2017/08/19

CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Five


Periodically I get a logjam of topics that need to be covered, but aren't substantial or interesting enough to warrant their own posts. That's where CCLemon99 Magazine steps in! This is the fifth edition of my little magazine thingy and I kinda like relaxing to some music and just going over some lightweight topics.

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Two Months Later...

It's been almost two months since I released my 10-Year Anniversary video on Youtube. After spending hours and hours chopping it together and watching it over and over again, I was understandably sick of the video by the time I uploaded it. After a month and change away from it I decided to go back and give it another watch. I have to say, I'm happy with how it turned out. There were some things I kinda wish were a little smoother, though.

What have I been doing with my time? Getting burned very badly for one. I'm happy to say I healed in time to make my Super Sentai Artisan Dragon Buckler at least. I've been spending a lot of time working, catching up on Podcasts (and cutting a bunch from my subscriptions) and watching Twitch. Seriously...fuck Youtube. I don't even like gaming that much, but there is some quality content on Twitch even if gaming isn't necessarily your jam.

I will say this, though... When I was finally able to make my Dragon Buckler video, it felt good. I reconfigured my space a little bit and really got into it when I was taking the photos. The break was very much needed, but making videos is something that will never get out of my system. I have been having these moments of "How the fuck did I do this weekly??" ever since the anniversary.

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Life Is A BReeZe PART 2...

So you guys were finally able to see the car that I ordered late last year. It's been a little over six months since I took delivery and I'm about 1/3 paid off. Wooooo. I've put about 4400 miles on it in that time and it has been running like a champ.

I tend to own unusual cars, and this one has been no exception. As this is my first foray into the Subaru lifestyle (and I've never owned a Porsche), I am new to Boxer engines. I ended up doing the first oil change during the time I was covered in burns. Welllll the engine oil in this car is zero-weight (basically the consistency of water) which was a problem when I undid the drain plug and it basically sprayed everything with HOT oil except the damn oil catch pan. It did wonders for those burns...lesson learned. Other than that, it was a very quick and super smooth oil change. Heh. The filter is possibly the most accessible of any car I've ever worked on. Open the hood and it's basically the first thing you see... In my Lexus, the filter requires a lot of snaking and straining. Seriously, what a pain in the ass...

The BRZ/FR-S/86 has a common problem known as "the crickets". Basically the fuel pump has a hard time handling the ethanol-blend gasoline that is common in the 'States. The 2017 model year is the first using a revised fuel pump and I have to say... I've only heard crickets once in the duration I've owned the car. I really think I got a bad batch of fuel that one time since they went away after the next fill-up. I've only been filling it with 93 octane (US rating, I think our 93 is considered 95-99 in a lot of other countries) which has kept it running quiet. What do I know, though. I'm no fuel scientist.

I will say one thing about the car that I found a little bit peculiar in the time that I've owned my BRZ. I run into tons of other BRZ and FR-S owners (mostly FR-S to be honest...). I have YET to see another facelifted 2017 model BRZ or Toyota 86 on the road. The only other 2017 I've ever run into was the one from the dealership debacle from when I took delivery. Weird...

I think my wife is finally coming around on the car as well. Hehe... She never hated it, but she kinda digs it now.

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Kyuranger

Zero fucking interest. Zero. Just the concept of having that many characters from the start makes my skin crawl. Is the show watchable? Every time I feel like I should check in, it just feels like it's borderline a cartoon of a series. When IS Super Sentai just going to bite the bullet and make the transition to anime? It feels like it's been there for some time now.

This has rubbed off on me when it comes to the toys as well. I have a lot of them and no desire to review any of them. I will probably get the Changers done just to appease the Sentai lords, but I would rather do them on my own terms. The mecha? I don't think I'll get around to reviewing them. Maybe next year. Maybe 2020. Who knows. Who cares. More on this later...

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Gingaman

I believe I already talked about the Megaranger announcement during my series of Carranger posts, but yeah...Gingaman on DVD has been announced at the San Diego Comicon. It at least softened the blow of Megaranger getting delayed until October a little bit.

Honestly, I have only ever seen Megaranger and Gingaman to completion once and this was closer to their airing dates than it was to present day. It'll be nice to revisit those series since I have a vague familiarity with them at best. It might make for some interesting posts. I might even sell a few copies for Shout!Factory in the process. At least, that's what some B'Stard tells me.

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Cancelled...

