19. will (1999.12.01)

01. tobira ~OVERTURE

A cool instrumental piece...

02. garnet

An mid-speed and jazzy first *real* track to this album. The synth tone chosen is a tad questionable, but I enjoy the speed of this one.

03. Trust Me ~all espanola

Hey now. Trust Me has a weird story... I'll probably talk more about it when we get to this album's hidden track. This, however, is a remix of it. A good one. It has a really good Latin sound versus the more pop sound of the regular version.

04. Pretend

This song is kinda mid-speed. It isn't bad. I wouldn't say it's as good as garnet, but it does the job well. I like Nakamori's sweet voice. It's nice whenever it makes an appearance.

05. Arashi no nakade ~misterioso "A"

A mid-speed remix of the song of the same name from SPOON. Quite the improvement. It works really well at the speed.

06. Genwaku ~amabile "A"

Same thing here--this is a faster and better remix of Genwaku from SPOON. I liked that song on SPOON, but this one definitely has some really good additions to it.

07. Kisei ~Never Forget~ Taste "A" Version

This is almost shaping up to be a remix album, eh? Between the two previous tracks and the Trust Me remix, you'd really think so. These remixes really do bring these songs to life. This one, however, I kinda prefer the slick and mysterious tone of the original. This is fun, but maybe it didn't need fixing all that much. It was a single, after all.

08. Kon'nanimo...

Now back to the regular album...

A nice song on the jazzier side. Mid-speed, naturally. I like this one, though it sounds a little bit generic.

09. Tsukino hohoemi ~Acoustic Version

This song is actually from a video game soundtrack. The game in question is called Wizardry ~DIMGUIL~ for the Song Playstation. There are actually three other versions of this song, but they only ever existed on the game soundtrack. Maybe I'll hunt it down someday...it's pretty rare...but I like a challenge.

Given that this is an acoustic version, it's pretty straightforward on what it's going to sound like. Nakamori does her usual great job.

10. will

Brief little acoustic instrumental piece. Unless you're paying attention you'll just think it was part of the previous song.

11. Tomadoi

More of a light-rock ballad type song. It's really, really good though. Nakamori does some nice little jumps with lyrics during the chorus. Plus it has that killer guitar solo. Thumbs up from me!

12. Ophelia

Technically the final track of the album and also a single track. This one has an inescapably slick beat coupled with a catchy chorus. Definitely a worthy track of single status...and a good track to go out with.

13. -Trust Me (Hidden Track)-

As I mentioned previously, Trust Me is a weird story. This song is a single and a FRIGGIN RARE ONE. When I was working on my collection of Akina Nakamori singles, this one eluded me for the longest time. It was released in a plain sleeve and peaked at fifty-seven on the Oricon chart. The odd thing is that I have other singles from different artists from Tokuma that have this generic/blank cover art. Was this single only released to DJs and Rental stores? It had *some* kind of release for it to chart, but it really just died...

The song itself it really good. It sounds a little bit like MOONLIGHT SHADOW, but it good on it's own as well. As I mentioned during the remix, this is the more polished version of the song. It features some guitars where the remix has more of a Latin groove.

It's a shame this song really went nowhere for whatever reason. I actually really dig it. In my years of collecting I've usually dreaded rare CD/items. There is usually a reason for rarity (the reason being...it sucks). This one kinda miffed me. It's a great song...

OVERALL: The short-lived GAUSS/Tokuma era of Nakamori's career has already come to an end. Two albums and a handful of singles. Based on the drop in sales, I don't think Tokuma was taking her very seriously. It's a shame for this album in particular since it's actually quite good. The awful album cover coupled with the murky story behind the singles kinda sealed it's fate.

I'll recommend it, though. Check this album out for a good time and chance to hear some better versions of some songs from the previous album.

NEXT: Resonancia



18. SPOON (1998.06.17)

01. Your Birthday

An odd choice for an opening track, but it's a great song. It's on the softer side, but it's actually really catchy. I can't help but think that it sounds kinda familiar, though. Someone out there will probably be able to figure out what song I'm thinking of...

02. Ame no hi wa ningyo

Another slower song, but this one isn't sung as sweetly as the previous track. Good, but just a little bit too generic.

03. Rakuen no megami

A more upbeat song, and a pretty decent one. It isn't the greatest production, but the singing is as good as you can expect it to be. An enjoyable track, for sure.

04. Kon'ya, nagareboshi

The second single from this album. This is a slow song, which is largely uncharacteristic of Nakamori's 90s singles. I think she may have missed out by not releasing more singles like this during the decade. Sales would tell another tale, though. This only peaked at Number sixty six on the Oricon singles chart. It's a shame because it's reminiscent of her earlier successful singles done with some much better singing.

05. Kisei ~Never Forget~

Here is the lead single from the album. It's very good, but fairly slower. I don't know exactly how to describe this one other than...very 90s and very Nakamori. I like it a lot.

06. Shukufuku

Not sure I dig this one too much. It's a slower song with a pretty lame choice of piano tone. We get Nakamori's sweet voice once again here at least. It's always nice when that shows up. It was pretty common around this time it seems.

07. Yuki no hana ~White X'mas~

I'm not entirely sure why this song is on this album given it's June release...but here we are. I should also mention that an alternate version of it appears on the single for Trust Me in 1999. I wonder what the deal was. A very slow song with almost haunting vocals. It does lighten up a little bit at least...and it isn't a bad song either.

08. Arashi no nakade

The B-Side to Kon'ya, nagareboshi. Really good song, but it's on the slower side like everything else on this album. It was a great pairing for the single needless to say.

09. Genwaku

Another slow song, but definitely one that you can groove to. Some great structure and equally as strong singing to go a long with it. It's dreamy in a really good way.


Very slow song. I mean...do I really have to say it at this point? It's good in it's simplicity. Just a light music track and Nakamori singing.

11. Hanakumori

This is a slow one, which is fine, but the lousy piano choice from Shukufuku is back. It at least feels like an outro song, which is nice.

