HOME | SAQ | LINKS | MAIL
Minako Yoshida: Bells (Released in 1986, Rating 3+)
3.Pavement Of Light
4.Shadows Are The Thoughts (Of The Radience)
5.Thanks To You
7.Momi No Ki
Finally, legendary Bells (1986) was re-issued with a new track, Momi No Ki. It was originally a limited issue with only 3,000 copies. It was an ultra-rare item sometimes traded over $1,000 in the WEB auction. When hearing it, Minako Yoshida got angry, and decided to re-issue Bells.
The music is very close to Gospel music. Why gospel? It is a prayer of the soul and a belief in the presence of the voice. I like songs and singing in this album a lot.
So, why 3+? I have to say it is because of the sound quality. Bells(1986) and Stable (2002) are CCCD (copy control CD). Minako Yoshida insists, "It doesn't change the sound quality a lot. You can't judge the quality without comparing with the master tape." Ahhh, am I just hearing this with prejudice? No, I think. There is a kind of veil or fog between music and me, and it prevents me to enjoy the music. Minako says, "You are not hearing the sound. You are hearing the music." Yes, but I cannot hear the music very well because of the sound. Do I have to have a bigger imagination to capture the music, ignoring the sound? (I can ignore the sound quality when hearing this with the computer audio.)
Also, I have to say, it is easy to copy CCCD. it cannot be digitally copied, but it is possible to convert its analog sound to digital format. Some might not have the device to do this, but many people can do it now. So, CCCD is just a nonsense.
Sorry to write this. If this were not CCCD, my rating would be 4 or 4+.
Minako Yoshida: Stable (Released in 2002, Rating 3+)
1.Tale Of The Seasons
6.Ongaku No Kotoba
10.Hoshi No Yoru
Produced by Minako Yoshida
Again, CCCD is the problem of this album. I don't repeat my complaint. (The sound quality may be better in Stable. Maybe because of the condition of the original sound. In Bells, newly recorded Momi No Ki sounds a little bit better than the others.)
The songs are well-composed, well-performed with her strong voice. There songs resemble the songs in Bells (1986) and Extreme Beauty (1995). The Gospel like feeling.
I didn't want to start writing about Minako Yoshida this way. She is the best singer in Japan without doubt. Someday, I will introduce her works in a better way.
Sonia Rosa: A Bossa Rosa de Sonia (Released in 1967, Rating 5)
1.Olhe Meu Bem2. Marambaia3. Voltar Pra Ficar4. Quem Te Viu, Quem Te Ve5.Parquinho Do Meu Bairro6. Lata D'Agua7. Adeus Guacyra8. Mas Nao Da9. Cheiro De Saudade10. ...E Fim11. Caminhemos12. Ressalva
The debut album of Sonia Rosa. Truly stunning album. This is one of my most favorite Bossa Nova albums by female vocalists.
While singing style of male Bossa Nova singers tend to be relaxed and amateur-like, the one of female Bossa Nova singers tend to be somehow professional, with some exceptions such as Astrud Gilberto etc. I personally love cute singing with whispering voice. So, this album perfectly fits to my preference.
It is very surprising that this album was released when she was 18 years old! Moreover, this includes 6 original songs written by herself. I don't know whether she was appreciated well in Brazil or not. I wonder how her great talent shown in this album had grown if she had stayed in Brazil. I really don't know the answers to this "if" question because she went to Japan when she was 20 years old and she did not return to Brazil!
Sonia Rosa: Sensitive Sound of Sonia Rosa (Released in 1970, Rating 4)
1.The Girl From Ipanema2. fly Me To The Moon3. Desafinado4. The Look Of Love5. Meditation6. Corcovado7. I'll Never Fall In Love8. The Shadow Of Your Smile9. La Chanson D'Orphee10. Alfie11. Secret Love12. Tristeza
Sonia Rosa was singing in "Club Ichiban" in Sao Paulo. The club was managed by Toshiro Ono, who is a father of Lisa Ono. Ono gave Rosa Ringo Oiwake by Hibari Misora. Rosa was impressed very much by this record, and she recorded that song by herself. This recording impressed Japanese people who visited the club. Thus, Rosa was invited to Japan for six months to sing at the international exposition in Osaka and TV program "Music Fair". She accepted the offer, but she stayed in Japan more than six months. Now, more than 30 years!!!
