A cool selection of 80s Japanese funk and boogie from the Nippon Columbia vaults, selected by DJ Notoya in Japan with liner notes by Notoya and Nick Luscombe. The set was designed by Optigram and remastered by Nippon Columbia in Tokyo
Nippon Columbia is one of the most important and oldest labels in Japan. It has amassed an incredible back catalogue over the decades. Particularly strong in the 70s and 80s, the label was one of the main purveyors of great music at a time when Japan was entering its greatest economic boom and labels had budgets at hand to create the highest quality music. As Notoya explains in the liner notes “Back in the day, the record companies had big budgets and could afford to have many great musicians playing on one record, plus strings and horn sections, top drummers and keyboardists. It all made for a very rich sound, which is generally very different to today’s music.”
Keen to emulate the music created in the US by their American counterparts, Japanese musicians came with their own blend of funk, Boogie and Soul that has come to be known as City Pop.
The selection on Tokyo Glow is full of such gems and starts with ‘Kimugare’ a relaxed mid tempo track by Kumi Nakamura, actually a famous actress who only recorded one album in 1980 for Columbia. The set continues and flows effortlessly with the sunshine grooves of Miyuki Maki, Hatsumi Shibata and cult keyboard player Hiroshi Sato before the pace starts going faster and funkier with New Generation Company, Kengo Kurozumi – with his superb boogie, ‘Juggler’ – and one of the queens of the genre, Hitomi ‘Penny’ Tohyama with ‘Tuxedo Connection’.
Tokyo-based DJ Notoya is from a new breed of Japanese DJs there focusing on nippon music and is an expert on Funk, Modern Soul and Boogie from the Island. With ‘Tokyo Glow’, Notoya says he “focused more on the slightly more underground tracks from the era, rather than the bigger, well-known releases. For me that was a more fun and satisfying approach.”
Another fine example on the set is the mid-tempo groove of “I Wander All Alone Part III” by New Generation Company, an aggregate group of some of the best Japanese session musicians led by arranger Katz Hoshi and including Hiroyuki Namba (key), Kazuo Shiina (gtr) and Yutaka Uehara (ds) who all played with Tatsuro Yamashita among many others.
There are many other fine examples in ‘Tokyo Glow’, showcasing the diversity and specificity of Japanese City Pop during the late 70s and 80s. Collaborating with Nippon Columbia who have opened their much guarded vaults and remastered the tracks in Tokyo, Wewantsounds is delighted to propose a unique insight into one of the most creative period in Japanese music with ‘Tokyo Glow’, a double album full of groove and slickness.