Yeah, I think my overwhelming fatigue with all things Gavan and Dekaranger has finally come to a head. I managed to back out of my order the Super Sentai Artisan SP License and Fire Squad License. Seriously, I'm at a point where I really shouldn't be buying stuff for no reason. I have absolutely no reason to get these toys other than the fact that they exist. Considering the FS License was probably made in response to my popular video on a custom version...why not go whole hog and do the Deka Bright Brace Throttle. You know, like the one that Kingranger lovingly made for me.

Fucking do something new. I love Kenji Ohba, but either shit or get off the pot with the Metal Hero franchise, Toei. Bringing in a Sentai series I hated really doesn't make it more interesting.

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...Ordered!

I did order the set of Denji Rings, though. Why they're releasing them as charms instead of replicas is beyond me...but at least we're getting all five for a very decent price. It's better than nothing I suppose.

Maybe another thing that bugs me about Super Sentai Artisan is that it should be all about either reprinting things that go for crazy money while still keeping the originals collectible as well as crafting new items for things that never had toys. I would LOVE Super Sentai Artisan Denji Rings. I would also love some Vulcan Braces too...those would actually be pretty simple to make, no? More than that I would kill for full blown disco-rific Goggle Brace.

...but no. Crappy reprints of the crappy Legacy Morpher and crappy SP Licenses...

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Mecha Videos

OK, so let me level with you. I am probably not going to buy the annual Super Sentai DX Mecha anymore. I ended up getting a ton of the Kyuranger ones for their gimmick. The genre of toys has been on fumes for almost an entire decade at this point, though. I liked Engine-oh and I liked Go-Buster Oh. The rest have been shit. If something cool comes along, sure. It's been a real grind trying to motivate myself to even check out the ones I have on hand already.

On the flip side of that, I am going to make good on my promise of finishing up making videos of the remaining 1990s mecha. You know, all four of them that I haven't covered yet. I have them...and you'll be seeing them pretty soon.

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Music Releases?

Things have been pretty quiet on the music release front. Columbia really doesn't have anything going on outside of the usual Kyuranger, Ultraman Orb and Kamen Rider Amazons stuff. There was the Space Squad CDs, but that's it. This is all stuff I covered in the last issue, though.

I'm fairly certain that my next post will cover the two recent 1980s/1990s Ultraman releases. Stay tuned for that...

Oh yeah, I am still accepting submissions for non-soundtrack sounds that you either have ID'd or not. I've been getting some good entries and am keeping a running list of songs/CDs to cover. Expect the third entry before the year is out.

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I suppose I'll end it here. Be sure to check out back issues of the magazine for more. If you have any questions or anything either hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. I have open DMs in case you don't want to ask publicly.

Thanks for stopping by today. I'll be back in two weeks with a new post and a new video.

-CC

CCLemon99 Magazine Issue One
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Two
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Three
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Four


2017/08/04

The CD Collection--Kamen Rider Kuuga! 8cm CD Singles


Welcome back to CCLemon99.com! Last month I took a break from both making videos and talking Tokusatsu on the site. That doesn't mean I wasn't busy, though. I wrote a two part post about a 28-CD box set covering the singles of Akina Nakamori between 1982 and 1991. In Part One I talk about 1982-1985. Part Two covers 1986-1991. It was a bit of a passion project, but I really like how it turned out.

I need to make a return after being dormant for awhile. Granted, my return to writing about Tokusatsu only comes a month after taking a break, but there has to be something fitting that I can talk about. Something that heralded the return of a beloved franchise after it laid dormant for awhile. Something that put the franchise back on the map...
.........

Unfortunately I couldn't think of anything, so here is a post about some CD Singles from Kamen Rider Kuuga.


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Kamen Rider Kuuga! c/w Aozora ni naru
CODC-1833
2000.02.19

Without seeing a single episode of this show I managed to get this CD Single back in 2000. I was kinda out of Tokusatsu at the time, but was wildly intrigued by the return of Kamen Rider after being virtually absent for the entirety of the 1990s. I had to listen to this song a few times since I couldn't quite make heads or tails of it. The Timeranger opening theme song is a departure from the norm, but the Kuuga theme song is other-worldly. At the same time I thought "Well, if Kamen Rider exists in the year 2000 he would have this theme song.".