The first album in Japan was recorded with Sadao Watanabe, who was in love with Bossa Nova at that time. The album starts with the famous song, The Girl From Ipanema, and many Bossa Nova standard songs continues. The sound is basically the typical Bossa Nova sound that was recorded outside of Brazil. So, I am less fascinated by this album than her debut album. But Rosa's singing is very charming especially when she was singing in English. There is a strange appeal when one sings in a foreign language like Jane Birkin singing in French. Even though she was not singing in Japanese in this record, she was moving from a Brazilian singer to a Japanese singer.
As a Japanese singer, Rosa recorded many Japanese songs. ( I don't know how many. I am now searching for her singles at the reasonable price. They are really expensive in the internet auction...) And she sang many commercial songs. Her exotic and sexy voice impressed many Japanese people without knowing who was singing songs.
Sonia Rosa with Yuji Ohno: Spiced with Brazil (Released in 1974, Rating 5)
1. Gartota de Ipanema2. Here's That Rainy Day3. Don't Let Me Be lonely Tonight4. Secret Love5. Corcovado6. Casa Forte7. Altras Da Porta8. You Make Me Feel Brand New9. Chove La Fora Produced by Kaoru Kawabata
The best of Sonia Rosa. Simply a marvelous record. This record used to be very rare because it was recorded as a novelty gift for who bought the audio set of Sony. Now, this is available on CD. Many thanks to Sony!
Sonia Rosa sang with Yuji Ohno. Here is an ideal mixture of Brazilian music and Japanese Jazz. The sound is very groovy and smooth. This is far beyond Bossa Nova, this is something new that requires new name of genre. For example, this album starts with a famous song, Gartota de Ipanema, like her first Japanese album. But the impression is absolutely different. I've never heard this groovy and funky interpretation of the song. Though this record includes many other standard songs, there is always some kind of joyous surprise.
The biggest surprise and excitement may be Casa Forte. This songs continues for 8:45. Rosa sang no lyrics, she just sang in scat! Truly a listening pleasure.
Sonia Rosa: Samba Amour (Released in 1979, Rating 4)
1.Te Quero Tanto (I Love You, So)2. Natsu No Image3. Fim De Semana (Weekend)4. Last Samba5. Charlie, My Darling6. Tudo E Voce (All Of You)7. Fei Jao Quiemou (Black Beans)8. Tokyo In the Blue9. Ressalva (Melancholy)10. Tao So (Always Alone)11. Socorro Tato! (Help Me, Taro!)12. Te quero Tanto (I Love You, So) Produced by Yuji Ohno & Hiroharu Yamanouchi
Again, the collaboration with Yuji Ohno. The sound is a very groovy jazz fusion.
9 songs were written by Sonia Rosa or co-written with Yuji Ohno. These songs have a similar sentiment with the songs in Spiced with Brazil, but more like fusion sound in the late 70s. In Socorro Tato, Rosa's son Taro sings in scat. Very cute. Ressalva is the self-cover of the song that appeared in her debut album.
Other 3 songs, Natsu No Image, Charlie, My Darling, Tokyo In the Blue, were written by Machiko Ryu and Yuji Ohno. They are more like conventional "kayou-kyoku", Japanese commercial pop song, in the 70s. When listening to them now, lyrics of Machiko Ryu sounds too typical and old-fashioned. I am not sure if you can enjoy it as kitsch or not. When ignoring Japanese lyrics, her Japanese singing is very cute. It has a strong appeal.
Even though there are some guests appearance in the records of Yuji Ohno or Yuzuru Sera, this is her last full album. I am not sure how successful her musical career in Japan was. I think she had a great talent as shown in her Brazilian debut album. If she had stayed in Brazil, she might have become a big star. However, the records that she made in Japan were never made by anyone else. So, I think that she might not get big commercial success in Japan, but she has made a big musical success. And these records should be appreciated more internationally.