OVERALL: There are two things I should probably mention before I really give an opinion about this album. One: Nakamori produced this herself and I give her credit for the consistency of music on this album. Two: Another record label change. Yep, Nakamori was done with MCA Victor and was now signed with THIS ONE...which was a subsidiary of GAUSS Entertainment...which was a subsidiary of Tokuma Japan Communications. I know the US music industry was awash with sub-labels within sub-labels in the 90s but I didn't realize that it was a thing in Japan as well.

There isn't much of a pulse in this album, but it definitely isn't bad. It's just not one for my tastes. I kinda feel like the variety and liveliness of the previous two albums were kinda the result of Nakamori finally being able to branch away from Warner and do new stuff at her own pace with names that she previously weren't able to work with. This almost feels like a return to the Warner days...and that isn't bad thing. I might not be the biggest fan of this album, but it sold pretty well.

NEXT: will



17. SHAKER (1997.03.21)

01. Mangetsu

A great lead-in song. The gradual build-up leads into a really chill song. I can't quite put my finger on why I like this song so much, but the combination of it's elements make for such a smooth track.

02. Spicy Heart

Strange title aside, this one is alright. It's just a little bit on the disjointed side. I enjoy the singing and some of the more subtle elements, but the bass and some of the random sounds are just a little bit too distracting. Not good or bad...totally listenable.

03. Yoru no nioi

I like this one. It's a little bit on the funkier side, but the breathy vocals don't kind line up with what the music is doing. It's a well-made song.

04. Oishi mizu

This one gets it all right. Everything lines up perfectly. This is a jazzier song that has a pretty decent pulse to it. It's only crime may be that it doesn't do much to stand out. Does that matter too much on an album, though?

05. MOONLIGHT SHADOW -Tsukini hoero (Album Mix)

Awwww yeah. So you may remember my excitement for the Akina Nakamori X Tetsuya Komuro pairing on UNBALANCE + BALANCE. Well he's back! For one song only. This happens to be the lead single from this album and naturally it's quite a bit different from the single version.

Killer song. Admittedly I didn't think too much of it at first because TK was kinda running out of steam at this point of the 90s. The repetition kinda makes this evident. It grew on me, though...and when you have different versions it kinda helps flesh it out a little bit.

It's definitely more of a dance hit than what we heard previously on this album. Naturally...it's what TK was doing during the decade. He got some great vocals out of Nakamori here. The album version has a lot more variety than the single version. The extended intro and outro here are the biggest clues, but there are a lot of little subtle differences peppered in.

06. Akai bara ga yureta

Another dance song. The 180 that this album took is really weird. That said...great song!! The music is on point and Nakamori does an awesome job. Jump ahead to my review of Cage... I feel a rant coming on when I get to a particular track on that album.


Another great song. This is the remix version of APPETITE, which was the second single from this album.

The horns! While MOONLIGHT SHADOW is an awesome song and the better single, this one will get stuck in your head. It's a jazz track that gains some additional pep at times...but the horns!

Really, this is a crazy catchy song. I kinda prefer the single version, though, since it skips out on some of the lazy remix elements that kinda stick out here. It isn't messed with too much...but you can tell when it has been.

08. Yumemiru youni nemuritai

While this is a lighter song, it's certainly much quicker. It also has a nice Latin sound blended it. Good song with some excellent singing, but this is the second change of pace that this album has undergone.

09. Sakura (biya ku)

The title kinda reflects the song. It's a slow song and one that is sung very well. It hardly sounds like Nakamori. Sure there are some minor tells, but this is some serious effort. Very good.

10. Kaze o dakishimete

A jazzier song that is more on par with some of the earlier tracks on the album. Incredibly chill. I like this one as well.

11. Tsuki wa aoku

I know I've long stated that I love Nakamori's albums that go out with a bang, but this one ends on a great ballad...chilling almost.

OVERALL: Akina Nakamori's 90s albums are criminally overlooked. This one is no exception. I liken this album a lot to UNBALANCE + BALANCE. A wonderful album full of great songs...that is just a little too scatter-brained for it's own good. A lot of people worked on it and it was recorded in a lot of places over a long period of time. Seriously...it's lead single, MOONLIGHT SHADOW, was released a full nine months before the album's release.

A *very* worthwhile listen, but I tend to still steer myself to la alteración for some 90s Nakamori goodness. Give this one a shot. It's very broad in it's appeal.

PREVIOUS: la alteración



16. la alteración (1995.07.21)

01. GAIA ~Chikyu no sasayaki~

Awesome, awesome, awesome opening track.

After a prolonged intro, the song finally kicks in...and it's a rockin' tune with a surf tinge to it. It's just another one of those things that makes more sense than it should. Akina Nakamori singing over surf music. You can give her any type of song and she just kills it.

02. Sunflower

Another incredibly solid track. The layered music almost clashes with the singing, but it all just kinda works in a really wonderful way. This one is upbeat jazz with a vocal track more suited for something much slower. It's a very good song.

03. Genshi, onna wa taiyo datta

This one is actually a single...and the only one directly from this album. In this case, however, this is the album version. The single edit has different vocals.

Intensely catchy is a good way to describe it. There is probably a good reason for that as this track is heavy on the fast strings and faux-claps. Yep. This one is a Latin themed song. I love it! Nakamori has done some of her finest work with the genre.


A upbeat jazzy track that probably would have fit in just as well on UNBALANCE + BALANCE. 1995 is probably the very last year something like this could have been pulled off. That said, it's muuuuch better than some of the lesser tracks on UNBALANCE + BALANCE.

05. Shitataru jonetsu

Following a pretty epic sounding intro, this is a pretty chill jazz track. It's great...but the beginning is kinda bigger than the song that follows it. When the music from the intro picks up in the middle, it's just as weird.

06. Itai koi o shita

This one is a slow song. Getting back to Sunflower, this is the type of song that the vocals would sound more at home at in mind. Maybe if it were a little more lively. Kinda weird, right? When I sit here and think about it...it kinda works.

07. Necessary

This one is another slow song. I actually prefer this one over Itai koi o shita, though. It's like a 90s version of one of her 80s songs. The saxophone is the giveaway.

08. Muku

A lively song with a lot of the sunshine that permeated in the earlier songs on this album. The biggest strengths this album has it with it's brass and it's bass. Muku has it all on display. Great song.