Hats off to Masayuki Tanaka for the awesome vocals (who you know from Ultraman Gaia's theme song as well as .......THIS). I'm kinda surprised Toei went with him rather than trying to coax Masato Shimon out of retirement once again... I mean, it would have made sense, no? Regardless, Tanaka was an excellent choice. The only questionable thing about it is the obvious nods to Pink Floyd's Welcome To The Machine. Stoner garbage band aside...I actually like the song.


The series ending song is the much more straight-forward Aozora ni naru. Ahhh yes, I love this song. Between this one and the late 90s Sentai ending theme songs, you're on your way to a sweet playlist for your next Summer BBQ. Singing this one is Jin Hashimoto who is someone that never really did too much on his own, but makes his bones as a vocal trainer. He definitely has some chops. We'll be hearing more from him in this post, but beyond that he did sing a handful of songs in Kamen Rider Agito as well as a lone song for Kamen Rider Hibiki.

I might as well point this out now. All of the singles on this page except for the final two include Karaoke versions of both vocal songs.


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TRY & CHASE c/w power of soul
CODC-1851
2000.04.21

Now that the theme songs are out of the way, let's get into the image songs. The first single from Kuuga features songs from... Masayuki Tanaka and Jin Hashimoto. Really?! Well...

TRY & CHASE is the theme song for Kuuga's first bike, the Try Chaser 2000. This one is a little generic, but I actually dig it. Inoffensive songs like this are kinda a dime-a-dozen on song collections, but this one is a little smoother than comparable songs.


The second track, power of soul is where it's at on this one. Jin Hashimoto has some pretty good range, but that also kinda works against him on this one. His vocals are TOO LOUD. It really sounds like he's in the room singing over the Karaoke version of the song. It's like he's singing in 3D if such a thing were possible. I can't knock him for that, though. Maybe I dig it because it sounds like a leftover 90s song. Listening to the Karaoke version is a bit of an experience as well...


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Red Desire c/w Blue Higher
CODC-1875
2000.06.21

Alright let's get into this single by...Masayuki Tanaka and Jin Hashimoto. They're trolling us, right?

Red Desire is the rockin' image song I've been waiting for! To be perfectly honest, if you told me this was intended to be the theme song, I wouldn't be shocked. It reminds me of a toned down Crescent Moon from Mikazuki. I love this song!


Blue Higher is also pretty damn rad. It's nice that this single was able to follow a musical theme between the two songs. It's hard to say which is the better of the two, but I will say this... Jin Hashimoto almost sounds like he's doing an impression of Masayuki Tanaka on this one. It sounds like a completely different singer than the guy who did power of soul, but it's definitely him. It's a great single with some great shredding.


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Believe in Miracle c/w Edge of Green
CODC-1894
2000.08.19

Let me guess...Masayuki Tanaka and Jin Hashimoto? Close! This time around it's Kazumi Murata and Jin Hashimoto.


Believe in Miracle is the image song for Sakurako Sawatani and sung by her actress Kazumi Murata. It's a slow song, with a pretty self-explanatory message when you look at the title. Murata isn't the best singer, but it's not too bad of a song. Maybe it shouldn't have been the lead song on the single because...

...Edge of Green is awesome! If there was ever a song to nail an intro, it's this one. I didn't end up getting this single until a year after it came out. I think this is the CD that may have gotten me into my costly love affair with Amazon Japan. What really got me into it is Hashimoto's performance of it in Masked Rider Live 2000 (the only live show worth your time...I mean it...and the crowd for this show was having none of it...what the hell...). It's a rad song that tries to trick you into thinking it's slow.


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Bara no Okite c/w Purple Pride
CODC-1895
2000.08.19

This one is something new, that's for sure. The first track is Bara no Okite, the character song for the Rose-Tattoo Woman by Mie Nanamori. Honestly, this song is pretty good for what it is. Luckily the version used on the single is the song version, the version from the Song Collection is a spoken-word version that...I don't recommend. This one is pretty solid, though.


Purple Pride is the return of a familiar Rider voice. This one is sung by Norio Sakai, who you might remember from the Gridman themes as well as several Kamen Rider BLACK songs. Yep, Long, Long Ago 20th Century is one of them. Honestly, though, this one is kinda weak. It has a little bit of an industrial drudginess that sneaks in and out, but other than that is a flat-ish rock song. Sakai sings the hell out of, though. You gotta love that.


