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

2017/07/09

Akina Nakamori Singles Box 1982-1991 [PART 1]


Welcome to something a little bit different. This time around I will be talking about a singer near and dear to my heart: Akina Nakamori. If you're a regular reader of my site you might be wondering why in the world I am leading you down this this path. I mean, are you really that surprised? I write about music, I listen to a lot of music, and I listen to Nakamori daily. I tweet about her stuff on occasion, but I kinda wish I just have a ton of thoughts rattling in my brain that I'd like to share.

I should probably summarize briefly. Akina Nakamori is widely considered to have one of the best voices in JPOP. She is one of the few artists to absolutely dominate JPOP in the 1980s. Of the twenty eight singles I'll be talking about in this two-parter, twenty two of them reached #1. Twenty seven out of the twenty eight peaked within the top five. I find a lot of her songs refreshing as they are largely devoid of the upbeat and chippy/corny side of love. Some of her songs are outright grim. That said, her style was far from just mopey ballads. There are those, but really there is something for everyone in this set in particular.


This boxed set is a 28-Disc celebration of her work while signed to Warner-Pioneer Music Group (now Warner Music Japan) between her 1982 debut until her 1991 departure for an acting career. The CDs are in special cardboard sleeves that are housed in recreations of the original 45 (7") artwork. There are some odd exceptions. Japan abruptly abandoned Vinyl by 1990, so the final three singles in this set actually never had a 45. Neither did 1986's Nonfiction Ecstacy, which was a cassette-only single. 1985's Akai tori nigeta/Babylon was originally released as a 12" single and this set actually includes two different sleeves for it. A booklet is also included as well as two sheets of magnets. The entire package is impressive and heavy enough to crush a frozen turkey. If you were lucky enough to get this back in 2014 it would have set you back ¥24,000.

Sleeve, Tray, and CD.

The CDs are structured largely the same. 1. A-Side 2. B-Side 3. A-Side (Live Version) 4. A-Side (Karaoke Version) 5. B-Side (Karaoke Version). Going forward with this post, I will only point out the exceptions to this format. I don't have a whole lot to say about the Live versions other than they were sourced from other commercially available recordings from her Warner days. This is the definitive set if you love Karaoke versions of songs, however. Prior to this set, the only place to find Karaoke versions of these songs was on a very rare Karaoke-version of her YOUR SELECTION compilation from 1993. While that CD was great to have, it only had seventeen tracks. It was nice to replace that with something nearly complete.

With out that out of the way, I think the only thing left is for me to share my thoughts and for you to enjoy some photos of this beautifully put together Box Set.


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01. Slow Motion c/w Joken Hansha
WPCL-11871
1982.05.01

We all have to start somewhere, eh? Whenever I discover a new artist the first thing I usually like to go back and check out their debut single. This isn't really something I've had the luxury of doing with Nakamori as, well, her music has been in my life for a very long time. If I were to do this with Slow Motion I probably would have picked up two things. 1. It's a solid and incredibly well-done song. 2. While her voice was very different on her early work, it didn't take long for her to shake whatever nerves were holding her back.

Slow Motion is such a solid song. I imagine it can be both a curse and a blessing to debut with a song that would be a mainstay of your career. This song is 35 years old...and I can't imagine there was a single concert where this song didn't make an appearance. A lot of the early 80s JPOP seemed to originate from Los Angeles. This is no exception. I really don't think this song would have had the same complexity had it been recorded in Japan. There is a certain dreaminess too the instrumentals that kinda bring me to the beach every time I hear it.


Joken Hansha is the coupled song on this single. It's pretty standard, but another great song. Maybe it isn't the greatest match for Slow Motion, but I can't think of another song from her debut album, Prologue, that would fit the bill better. Yeah, this isn't really that much of a B-Side since both songs originated from the album.

All this, and the single only peaked at #30.

