2018/04/30

Top Seven Favorite Akina Nakamori Albums


Welcome to the Top Seven list of my favorite Akina Nakamori albums. I've spent the entire month of April reviewing them and I suppose it's only fitting that I give my list of favorites. As I mentioned in the introductory post, this is my very first time listening to Akina Nakamori's albums in chronological order. It certainly changed the way I thought about a lot of albums. When you just go from something like CRIMSON to DIVA and then back to D404ME it's a little strange. I recommend doing it sometime if you happen to own all of her albums.

The only rule I made for myself for this Top Seven list is that I am covering the twenty five official studio albums only. This unfortunately leaves Cage and true album akina 95 best out of the running. Both are great, but if I include those, I would have to go through her entire side-catalog of cover albums and bring those in as well. Let's just stick to the twenty five official albums for this list...

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07. Femme Fatale (1988.08.03)

I know I was kinda down on this album in my review of it, but I kinda realized after that I listen to it way too much for it not to be considered a favorite. Songs like Reversion, So Mad, La Liberte, Heartbreak, and Jive keep me coming back.

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06. Cross My Palm (1987.08.25)

You might think I'm crazy for having this one on the list, but it's an honest album that really bridged a lot of Nakamori's past and future. She had been recording in California prior to this, but I think she may have taken a strong preference to recording in New York following this. If you can't get over Nakamori's broken English, you probably won't ever get into it. The effort is absolutely there, however. She carries herself well throughout and it's certainly a unique sound. I keep this album in regular rotation.

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05. la alteración (1995.07.21)

Of the five studio albums that Nakamori released in the 1990s, this one has always stuck out as the brightest. 1995 in general was an awesome year for Nakamori music. We had some great singles and the self-cover album. All work this year tended to oscillate between rock and jazz while keeping things upbeat. It has the balance that the appropriately ironically titled UNBALANCE + BALANCE kinda lacks. UNBALANCE + BALANCE is made up of some great songs, but is short and just a little too random. la alteracn gets it right, though.

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04. FIXER (2015.12.30)

After the somewhat lackluster DIVA and the subsequent alarming announcement that she would taking an indefinite leave for health reasons, Nakamori was BACK. This album is not only the strongest that Nakamori has sounded in years, but really takes her to the next level. I really can't get over how great Rojo -Tierra-, unfixable, and FIXER -WHILE THE WOMEN ARE SLEEPING- are. This album has so far proven to be a solid foundation that Akina and Cage were then built upon in 2017. All three albums are completely different, but it really is a treat to have Nakamori back in top form.

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03. BITTER AND SWEET (1985.04.03)

I think a lot of fans will agree with me on this one...what a great album. While I love all of the songs, I feel like it was somewhat neutered toward release. The version of Babylon is not nearly as bonkers as the version that later ended up on a single with the rejected first version of Meu amor e... and I also suspect the album cover was a last minute change. The whole Bitter and Sweet persona is explored more outside of this album than it was in it...

That doesn't really stop this album from being great. Contrary to my previous gripes, this does have two modes: Sweet and...Bitter, I guess. It's really the first album that Nakamori perfected her sound and it happened to line up with a great production. I also love it's follow-up, D404ME, and it's predecessor POSSIBILTY, but this album is just way more complete.

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(this may be #2, but it's definitely the #1 album cover)

02. Fushigi (1986.08.11)

Once the initial confusion of this album was washed away, it could only be destined to be a cult hit--even something of a curiosity that music fans outside of Japan had to check out. Fushigi is an album that never clicks on the first listen, but something that really gains appreciation when you're in the right mindset. A lot of historical reviews hit on something to take into consideration...treat Nakamori's voice as an instrument rather than vocals. Her voice is kinda woven in and out with slight variances in clarity, but only ever verge on being intelligible.

Major props go not only to EUROX for being the band behind the majority of the work, but also for Warner for letting their top selling artist try something so experimental and bizarre at their absolute peak. This album really needs to be heard to be believed. If you do decided to check it out, you're in for a treat.

 If you know the album and are left wanting more, I have you covered! Check out my Part 2 post that covers Nakamori's self-covers and even the self-covers that EUROX did on their album MEGATREND.

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01. Stock (1988.03.03)

Whenever I make these top seven lists I usually have the most difficult time writing about my number one pick. How do I justify something that gives me this visceral feeling?

I don't see as much love for Stock as I do for other albums, but that just makes it a set of ten perfect songs, just for me. I truly appreciate the harsh energy behind this album. FAREWELL, FIRE STARTER, NIGHTMARE, I WANNA CHANCE, and FOGGY RELATION are absolutely some of my all-time favorite songs from Nakamori on this album. The whole thing is expertly assembled into, really, the best forty-four minutes of music I've ever heard.

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So that's it! That's the end of this absurd experiment!

I started writing these reviews in February and I am typing this final post up the night before it is going live on the site. It's been a long ride, but I'm happy to have finally done it. I will be getting back into my regular wackiness on the site shortly. In the meantime, you can now read through all of my reviews without having to wait.

I hope I at least shared some wisdom in doing this. I feel like I've grown up a lot just by doing this, so hopefully that parlays into more interesting reviews in the future. I always had a nagging feeling when I summed up an entire album in a paragraph or two. Things should be different going forward...

Thank you for following along during this crazy month and I hope to see you again on my site!

-CC


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