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It comes rain c/w Beatchaser 2000
CODC-1901
2000.09.21

Perplexing title aside, this song is a neat song. I can't really say too much about Shingo Katsurayama's singing of his character, Kaoru Ichijo's, song. That's why Karaoke versions exist, though, right? Slow and moody songs are great.

Dude. How could they have a song called It comes rain and follow it up with Beatchaser 2000 on the same CD? I just noticed that. I've had this CD for over fifteen years and I juuust noticed that.........


Anyway, Beatchaser 2000. This is the image song for Kuuga's second bike...Beatchaser 2000. I'm not sure which of Kuuga's bikes I like better, but goddamn does this one win when it comes to songs. Jin Hashimoto sings this one and does so in a less soulful, but more rockish way to match up with the up-tempo beat. Great song! It gives TRY & CHASE a spankin'...I mean, a total lickin'. Straight up finished it off...stroked from existence...flicked from the face of the earth...


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Rising your power to gold c/w Sokouki Gouram
CODC-1902
2000.09.21

Right! So Norio Sakai is back once again and this time they gave him a way better song. Rising your power to gold, which...is a bad title until you realize it isn't, is an uptempo rock song that is much more suitable to Sakai's booming voice than Purple Pride was. Also...once again, big shout out to the Kuuga song collection for being so great. Timeranger was off being weird with it's songs while Kuuga kinda kept the momentum going. Outside of the opening theme song, Kuuga really does have a Rider song collection at heart. It's all very tight and controlled. Toshihiko Sahashi did a great job composing the series and it's songs.


However, songs like Sokouki Gouram need to exist as well. This one is interesting. Remember when I ripped apart the endlessly annoying Mickey in my "English Version" post? Well, she sings this one and it's, uh, a very different animal. Mickey-T's singing is full-on operatic for Gouram's image song. It makes for a pretty cool song, I'll give it that.


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Tanpopo no ohana c/w Say Alright!
CODC-1911
2000.11.01

Feh. OK, so Tanpopo no ohana is a waste of time being on a single, let alone the title track. There are two songs from the Kuuga song collection that didn't end up on a single: Kyuukyoku no yami and Love Is My Life. Neither one is great, but either would have been a better choice to be on a single. Tanpopo no ohana is the nursery song sung by Aoi Wakana for her character Minori Godai. She isn't a bad singer at least...but this song isn't exactly heavy lifting. Meh. Series like Fiveman even had the decency to hold off on the nursery song and included it on it's post-series Song Collection.


As the farewell song to the regular singles, Say Alright! is great. Sure, it has a passing resemblance to the GoGo Five ending theme song, but I love the hell out of it. To make matters better, this one is sung by Jin Hashimoto in probably his most natural performance of probably all of the Kuuga songs. This one might be hidden toward the end of the series, but I think it's a great song. Say Alright! indeed!


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Joe Odagiri "t" c/w Sora e tobu toki
CODC-1924
2000.11.18

These next two singles might seem a little...off but I assure you, they are officially part of the Kuuga song collection. Can I just say...what even is this CD cover?

"t" Yes, it's just "t"...quotations and all, is hipster nonsense from Yuusuke Godai himself, Joe Odagiri. Honestly, I like the chorus, but the rest of the song is just...first draft mehness. It isn't even worth analyzing any further.

The second track is Sora e tobu toki, which features...singing! You know what, this wouldn't be a bad song if it weren't in English. The lyrics in the liner are in Japanese. So...what exactly happened? This disc is really baffling so far...


Track three is a remix of Sora e tobu toki. A bad one.

The fourth and final track is called "t" (Plugged). Oh boy, more "t". Actually, you know what...I like this one. Is it enough to redeem the rest of the CD? Nah, but this one is actually worth listening to. Maybe this whole CD was a slow con. "t" was the demo song, Sora e tobu toki was the second song since "t" wasn't getting any traction. It was remixed, of course. Finally, "t" (Plugged) was the result of putting his nose to the grindstone and finishing the damn thing. "t" (Plugged), you're alright. I may or may not have used this song in a video on my channel. Good luck finding it.....


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Bricks Carry On c/w Yuuki wo kureta hito e
CODC-1925
2000.11.18

Another non-series, but series related, single. Bricks is made up of keyboardist Masakazu Itakura and Shingo Katsurayama...who you might remember as Kaoru Ichijo from the series and singer of *sigh* It comes rain. I promise, no more dicking around...