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02. Shojo A c/w Yume Handan
WPCL-11872
1982.07.28

While Slow Motion could be considered the soft debut of Nakamori, Shojo A is the song that catapulted her to stardom. Considering how little time passed between Slow Motion and Shojo A, it's kind of bizarre how different it is. Nakamori's voice is much, much deeper. This is basically what she would sound like from here on out (well, you also have to factor in time+smoking). To be perfectly honest, though, I'm not in love with this song. It's certainly a very good song...but it's just a little too gimmicky for me. This single peaked at #5, but I think the controversial lyrics helped give this song a bit of a bump (as this type of thing tends to do). Listening to this song is a lot like riding in a boat through waves. Does that make sense? There are peaks and valleys everywhere and the lyrics are shot out in long strings.

Yume Handan is pretty good, but largely forgettable. It complements Shojo A nicely, but is just kinda there. It is kind of funny that the lyrics are so jerky in this song versus the slick flow of Shojo A. These two songs make for a very good single.

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03. Second Love c/w Kagamino nakano J
WPCL-11873
1982.11.10

Just like that, Akina Nakamori has her first in what will be a long line of #1 singles. Second Love is a slow ballad...and a very good one at that. I'm normally not a fan of ballads, but this one kinda captives me. Make a song a ballad and usually it turns a four minute song into ten for me. I don't get that here. It's a very quick song and very well produced. The vocals seem to peak-out at times, but otherwise this is fantastic.

Kagamino nakano J... I love the hell out of this song. In a perfect world this would have no only been it's own single, but also a Japanese dub theme song of a 007 film. I hate to say it, but I really prefer this song over the title track of this single. It's just so off the wall. "Ohhhh J Boy". Hahaha. Really...try to give this one a listen.

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04. 1/2 no shinwa c/w Nukumori
WPCL-11874
1983.02.23

1/2 no shinwa really feels like the direct sequel to Shojo A. This song takes zero time to get into the meat of it and really never lets go. I love the frantic energy, but this song could have used a little bit more polishing. That said...it's a great song. Who doesn't love high-energy tracks like this?


Nukumori almost feels like it should be from the 90s. It's a strange jazz-orchestral hybrid that was way ahead of it's time...but almost perfectly of it's time at the same time. It might be the polar opposite of 1/2 no shinwa, but it serves as a nice let down to round out the track.

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05. Twilight -Yuuguri Dayori- c/w Drive
WPCL-11875
1983.06.01

Twilight. This song...eh. The chorus just drones a little bit too much for me. The rest of the song sounds great, but the chorus is just a little bit too much. The music doesn't leave a whole lot of room for emotion...which kinda leaves the vocals hanging with a tinge of disinterest.

Drive is easily the better song of the single for me. It's a perfect slow jam. It makes great use of the fading orchestral opulence in JPOP by 1983.

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06. Kinku c/w Ame no Requiem
WPCL-11876
1983.09.07

Kinku is such a weird song. The instrumentals sound a little bare relying mostly on the synthesizer with some guitar and string licks. The vocals greatly outweigh the music, but in a strange way...it all kinda works. I don't think I cared too much for this song in the past but I've definitely come around on it in the past few years.

Ame no Requiem is another soft ballad. The thing I like about this one was done with a lot more emotion than what was found on a lot of the earlier ballads.

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07. Kita Wing c/w Namidano Katachino Earring c/w Refrain
WPCL-11877
1984.01.01

A three-piece set!

Kita Wing is the titular track to this single. Of her early singles, Kita Wing has to the be one of the ear-wormiest of them all. "Love is a mystery". I really enjoy this one even if it's a little basic.

Namidano Katachino Earring sounds like a lot of other songs. Specifically... September by Mariya Takeuchi (a song that is pure sugar to me). I'm very capable of looking past the similarity and give this song a thumbs up. I mean...even if it wasn't intentional, when it sounds similar to an already great song...how could it be bad?