09. Dakara nan'na no

A great rock song to go out on. It's a bit too bright to compare it to anything on STOCK, but it's just as peppy.

OVERALL: While UNBALANCE + BALANCE has some incredible songs on it...THIS is return of Akina Nakamori. It has all of the hallmarks of her 80s album (great intro/outro, varied mix of styles) while being definitively 90s. I highly recommend this album. It's very well put together if just a little bit short. If you're fortunate enough, you might be able to score the "+4" version, which includes both singles of the era...one of which is the awesome Tokyo Rose. Can't wait to talk about that single someday...




15. UNBALANCE + BALANCE (1993.09.22)

01. Eien no tobira

This track is entirely reminiscent of some of her work a decade prior. The orchestra backing the light strings is a winning combination. The big difference this time around is the experience in Nakamori's voice. A incredibly beautiful song to start off with, but it may not be the power-track that a lot of her previous albums launch with. For that we have...

02. Aibu

Yes! This is Nakamori's first collaboration with super-producer Tetsuya Komuro of TM Network/TMN/90s JPOP fame. I would also consider myself a super-fan of Komuro's work, so this is a match made in heaven.

TK provided a pretty solid dance track for Nakamori as well. Granted, his songs tend to sound alike a lot of the time, but I absolutely love this one. The funny thing is, the two of them made a TV appearance to perform this song...and it's somehow even better than this album/single version. The TV version is just a little bit more complete. TK even provides some backing vocals.

Goddamn...I wish Nakamori and Komuro worked more together. Up until very recently it could have been a possibility. Tetsuya Komuro announced his retirement in January 2018.

Seriously, this is a solid song. The beat is just so slick, Nakamori is her usual perfection, and it has the usual TK over-production. I wouldn't say that this is my favorite single of Nakamori's from the 90s (this was a Double A-Side with Kataomoi), but it's waaaay up there.

03. Kuroshoubi

This is the type of song that I figured would dominate this album. It's 1993 and everyone was into this soft jazz that only required 50% real instruments. It's great, though. It's certainly much livelier than anything from CRUISE.


Here is another type of sound that I thought would dominate this album. The uptempo jazz diddy. Great song...and totally of it's time. It's kinda surprising that this album was actually recorded in Japan... It kinda has more of that New York sound that Nakamori had relied on more than once in the past without ever leaving the country on this track.

05. Hikari no nai mangekyou

Very short track with...not much to it. Just some brief choir-esque singing.

06. Nemuru yori nakitai yoru ni

Another slick jazz track. While it would have been a little more pliable with some more real instruments...it's of the time. I can't fault it for that. That said, I like it a lot.


An almost remix of Aibu. I like the music on this one, but the singing is just a little bit flat. It sounds like a lost TM Network song. Yeah, Tetsuya Komuro is back on this one obviously. I'm going to go on a limb and say that the lashes of Aibu were intentional. Then again...TK did repeat himself a lot.


Behind Aibu, this might be the stand out track on the album. NOT CRAZY TO ME is just a jam. I'm sorry, TK, but this beat is just a little bit too laser tight. The producer in question on this track is Ryuichi Sakamoto who is...legendary. Without rattling off any of his work, I can say that you've probably heard or seen his work in some capacity. I mean, he even showed up in a Gaki no Tsukai Batsu Game where Hamada has to go to NYC to retrieve a pen from him that he borrowed from Matsumoto. Heh. Good times...and I may have gotten off track just a bit...

I highly recommend this track is you really want just a solid song to kick back to. It's just structured so perfectly...

You may notice that this is an "LP Edit". Not a whole lot was added over the single version. The beat was filled out just a little bit more along with some smatterings of vocalization.

09. Kagerou

This album kinda ends on the same note that it began. This is the only truly mellow song on the album, though.

There is a little bit of a hidden track tacked on to this. It's the music box version of Kuroshoubi.

OVERALL: While I love basically all of the songs on this album...it's kind of a mess thematically. At only nine tracks, it's also criminally short. This is Nakamori's first album after signing with Victor, and one that she produced herself. I actually have a lot of faith in her as a producer, but this is just a little bit too random. To make things weirder, there were more songs to add. The awesome, awesome EVERLASTING LOVE is absent and the subtle changes to NOT CRAZY TO ME weren't really necessary.

I should also say that the particular copy of this album that I own is the UNBALANCE + BALANCE +6. It features singles and their B Sides from the era. I probably wouldn't have been thrilled with the brief nine-track version of this album in 1993. It is full of good music, though, and is a fantastic return to music for Nakamori.

NEXT: la alteración



14. CRUISE (1989.07.25)


Jesus. The title alone should give us a clue about what type of album we're in for. It's even written as URAGIRI in romaji.

Despite being a bit of a downer, this song is a pretty solid start to what was the final album from her days at Warner/Pioneer and nearly her life in general.

02. Akai fushigi (Mystery)

Another slow one, but this one has some nice tricks to it. The music is well put together and, of course, the singing is on point. This is reminiscent of 1983/84 Nakamori.

03. Sayonaraja owaranai

A bit on the soft side, but a decent track nonetheless. It kinda reminds me of OH NO, OH YES! without the catchy hook.

04. LIAR

Ooof. I did talk about this one previously in my Singles 1982-1991 review. I like the song, but as I have been clamoring for songs to be singles from the last few albums, this had to be the first one since 1985 to appear on an album and single?? It was a number one song, though. What do I know?

On the serious, I like the song...but I kinda don't like the circumstance behind it's likely selection.

05. Ranka

This one is an old-school slow song. Again, this is very reminiscent of some of her early work--just with some slight updates.

06. Close Your Eyes

A slick little jazz number that is a much welcome change of pace. The fake drumbeat is kinda on the blah side, but I actually dig this song as a whole. The singing isn't unlike what was heard on CRIMSON.

07. Standing in Blue

I like this one too. It's on the light side, but has enough chops to be unique. The underlying horns and weird, umm, piano "chop" effect make it just a little more memorable than it could have been.

08. Kaze wa sora no kanata

A slow song that is closer to being a concept song than anything else. There are some odd fragments spaced throughout. It's a good song, if a little disjointed. The singing is great, though.