The title track from the single is called Carry On. You know what, this one isn't a bad song at all. It's a nice little rock jam that also happens to be a bit on the light side. It's pretty good. Katsurayama does a much better job singing this than he does It comes rain. Carry On is a much more polished song. I can't say it tugs on any emotions, but it didn't make me want to give it the finger...so take that whichever way you want to.


The second track is Yuuki wo kureta hito e. A decent enough song, but a total slow jam. Katsurayama's singing just isn't that good on the slower stuff.

The third and final track is the Karaoke version of Carry On.


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Recommended Pick: Red Desire/Blue Higher all the way. There are tons of great songs featured in this post, but this one is easily the best combination. I mean, you could go the safe route with the Shudaika (OP/ED), but why not treat yourself to the good stuff?

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It feels good to get this one off my chest since it doesn't leave a whole lot of 8cm Singles left for me to review. Actually, that's kind of a lie. I have tons left. All of Metal Hero, all of the Fushigi Comedy shows, and tons of random stuff...plus some Ultraman and Rider stuff... OK, so I'm nowhere near done with 8cm CD Singles. At least I'm ten CDs closer now. Heh.

I hope you enjoyed the post. There are plenty more on my CD Collection page. I will be back soon with...something. I'm not sure what. I have a few really weird ideas that I've been kicking around. Maybe one of them will make it to the site later in the month. Stay tuned.

Thank you!

-CC

2017/07/20

Akina Nakamori Singles Box 1982-1991 [PART 2]


Welcome to Part Two of my look at the enormous 28-Disc Set covering Akina Nakamori's singles during her years signed to Warner-Pioneer Music Group.

In Part One I covered 1982-1985, which conveniently took up exactly the first half of this set. As we move into 1986, things began to change a little bit. Nakamori was definitely given more control over her music, though this was more apparent when it came to her albums. Between 1986 and 1987 she released a self-produced concept album featuring some tracks by EUROX (the fan-flippin-tastic Fushigi...which is going to be a future post), the all-female produced Crimson, and the New York City recorded and 100% English album Cross My Palm (GOD I want to write about this one...so much to say). It's almost as if she was living two careers through her singles and her albums. It's not like one was feeding the other one though...everything she was doing reached Number One.

Trouble was on the horizon, however. You see, one of the things that kind of inspired me to go ahead and write this post was a certain Youtube channel. His former channel was called "Fever Metal" and currently posts as "hikali kagaya" [UPDATE: Banned] until the inevitable copyright shut down. He has been posting archives of her seemingly endless television appearances (primarily from the defunct BEST TEN). It's staggering. She had to have been working nonstop since her debut. Nakamori also somehow managed to squeeze in a relationship with Masahiko Kondo, whom she met while filming her acting debut in the 1985 film Ai - Tabidachi.

The cracks started to appear in 1987. There is something just...off about Cross My Palm, the big single from the year was absolutely brutal, and her relationship seemed to be in a very bad place. All of this came to a head in 1989 with a suicide attempt and her subsequent retreat to Hawaii for a year. One of the defining artists of the 1980s Japan was completely absent by the end of the decade.

With that said, the singles from the period are a trip. I didn't have a whole lot to say about Nakamori herself in the previous post, but you can tell that everything from 1986-1991 was just a little more personal than you would normally expect from the tightly controlled image of a JPOP superstar, especially one from this era.

So how does the story of Warner-era Nakamori end? Let's find out...

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15. DESIRE -Jonetsu- c/w LA BOHÉME
WPCL-11885
1986.02.03

There is one critical component to this single that sticks out more than the music itself. This single has it's own wardrobe. The cover kinda alludes to it, but trust me...it's so much more. When performing either of these songs Nakamori wore a kimono, single black glove, high heels, and a bizarre, umm, schoolgirl (?) wig. The wardrobe had been explained by her as "I feel like wearing this" which is just awesome, but it kinda has me wondering if she was trolling someone. To me she looks like a weird child assassin, but what do I know about fashion?

When you get past the weird look, you get probably......my favorite single of her career. DESIRE is just and out and out excellent pop song. It has a great beat and is catchy as all hell. This song really deserves all of the praise it received then and now.