Refrain is the alternate B-Side. Actually, the title isn't so much Refrain as it is written Ri-Fu-Ra-I-Ne. Let's just call it Refrain, though. As far as I can work out, the whole idea behind there being a second release of the Kita Wing single with Refrain as the B-Side was that they were trying to best 600,000 units sold. Warner managed to do so, but...the entire thing is a little shady. Refrain itself is another slow ballad. It isn't too much different from Ame no Requiem.


The only difference between the two versions of this single.

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08. Southern Wind c/w Yume Haruka
WPCL-11878
1984.04.11

While I certainly love all of her previous singles, this is where I think Nakamori comes alive. Southern Wind is an excellent, excellent song. The thing that really strikes me about this one is balance. The music is hard and heavy, but not overbearing. The vocals fit perfectly. Southern Wind is a wonderful example of finally getting it all right.

Yume Haruka is the B-Side, and one that sounds super familiar. Once past the familiar lick from the Dynaman theme song, this is actually a pretty rad song. The synths are a little bitey on this one.

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09. Jikkai (1984) c/w Korekara Naturally
WPCL-11879
1984.07.25

Again, another flippin' great song. Jikkai (1984) is just as surgically tight as Southern Wind. In fact, everything I said about Southern Wind applies here. This is pop song perfection.

Korekara Naturally feels almost like a leftover song, but I don't know...I really like this a lot. The guitars at the beginning are a little misleading from what the rest of the song is like...but after processing the entire song it's great.

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10. Kazari janai no yo namida wa c/w Moonlight Letter
WPCL-11880
1984.11.11

Continuing her streak of just amazing singles, Kazari janai no yo namida wa is the final single of 1984. It's hard to describe this one. The single version here is like a dance/jazz hybrid, but the tweaked version from the album BITTER & SWEET sounds like late disco. The key ingredient of this song (and most of Nakamori's songs) is bass. Bass and some increasingly speedy lyrics.


Moonlight Letter. It's a great little ballad, but incredibly mismatched here on this single. Maybe that isn't fair. It's a big leap down tempo from Kazari janai no yo namida wa, but power-clashing is a thing...

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11. Meu Amor é... c/w Lonely Journey
WPCL-11881
1985.03.08

Alright...so the bases are loaded. Three fan-bleeding-tastic singles in a row. This is the Grand Slam.

Meu Amor è... is arguably Nakamori's career-topping song. Granted, based on single sales this comes second only to (ironically) Second Love.  Goddamn this is a good song. Seriously, I really can't put into words how perfect Meu Amor è... is. This song could be the one that broke CCLemon99. Seriously, though. The song is described as a Japan-Samba fusion by some and I totally agree with that assessment. This is kinda my go-to song if I give someone a taste of Nakamori's work. It's just so good...and oddly enough it almost didn't happen... More on that later.

Lonely Journey is the B-Side and a great song on it's own. It has the unfair task of following up a goddamn masterpiece, but I think it does a fine job on it's own. The rare usage of reverb on the vocals makes this one a bit of an oddity.

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12. Akai tori nigeta c/w Babylon [12" Remix]
WPCL-11882
1985.05.01

OK, so do you remember how I said Meu Amor è... almost wasn't? Let me introduce you to the demo version.

Sleeve Back

What's different? Well, for this special 12" Double-A side, the lead track is called Akai tori nigeta. It is basically the extended version of the Meu Amor è... music with the original vocal track laid on top. The lyrics are completely different. Really, I don't blame them for doing what had to have been an emergency re-write of the lyrics. I mean, sure, they kinda work...but they don't fit the flow nearly as squarely as the finished lyrics did. Akai tori nigeta is a nice peek into an alternate reality of what could have been.

