2018/04/29

BONUS: true album akina 95 best (1995.12.06)


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DISC ONE - WILD DISC

01. Kazari janai no yo namida ha (Renewal)

The fun thing about this album is that it features a lot of self-covers of Nakamori's singles and album tracks from her days at Warner with a mix of new stuff. The covers are all done in new styles to shake things up a bit. For example, this track is kind of a rockabilly version of Kazari janai no yo namida ha, a song I already love. This song gels well with the style of music.

02. Tokyo Rose (From 1995 single)

I'll get to this single someday...I promise. It's crazy cool.

03. TATTOO (Renewal)

Another rockabilly-jazz version of a song I already love so much. While I definitely love the original of TATTOO a thousand times more, this version is also still very good. If anything, I think this version is what inspired Demon Kogure's cover on the first GIRLS' ROCK cover compilation. His version is actually probably a little more rockabilly since it completely abandons what jazz is present. Check his excellency's version out while you're at it...

04. GAIA ~Chikyu no sasayaki~ (from la alteración)

From my review of la alteración...

"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."

It certainly fits in very well with this disc of this compilation.

05. BLONDE (Renewal)

This song keeps popping up, huh? It originally appeared as an English song on Cross My Palm and then a completely new Japanese version was released, this time called BLONDE, as a single that same year.

While this cover is great, this is where the album strays away from the rock tone to a more poppy one. The music is completely new, but it doesn't stray a whole lot away from the original version outside of the catchy intro.

06. Aibu (from UNBALANCE + BALANCE)

From my review of UNBALANCE + BALANCE...

"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."

07. DESIRE -jonetsu- (Renewal)

One we make it past the lame intro, this is a solid cover of a favorite to many fans. It honestly doesn't stray too far from the original version of the song outside of adding some 90s elements (fake drums and horns). Nakamori matches the energy of the original, and that's absolutely best I could have hoped for. Such a damn good song...and this is a worthy cover.

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DISC TWO - WORLD DISC

01. Meu amor é... (Renewal)

This version kinda removes the pop element and makes it more of a pure Latin track. Remember that Long Intro version from D404ME? This is kinda the version of that song if the style of music in the intro kept going the entire duration. I love it. It's kind of the "what if" that doesn't disappoint. The singing is on-point here as well.

02. Gypsy Queen (Renewal)

Similar in style to the previous track, this cover of Gypsy Queen kinda has more appropriate music to the mood of the song. It's jazzy, but not as pop. I like it quite a lot. It might not be better than the original, but it definitely has a little bit more dimension.

03. Genshi, onna wa taiyo datta (from la alteración)

From my review of la alteración...

"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."

The review also explains that the single version of this has different vocals. That's why it's from la alteración rather than the single.

04. TANGO NOIR (Renewal)

Great cover of another song from the time when Nakamori's singles were just on fire. While it isn't a slow song, it's just a tad less energetic than the 1987 original. This is mostly done through music, though. The singing is spot-on eight years later.

05. Gekka (from 1994 single)

I will have to cover this one someday as well. Do I feel a post on all of the 1990s singles coming on? Perhaps it will be coming soon......

06. Futari shizuka (Renewal)

I am sooooo happy to see this underrated single getting some love. Futari shizuka feels like it was kinda swept under the rug since it was released at the very end of Nakamori's time at Warner and when musical tastes in Japan were moving far away from the bubble-era.

This cover is done in a very similar style to the original, but the bass and guitar is what makes the cover memorable. I kinda wish some of the other elements of the song were produced a little better, but this is a cover that definitely doesn't disappoint for me.

07. Shangrila (previously unreleased)

I'm willing to put money down that this song was originally intended to be the introductory song from la alteración. The long intro that this song would be perfect to lead into an album with, but I think it may have just lost out to GAIA~Chikyu no sasayaki~ for being an awesome song that also sounds like an intro track. It definitely fits the style of the album better than any of her other albums during the MCA Victor years.

The song itself has a very chill intro that has a world sound to it (fitting considering what disc this ended up on) and doesn't start until after the three minute mark. Nakamori's soft singing is contrasted by some shredding that comes in to close the song out. I like it a lot, but I can kinda see how it was shelved. Considering how short some of her albums were in the 90s...you have to wonder what else never saw the light of day...

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DISC THREE - WHISPER DISC

01. Slow Motion (Renewal)

More of a softer jazz cover of Slow Motion, which was Nakamori's debut single in 1982. It's nice to hear a solid cover of the song considering how stiff her vocals were during her earliest years. That said, I can't deny the overall production of the original over this.

02. Second Love (Renewal)

A smoother and jazzier cover of the ballad that propelled Nakamori into super-stardom. If I recall correctly, this is edges out Meu amor é... as her top selling single of all time. This is a worthy cover it.

03. LIAR (Renewal)

One of the final singles from Nakamori's time at Warner, and one of the darkest as well. Following up with the theme of this album, it's a softer jazz version of the song. Some of the mystique is missing here, but it's sung in probably a more appropriate tone after being year's removed from the mindset she was in when the song originally came out.

04. Kagerou (from UNBALANCE + BALANCE)

From my review of UNBALANCE + BALANCE...

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

Yeah, I didn't have much to say about the song, but you can kinda see what I thought about it if you can read through the context. I probably should mention that the hidden track was removed from this version.

05. Nanpasen (Renewal) 

This is a cover of a cover. Heh. I kinda explain the history of this song in my review of the single if you want to check it out.

As much as I enjoy this cover, it doesn't have the utterly haunting tone of her 1987 version. It's done in the same style, but is just a little more minimal and doesn't have any of the effects that are lightly spattered through the original.

06. Mizu ni sashita hana (Renewal)

Another somewhat neglected track from the end of Nakamori's time at Warner. I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the original, but I've always enjoyed it's flow. This cover does a very nice job updated it just a little bit. It's only a smidge fleshed out, though. It certainly belongs on the Whisper Disc like everything else here.

07. Yokan (Renewal)

I suspect Nakamori is a fan of this song. It's originally from BITTER & SWEET and even there I pointed out that it was also included on her My Best Thanks mini album. I love this song in all forms. This cover has to be the biggest departure from the original version on this disc. Rather than the slow pop song that it was in 1985, it is now a light orchestral track. The singing isn't a whole lot different, however.

OVERALL: I felt that this was a worthy entry as the remaining bonus CD review for this crazy month of experimental reviews. I picked this one up out of sheer curiosity since it was really the first time Nakamori had covered her own work. She's done so many, many, many times since...but I wanted to hear how she was going to handle her Warner songs not long after she had parted with the label. You know what? It's great. I really don't even mind the "new" MCA songs being snuck in since they help establish tone for each disc.

That is probably the biggest praise I can heap upon this set...the consistency is excellent. The three discs each have a theme and each disc doesn't stray even a little. While the first disc kinda changes things up midway through, it still fits the bill of being the "Wild Disc".

Definitely pick this one up. The three-disc part is a little misleading since it's only twenty one tracks total, but the prices of used copies are incredibly low. I managed to pick up a non-rental copy that was only missing the obi for like $9 sometime last year. It's something of a forgotten compilation, but I think it deserves a listen if you're a fan of her singles from the formative years.

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NEXT: Top Seven Akina Nakamori Albums

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