When it comes to LA BOHÈME, I have to say that I actually like this song better than the DESIRE by juuuust a little bit. Start to finish LA BOHÈME is just a rad friggen song. The intro, the chorus...the whole thing is just perfect. It even managed to make great use of the cowbell in 1986. How is that possible? I guess the cowbell is the one thing that a synthesizer just can't replace. The funny thing about LA BOHÈME is that it was initially supposed to be the A-Side for this single. Honestly, they went with the safe choice by choosing DESIRE, but LA BOHÈME would have probably performed just as well. I can see why they made their decision, though.

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16. Gypsy Queen c/w Saigo no Carmen
WPCL-11886
1986.05.01

I kinda think this one is a little underrated. Gypsy Queen has the the misfortune of following an absolute smash, but is a gem in it's own right. It's a floaty song that kinda brings back the basics. The synths take a back seat to some skillful instrumentals. As usual, the vocal talent is on full display.

Saigo no Carmen could probably only be the B-Side to Gypsy Queen. There is a theme to this single and these songs go together perfectly. This one may be a little on the tacky side, but I like it a lot.

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17. Fin c/w Abunai MON AMOUR
WPCL-11887
1986.09.25

This song is where Nakamori's sound begins to take a new direction. Considering this single came out hot on the heels of the awesome album Fushigi and before the slick Crimson, it all kinda makes sense. Fin has a bit of a floaty metro sound to it that seemed to stick around in a lot of her 1987 work.

Abunai MON AMOUR is the B-Side. I can't decide if this song is ripping off Stevie Wonder's Part-Time Lover or Jermaine Jackson's Dynamite (a song that she was apparently fond of as it was part of her set during the BITTER & SWEET performances). I'm kinda leaning on the former, but either way I love it. It completes a low-key, but fantastic single. Both songs are equally as good and play off of each other nicely.

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18. Nonfiction Ecstasy
WPCL-11888
1986.11.10

Heh. Alright, this one is a little weird. This single was released as a cassette-only. The music to it is almost cartoonish, but the singing is as spot-on as you would imagine. If the music were done a little more seriously, I don't know if it would have been as memorable. Nonfiction Ecstasy is a little difficult to describe. Even the title is a bit weird.

Given the unusual nature of this single, there is only the vocal track and the Karaoke version. So yeah, there is no B-Side or Live Version.

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19. TANGO NOIR c/w MILONGUITA
WPCL-11889
1987.02.02

Man, the intro to TANGO NOIR is pretty rad. This song is almost a combination of both DESIRE and LA BOHÈME, but isn't as endearing. I guess the big difference is the energy in the vocals. That isn't a bad thing, but it certainly changes the dynamic. She also didn't have the child assassin thing going for it.

MILONGUITA is the B-Side song. It's smooth, but kinda forgettable. The only thing I seem to remember about this song whenever I see the title is that it has a lot of random noises in it. Not bad, but it isn't a go-to song.

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20. BLONDE c/w Seikyoto (Amish)
WPCL-11890
1987.06.03

Alright, I love this single.

BLONDE is a bit of a treat for me since I actually loooove her English album Cross My Palm. It might not be the same lyrically, but BLONDE is clearly a modified version of the composition of THE LOOK THAT KILLS from Cross My Palm. It's a solid song that really takes advantage of what's already great composition by one Biddu. Yeah, Biddu is the same guy responsible for a lot of early disco and is responsible for Carl Douglas' Kung Fu Fighting. Love or hate the biggest hit on his resume, the man knows his way around a pop song.

Seikyoto, or Amish as it's sung in the song, is the B-Side to BLONDE. This is one of the glitziest songs I can think of from Nakamori's catalog. While a lot of her work from the year seemed to focus on having more of a New York sound, this one feels more L.A. to me. It's just a little bit louder and flashier than it needs to be. I gotta say, I love this one too. Great single overall.

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21. Nanpasen c/w Koiji
WPCL-11891
1987.09.30

Oh boy... I feel like Nanpasen is kinda where things start coming off the rails...

For starters, Nanpasen (or Shipwreck) is actually a cover song. It was originally released by Tokiko Kato in 1984. The lyrics (something I realize I don't really talk about often...but this time it's pretty important) are particularly gut-wrenching. The thing is, at the time Kato released this song she was married and had three children. I have a feeling that the song was much, much more personal for Nakamori. Performances of this song (and a few others, to be fair) regularly feature many tears. Her relationship with Masahiko Kondo was famously not doing well at the time and the aforementioned burnout was probably setting in.