Alternate Sleeve Front

Alternate Sleeve Back

The other A-side is Babylon [12" Remix]. One word, three letters. Wow....... This track is utter madness. The original version of Babylon from the album BITTER & SWEET is probably my favorite song from the album. This remix takes it a step further. It's just...more. The bizarre male vocals are completely new. For that matter, Nakamori re-recorded all her vocals for this remix...which technically makes it a cover(?). The fade at the end is just...excellence. Seriously. This track is the complete transformation from orchestras and bands to futuristic music that spilled out of a computer.

Welcome to Babylon...

It should be noted...the live version of Akai tori nigeta is here, but there are no Karaoke versions of these songs. DAMMIT!


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13. SAND BEIGE -Sabaku e- c/w Tsubakihime Guiliana
WPCL-11883
1985.06.06

SAND BEIGE is a good song with certain wispiness that the title suggests. The strings are excellent and really this is a solid song, but it has the unfair disadvantage of following up a long line of just other-worldly good singles. When really good songs like this can be perceived as being on the weak side, you really must be doing something right.

Tsubakihime Guiliana is a bit on the generic side, but suits it's A-Side perfectly. It's a good song that doesn't pose a threat to being better than it's disc mate.

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14. SOLITUDE c/w AGAIN
WPCL-11884
1985.10.09

I've mentioned before that the orchestral sound of JPOP was on the way out, but what would replace it? Slow songs like SOLITUDE kinda fit the bill. Whenever I hear this song, I almost imagine what this would sound like with an orchestra. It would totally work. The music is a slick jazz beat with some nice sax work peppered in. I like this one quite a bit. It's a harbinger for what a lot of her music from that latter half of the decade would sound like. That New York sound is slowly easing it's way in.

The title of the B-Side is AGAIN. You got that right. This one is very similar to SOLITUDE, just slower. Not bad at all. Though I kinda prefer slower A-Sides to have more upbeat B-Sides. I'm sure this single would have sold just as well if the tracks were swapped.

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Recommended Pick: It's kind of silly to recommend something from a Boxed Set, but since these were all once released as singles I suppose it's fair. This is insanely difficult, to be honest. I'm going to have to say that Meu Amor è.../Lonely Journey is the top recommendation of the singles I've reviewed from this set. I probably like Slow Motion/Joken Hansha the best, but it isn't the best representation of her voice and work, in my opinion. Meu Amor è... is just unreal in how great it is.

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Next time on CCLemon99.com, I finish off this Boxed Set. Things start to get a little more interesting as Nakamori begins to have more control over her music and, well, things get dicey in her personal life. Also, I talk about my absolute favorite single of hers. Be sure to check that out very soon.

Thanks for visiting the site!

-CC

2017/06/25

Journey Through The Decade: Ten Years of CCLemon99



I made it! It's June 25, 2017. I've been posting videos as CCLemon99 for an entire decade at this point. Much like June 25, 2007, I am home alone and off from work for an entire week. Funny that...

To mark the occasion I have posted a special video to Youtube. More on that later, though. This post is going to be a loose outline of basically the entire decade run of CCLemon99. Yeah, I'm embarassed by the title of this post, but hey...it describes what you're about to read perfectly. I'm going to try to sum up an entire calendar year in a single paragraph.

I know I've told the CCLemon99 story a million times before, but this whole thing still seems foreign to me an entire decade later. Regardless, here is an outline of what has happened in the past ten years...

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2007

On June 25th, I started my little channel with three videos. Day one I posted DX Twin Brace, DX V Changer Brace, and DX V Changer Compact. I spammed the channel with videos for awhile to get it out of my system, but ended up continuing doing the Youtube thing for just a little while longer. By the end of 2007, I had 56 videos on my channel...

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2008

This year I decided to branch out a little bit. I finally caught up to current toys by getting around to the super-popular Go-onger stuff. I also got into some lesser-loved Metal Hero toys and even Kamen Rider with the DX Sunriser review.  Who can forget the one-year anniversary video? I joined the societal-ticket-to-hell known as Twitter, a move that unwittingly later became something of a turf war that I still think is weird (long story). There was also the matter of my 100th video, which also happened to be the very first mecha that I reviewed--DX Daizyujin! The number of videos on my channel had risen to 107 by the end of 2008. 