For me, this is probably the standout song on the album. I know it mostly from it's use during the Yume Live 1991 tour. It's a great jazz number.

10. Ame ga futteta...

A slow song, but it does have some life to it. I suppose compared to a lot of the normal fare on this album, this is probably the best choice for the closing track. As it ventures more into the ballad territory, it's also a little bit of a throwback. The use of an orchestra kinda brings that point home.

OVERALL: This album, while definitely not a favorite of mine, actually remains a popular one among fans. As I mentioned earlier, this was her final album released at Warner. I suppose going out on this note is a little more fitting rather than rocking the house with Stock or confusing the fans with Fushigi. The writing was on the wall. Eerily enough, this album was recorded in Hit Factory in New York City. Famous for many things, chief among which is that it was the last place that John Lennon was said to have recorded before his death.

Nakamori was in full breakdown mode right around the time this album was released, and only three more single would be released before the economic bubble burst. Anyone who had a career in 1991 suddenly didn't by 1992.

Next time I explore the first release of post-bubble Nakamori. She'll have a new label, a new team, and a new sound...maybe.

PREVIOUS: Femme Fatale



13. Femme Fatale (1988.08.03)

01. Reversion (Desire)

We're off to a pretty good start. Reversion is a good sign of things to come. Some rock slickness mixed in with some heavy synths. There is plenty of that going forward, but to some wildly varying degrees.

02. Heartbreak

Case in point, the synth tone selected for this song is a bit much. I wouldn't say it's bad enough to hurt your teeth, but it's actually quite the distraction to an otherwise pretty decent song. You'd never really know given that it has the single most generic title of any Nakamori song.

03. Dakishimete ite (Love Is My Favorite Lesson)

Smoooooth. I like this one. Heavy on the bass and it kinda slips into high gear when it has to.

04. Femme Fatale

The titular track...and it's pretty good despite featuring another misplaced synth tone. It's definitely not the choice I would have made.

05. I Know kodoku no sei

Once you get past the frantic piano opening, this song is kinda messy. The vocals are too loud and the bass is too loud and mechanical sounding. It's not bad, but just kinda misses.

06. La Liberté

More of that shrill synth. I mean, it was popular at the time...but I kinda wish it weren't so prominent. That said, I actually like this song. The beat has some legs to it and it has a cool breakdown a little over half way through.

07. So Mad

The stand out song from the album. While it was never a single, it was used to promote the album on television. It's easy to see why. Not only is it catchy, it starts off with a frickin' whip sound effect. Even more promising is that the man behind it is Asato Sekine of EUROX. He worked pretty closely with Nakamori in 1988. A great upbeat track that has some of that EUROX flavor goodness sprinkled in.

The only issue that this song has is that the audio peaks about halfway through. What the hell?

08. Paradise Lost (Love Is In Fashion)

Back to reality. This song isn't the best, but it's not bad either. It's just...not very organic. Not to mention, the "Love, Love, Love, Love" is just...ehhh. This one has it's merits, but it's also kinda messy.

09. Move Me (Strictly Confidential)

Great singing wrapped around an otherwise kinda drab song. That said, I can see a universe where it could have made it as a single. It's solid enough.

10. Jive

The shrill synths are back for one last round. Honestly, this is a pretty good song. As it's the final track, it follows the tradition of ending big. I can't say I listen to this album on the regular, but this is one of the ones I tend to hit at random along with So Mad and Reversion.

OVERALL: It was never going to live up to Stock to me. I have to be totally honest about Stock...while I gushed about it in my review of it, it was a slow burn to the top. Femme Fatale grew on me as well...but not so much in the same respect. I've always liked Stock, it just took a bit longer for me to truly appreciate it. I didn't like Femme Fatale at all when I first heard it. It's a bit of a directionless mess at first listen. I dig it now, though. Nakamori doesn't seem entirely invested in it outside of a few key songs, but does a totally passable job.

The funny thing is...this album did hit number one on the Oricon chart whereas Stock only reached two. Before you start thinking I have crappy tastes, Stock was ranked the nineteenth best album of the year while Femme Fatale topped out at thirtieth. I guess it just had a release better week.

Worth a spin, but I don't anticipate that this will be a favorite for anyone--especially a new listener.




12. Stock (1988.03.03)


It doesn't take you long to realize you're in for a great ride.

Since the last three albums had their own themes (multiple themes in some cases), this one kinda simplifies it all. Rock. That's it.

FAREWELL is an excellent choice to open the whole thing. This song...and really the album that follows is Nakamori at her absolute best. Spoilers, right? Just the sheer strength of her vocals are intense and is backed by music that is equally as intense.

02. Yume no fuchi

After three albums of Nakamori playing up a gimmick of some kind, it's nice to hear her true vocals once again. Not only that, there has been some growth. Yume no fuchi is a continuation of FAREWELL, even if it's smidge softer. It kind of reminds me of some of EUROX's songs from MEGATREND that didn't have anything to do with Fushigi. It even had a big-time lyricist... Ryo Asuka, who is better known as ASKA of CHAGE and ASKA. You've probably at least heard of him...but maybe not for the best reasons these days.


Awesome song. Fantastic use of backing vocals on this song in particular. While this isn't the catchiest of the songs on the album, this one is an absolute belter as well.

04. Mada juubun janai

A bit slower, but still undoubtedly a rock song. So far, not a weak song to be heard on this album!


Why in the world was this song not a single? I mean it. Maybe it's a little too extreme, but considering this album only peaked at number two, this song absolutely could have sold the extra albums to bump it to the top spot.

FIRE STARTER is easily the biggest earworm from this album. It's probably the heaviest of the songs as well. Not so much with the music, but Nakamori just sells the hell out of it. On top of all of that, her English is perfect during the few random English lines. Awesome, awesome song. Satisfaction Guaranteed!


Some of music from this song sound kinda familiar...

This song also rules. Like many of the other songs, it's a wonder why this wasn't sold as a single. It's catchy as all hell and just incredibly well made.


I rank this among my top tracks on the album. If you listen to it, you might wonder why at first. It's one of the "softer" songs on the album, but it absolutely stands out for one thing and one thing only...


