Credits

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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Emiko Shiratori -- Irodori no Aki(彩りの秋)


A couple of weeks back or so, one of the commenters was suggesting some other singers with one of them being Emiko Shiratori(白鳥英美子). Now, I've actually heard of Shiratori since she was part of the 1970s duo Toi et Moi(トワ・エ・モワ)and some of her songs were played on my old radio program "Sounds of Japan" back in the 1980s.


Although Shiratori has been listed in J-Wiki as a pop/folk singer, my impression of her through the songs from "Sounds of Japan" is that of someone who is an expert in healing music. As soon as you listen to her, the effect is almost something you would get from a cup of chamomile tea. Her beautiful voice is very calming to the soul.

Some time after the initial breakup of Toi et Moi, Shiratori began her solo career. Her first single coming out in 1982 but it wouldn't be until 1988 that she got her first hit through her cover of "Amazing Grace". However, she had been releasing solo albums since 1973 and her 9th album "Irodori"(彩り...Colours)from September 1992 has this lovely number called "Irodori no Aki" (Colourful Fall).

I did forget what a lovely voice Shiratori has and it's nice to be reminded of it through this ballad. Perhaps that cup of chamomile and some cookies would be fine to have right now. Also, if my tape recorder Jaws is in a kind mood, I may try to track down those old songs of her on the ancient audiotapes of "Sounds of Japan".

Charan-Po-Rantan -- Ocha Shiyo(お茶しよ)


The above is from a local Doutor coffee shop in Tokyo. Yep, a hot dog and an iced milk tea is my thing. No, I didn't need to visit a washroom and then have an Imodium afterwards. It all went down smoothly. Still, even as of 2014, I think Japan needed to work on their frankfurters when it came to hot dogs...just not quite the hot dogs I love here back in Canada. When I came back here to visit over the Holidays, I just had to have my hot dogs for lunch at least twice.

I don't know quite what it is. Nathan's Famous did give it a go in Tokyo for a few years but ultimately failed. I can say that I was one of their more loyal customers since I did love their dogs as something reminiscent of home. But I guess it's just one of those things. The Japanese didn't really go for our franks and I don't particularly go for theirs. The Doutor hot dog was OK but Nathan's or Maple Leaf or Schneiders has nothing to worry about.


Still, going out with a buddy or a few friends and getting some tea and stuff at a local watering hole was one of my favourite pastimes when I was in The Big Sushi. It's easy to get into since there are so many coffee shops and tea rooms in the megalopolis.

Apparently, the sister act of Charan-Po-Rantan(チャラン・ポ・ランタン)thinks similarly since they've come up with their own tribute to a girls' day out on the town with "Ocha Shiyo" (Let's Get Some Tea). The song is so new that the album that it has been recorded on, "Mirage Collage"(ミラージュ・コラージュ), isn't due out until November 1st (two weeks from now).

Up to now, it's been difficult for me to categorize the Matsunaga sisters' sound. Officially, J-Wiki has them pegged as an alternative/chanson/ska duo. I have yet to hear anything on my own from them that would be heard as chanson but I can pick up on the ska. And yet I can also sense some gypsy jazz and perhaps even some old-fashioned chindonya. However, one commenter on YouTube under one of their other videos was perhaps right on the mark when he remarked that it was the first time he had ever heard of Asian polka.

Certainly, there is that genki polka feeling in "Ocha Shiyo" along with Momo (vocal) and Koharu (accordion) bantering frenetically at warp speed (or should I now say spore speed considering "Star Trek Discovery"?) while doing their Harajuku tea thing. Of course, I've been out of practice with my comprehension of youth talk in Shibuya (not that I was all that fluent in the first place) but I think the Matsunagas are using a goodly amount of the current teen patter (although both are now in their twenties). I wouldn't dare butt into such a conversation.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends and doing our old kaffeeklatsch when I hit Tokyo again someday.

Mitsuko Nakamura/Daishiro Masuiyama -- Yume no Hana Sakasou (夢の花 咲かそう)

music-lounge.jp/v2/articl/news/detail/?articl=2012/03/29-18:50:00_479638e1e37992ba46a91b0ef9618683

This picture of Ikuzo Yoshi (吉幾三) doesn't have any relation to the song I'll be talking about in a while, but I'd say it's a good representation of how I felt when I discovered that there are some fans of KKP from Singapore. For some reason, I didn't think that I could come across other natives of The Little Red Dot via this blog. At the same time, I never thought I'd be able to interact with Singaporeans who really know about enka and kayo rather than simply seeing such songs as the originals of popular Chinese covers, so it was a happy yet oddly strange feeling to encounter Francium and Karen. I mean, there are probably more Singaporean readers here too, and there are probably others from the island nation who appreciate more genres of Japanese music than just anisong or current day aidoru/J-rock, just that I'm not aware of/haven't had the chance to interact with them yet. But still, it was quite an amusing and eye-opening experience.


With that thought out, let's move on to the topic at hand. The song I'll be talking about today is "Yume no Hana Sakasou", a fairly recent (2013) entry in the discography of a couple of enka singers I see on the Tube from time to time - the bubbly Mitsuko Nakamura (中村美律子) and the husky Daishiro Masuiyama (増位山太志郎). This was introduced to me via Karen in the comments of my The First article when I asked about the type enka she listens to, and I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected.

I found Nakamura's version first when I looked up "Yume no Hana Sakasou", and my first impression of it was that it kind of reminded me of Hibari Misora's (美空ひばり) "Kawa no Nagare no Youni" (川の流れのように). Soon, I took a liking to Tetsuya Gen's (弦哲也) light and encouraging pop-inclined melody - which still has a hint of enka - for the low horns and the way the rolling drums and smooth strings swell at certain bits. I was also quite surprised to hear something like this from Nakamura as the impression I have of her is that she tackles the traditional side enka, but it's nice to hear that she can pleasantly carry stuff like this as well.


As for Masuiyama's take, it's pretty much the same in terms of arrangement but I find that both singers' differing deliveries give the same song a different flavour. From Takashi Taka's (たかたかし) lyrics, "Yume no Hana Sakasou" seems to be saying that despite how tough life's trials can be, one should persevere as there's always a light at the end of the tunnel - hits pretty close to home at the moment, if you ask me...With Masuiyama's soft and almost Yujiro Ishihara-like vocals, this message sounds rather reflective, as if it's coming from someone who's been through said trials and is now looking back on his experience. On the other hand, Nakamura's spunkier and more hopeful delivery feels like how a maternal figure would encourage you when you've hit a rough patch. Personally, I don't have a favourite version as I like both just as much.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

EPO -- Middle Twenties


Man, I'm going to have to look into making another purchase of an EPO album. "Go Go Epo" was her 9th release from April 1987, and it has that lovely duet between her and soulful Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之)called "Downtown Rhapsody"(Down Townラプソディー).