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2009

After teasing my side project CCDBZ99 at the end of 2008, I started up that channel. Once a month for nine months I posted a video there in lieu of the main channel. It was an experiment, and it ended up having a small following of it's own. This is the year I kinda figured out that CCLemon99 was here to stay. I started taking more photos for each video and did a better job of editing (though those videos still seem slow compared to the tightness of today's videos.). I ended up getting some outside coverage on one video in particular. Oh yeah, I also got married in 2009. CCLemon99 is older than my marriage. Though, yeah, I've been with my wife since well before the channel. 150 videos by the end of 2009.

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2010

I remember this year being strange for some reason. Videos started getting deleted (I lost my DX Shinkenoh video). I started reviewing weapons more seriously with DX Zyusouken (there had been some before, but now they were here to stay.). I also got into scale model reviews! I think the lesson learned from CCDBZ99 was to just to grow an audience with a single channel rather than spread everything out over multiple channels. Advice: Maintain just one channel even if you cover various topics. I closed 2010 with my 200th video, DX Dragon Caesar.

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2011

I started my blog after squatting on it for so long. The blog eventually grew into the very site you're reading at this moment (CCLemon99,com...duh). As for the channel... I started the year with Pepsiman and ended with that massive Ranger Key Set SP video. Lots and lots of Ranger Keys in between that. I ended 2011 with 243 videos. It should also be noted, I haven't missed a week uploading a video since July 2011.

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2012

Picking things up right where I left off, on New Year's Day I took a look at the Gokaiger Treanger Box...which lead into the first of two Kakuranger Months in 2012! I uploaded my 250th video on February 5th (Recently re-uploaded since it was mysterious pulled from Youtube). I also uploaded a treat for my 5th anniversary...my Dragon Buckler prop belt. I also introduced a new camera with much more vibrant colors this year. It debuted in my Abaranger Ranger Key Set video and I still use it to this day. I dabbled in 16:9. Carranger Month 1 closed out the year. I had 298 videos by the end of 2012.

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2013

Started the year with a big road trip...but through the magic of the recently introduced automation, I was able to load a bunch of videos to go live while I was away. One of which was my 300th video, SRC Daizyujin. I took a look at a ton of DX Gaoranger Power Animals this year. This was also the year that I finally opened my cold heart to Figuarts. Toward the end of the year I uploaded my 350th video, which was a custom Dekabright Brace Throttle by the prop lord Kingranger. Accept no imitations... By the end of 2013, I had 353 videos.

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2014

This wasn't a very fun year--I had a lot of personal problems. I didn't miss a week on the channel, though. I started the year with the very first Firearm Month, which would be a January tradition for three years. The rest of the year saw much more Figuarts, ToQger crap, Kakuranger Month 3, my 400th video, Michael Jackson(!?), and many shades of Kotaro Minami. A solid content year with a lot of great videos--the channel definitely helped me get through the year. At the end of 2014, there were 409 videos on the channel.

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2015

Just a continuation of the previous year. January had the second annual Firearm Month after a few new Figuart releases. Not one, but TWO B-Fighter Months in 2015. I managed to break the subject of my 8th Anniversary video. I also took a look at the first Ranger Mechanix set. If there is one thing I noticed about this year while going back through the catalog...yeah, everything is structured so well. In October I reached 100,000,000 views on my videos. Wow. 100 million. It's like I'd been doing it for almost a decade at that point. I finished 2015 with 463 videos.

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2016

I would have to call this year the beginning of the end. I wasn't well for a good portion of time this year. Full disclosure, I made more than one of the videos start to finish in bed. I've never admitted that before, but yeah... Immediately after the Firearm month, there was yet another Carranger Month. This one was a little more interesting since I actually took a look at the Sufami Turbo Carranger game. Beyond that, I made the full switch to 16:9 by June since I now had a computer that didn't vomit when I attempted to make a video that wasn't square. I managed to pull off a major miracle for my 500th video and finished the year with a Blue SWAT month, and the remaining mecha from Ohranger and GoGo Five. Started small and ended big... By the end of 2016 my channel had 520 videos. 