Koiji is almost as downbeat as Nanpasen, but it might as well be a dance song in comparison. Koiji does one thing very, very well. It completes this single. While both songs are really a bummer, together they bring Nakamori back to her roots as the hopelessly lovelorn girl. You could almost pass this single off as 1983/1984 era Nakamori. It's kinda funny that there is a strange sense of nostalgia for what was then only a few years prior, but it's a stark reminder of what made her popular in the first place.

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22. AL-MAUJ c/w Bara hitoyo
WPCL-11892
1988.01.01

I don't really care all that much for AL-MAUJ, but at least it is a breath of life following Nanpasen. I can't really pinpoint what I don't like about this song. Maybe it's the way the lyrics just kind drone on, maybe it's the line "Watashi akuma/watashi tenshi" (Feh). Whatever it is about this song, I tend to give it a skip.


Bara hitoyo is the B-Side. I prefer it to AL-MAUJ, but it definitely knows it's place as a B-Side. It's a lighter song, but the slick instrumentals and vocals make it totally worthwhile.

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23. TATTOO c/w Shoakuma
WPCL-11893
1988.05.18

HELL. YES.

OK, OK, OK. So TATTOO is one of the songs I tend to recommend to people trying to cut their teeth on Nakamori. It's such a perfect song, but very unusual in a way that only Nakamori could only pull off. The song builds up for one minute and forty-eight seconds before it gets to the awesome chorus. It's basically half over! That's not even all of the weirdness. The bass line will have you wondering "Have I heard this song before?". The mention of "Replicants" will make you want to go watch Blade Runner. I know I've used the word "perfect" and variations of the word like ninety-two times so far in this set review, but there is no other word for TATTOO. It really shouldn't be that much of a surprise considering Nakamori and EUROX are a winning combination...

Shoakuma. It's the B-Side. I would say that this is a decent enough song, but I don't know. I think they could have pulled something a little more retro and fitting to close this single out. I really like the intro at least.

I feel like I have to talk about the Live Version of TATTOO that is included on this set. This is the live version from the April 1989 AKINA EAST LIVE INDEX-XX III shows. For starters, the intro is flippin' awesome. It kinda goes against the whole build-up that the studio version has...but it has a whole new dynamic. Oh, and one of my favorite anison singers, Shinichi Ishihara (B-Fighter, Dragon Ball Z, GoGo Five, Kamen Rider Agito, etc.) sang back-up for Nakamori during these shows. This is my favorite of the Live Versions included on this set...by far... In fact, I have an issue with one coming up...

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24. I MISSED "THE SHOCK" c/w BILITIS
WPCL-11894
1988.11.01

You know what...I think this song is completely underrated. I MISSED "THE SHOCK" is the first of Nakamori's singles since 1984 to not hit number one. I can't work out why. Granted, I may be a certified EUROX fanboy (this would be Nakamori and EUROX's last collaboration as EUROX basically ceased to exist after this) but this song is far better than a lot of her previous efforts that seemed to have no problem topping the charts. This peaked at number three, though. The vocals are just *so good*. The incredible detail that EUROX brings to their music is also on full display. The only thing questionable about this song is probably it's title...but even then, it works in context of the actual song. "OoooOoooh I missed 'THE SHOCK', Shock."

BILITIS is almost a repeat of Shoakuma from TATTOO. It doesn't fit the A-Side all that well. That said, I'm actually quite fond of BILITIS. It's a lot more fun than Shoakuma was.

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25. LIAR c/w Blue On Pink
WPCL-11895
1989.04.25

This very well could have been the final single from Nakamori. I mean, the title kinda says it all. Her relationship with Kondo had gone bust around this time and some months later she made an attempt on her own life. LIAR is a good song, but not one that she should have gone out on. Unlike Nanpasen, this song is a more modern ballad. It's slick and light.

Blue On Pink complements LIAR very well. It's a smidge more lively than it's A-Side. I really enjoy the little details with the synths that are smattered throughout the song. It's no surprise that this single brought Nakamori back to number one...but it still has me confused as to why I MISSED "THE SHOCK" didn't make it...

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26. Dear Friend c/w Caribbean
WPCL-11896
1990.07.17

If you were to make a playlist of all of Nakamori's Warner-era singles, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend making this the last track. It might not be chronological, but Dear Friend truly is the perfect bookend to what is an incredible run of songs. That isn't to say the next two singles aren't good (they are, spoilers) but this song is victorious. It's her big return and truly unlike any of her previous singles. This is a fun song. That isn't to say she's had songs with fun music. She was clearly having fun singing this song. After a year away from the limelight, she was energized. This is such a great song.