Now I've found another track from the album titled "Middle Twenties" and it's another humdinger. But what else to expect from EPO? It's a happy-sounding pop song with plenty of fuel that would be right up the alley of folks like Senri Oe(大江千里)and Misato Watanabe(渡辺美里). And yet EPO's lyrics actually have a bit more vinegar as the woman of the story envies a colleague who has just thrown off the shackles of her job and she herself decides to kiss off her boyfriend. I don't think my middle twenties were nearly as dramatic.

However, her thematic loss is my musical gain. "Middle Twenties" has the typical EPO spark and I wouldn't have been surprised if it had been used as the theme song for a trendy drama of the late 1980s. In fact, though, it was used as the campaign song for a commercial involving the Nissan Langley.


Etsuko Sai -- Golden Best(ゴールデン☆ベスト)


Reading about singer-songwriter Etsuko Sai(彩恵津子)in "Japanese City Pop" and then actually listening to one of her trademark tunes, "Reach Out" a few years ago, I finally decided to invest my yen into one of her albums. But still not having a full idea about her discography, I then chose to purchase her BEST compilation as a primer. I found this one titled "Etsuko Sai: Golden Best" which, according to Amazon Japan, was released in 2012.

I got the album some months ago, and perhaps my expectations were too high at the time. I had been hoping that I would get a good earful of smooth bass-heavy City Pop much along the lines of the mysterious Takako Mamiya(間宮貴子). However, that wasn't quite the case; the tracks gave me the impression of a mix of genres flittering among City Pop and regular pop, so I was a bit disappointed. Perhaps that wasn't a fair tally but I couldn't deny my emotions.

But with some passage of time, I listened to it a second time, and this time, my impressions were much more favourable. Simply some adjustment was needed. That has been the case with a few albums I've bought over the decades.

In any case, here is the lineup:

1. Whisper Not(ウイスパーノット)
2. All I Need
3. Don't Say It
4. Eien no Morning Moon(永遠のモーニング・ムーン)
5. Rear Window no Palm Tree(リアウインドゥのパームツリー)
6. Everlasting Dream(エヴァーラスティング・ドリーム)
7. Second Virgin(エヴァーラスティング・ドリーム)
8. Kuchibiru no Junan(くちびるの受難)
9. Side Seat no Natsu(サイドシートの夏)
10. Yuki no Valentine(雪のバレンタイン)
11. Ame ni Egaita Regret(雨に描いたリグレット)
12. Pygmalion(ピグマリオン)
13. Reversible de Koi Shiteiru(リバーシブルで恋してる)
14. Reach Out (Japanese version)
15. Reach Out (English version)
16. Miotsukushi(澪つくし)


Sai's first single was "Whisper Not" from 1984. Listening to this song as the first track, I got that first notice that it wasn't all about City Pop when it came to the Tokyo native. Listening to it again, I received that new feeling of a happy-go-lucky tune with a Jackson 5 flavour. Written by Tetsuya Chiaki(ちあき哲也)and composed by Tetsuya Furumoto(古本鉄也), "Whisper Not" definitely had that more mature pop sense and seemed to be about a feckless young lady who was taunting a soon-to-be ex-lover.


"All I Need" was her 2nd single and the title track from her 2nd album which was released in 1985. The J-Wiki article for Sai listed the album as having been recorded in Los Angeles, and just from listening to this particular song, I felt that it had that taste of 1980s AOR. It was written and composed by Soo Jeffers. Slapped myself upside the head since I wondered why I didn't fall for "All I Need" the first time because I always did love that particular keyboard used in there.


From her 3rd album "Delication" (1986) comes "Reversible de Koishiteiru" (Falling In Love Inside Out). It isn't quite an earworm but I like the horns and I finally get my bass. This is where I get my bright lights and big city from listening to this one. Furumoto from "Whisper Not" also composed this uptempo song with Sai providing the lyrics.


Seeing that title of Sai's 4th single for the first time, "Rear Window no Palm Tree" (Palm Tree Through The Rear Window) from January 1986, I couldn't help but think of a certain Alfred Hitchcock movie. Having said that, the actual song is far less urgent although the lyrics by Sai speak of the bittersweet end of a relationship while taking in the seashore sights. Furumoto once again provided the music although it's a much more languid melody.


In a way, this may be another movie shoutout. "Pygmalion" was the source for the famous Rex Harrison/Audrey Hepburn hit "My Fair Lady", and it's also a track from Sai's 4th original album "Passio" from October 1986 as well as her 7th single from November of that year. Although the setting seems to be Tokyo, the arrangement has that pan-Asian atmosphere as a woman who has helped mold her beau into something of a ladykiller on the dance floor. Chinfa Kan(康珍化), under his pen name of Shirusu Morita(森田記), wrote the lyrics this time, while Tetsuya Tsujihata(辻畑鉄也)composed "Pygmalion".


I could only find "Miotsukushi" (Marks In A Water Channel) through the Apple site as an excerpt but I wanted to include this one not only because it is the last track on Sai's "Golden Best" but it is also a melodic outlier compared to the other tracks. It was actually the theme song for an NHK morning serial drama of the same title from 1985 about life in Choshi City, Chiba Prefecture between the 1920s to the postwar era. With lyrics by James Miki(ジェームス三木)and music by Shinichiro Ikebe(池辺晋一郎), "Miotsukushi" has that old-fashioned beauty and Sai's voice matches the feeling of how I thought ballads were sung back in the early 20th century.

Happily, my reaction to Sai's "Golden Best" has been improving and it has me interested in more of her original albums (hopefully they aren't too difficult to track down) if only to find some more gems that perhaps should also have been included on her BEST compilation.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Takeo Fujishima -- Hajimete Kita Minato (初めて来た港)


On the first Takeo Fujishima(藤島桓夫)article I wrote for the blog, I mentioned that the late enka singer performed a series of songs based on ports early in his career. Well, I've come across the first in that series titled appropriately enough "Hajimete Kita Minato" (First-Time Port), released in 1954.