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2017

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind. I started by heaping praise on a toy that nobody else seemed to like from a movie that...didn't do well(...?). That was followed by the second Ranger Mechanix set, a stream of five Figuarts reviews, some Gingaman odds and ends, the remaining Fiveman mecha, and a whole lot of housekeeping to prepare myself for the end...

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The Making Of "10 Years"

The video was months in the making and actually involved not only leaving the room for the very first time, but also leaving the damn house. I'm surprised that I managed to make it with only one tiny continuity mistake since I filmed it almost entirely backwards. The stuff at the beach was shot on a near-freezing day in May, while the car park stuff was shot on Memorial Day (hence the lack of people...everyone was at the beach). All of the indoor stuff was shot last...yesterday, in fact... Yeah, I really didn't want to do that earlier in the shoot. I knew that if I waited until the last minute, my creativity would kick into overdrive. It absolutely paid off.

While the video is kinda open to interpretation, I did have a loose outline that I wanted to follow. Basically I wanted to do a recreation of my first day as CCLemon99. The Twin Brace segment at the beginning isn't 100% shot-for-shot, but I did take all of the same photos that I took on that day.

Think of it this way... This video is an alternate reality where I started the channel in 2017 rather than 2007. If I didn't bother moving on to shoot the Fiveman stuff that day and instead went to the beach, what would have become of my channel? The Fiveman stuff was never really intended to be in the video, it was a last minute addition. I knew that I wanted to go from the Twin Brace, to the model BRZ, to the real BRZ, to the beach...but it was kinda missing something...

The one thing that is clear from the video...yeah, I've hung up the Twin Brace (weekly uploads) after a decade. It's still at the beach if you've ever wanted one. ; ] Maybe I'll retrieve it someday...

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So what does the future hold for CCLemon99? Well, I can let you in on a few secrets. Even if the uploads will be less frequent, you can still expect some awesome videos on the channel. Like what? Well... 

-I managed to complete my 90s Sentai mecha collection. I mean, is this really a surprise? Considering I'm only missing videos for four of them (Daijinryu...not a Sentai mecha...and I'm not particularly interested in something that is so far off scale that it borderlines as pointless...nay, it IS a pointless toy). That is a major accomplishment, though... I never thought I would do it considering I'm not willing to pay the crazy prices that a lot of these mecha go for. 

-That fucking 1982-2017 video that everyone has been ordering me to do. It'll happen before the year is out, I just want to make sure Kyuranger doesn't add anything the way Zyuohger did before the year is out.

-Kyuranger toys. Yep, they're coming. I've had them since February, I just haven't been motivated to open them up.

-More oddities and new toys as they come out. I should have that new Dragon Buckler any day now...

-The site will continue on as always. I'm working on a few major posts but I also have an enormous amount of backlogged CDs that seems to be getting bigger by the day. July will be a little different, though. I will be looking at a monster 28-Disc Box Set over the course of two posts. It has nothing to do with Tokusatsu/Anime/Game Music (outside of one song being used briefly in a Tokusatsu episode), but it's definitely going to be a trip... Coincidentally it covers the first decade of a beloved artist's career. I guess I'm all about the decade stuff...

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That's all for now, everyone. I want to finish off by saying 'Thank You'. Thank you so much for ten years of patronage to my unusual look at whatever caught my attention for a week. I never wanted to make this more than a hobby and I really don't give a flying fuck about people who whine that my quick videos aren't to their liking. That said, I still managed to meet a lot of incredible people along the way.

Thank you so, so much for watching and stopping by the site to check out this post. I really mean it.

Love,

CCLemon99