There is absolutely nothing catchier than those lyrics and the music behind it when they're sung.


Great song, but I think this might be my least favorite on the album. It's just a little too predictable.

09. Shojo Densetsu

The intro of this song sounds suspiciously similar to the song of a cartoon plumber when he reaches for the stars...if you catch my drift.

This is one of the slower songs on the album, but it's so well made. You really have to dig in and listen to the details on repeat listens.


I've talked in the past about how Nakamori has a penchant for ending albums strong. This just might be my favorite finale of them all. The song is on the sweeter side, but has an insanely killer hook to it. It's...really the perfect ending to a perfect album.

OVERALL: As it turns out, I am writing this review on the 30th anniversary of this album's release! Yeah, it's the third of March, 2018. Sheer coincidence!

I know I intended to finish this series of posts off with a Top Seven List of my favorite albums, but I'm not going to make you wait. This is my favorite. Start to finish, Nakamori absolutely KILLS it. The last time we really got a normal album from her was D404ME from 1985. This album is her grand return to normalcy and really a showcase of personal growth. Those years of unusual albums masked some of her growing talent. This album was like the grand reveal of an incredibly rare flower blooming.

Some of that credit can certainly go to Kenji Kitajima of FENCE OF DEFENSE who worked on the arrangement for much of this album. While the staff list is quite varied, his influence is absolutely heard the most throughout.

This album is highly HIGHLY recommended. Just keep this in mind... In 1988, Akina Nakamori was rocking harder than Seikima-II.

PREVIOUS: Cross My Palm
NEXT: Femme Fatale



11. Cross My Palm (1987.08.25)


Right off the bat, you might be thinking "oh dear...what is this lone synthesizer beat doing?". You know what, though? This song kinda unwinds into something incredibly memorable. I love it. It's beat is kinda dreamy and Nakamori is as clear as a bell and singing pretty strong.

By the way... Like the two albums before it, this album has a trick to it. Maybe I'll get to that in a little bit.


Slick as hell. Since we're finally moving into the late 80s, this type of sophisti-pop has taken over as the fashion. This one fits in very well. It's jazzy. It isn't loud at all. It's just a jam.


This song is trippy...and almost sinister sounding. It has this unrelenting bass line to it as well as a beat that is more on two-and-four. I like songs like this that going against expectations. As a result, this song is one of the highlights of the album to me.


As I mentioned in my previous review, this album was recorded in New York City and is full of local artists and producers. This is really the first song that has that true New York sound. Sure, she recorded in America plenty of times prior to this...but this is her first time recording in my neck of the woods.

The song itself is intensely catchy. It's kind of weird that it never was released as a single...but this was the era of Nakamori albums that didn't need singles to promote albums. It was going to hit #1 no matter what.


A slower song that has a killer of a catchy melody. It just kinda sails along through the air.


Interestingly enough this song kinda got re-purposed later on to become the single BLONDE. Both versions are awesome songs, but BLONDE is definitely the single for a reason. For one, it has new lyrics that are in Japanese. Oh yeah, did I mention that this album is entirely in English? Yep! It sure is.

This song was kind of a stand out track because it was created by Biddu-Winston Sela. You might not know the name, but you've definitely heard his work in the past. He's the producer behind Carl Douglas' Kung Fu Fighting. Yeah, THAT song. This isn't even the first time that he's worked with Nakamori. In 1985 he brought her a failed German song that...well, that's a story for another day I suppose.


Another slick song. If there is one thing this album has no shortage of, it's just infinitely catchy songs to groove to. Soooft Tooouch. This song doesn't have a whole lot of ingredients, but what it does with them is just so perfect.


This one is another favorite of mine from the album. It's likely more memorably known for it's somewhat better live performance from her 1991 tour, but the original is also quite good. Nakamori is probably at her strongest during this song. I'll reserve my thoughts on the whole English aspect of this album for the end, but there are some noticeable in some songs. This song isn't prefect, but there is some strength in the vocals.

Not to mention, this one is super-catchy.


Back to the Sophisti-pop well. Another great song.


This song isn't slow, but it's definitely one on the deeper side. I'm not sure why, but I dig this one a lot. It really isn't one to stand out very much, but it's still one I think about a lot.


Heh. This one is a little different and has some decent speed to it. Nakamori goes a little higher on this one and even does a little...rapping??? Sorta, kinda. It's a fun song for just the absurdity of it all.


This one...I've heard that there are people who dig it, but I think it's just a little tacky. It's definitely the type of song that was popular at the time, though. Nakamori's singing is kinda funny on this one. It's super-bubbly and actually...done fairly well. This song gets the job done, it's just not my type of thing.

OVERALL: Wow. So here's the deal. I may not have written a whole lot about each song, but I friggin' love this album. I've written in the past that I am lyric-challenged when it comes to songs, so it doesn't bother me that Nakamori's English is largely indecipherable. Readers of this site tell me that mine is also extremely ungood. Don't let that scare you away from this album! Nakamori may not have great English, but it didn't stop her from singing the hell out of this album. Not to mention, it served as her English schooling. Sure, she had sung in English in the past (the first song entirely in English was that failed German cover that Biddu brought her for 1985 Mini Album My Best Thanks...I'll get to that someday.) but this kinda readied her for better quality English going forward.

When you line up Fushigi-CRIMSON-Cross My Palm, it's like talking about three different singers entirely. Whether or not Nakamori...or Warner...or both had a goal of breaking out into the American market remains to be seen. I don't think this was ever intended for popularity outside of Japan. That didn't stop it from getting a release in America (my copy of the CD is an unsold US release). Seiko Matsuda's English was better PLUS she had one of New Kid's On The Block (Donny Wahlberg, for the record. I wonder how Marky Mark resisted the urge to punch her for being Asian...yeah, Mark Wahlberg is a supreme scumbag) and her release didn't do well either. Japan never really tried to push their pop stars too much on the US after that. Tetsuya Komuro could have cleaned up as a producer in the 90s if he were given the chance (the closest he got was the theme from Speed 2 and a Backstreet Boys song that I don't even think was released Stateside).