Ports are an oft-used trope in enka and Mood Kayo. It's not that surprising either because the harbours are the launch points for adventures beyond and the destinations for wide-eyed newcomers. Plus, they can make for ideal spots to say goodbye to a loved one or simply a love relationship. Fujishima and songwriter Kazuo Toyoda(豊田一雄)started their series of port-based songs with this one to describe the protagonist's experiences at his first port that left a lifetime of impression despite a short stay of just 4 or 5 days. As they say, you always remember your first.


Y'know, I actually enjoy this live performance of "Hajimete Kita Minato" by Fujishima even more than the original recording although the latter expressed the cheerful hustle and bustle of a postwar port. I guess it's because Fujishima's voice gained some more timbre in the years since he first recorded the song so that there is a bit more grandeur involved.


But I gotta say that Ichiro Toba's(鳥羽一郎)cover of the 1954 original is simply great. He's got the fine gravelly voice and the arrangement is gentle and happily work-a-day. It's as if that same port from decades back lost the frenetic peak of bustle in the immediate postwar period only to gain a certain comfortable groove of activity as the years passed by. According to the notes on YouTube, Toba's version was on his 1989 release, "Kokoro ni Shimiru Omoide no Uta"(心に沁みる思い出の歌...Beloved Songs To Warm The Heart). The title says it all.

Ramjet Pulley/Momoiro Clover Z/The Launchers -- Hello...good bye


Happy Monday! Back in early 2013, I wrote about Ramjet Pulley and their dreamy "Overjoyed" that I purchased on a whim after seeing their music video on one of the music channels one Sunday. It was quite the different song.

I had been wondering for a while about finding another Ramjet Pulley tune since until now it was the only such tune represented on the blog, and I was interested in hearing any other stuff from them. Well, this morning I encountered their debut single from November 2000, "Hello...good bye".

Written by RP bassist Satomi Makashi(麻越さとみ)and composed by guitarist Kazunobu Majima(間島和伸), vocalist Akiko Matsuda(松田明子)sings with a bit more of an understated smokier funk when it comes to "Hello...good bye". I couldn't quite understand the lyrics but they are a mix of English and Japanese, delivered in a way that made me wonder whether Matsuda wanted to reveal a new sort of pidgin language. Furthermore, the other remarkable thing was that the song in general reminded me of another band that was coming to the fore at about the same time, Love Psychedelico.

"Hello...good bye" was also on Ramjet Pulley's debut album "a cup of day" which was released in September 2001. It peaked at No. 100.

(from about 8:23)

In 2013, the group Momoiro Clover Z(ももいろクローバーZ)performed a cover version of "Hello...good bye" with a bit more aidoru oomph and completely different lyrics by Makoshi. It was recorded onto MomoClo's collection of their indies best, "Iriguchi no nai Deguchi"(入口のない出口...An Exit Without An Entrance)which hit No. 2 after its release in June of that year.


Another interesting thing I found out about "Hello...good bye" was that it had also been covered back in the same year as the original Ramjet Pulley release by The Launchers. This group is not to be mistaken with the Group Sounds band of the 1960s. Instead, these Launchers were born from a late afternoon BS Asahi variety program called "Harajuku Launchers" (Harajukuロンチャーズ...as I've dubbed the band in the Labels) which had its run between December 2000 and September 2003.


One of the things about Japanese TV broadcasting that I learned was that the near-dinner and dinner hours during the weekdays had some of the more local channels delve more into niche programming geared toward kids or housewives instead of the usual anime or news shows. "Harajuku Launchers" wove between 5 and 7 pm on the weeknights from Monday to Friday and touted itself as a girls' program made by girls and made for girls.

From what I saw on the J-Wiki article for "Harajuku Launchers" was that during its relatively brief time on the airwaves, there was a battalion of young women who represented the new up-and-coming members of the Stardust Promotion talent agency and some of them who appeared on the show included actress Erika Sawajiri(沢尻エリカ)and seiyuu-singer Megumi Nakajima(中島愛).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Wink -- Joanna




I had breakfast with the parents at a nearby Eggsmart this morning, a local diner chain which has a pretty sumptuous Classic of eggs, sausages, potatoes and toast with bottomless cups of coffee (of course). My doctor doesn't like me having the stuff but I like it. And didn't I say last week that my bad cholesterol went out a tad? I'll take any points I can get.

My intro here is to talk about the old Kool & The Gang song, "Joanna" from 1983. It was about as warm and sweet as the maple syrup that my Dad used to pour on his buttermilk pancakes, and the official music video took place in an old-fashioned diner where the titular Joanna, beloved owner, was serving the band and her favourite customers. "Joanna" also got lots of love from listeners (hit No. 1 with a bullet on the US Billboard R&B charts) and it was so very nice to hear that mellow trombone near the end again. I remember the video being shown over and over again on the local channels.


Well, hello Wink! It's been a while. I was surprised many years later when I bought my copy of their "Twin Memories" album and found out that the duo did a cover of "Joanna". Although Kool & The Gang will always corner the market with their hit, I think Wink...specifically Sachiko Suzuki(鈴木早智子)who handled the main vocal part...did a pretty nice job with the song. And I gotta give some respect to Neko Oikawa(及川眠子)who provided the Japanese lyrics. Suzuki sounded quite smooth singing them.

"Twin Memories" came out in December 1989. If I'm not mistaken, it was the first Wink album that I ever purchased while I was in my little town of Tsukiyono. It peaked at No. 2 on Oricon.

Jake H. Concepcion -- Pure Imagination


Well, as they say, I'll be darnder than shoo-fly pie!


After decades seeing his name on lots of liner notes and hearing his wonderful saxophone on lots of Japanese pop songs, I actually discovered that Jake H. Concepcion(ジェイク・コンセプション)sang! And may I say, he does pretty nicely, especially on one of my adored songs, "Pure Imagination" which was sung by the late Gene Wilder on the original "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" back in 1971.

Concepcion's sung version made its presence known on his 1983 album "J", and of course, his saxophone also has a nice part in "Pure Imagination". The arrangement has that soaring laidback AOR feeling but the magic of the original is still in there which goes to show how great songwriters Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley were.


It's been a little over a year since Wilder passed away. And even though he was hilarious in those Mel Brooks' capers "Young Frankenstein" and "Blazing Saddles" and through his work with Richard Pryor, I think I will always cherish him as Willy Wonka especially in the scene above.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Hideki Saijo -- Gypsy(ジプシー)


December 20th 1981!