The B-Side is Caribbean. Again, there is a certain energy to this song that just takes hold. It may have only been the 90s for like seven months at this point, but this song is such a 90s song. It's on the jazzy side with some steel drums thrown in because...well, the title is Caribbean. It's no surprise that this single went number one as I'm sure people were curious to see what she was returning with. I kinda wish I could ask what people thought of this single at the time...it's so different...


I do have beef with the live version of Dear Friend included in this set. So the version used is from her 1991 concert series that included an elaborate costume change for Dear Friend. Such a thing would require time for Nakamori to squeeze into the dress that she wore for this song, so a very long intro was crafted to fill the time. The entire intro is included in the Listen To Me Live Album, but for whatever reason it sloppily fades in on the version included on this set. It also cuts out early. They managed to include the full intro for TATTOO, but not this one. It probably wouldn't be such a bad thing if the intro wasn't so great. I guess if you're a big enough fan of Nakamori to buy this set, you probably already own Listen To Me, so there's that. I guess they were saving on disc space or something...

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27. Mizu ni sashita hana c/w Angel Eyes
WPCL-11897
1990.11.06

Mizu ni sashita hana is considered to be Nakamori's 25th single despite being the 27th included in this set (Akai Tori Nigeta and Nonfiction Ecstasy are unofficial). I dig this one due to it's sheer minimal nature. It isn't much too more than Nakamori and a piano. It's another well-done ballad that still managed to carry this single to number one even though the TK dance explosion was soon rolling in.


Angel Eyes is the B-Side. I kiiiinda like this one, but it's kinda forgettable. The only really noteworthy thing about this one is that Nakamori's voice is much lighter than usual. Two years prior she was singing sultry tunes like TATTOO, but for Angel Eyes she sounds like, well, an angel.

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28. Futari Shizuka c/w Wasurete...
WPCL-11898
1991.03.25

Nakamori's final single for Warner was Futari Shizuka. I think it's fair to say that this song is a bridge between her 80s and 90s work. It is reminiscent of some of her then-recent singles, but it features a 90s flair that distinguish the song from her previous work. I know, that might sound like it was written by Captain Obvious, but when you listen through the catalog like I have it is pretty clear. The song itself is fantastic, it isn't a slow song at all and has a mysterious sound to it. It was a great way to go out before taking a break from the music business.


Wasurete... is the B-Side from this single. It's kind of a bummer of a song. Like Nanpasen, this song had the tears rolling throughout whenever it was performed live. Unlike Nanpasen, there is a shakiness in her voice even in the studio version. As this is the very last song she released under Warner, I suppose it is a little sad. The two songs together make for a great single. It didn't quite top the chart, but it did reach number three.

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Recommended Pick: From the singles I reviewed in this part, it has to be DESIRE/LA BOHÈME. Both songs are just astounding. It was an easy choice to make, but that isn't to say that this post isn't full of awesome singles. I really love that 1985-1988 era the best. For the overall set...you know, I'm still going to have to give it to Meu Amor è/Lonely Journey. It truly is the most accessible single from her Warner years. Who doesn't love a song that is just pure belting the way Meu Amor è is?

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Overall Set Review: I kinda covered this in Part One, but I think it's worth revisiting the set as a whole one last time before closing out this post. This set, and it's attention to detail, is enough to satisfy the most hardcore of fans. I think the only major gripe I have with it is the lack of Karaoke for Akai Tori Nigeta/Babylon 12". Everything else is just overboard with it's hammering down those details. Certain sleeves use different textured paper for Christ's sake! I don't think this set would be truly appreciated by anyone less than a super-fan, but it still an absolute treat if you love CD Box Sets and physical media (ugh, I hate that term). If you can find a minter for a decent price and really... *really* like Akina Nakamori, then get it! This set is long sold out, but used prices aren't too far off from the original list price.

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Thank you for checking out my post on this super-box set. I have done marathon CD reviews in the past, but I couldn't bring myself to review all 28 discs in one post for this one.

Regularly scheduled programming resumes in August, but if you'd like to read more posts like this one let me know. I'd be happy to spread myself out a little more, plus I enjoyed the break from Tokusatsu for a minute.

See ya!

-CC

Akina Nakamori Singles Box 1982-1991 PART 1