Give this one a try. If you get hung up on things like lyrics, you might not like it all that much. It's a fun listen, though.

NEXT: Stock



10. CRIMSON (1986.12.24)


An awesome kick-off to what would be a grand return to normalcy. But was it really?

MIND GAME in particular relies on some of the tricks slashed through Fushigi. Nakamori is a little soft on the notes while the background singers do a lot of the heavy lifting. The song itself is an excellent groove and really deserving of the top spot on the track list.

02. Eki

The first of five songs on this album written and composed by Mariya Takeuchi. That name is like a dog whistle to Vaporwave dummies fans. She is the wife of also-legend Tatsuro Yamashita. The thing I've noticed between Takeuchi and Yamashita is that they're virtually interchangeable. They kinda sound alike and for quite some time were putting out very similar music. I'm a fan of both! Yamashita's The Theme From Big Wave is one of my favorite songs ever...as is Takeuchi's September and Sweetest Music. It's nice to see a familiar face on board.

Having this knowledge and listening to this song... I find the whole thing a little odd. It was clearly written just for Nakamori as it sounds like a number of her earlier slow songs. That isn't to say that it isn't good, though. It just caught me off-guard. The singing is still just a little bit on the soft side.

03. Yakusoku

Another Takeuchi song. THIS one sounds like a Mariya Takeuchi song. As soon as the guitars kick in, oh yeah...definitely. The still-soft singing fits in perfectly. At this point it becomes pretty clear that this album is going to be mellow. There are some exceptions ahead, but Nakamori is definitely making a conscious effort to sing in something that is barely above a whisper.

04. Pink Champagne

An excellent jazz track. There are some licks of synth tossed in to make things interesting. While this song might not sound like much on the surface, it's one of my favorites from the album.

05. OH NO, OH YES!

While never becoming a single (in fact, none of the songs on this album became a single), this is largely considered the stand-out song from the album. Despite the somewhat doofy title, the way the title is sung is infinitely catchy. Definitely a good one, and obviously another Takeuchi jam. It's a bit on the slower side, but has a pulse to it.

06. Exotica

Another slow song. It has a catchiness to it that makes me wonder if this was ever destined to be a single. The moments that this song does pick up, it's pretty good. I like it overall. It's kinda retro in a way.

07. Mosaic no shiro

This one is my favorite on the album. It's just so weird. The horns, for starters, are awesome. When this song was played live the horns were replaced by guitars. I'm can't decide which I like better.

Regardless, this song has some much needed life to it even if Nakamori's vocals hardly break a whisper as it did in the previous songs. The beat is really strong. While I can't say this album gets an insane amount of play, I do go out of my way to listen to this song regularly.


Time to bring things back down again. Of the slow songs on this album, I think this may be the slowest...or at least the most basic. I like this one, though, it's more R&B but missing a lot of the big instruments. The build-up moments definitely make it memorable.

09. Aka no enamel

The fourth of the five Takeuchi songs. I like it quite a bit, but I always confuse with the single SOLITUDE. They sound quite a lot alike. Kinda errie...though SOLITUDE has this song beat chronologically, so I suppose it's kind of a self-ripoff.

10. Mick Jagger ni hohoemi o

This one is kind of irritating. What would have been a pretty fun party jam is kinda messed up with intermittent sounds of Nakamori typing, drinking, smoking a cigarette, and singing along to a cassette of the song playing. It's weirdly meta...but I just want to listen to the song plain.

The funny thing is, this song is Nakamori breaking out of the shell that she's been in this entire album. I thiiiiink that's what the outside noise is kinda getting at. This is the lone track on the album that she is just belting it. It's out-of-place, but makes total sense with it being at the very end.

It also kinda alludes to the next album, Cross My Palm. The song ends with what is unmistakably the sounds of New York City traffic... Interesting...

Still, I kinda want to hear this song played straight.

OVERALL: In my previous review I took a look at what is an indirect sequel to the Fushigi album. This time I'm looking at the direct follow-up. Honestly, it kinda works well as a follow-up to Fushigi. There is the solid theme of the somewhat obscured vocals as well as having a somewhat consistent staff. I talked about Mariya Takeuchi helming half of the production, but the other half was Akiko Kobayashi. Now, I can't say I'm entirely familiar with her work, but I actually prefer her tracks on this album. Heh.

I also find it just a little bit strange that this album either intentionally or unintentionally set up the next album. Next time...we're going to America! ...(again)...

PREVIOUS: Fushigi (Part 2)
NEXT: Cross My Palm



09b. Fushigi Part 2 - Wonder (1988.06.01) & MEGATREND (1987.03.25)

Akina Nakamori
Wonder (E.P.)

Nearly two years after Fushigi was released, Nakamori released her fifth and final Mini Album of her tenure at Warner/Pioneer. Wonder is a six track post script to Fushigi featuring clear vocals over re-recorded music. Kind of a self-cover album I suppose. The only real bummer is that by this time EUROX has basically disbanded by the end of 1987, so their participation is minimal.

01. Labyrinth

Immediately you'll notice that the music seems to be much more polished. Once the vocals kick in, the whole ordeal is squeaky clean. It almost defeats the point...I mean...the background singers are in the background. What kind of world is this?

Labyrinth sounds just as groovy played straight.

02. Okibi

Of all of the songs on this album, I think that this is the one I actually prefer over the Fushigi album version. It sounds just a smidge faster and plays just a smidge better with the clear lyrics.

03. Fushigi

Now this one is actually really interesting. It's a completely new song. This song was actually used to promote this mini album in television appearances and was part of her 1988 tour's set list.

That said, it almost seems completely out of place amidst the futuristic sounds of EUROX. Where we were getting electric violins in the album Fushigi, the song Fushigi features...bird song. It's a slow song, but it's actually a damn fine one. I love the reverse dynamic here.

04. Glass no kokoro

Like Okibi, this one plays a little bit better with clear lyrics. The thing that kinda holds it back is the music itself. It kinda sounds weak compared to the Fushigi version. I don't know, the guitars just don't have that same dreaminess to them.