That was the release date of Hideki Saijo's(西城秀樹)40th single "Gypsy". Now as readers of "Kayo Kyoku Plus" may have figured out, I don't usually put down the full release dates (no particular reason, I just don't) of singles and albums. However, I made an exception for this one since I distinctly remember seeing Mr. Young Man on the 32nd edition of NHK's Kohaku Utagassen which was televised on December 31st 1981.

Can you see the notable thing about the above dates?

Usually the selection process for the singers and songs to get onto the New Year's Eve special is completed some weeks before it happens. So how did Saijo manage to appear on the Kohaku when "Gypsy" was officially released a mere 11 days before showtime? Well, therein lies a tale apparently. According to the J-Wiki article for the song, a few months previously in October 1981, there was an accident in which he and aidoru Naoko Kawai(河合奈保子)were involved in a fall at NHK during a rehearsal of the music program "Let's Go Young"(レッツゴーヤング).

Now, when I first read the statement on the accident in the article, I had thought I read that NHK allowed Saijo on as a form of apology to him for the incident. But the sentence actually read "...as an apology to NHK..." which struck me as totally weird. So does that mean NHK blamed Saijo for "screwing up" the taping because he accidentally fell? That would indicate his "punishment" was getting onto the Kohaku. I think there is some mistake in writing there.


In any case, what may have been the fastest invitation to get onto the Kohaku from a single did occur and Saijo was in. Perhaps there may have been other male acts that were more deserving to get invited but as it is, "Gypsy" is a pretty dynamic tune that sounds like something that should have gotten onto the soundtrack for a 1970s American detective show like "Starsky & Hutch" or "Baretta". And as a number to get the masses all hot and bothered at the beginning of the special, it did the trick. He was always quite the showman, that Hideki.

"Gypsy" peaked at No. 15 and ended up as the 55th-ranked song for 1982. It was written by Yukinojo Mori(森雪之丞)and composed by Kisaburo Suzuki(鈴木キサブロー), and was also a track on Saijo's 10th anniversary BEST album "Seishun 3650/Saijo Hideki"(青春3650/西城秀樹...Youth 3650/Hideki Saijo)from November 1982.

Kazuhiko Kato -- Today


It's definitely feeling more like autumn today. Cooler and it's been overcast for the most part although the rain has been fairly minimal. Still, pleasant enough to walk around in.


The late composer Kazuhiko Kato(加藤和彦)was one of those singer-songwriters who started his career in the J-Folk genre from the 1960s and then began to diversify through a number of other types of music. He and his buddy Osamu Kitayama(北山修)created one of the classic folk songs in Japan, "Ano Subarashii Ai wo Mou Ichido"(あの素晴らしい愛をもう一度)but over a decade later, he with his second wife, lyricist Kazumi Yasui(安井かずみ), brought together one of the most famous anison, "Ai Oboeteimasuka?"(愛・おぼえていますか)for singer Mari Iijima(飯島真理).

In between, he was composing and singing a mix of folk, pop, and New Music/J-AOR numbers. I found this lovely song on YouTube from his 1978 4th album "Gardenia"(ガーディニア)simply titled "Today". Also given lyrics by Yasui, I fell for "Today" quickly since it has that lovely bossa nova melody in there along with some vocal assistance by New Music, and later, jazz singer Kimiko Kasai(笠井紀美子). It probably would be just the musical tonic for a gloomy day like today.

A lot of good backup is in there. Ryuichi Sakamoto(坂本龍一)is on keyboards, Yukihiro Takahashi(高橋幸宏)is on drums, Happy End member Shigeru Suzuki(鈴木茂)is in there with his electric guitar, Tsugutoshi Goto(後藤次利)is on bass and Nobu Saito(斉藤ノブ)is taking care of the percussion. Finally, Kato himself is handling the acoustic guitar. The J-Wiki article on "Gardenia" categorizes the album as samba/bossa nova/AOR, which would fit the period of time when singers such as Saki Kubota(久保田早紀)and Keiko Maruyama(丸山圭子)were melodically exploring Japan's impressions of foreign lands.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Chocolate Lips -- Weekend Lover


Nice song to write about since it is indeed a Friday (the 13th). Marcos V.'s mention of Miho Fujiwara(藤原美穂)in his article "Marcos V.’s Special Selection Vol. II" recently reminded me that the lady was once the vocalist for the J-Funk band Chocolate Lips back in the 1980s.


Yup, I really ought to track their album "Chocolate Lips" down. I found another track from their 1984 record, and though it isn't quite as catchy as "Day Dreamin'", the first song that I discovered by the band, "Weekend Lover" is still a nice piece of tight funk. And I think Fujiwara is one of those underrated singers of the genre. I do love that beat and the saxophone plus the keyboard sure sound sweet.

It's when I listen to the old-school R&B that I start appreciating some of the music that Bruno Mars has been introducing or re-introducing in recent years. Wouldn't mind a call back to the more soulful brand of the genre.

Nogizaka 46 -- Juu-san Nichi no Kinyoubi (13日の金曜日)


Happy Friday the 13th! Yes, believe it or not, even before the concept was associated with hockey mask-wearing nutjobs, it had already been known as a bad luck day. As such, I decided to see if there were even any kayo out there to signify this auspicious day.


Well, yes and no. I didn't find a kayo per se but I did find something from the recent J-Pop realm, and it turned out to have the exact title "Juu-san Nichi no Kinyoubi" (Friday The 13th). The song was one of the tracks on Nogizaka 46's(乃木坂46)5th single, "Kimi no Na wa Kibou"(君の名は希望...Your Name Is Hope)from March 13th 2013. I had wondered whether that single was released on a Friday but nope, it was actually a Wednesday.

In any case, far from it sounding like a Halloween tune, "Juu-san Nichi no Kinyoubi" had that pleasantly fun & cheerful (if eminently forgettable) melody by Naonobu Amimoto(網本ナオノブ)backing Yasushi Akimoto's(秋元康)lyrics about a boy and a girl having fun together with a group of other friends, only when it's time for everyone to head home, said boy and girl are back alone. As Akimoto wrote down pretty insightfully, this is when horror and love actually share a common feature: both spike the emotions.

The other notable thing about "Juu-san Nichi no Kinyoubi" is its music video. It all centered on a flash mob performance by the Type-B group of Nogizaka 46 (I take it that means the second-stringers of the group) at Mitsui Outlet Park Yokohama Bayside about a month before the single's release (the poor lasses must have been freezing in those spring dresses). I have to say that the production staff and the 46 planned it out with the precision of the Impossible Missions Force. The customers who were caught off-guard apparently were there for some big sale, according to J-Wiki.

