave It", especially the latter due to that 70s soul feeling in there. Although she did get out of that hard rock phase to eventually get into musicals, I wonder how it would have been if Honda had decided to stick with the R&B.

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    1. Hi, J-Canuck.

      I’m trying to be the warmest possible, so I even asked my mom to make a crochet hat for me in my favorite colors, light green and light pink. She finished yesterday and it’s very cute.

      Back to the music, “That’s The Way I Want It” is also the one I like the most, but “You Can Do It” has been growing a lot on me since I received the CD a few days ago. In fact, I was surprised, while doing the research for the article, that both “Take It or Leave It” and “You Can Do It” were originally recorded by Evie Sands in the 70s (never heard of her before), so that fact, alongside the aforementioned Janet Jackson connections, kind of explains the whole R&B sound Honda’s Japanese team, but also the American producers and musicians, were aiming for in “OVERSEA”. That said, I’d have liked if Honda had continued in this R&B route, and even the aidoru one, instead of the hard rock or musical thing. But that’s just personal taste, of course.

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    2. Hi, Marcos.

      It's been quite the opposite over here. In fact, Toronto has announced a heat warming since the Humidex will be hitting 45 or 46 degrees Celsius over the next two days. It's gonna be hot although my years in Japan have heatproofed me to a certain extent.

      I never heard of Sands either but it's been interesting how singers and producers in Japan have covered these tunes that I had never heard about. Even with Wink, I hadn't even known that "Turn It Into Love" was a cover of a tune by Kylie Minogue.

      Yes, it would have been interesting if Honda had continued along the R&B route...or perhaps even jazz.

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