05. Marionette

I prefer the Fushigi version......WAY more than this. That isn't to say that this is bad, but the beat just isn't as forceful...and the singing really benefited from the almost industrial nature of the version on Fushigi.

That said, this is totally listenable and is more at home with the version that Nakamori kept in her set list well into the 2000s.

06. Teen-age blue

Of all of the covers on this mini album, the music is actually closest to the original on this track. The clear singing is actually pretty beneficial on this one as well...except maybe when she says "Teen-age blue". It sounds kinda rushed and doesn't flow as well as it does with the distortion.

OVERALL: Highly...HIGHLY recommended if you're a fan of Fushigi. While I may bemoan the lack of Mushroom Dance and Wait For Me, this does address some of minor issues with the album versions of songs like Okibi and Glass no Kokoro.

Seriously, the closest we ever got to a clean version of Mushroom Dance was from the video release of her 1987 tour. I would kill to have a clean studio version. Hell, why not a clean version of the whole album??



As I mentioned previously, EUROX is the sound behind the Fushigi album. As you might imagine, providing the music for an established singer kinda leaves a band's existing singer out in the cold. As far as I can work out, however, EUROX didn't really have a set singer. Prior to their work on Fushigi, the band released two singles in 1984 with Hiroshi Nemoto on vocals.

Following the release of Fushigi, a debut album was in the works. This time around, the band enlisted the vocals of Isamu Hasegawa to bring their album's vocals to life. You may be thinking...why do they even need vocals? Fushigi was an experiment in vocals being used as an instrument after all. Well, this album seemed to be the first attempt to bring some of Fushigi's songs some clarity. That's right...before Wonder came along, three songs from Fushigi ended up getting self-covers on EUROX's own album. On top of that, we got seven additional songs of the same flavor. Let's check it out...


If you coming to this album directly from Fushigi, you would almost expect to hear Nakamori's distorted vocals right off the bat. The titular track from this album is a nice reassurance that EUROX hasn't changed one bit in the time since their work on Fushigi. MEGATREND in particular is an awesome song.


This one might have been a little out of place had it been part of Fushigi as it's played pretty straight-forward. This song is just a little more mainstream and slick versus the album industrial sound from Fushigi. That said, it's definitely a EUROX song.


A slower song. One that kinda ditches the electronics in favorite of just making a chill song. The funny thing is, it's kinda sung in the style of Fushigi. Lots of random vocalizations ("Ah-Ah") and vocals that aren't 100% clear. Sure, they can all be understood, but there is a light masking to the whole thing.


This is more in line with the random loudness you would expect if you picked up this album. I know I really shouldn't be making constant comparisons to Fushigi, but that really isn't a knock against this album. Fushigi was EUROX's album just as much as it was Nakamori's. This track is probably the closest to sounding like a lost song from Fushigi. Behind MEGATREND, this is probably my favorite song from the album that isn't a cover of a song from Fushigi. More on that in a bit...


I like this one too, but it comes awful close to just being silly. Lots of little details in the production that you only really catch upon multiple listens. That can be said for a lot of EUROX songs though...


Well now...this sounds awful familiar.

The music here is a 1:1 recreation of Back Door Night from Fushigi. Naturally the only difference between the two songs is Isamu Hasegawa's clearish vocals instead of the heavy distortion used throughout Fushigi. The only weird thing is hearing it midway through an album instead of it kicking the whole thing off.


This is the only song I don't really dig all that much. After a minute-long intro of really just nothing in particular, the song kinda picks up and doesn't do a whole lot...until it does... Two thirds of the way through it suddenly becomes a different song and just sounds...messy. This song is weird in a less desirable way.


A slow song done right. I enjoy this one, especially the piano work splashed in at some points.


This is probably the number one reason to buy this album. I really consider this the finished version of  Wait For Me from Fushigi. Going back and listening to the Nakamori version, the whole thing sounds kinda half-baked. The Fushigi version relies more on the bass, this is just a complete song. I love it. It kinda makes me wish they did something a little bit different with DREAM OF and the following song as well...


This is a 1:1 cover of New Generation from Fushigi. The only real difference outside of the singers is the intro is a little drawn out. Honestly, it still sounds great here.


This and the following track were never part of MEGATREND, but were from one of the only singles that EUROX released while they were signed at Warner/Pioneer. So while MEGATREND was released in 1987, the single for COLD LINE and OUT OF CONTROL were released as bonus tracks. Thanks, Warner... That was cool of them. As a result of this being older, it features original EUROX singer Hiroshi Nemoto.

Ehhh, this song is OK. The only thing that really holds it back in my opinion is the Faux-Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran singing. EUROX was always a great band, but the lack of a consistent singer early on seemed to bring them weird places. One of those was Nakamori, so I can't complain.

I want to like this one, but the singing is just weak.


This song is just...all over the place. Yeah, I don't like it. It just sounds like a lot of early 80s nerd rock that I hate so much.

OVERALL: I highly recommend checking this out if you're a big fan of Fushigi. I honestly recommend this over the Wonder mini album. While both MEGATREND and Wonder kinda unmask all the makes Fushigi special, MEGATREND acts as the better supplement.

As a standalone album, MEGATREND is a great listen. In a world where Fushigi exists, I don't understand how this didn't become a bigger thing. In a world where Fushigi never happened, I can kinda understand how this wouldn't become popular. I never would have heard it, that's for sure. It has a curse of being far too technical while not really pop enough like, I don't know, Kome Kome Club.

I'm on a never-ending quest to discover all of the good music I can. The EUROX sound is up there with TM Network in their richness of sound, but they never really had a hit. It doesn't help that neither MEGATREND nor Fushigi had a single.

From here the EUROX story kinda fizzles. They broke up after MEGATREND's release, but continued to work with Nakamori through 1988 on awesome singles such as TATTOO and the highly underrated I MISSED "THE SHOCK". They did get back together for a little while in 2009 to release some new music, but I'm going to be perfectly honest and say that I haven't checked it out.

PREVIOUS: Fushigi (Part 1)



09a. Fushigi (1986.08.11)

01. Back door night

Your first thoughts might be... What the...?

OK, so putting this album's little party trick aside, there is one big BIG difference right off the bat. The incredible richness of the music. You're immediately hit with just a gigantic wave of sound...deep, deep, heavily produced sound.