We can all hope that our Friday the 13th is as happy.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hayabusa -- Romantic Tokyo(ロマンティック東京)

Ueno-Hirokoji

On the news tonight, CTV told me that the top 4 safest cities on the planet were:

1. Tokyo
2. Osaka
3. Singapore
4. Toronto

Yeah, my hometown is the 4th-safest city on Earth for 2017. Perhaps...no, probably, it is my well-honed cynicism and the supposed self-effacing nature of Canadians, but Mr. Survey....YA GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! Really? Pedestrians are getting killed and injured by cars almost nightly, there seems to be regular gun battles in the northwest of the city and certain other neighbourhoods, and now I'm starting to think that any Tim Hortons coffee shop past sunset gains a bullseye. Maybe we're a distant No. 4 way down below Singapore. And perhaps we're not quite as bullet-ridden as Chicago but still that ranking for us is hard to believe.

Shibuya

Anyways, enough about my minuscule rant. I can believe that Tokyo would get the No. 1 ranking although lifelong citizen students over there have confided in me that the megalopolis is getting more dangerous. I guess it really depends on one's point of view. But for me, there are some really nice areas at night in The Big Sushi. I loved walking through shiny glittery Ginza, Akasaka, and even slightly seedy East Shinjuku and Ueno.

(short version)

Therefore, with that prelude, I bring you "Romantic Tokyo" by Mood Kayo trio Hayabusa(はやぶさ). I first saw Hikaru(ヒカル), Yamato(ヤマト)and Shouya(ショウヤ)on an episode of NHK's "Gogo Uta"(ごごウタ...Afternoon Songs), the afternoon kayo program (I will have to write about that one someday soon), and they performed something rather offbeat which I will also explain in a future article. However, I want to write about a song that has been part of their raison d'etre since Hayabusa first started in 2011.

(karaoke version)

Only Hikaru is from Yokohama but Hayabusa's first three singles centered on the bayside city. "Romantic Tokyo", their 4th single from October 2014, shifted things to the capital, and it is truly a romantic musical ride through Tokyo. You can just imagine a mature couple tripping the light fantastic through the various neighbourhoods peeled off in the song.

(empty karaoke version)

Tsubasa Kazu(かず翼)provided the lyrics while Masayoshi Tsuruoka(鶴岡雅義)of the veteran Mood Kayo group Masayoshi Tsuruoka & Tokyo Romantica(鶴岡雅義と東京ロマンチカ)composed the song with that old-fashioned Latin flavour of the genre from the 1960s. Old is truly new again. "Romantic Tokyo" made it all the way up to No. 19 on Oricon.

Ginza

Claire/Yoko Takahashi/Hikaru Utada/Kotono Mitsuishi -- Fly Me To The Moon


As someone who grew up listening to standards and watching some of those old variety shows featuring folks like Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett and the original Rat Pack, the song "Fly Me To The Moon" is old hat to me.


Written and composed by Bart Howard in 1954, I was surprised to discover that the very first singer to try it out was actress and comedian Kaye Ballard. Now I believe that 99.9% of the readers of this article have probably never heard of her. In fact, aside from myself, I can only think of 2 other fellows with any connection to this blog who may have heard of her. As for me, she was one of the earliest TV personalities that I ever remember. My two adjectives for her are zany and loud-mouthed.


Usually when the title pops up in my head, the two folks who readily come to mind are Frank Sinatra and the aforementioned Tony Bennett as seen above. When these guys sang it, you knew that "Fly Me To The Moon" was a classic.



About 41 years after "Fly Me To The Moon" was first sung by Ballard, the legendary anime "Neon Genesis Evangelion"(新世紀エヴァンゲリオン)launched in October 1995. Of course, part of the show's lasting success was the opening theme, "Zankoku na Tenshi no Tehze"(残酷な天使のテーゼ)that seems to be an absolute must for any anime fan to get to know. In fact, one friend even remarked that it should be sung as an anthem of sorts. Well, I like my anime but I will simply listen and enjoy "Zankoku na Tenshi no Tehze".

For years, though, I also heard that a version of "Fly Me To The Moon" was also used in "Evangelion". And my first thought was "Why would anyone think of using a Tony Bennett song in an anime?" At the time, jazz and anison couldn't quite mesh with me...and this was before I discovered "Tank" for the later anime hit "Cowboy Be-Bop".

Then today, I had my follow-up appointment with my doctor to find out that my bad cholesterol had decreased somewhat, and I was able to get a small translation assignment done pretty lickety-split. So my levels of whimsy were frankly off the scale and I decided to check out what "Evangelion" could do with "Fly Me To The Moon".

Dang, quite a lot actually. I had the window to my room open today so a lot of refreshingly cold air wafted in. Plus I heard the ending theme for "Evangelion" which was indeed "Fly Me To The Moon". And boy, my goose pimples were extremely exhausted! Singer and graphic designer Claire Littley had me at "Fly". Well, that's not exactly true...Toshiyuki Omori(大森俊之)who composed "Zankoku na Tenshi no Tehze" arranged the old standard as a nearly tear-inducing and goosebump-exploding bossa jazz epic right from note one. I still don't know who on the production staff was inspired to get this song but I hope he got a fat bonus at the end of the year. Tony could be standing up and giving some applause.



Littley's full version is above. Apparently, a couple of versions of the CD single was released a few weeks after the beginning of "Evangelion" with Claire and "Zankoku" singer Yoko Takahashi(高橋洋子)singing their takes on "Fly Me To The Moon".


Takahashi's 4-beat version is above in its TV size. Her take is a more straight-ahead jazz combo. The CD single that had both versions peaked at No. 52 on Oricon, while the other single that had Takahashi's "Zankoku" and then Claire's "Fly Me" got all the way up to No. 17.


But that wasn't the only version of "Fly Me To The Moon" associated with Japanese pop culture that I remember. Hikaru Utada(宇多田ヒカル)recorded her tribute to the song as a coupling song to her 5th single "Wait & See ~ Risk"(Wait&See 〜リスク〜)from April 2000. Her take was officially titled "Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)".

The famous "White Christmas", to my surprise, actually had an original opening verse which referred to boring sunny life in Los Angeles. I found out that "Fly Me To The Moon" is in the same situation. It also had an opening verse that was usually not sung but is sung here by Utada and also by Bennett above. Not surprisingly, Utada's tribute has more of that downtown grooviness but the arrangement is still light enough that I have categorized it as a pop song rather than something from the R&B genre. "Wait & See" hit No. 1 on the charts and broke the million barrier, becoming the 3rd-ranked single of 2000.