Yuji Ohio & Friends : Lupin The Third Jazz Bossa & Fusion (Released in 2002, Rating 3+)
1.Lapin the Third (A Tardy Cab)2. Lonely for The Road3. Magnum Dance4. Stolen Moments (Floe Espacial)5. Love In Sao Paulo6. Manhattan Joke7. Just Fall In Love8. Memory Of Smile (Pequena Luz)9. Urban Shadow10. Love Squall (Po Do Amor)11. Treasures Of Time
Probably Sonia Rosa's latest major appearance. She sings in 4 tracks as cute as before.
(Lupin the third is a famous Japanese animation. She used to sing some songs for the animation such as Fairy Night. But this album is not a soundtrack album. It is the groovy re-interpretation of the music by original composer, Yuji Ohno.)
Kazumi Yasui: Zuzu (Released in 1970, Rating 3+)
1. Warui Kuse2. Sugiyuku Hibi3. Sonotokide Ha Ososugiru4. Misiranu Hito5. Ai No Toki6. Pour Quoi7. Atashini Ha Nanimonai8. Biafra No Tatakai9. Kyou Made No Koto10. Tuioku No Spain11. Kugatsu No Owari12. Kaze No Houkou
Even though there is little needs to explain who Kazumi Yasui, aka.Zuzu, was to Japanese readers, I have to introduce her because she may not be well-known to international readers. She was a very famous lyricist and essayist in Japan. She wrote lyrics of enormous number of hit songs. And she was an influential fashionable life-style leader of the 70's and 80's.
She lived the gorgeous, cosmopolitan lifestyle, but her lyrics were not aimed at fashionable people. She was a "professional" lyricist to write "professional" lyrics that captured the sentiment of the days for the ordinary people. That was why her lyrics were widely accepted. The reason why I am writing in the past sentence is that she passed away in 1995 at 55 years old. When re-reading her lyrics now, they look somehow outdated, but not too outdated to be able to enjoy as a kitsch. Her "professional works" are now in the middle of good and bad, and don't bring anything new.
On the contrary, her work as an amateur singer brings something very new to my ears. In this record, Yasui wrote all lyrics, and music of the songs were composed by famous composers, singers and actors. If you are a Japanese, you surely know them, Kunihiko Murase, Kazuhiko Kato, Mamoru Manou, Kunihiko Suzuki, Hiroshi Kamayatsu, Teruhiko Saigo, Masaaki Hirao, Kenji Sawada, Rei Nakanishi Akira Fuse, Kouji Ishizaka, and Terumasa Hino! And her amateur singing sounds so charming like Jane Birkin. Actually, Pour Quoi, which is sung in French, is the pastiche of Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus. So, she perfectly fits to my obsession to non-professional female singers.
The album starts with the beautifully arranged Bossa Nova, Warui Kuse. But it is not intended to be a real Bossa Nova at all. It is intended to be a fake Japanese Bossa Nova such as Sonia Rosa's Aoi Bed. In a sense, it is closer to Japanese Enka. Other tracks are much closer to ordinary Enka-Kayoukyoku of the 70's. The center of the beauty and the radical-ness of this record exists here. Whoever thought of singing Enka-Kayoukyoku, usually sung by professional singers, in Jane Birkin way? In this way, she is a special and unique "non-professional female singer".
Kazumi Yasui married Kazuhiko Kato in 1976 or 77. And maybe their first collaboration is Sugiyuku Hibi in this album. The word, "Jinsei" - life, is often used in Yasui/Kato songs. And the word is also used in this track. Oh, what a life! (I will write about Yasui/Kato works in the future.)
I'd been thinking that this is her only record she'd ever recorded, but I knew from re-issued CD liner notes that there was one more record, Sorani Ichiban Chikai Kanashimi - The Sorrow, Closest to the Sky (1971). This is the same title with her first book that includes essays and poems. According to one information, Yasui did not sing in this record, but read poems. For my surprise, it was once re-issued on CD in 1994! The re-issue of her second album is strongly desired.
HOME | SAQ | LINKS | MAIL