Then, the vocals kick in and they're almost indecipherable.

Once you get over that, you'll notice that...you're really digging this.

02. New Generation

From here, the album doesn't let up one bit. The same muddled lyrics, and the same rich sounding band. I should probably talk about the band. While the album is the debut of Akina Nakamori as a producer, the band that is spear-heading the majority of the tracks is EUROX. I have quite a bit to say about EUROX, but I think I'll save that for my dissection of this fine album in my next post.

As for New Generation, it's not a favorite from the album, but it's a great song.

03. Labyrinth

Great track. Labyrinth has this incredible, and yet subtle, guitar work sprinkled in. The vocals are a bit more distorted in this track...and the background singers aren't distorted at all. What a weird concept...

04. Marionette

This is easily my favorite track here. The beat is just so damn heavy, and the lyrics are a smidge clearer. This song, while never becoming a single in it's own right, seemed to be the one chosen to promote the album in TV appearances. Of all of the songs from this album, this is the one that seems to have survived the test of time.

Just when you think this song can't get any cooler...BAM electric violin. Not once, but twice to close the whole thing out.

05. Genwaku sa sete

While it's kinda off to a slow start, I dig the slickness of it all. This is kinda this album's idea of a slow song. Heh. Extra-heavy on the vocal distortion.

06. Glass no kokoro

While EUROX didn't compose this or the next two songs, they're clearly playing on them. The vocals on this album are meant less as a means to deliver the lyrics as they are to complement the music. This song really is the only time on this album when it would probably make a little more sense if it were sung normally. That's a story for next time...

07. Teen-age blue

Everything is back on form with this one. Nakamori's vocals are kinda clear this time around, but there are a few moments when she is hidden behind some of the band.

08. Okibi

This is an incredibly slick track. Once again, you can kinda make out the lyrics.

09. Wait for me

EUROX is back in charge. The big tell is that the bass is heavier. While this one is infinitely catchy, the bass juts out just a little bit too much over everything else. If you were in the room while this song was being performed, it's as is you were standing in from of the bassist's amp.

Love this one, but there is more to the story next time...

10. Mushroom Dance

I'm going to be brave and say that this is my second favorite song on the album. It's weird...and hidden at the end, but I still love it.

This song really amps up the energy for the big finale. The synths are especially on point. Not only that, but the vocals oscillate from incredibly distorted to almost clear. This is kinda the whole album in a nutshell. Combine that with some faux-Flock-Of-Seagulls-I-Ran guitar licks, and this song is the perfect way to go out. Underrated!

OVERALL: This album is kinda legendary in the JPOP world. It made Number #1 for a few weeks, but not before confusing the hell out of people who bought it. Honestly, the tale has been told many times and I would be doing a great disservice if I didn't link to this article from AV Music. It sums up the whole affair nicely.

My personal thoughts on the album? It lives up to the hype. I'm not going to say whether or not it's my favorite album from Nakamori or any other artist for that matter, but it's definitely an album that not only requires multiple evaluations, but more research into the life these songs lived after this album baffled a nation.

I do just that in Part 2...

NEXT: Fushigi (Part 2)



08. D404ME (1985.08.10)


Excellent. This is the type of jazzy track that worked so well on BITTER & SWEET...and it works great here as well...so far. The only noticeable difference here is that Nakamori seems to be going a little deeper with her voice. Some of the mannerisms she continues to use such as bending the end of words seem to originate here. It's pretty noticeable right off the bat...

02. Nocturn

The name says it all, this is something of a dark song. It's definitely a little more on the serious side, but is excellent all the same. It does have a slight flavor of some of her older work at the same time. Heh... Older work. Hard to believe her eighth album is only three years into her career.

03. Allegro Vivace

Another darker track. This one is a little more basic sounding, but is still pretty damn catchy. Maybe not catchy enough to be a single or anything, but this one pops in my head with some regularity. The sweeping breeze sound coupled with the droning guitars make for a surprisingly good combination.

04. Kanashii Romance

After a brief and somewhat disjointed start, this song takes off and serves very well as a mid-range song. It isn't my favorite song on the album...but it has that really catchy chorus and is packed with some great bass and horns.

05. Peace

I can kind leave this song. It's alright, but it's a little bit of a snorer. The melody is very pretty, at least.


This is where the album takes a really weird and sudden left turn with the next few songs...

I honestly don't know how I can accurately sum this song up. Well, it's certainly from 1985 for one. It's a little busy at times, and a little bit slow at others. That said, I like it alright. Maybe not as much as...

07. Magnetic Love

Truly weird. This song is this album's Babylon. Heh. It's even structured kinda similarly. That said...this isn't as good as...


Yesssss. This song is so awesome. It sounds like the theme song to an anime that was never made. I mean, even the name is there. Can we retroactively make an anime series for this song?

Upbeat and excellent. As much as Nakamori has accomplished, she really should have taken a page out of TM Network's book and delivered a beloved and unforgettable theme song at some point in the 80s.

09. Mona Lisa

As this is technically the last track of the album, this song bookends ENDLESS perfectly. Upbeat, but kinda dark. The weird thing is, I think her next album may have kinda copied this song just a little bit...

10. (Including Special Version) Meu amor é... 

This is something of a bonus track. ENDLESS and Mona Lisa start and end with the sounds of a thunderstorm respectively. This song kinda exists outside of the D404ME storm.

What exactly can I say? It's an extended version of the super-smash single Meu amor é... The extending is all done at the beginning, however. It sounds more like a street performance that slowly fades into a slightly tweaked version of the song we all know and love. Excellent way to end the album. I'm not going to say that this is the definitive version of Meu amor é..., but it's definitely worthy of existing at all.

OVERALL: It may not be a better album than BITTER & SWEET, it is the perfect follow-up. It's full of great songs, and still manages to display progress. The R&B aspect was completely dropped and replaced with some skittish weirdness. Plus... STAR PILOT.

Maybe this isn't the best place to dive into, but it's smack in the middle of just a solid sting of fantastic albums from Nakamori.

NEXT: Fushigi (Part 1)