I couldn't finish this article without mentioning that one of the seiyuu in "Evangelion", veteran Kotono Mitsuishi(三石琴乃), also covered "Fly Me To The Moon" along with some of the other voice actresses on the show. Considering her most famous role, I kinda wonder if it shouldn't have been titled "Fly Me To The (Sailor) Moon". Har de har har!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

REBECCA -- MONOTONE BOY


All the way back in December 2012, I was writing the article for "Friends"(フレンズ), arguably the most famous hit for the 80s rock band REBECCA(レベッカ), and I made the remark that I wasn't particularly impressed by my first view of them performing the song "MONOTONE BOY" when they appeared on one of the music shows. Perhaps it was "The Best 10" or "The Top 10", I'm not sure.


Well, I finally decided to give "MONOTONE BOY" another go after many years. Incidentally, this was REBECCA's 7th single from April 1987 with music by band keyboardist Akio Dobashi(土橋安騎夫)and words by Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆).

I can say that the wonderful filters of time and nostalgia have helped. Although I cannot say that I have found a love for "MONOTONE BOY", it's no longer the grating first impression I got from NOKKO and company. Furthermore, I think part of my initial dislike for the song was due to the fact that I hadn't quite meshed Japanese pop music with rock music since at the time it was all about the aidoru and the enka. So I think the whole REBECCA thing had caught me off-guard


Therefore pseudo-feud ended. And it was obvious that I had been very much in the minority since it went all the way up to No. 3 on Oricon and ended up as the 50th-ranked single for 1987. The song was also the theme for the 1987 coming-of-age flick "Binetsu Shonen"(微熱少年...Feverish Boys)based on the novel written by lyricist Matsumoto himself. He even directed the movie! The movie's cast also had its supporting characters played by some famous musicians such as Ryoko Moriyama(森山良子), Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)and Takuro Yoshida(吉田拓郎). "MONOTONE BOY" ended up on the official soundtrack.


As a little bonus, you can see a whole bunch of ads featuring REBECCA.

Kozo Murashita -- Gozen Reiji(午前零時)


It's been a good long while since I put up a Kozo Murashita(村下孝蔵)song so to prepare, I listened to his first BEST compilation "Utabito - Song Collection -"(歌人〜ソングコレクション〜...Poet)from May 1984. I only have three of his albums including "Utabito" so it's nowhere near his total output so my image of him includes that lovely cover above which was illustrated by Tamotsu Murakami(村上保). My other image is of him strumming on the guitar in a business suit while sitting on a stool.


Over the years, I've come to realize that the late singer-songwriter also had a distinctive sound. It wasn't just his unique voice but also how Murashita melded the folksy flavour of his music with synths as was the case with his most successful pop hit, "Hatsukoi"(初恋), and also a bit of urgent rock. This would apply here with "Gozen Reiji". Now I was going to translate this as "12 Midnight" but I also saw some YouTuber write it down as "AM 0:00" which looked cooler so I went with that.

Murashita did indeed write and compose "Gozen Reiji" originally as a track for his 2nd album "Izuko e"(何処へ...To Where)from April 1981. But despite the first few notes of gentle piano, a cool rock rumble suddenly floods in thanks to an echoing electric guitar and some crashing percussion. It's not exactly the balladeer Murashita I've come to know but that's perfectly fine. He and his work here are kakkoii!


I would even posit that the song kinda takes him and us into the territory of Yosui Inoue(井上陽水)or Shogo Hamada(浜田省吾). A sports car doesn't even enter my mind when imagining the setting for "Gozen Reiji". It has to be a motorcycle bombing down that highway...no other conveyance will do. And according to the lyrics, the rider isn't in a happy place right now. It's not a sleepy and peaceful midnight; the poor guy is going out of his mind due to a possible crash in his relationship, and he's kicking himself in the head for being such a wuss...and if he doesn't stop by a McDonalds somewhere, he and Yamaha may end up wrapped around a pole permanently.

One commenter on YouTube also made the point but I have to toast my glass to Murashita in terms of the clever way he put the words "kurai, kurai"(暗い暗い...dark, dark)in the chorus to also sound like "cry, cry". Well played, sir! And I have to give my compliments to the guy who made the video directly above...very slick.


Yujiro Ishihara & Ruriko Asaoka -- Yuuhi no Oka(夕陽の丘)


Heard this one on a recent "Uta Kon" (due to NHK going long on its newscast, last night's episode was summarily canceled for the TV audience at least) where a movie scene of Yujiro Ishihara and Ruriko Asaoka(石原裕次郎・浅丘ルリ子)were walking pensively at a harbour.


The movie in question was "Yuuhi no Oka" (Sunset Hill) from 1964 and although the J-Wiki article on the film didn't expressly mention it, it was most likely based on the duet between Ishihara and Asaoka released in September 1963. Hit songs often got made into movies back then in Japan.

What struck me about the song "Yuuhi no Oka" (and according to a lot of the travel articles I've translated over the past few months, the Japanese do love their observation points looking toward the setting sun) was that it was an Ishihara song that was closer to the enka/general kayo side of things rather than the Mood Kayo I've usually associated Tough Guy with. And it's rather mournful as well; although I couldn't get a complete understanding of the lyrics by Shiro Hagiwara(萩原四朗), the feeling is that the protagonist is heading to the titular hill to try to forget the end of a love affair. It's been quite the enka trope for folks to head way out of the city to purge themselves of the sad feelings once a romance is done.


Kenroku Uehara(上原賢六)took care of the music which sounds like something that an old-fashioned balladeer would have played on his guitar or accordion as he walked through the side streets of downtown Tokyo back in the postwar era. Again, there is a certain dirge-like quality to it which could have gotten the drinkers inside to get a little more introspective about life.

The video directly above the previous paragraph looks like one open karaoke session with Ishihara and Asaoka doing the performance. Asaoka appears somewhat embarrassed while what looks like the Japanese version of the kayo Rat Pack patiently listens to the duo before getting its chance at the microphone. It must be quite the thing to see this sort of old coverage for kayo fans.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Masahiro Kuwana -- Sayonara no Natsu(さよならの夏)


Saw the trailer for "The Last Jedi", the next installment of the "Star Wars" saga. It's hard to believe that it's been 40 years since "A New Hope" blasted away on movie screens everywhere. I still remember lining up at the theatre up north of my place for over an hour to finally see the original "Star Wars" for the first time...two years after it was first released. That theatre had been playing the movie everyday for over 24 months and it was still attracting snake-like lines! Mind you, those were the days when VCRs were still new so the only source to see the movie was paying those bucks over and over at the theatre. Different times, they were.


