Early last year, I encountered Miyoko Nagao's（長尾美代子）"Ashiya Sailing Spot"（芦屋セーリング・スポット）, this really breezy song that I categorized as something of a Resort Pop number, that genre which can be seen as a cousin to City Pop or perhaps a subset of AOR itself. However, I think that I should have been somewhat more precise in my description since when Resort Pop is mentioned, folks (including myself) would think something along the lines of Shonan or Hakone, resorts right along the Pacific coast of Japan.
And yet, "Ashiya Sailing Spot" doesn't describe anything near that area. Ashiya is simply a resort spot in Hyogo Prefecture in the Kansai region, as opposed to the Kanto for Shonan and Hakone. In fact, instead of a beach, I think that Ashiya is more reminiscent of Karuizawa, a resort closer to the mountains where the expensive cottages are situated. Certainly, Nagao and "Ashiya Sailing Spot" come off sounding like a pleasant spring day in the backyard of one of those cottages, perhaps overlooking a pristine blue lake. It is for that reason that I bought her 1981 album, "Miyoko ~ Rivage" which has the song. I was rather curious as to what Ms. Nagao would provide.
Looking at the song list, I saw some very familiar names such as Tetsuji Hayashi（林哲司）, Yasuhiro Abe（安部恭弘）and Yoshiko Miura（三浦徳子）as songwriters, so I figured that there could be a mix of City Pop and AOR. The liner notes also point out Nagao as having that ojou-sama image: the well-educated and well-trained high-class young lady. Doesn't particularly sound like a beach bunny to me and that front cover photo of her strengthens my opinion.
The first track is "Namida wo Sango Iro"（涙を珊瑚色...Coral Tears）which also strikes me as an upbeat but languid song with that image of congenial life in the mountain chalet with Nagao enjoying a nice day on the chaise lounge. The lyrics by Nagao and Chizuru Matsunaga（松永千鶴）depict a young lady deeply missing her beau for some reason. Matsunaga is also the one behind the contemporary yet old-fashioned pop with Shigeru Suzuki（鈴木茂）handling the arrangement.
I mentioned them above, but lyricist Miura and composer Hayashi were responsible for "Mou Umi ni wa Kaeranai"（もう海には帰らない...I Can't Ever Return to the Sea）, a smooth mid-tempo ballad that has a twangy guitar intro which brings in some West Coast AOR memories. There's also something rather Yuming-esque in the song as well as Nagao sings about one final meeting between lovers before parting for good.
"Ame no Boathouse"（雨のボートハウス...Rainy Boathouse）is another tune with Miura's lyrics and Yasuhiro Abe's drive-friendly melody. Things seem to be back in cottage country and it feels as if Nagao is taking a drive from her place down to the market at the foot of the mountain. It's pretty darn cheerful as she's remembering of a past romance.
Well, well, well. When I saw the title "Friday Night", I figured that this had to be a City Pop tune. Sure enough, the funky beat proved my prediction out, and it looks like Nagao decided to paint the town red in Kobe nearby. Kayoko Ono（小野香代子）wrote and composed this one, about a woman in the big city feeling rather jilted, so perhaps it's time to dance the resentment away.
One of those single A-sides is "Bonjour Koi"（ボンジュール恋...Hello Love）, a pleasant slice of music done up in the French pop style. Written by Masako Arikawa（有川正沙子）, who also helped out in the biggest album of 1981, and composed by Hayashi, the French pop gives out near the end and is replaced by some hard-driving AOR before things come to their natural end. Ichizo Seo（瀬尾一三）arranged everything here.
The other single A-side is "Sayonara Tricolore"（さよならトリコロール）, which also has its album equivalent on "Rivage". I believe that this is the album version. The aforementioned Ono composed this tune which has the feeling of a holiday on the French Riviera with some bossa nova thrown in for good measure. Kyoko Matsumiya（松宮恭子）provided the lyrics which are delivered by Nagao as if she's perhaps channeling some Ryoko Moriyama（森山良子）in the 1970s.
"Miyoko ~ Rivage" stands out for that feeling of the Japanese good life in the countryside for the most part with a bit of a city visit. It's fine for the fact that it doesn't insist on staying at the cottage, instead taking those occasional drives into the city and other interesting parts in the surrounding region. Indeed, if the album represented a certain experience, it would be the fun and relaxing weekend with that well-off friend. Although there were at least two singles from Nagao, I'm not sure whether "Rivage" turned out to be her sole album.