Several weeks after the release of "A New Hope" in 1977, the late Masahiro Kuwana(桑名正博)released his 2nd album "Masahiro II"(マサヒロ・II)in July. Of course, the one song by him I know really well is his big hit from 1979, the oddly-titled but funkalicious and disco-y "Sexual Violet No. 1" (maybe I was standing in line for "Star Wars" at the Fairview when it was released).

However, this earlier track from "Masahiro II" is "Sayonara no Natsu" (The Goodbye Summer), a nicely soulful and sunset ballad that does bring up memories of walking along the shore towards Kamakura back in October 2014. I swear, listening to this one had me judging that this could be one of the best concoctions by the team of lyricist Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆)and composer Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)that I have ever heard. And Kuwana has got more great backup from his fellow musicians such as Yukihiro Takahashi(高橋ユキヒロ)on drums, Masayoshi Takanaka(高中正義)on guitar, and Tsugutoshi Goto(後藤 次利)on bass.

Still, what brings it together are the sweet and mellow vocals of Kuwana himself. He gives "Sayonara no Natsu" some great soul. It just goes to show that great City Pop wasn't just restricted to the 1980s.

H ZETTRIO -- Ashita no Waltz(あしたのワルツ)

From iamsteveu2
https://www.flickr.com/photos/15303327@N03/2343884864/

Yeah, that's the Aflac Duck above. I never thought that he would ever come into the pages of "Kayo Kyoku Plus" but there you are and there he is. Even in Japan, the insurance industry's only avian spokesbeing has become a fixture on television.


Now, why would I talk about the Aflac Duck? Well, a few weeks ago on NHK's "Banana Zero Music"(バナナ♪ゼロミュージック), this triumvirate of clowns who looked like they appeared from the old "Red Skelton" variety show popped up for one segment. I was rather intrigued by this group called H ZETTRIO so I did a bit more digging and found out that they were this jazz piano trio that has been around since 2013.

And in doing my musical archaeology, I came across this lovely example of piano jazz by them called "Ashita no Waltz" (Waltz for Tomorrow) from 2014. It's quite reminiscent of "Waltz for Debby" by Bill Evans, the pianist who finally brought me aboard into the jazz world while I was living in Japan. Probably it would make for a nice theme song for a walk in Ueno Park.


OK, I am now getting to the Aflac connection. Apparently, "Ashita no Waltz" was used as the campaign song for the insurance company's series of commercials. There is something quite soothing about the tune, and certainly the title is quite hopeful.

H ZETTRIO consists of pianist H ZETT, bassist H ZETT NIRE and drummer H ZETT KOU. H ZETT, aka Masayuki Hiizumi(樋泉昌之),  was a member of a couple of bands, the jazz instrumental group Pe'z in 1999 and then Ringo Shiina's(椎名林檎)Tokyo Jihen(東京事変)for about a year between 2004 and 2005.

Monday, October 9, 2017

J-Canuck's Favourite Mood Kayo (ムード歌謡)


Reading Noelle's list of her favourite songs from the 1930s and 1940s, I decided it was time to talk about my likes in the shibui genre of Mood Kayo. Originally, I had been musing about getting a large list together of both enka and Mood Kayo but having done this blog for some years now, I've come to the realization that although both genres might occupy the same general watering hole with overlapping topics, so to speak, they are different customers in my estimation. Enka is about the old traditional Japan with the traditional instruments, often out in the more scenic countryside areas. Mood Kayo is more about kayo of the urban areas, specifically the bars and nightclubs, accompanied by Western instruments giving hints of jazz or Latin. Having just said that, perhaps this genre was the City Pop of the immediate postwar period even before City Pop.

In any case, let me begin. And considering the number of Mood Kayo that is already on display here, I have plenty of favourites but I had to winnow things down to a number I could count on both hands.


1. Yujiro Ishihara -- Brandy Glass (1977)

Yup, Noelle pegged it. This is the one I would begin with to discuss any Mood Kayo. At the time I first discovered this croon-worthy ballad by The Tough Guy back in 1981, I had assumed that it was a jazzier version of enka. And speaking of firsts, I would say that this was one of the very first Mood Kayo that I listened to and liked. Listening to Ishihara's dulcet tones and the dramatic arrangement (piano flourish, sharp trumpet, operatic lady), I always think of the Ginza or Akasaka districts in Tokyo and the late great Ishihara swirling around a tumbler of that titular brandy while inhaling an expensive cigarette and inhabiting his favourite place in his favourite nightclub.


2. Frank Nagai and Kazuko Matsuo -- Tokyo Nightclub (1959)

Of course, if I'm talking about nightclubs, I have to make that smooth-as-brandy segue into "Tokyo Nightclub". One of the true classic kayo duets, I was listening to this long before I even got interested in Japanese music, thanks to Dad's stereo. Although the nightclubs were all the post-dinner thing during the really profitable times of Economic Miracle Japan, I always wondered how regular folks saw nightclubs during the time that this song first hit it big. Was it seen and heard as this fantasy place that only the well-to-do movers and shakers could enter? If so, then those staged settings of fancy nightclubs and that Latin sound definitely helped in creating the illusion.


3. Takashi Hosokawa -- Kita Sakaba (1982)

Like "Brandy Glass" above, "Kita Sakaba" was one of the first Mood Kayo that I ever came across and took on the familiar trope of drinking. Unlike Ishihara's classic, though, Hosokawa's trademark tune was quite light on its feet. I always imagine a slightly tipsy Hosokawa and friends doing some major barhopping in northern Japan where each of the establishments are small affairs with plenty of carousing and imbibing. No time for introspection into the tumbler here; just knock back those glasses of beer or shochu and exhale mightily and satisfactorily before moving onto the next place. You can link onto the title above for my article and also here to get contributor Francium's take on "Kita Sakaba".


4. Hiroshi Itsuki -- Yokohama Tasogare (1971)

Also one of the first Mood Kayo that I got to know shortly after my awakening to Japanese pop music, I first listened to the empty karaoke version of Itsuki's most famous song for a number of months before I was finally able to hear the full-throated take. I hadn't been aware of how old "Yokohama Tasogare" was or even what one of Japan's largest cities was like but I knew that I was listening to something cool and urban and it did get my interest up in actually visiting Yokohama. I'm happy to say that I've been there a number of times now.


5. Teresa Teng -- Tsugunai (1984)

I knew that I had to include a Teresa Teng number into this list as much as I had to include a Yujiro Ishihara ballad, but the tough thing was that when it came to the late Ms. Teng's discography, it was actually hard to pick which one of her Mood Kayo songs would be the appropriate one. However, I ultimately decided to go with the one ballad that always got me in the heart, and that would be "Tsugunai". It definitely fulfills the Mood Kayo condition in that it does evoke a certain mood of nostalgia and romance but it's something that goes far beyond the bars and clubs of Tokyo; I hinted in the original article that there was something of the European enka about it. Well, when I listen to "Tsugunai", there is always that feeling of the Riviera and perhaps a drinking establishment there that might even be too pricey for most Japanese executives under President to enter.


6. Hiroshi Uchiyamada and The Cool Five -- Nagasaki wa Kyou mo Ame Datta (1969)

To wrap up my list of favourite Mood Kayo, of course, I also had to find a representative of the vocal groups. And this time, there was no dawdling on my choice. When it comes to Mood Kayo groups, the first one that comes to mind is The Cool Five with the stolid Kiyoshi Maekawa as the lead vocal. That saxophone, the mellow melody and of course the harmony by The Cool Five themselves make it all worthwhile. This would be the ideal ballad to take a walk along Nagasaki Bay at night, although I could do without the rain. Heck, this would be a great song to hear while strolling along any harbour at night.

As I said, there are many more songs that I would have liked to have placed here but I would have simply gotten more mired in the decision-making. Let's just say that these 6 are for me the cream of a bountiful crop.

Michiru Kojima -- Best Friend


Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! And for that matter, Happy Sports Day in Japan! It's an interesting confluence of holidays here considering in one country, the onus is on celebrating exercise and other sorts of physical exertion while in the other, it's about eating and physical digestion.

Over a year ago, I discovered singer Michiru Kojima's(児島未散)early years as a deliverer of light summery pop starting from the mid-1980s and wrote about one of those songs, "Ocean Blue". Regrettably, the video was taken down although I was able to scrounge up a link to Amazon there.


Well, I finally bought the debut album on which "Ocean Blue" appeared, "Best Friend", last month. On my first listen, there wasn't anything that really popped up as a contagious earworm but a second listen was able to glean some pleasant pop tunes that are gradually growing on me. In any case, it's nice to hear while doing some work on the computer.

Released in September 1985, all of the songs were written by Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆)and composed by Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司). Especially with the latter person behind the music, I kinda figured that there would be an overall summery feeling. Certainly, the photo of Kojima in the red convertible on the cover sealed the deal.

I was able to find a couple of songs from "Best Friend" online, including the title track above itself. This particular song was intriguing since the Hayashi melody and the arrangement by Hiroshi Shinkawa(新川博)made it sound like something ahead of its time. The music sounded more like something I would hear around the early 1990s; it didn't quite have that typical Omega Tribe beat that I often associate Hayashi with. Plus, with "Best Friend", Kojima had a light voice which was reminiscent of aidoru Yuki Saito(斉藤由貴). The Matsumoto lyrics seemed to suggest two good college buddies out on a summer vacation and perhaps discovering right then and there that it's time to elevate the relationship to a more romantic level.



The other song was "September Monogatari"(セプテンバー物語...September Story)with arrangement once again by Shinkawa. With this one, I thought that there was another example of foreshadowing since the song almost sounded like a ZARD tune (Izumi Sakai didn't debut as a singer until 1991) with the soaring vocals and the brassy sax in there (although a point can also be made that it is something also TUBE-like). "September Monogatari" rather fluttered between that ZARD sound and one of Seiko Matsuda's(松田聖子)early summer tunes. Incidentally, the song was also Kojima's debut single from July 1985.

Hearing the English by the singer in the intro, there was a part written in Kojima's J-Wiki article which stated that a decade after the release of "Best Friend", she actually had a role in another special for TBS' famous "San-nen B-gumi Kinpachi-sensei"(3年B組金八先生...Kinpachi-sensei of Class 3B)as Iwasaki-sensei, the English teacher in the school.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Date of Birth -- you are my secret


JTM and I had a good talk tonight, part of which revolved around some of the darker J-Dramas that had come on during the early 1990s. One of the most famous of these was TBS's "Koukou Kyoushi"(高校教師)from 1993 which involved an illicit love affair between a high school teacher and a student amid a whole bunch of sordidness.

Then I recalled that there were a few other examples of TV J-Noir back around that time. One that I remember watching on VHS tape while I was back in Toronto was Fuji-TV's 1992 "Anata Dake Mienai"(あなただけ見えない...You're The Only One I Can't See)which was one of the shows in the then-prestige slot of Monday at 9 pm. In fact, I read that it was the second of what the network labeled its "Three Jet Coaster Dramas" which featured one noir drama in each of 1991, 1992 and 1993.


Starring Kyoko Koizumi(小泉今日子), Hiroshi Mikami(三上博史)and Masahiro Motoki(本木雅弘), "Anata Dake Mienai" was a psychological horror/suspense which dipped into true horror near the end. I don't remember much of the drama's plot since understanding the nitty-gritty of J-Drama stories was simply beyond me at that time. But what I do remember were certain scenes such as one character having three different personalities, another character ending up lobotomized for being the hero, a couple of decapitations (got to see the heads, too) and a brutal slashing-to-death in a bathroom. Did I say that this was Monday-at-9 drama? "Tokyo Love Story", this wasn't.


Another highlight of the show was the theme song, "you are my secret" by the band Date of Birth. It was quite the distinctive theme for a prime time drama due to its suave 60s spy-ish arrangement (twangy guitar) and the fact that the lyrics were all in English (and delivered like a nice brandy). And for all these years, I had assumed that Date of Birth was an American unit but it is actually a Japanese band from Fukuoka.

Date of Birth is written up as a New Music/J-Pop band that started life in 1982 as Mind Control but then changed its name in 1985. It's a family affair with the Shigeto Brothers of Isao, Susumu and Kenichi(重藤功、進、賢一)and then Susumu's wife Norico as the vocalist. "you are my secret" was the band's 2nd single from February 1992. I don't know how it did on Oricon but I do remember that the song did garner some talk. Norico and Roy Garner took care of the lyrics while Isao Shigeto came up with the cool music.