The first collection of Themed Music as part of a short series of compilations for Beachy Head Radio.
It streamed on 11th May and can now be found here.
All the music in this compilation was written by Ryuichi Sakamoto, alone or in collaboration. He was often also the Producer, Arranger, Performer or any combination of those roles. A handy utility player.
I wouldn’t qualify anywhere near the front of a grid of Sakomotorists and have but un peu de Japanese so there may well be errors below. I have though gone to the original releases for confirmation as far as possible.
The prefix *c-* indicates a shared credit, eg. *c-P* = Co-Producer
1. Man Of Arun – Loud Hailers Introduction (2023)
2. Sigourney Weaver & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Peach Boy (1991)
A telling of the folk tale Momotarō (桃太郎) or Peach Boy as it is most often translated. The everyday story of an old couple finding a boy in a peach who grows at an unusual rate and in no time is setting off to fight demons.
3. Kanako Wada – Creation My Heart (1986)
(和田加奈子 – クリエイション・マイ・ハート)
Theme song to Tokyo Creation ’86 promoting Japanese clothing designers and manufacturers.
You may notice the large number of numbers from the 70s and 80s in this mix which was when RS did a lot of work for hire before concentrating more on his own music as the 90s progressed.
4. The Ventures – Mushuku (1980)
‘Big in Japan’ might have been invented for this instrumental band from the USA whose career was sustained by their popularity in said country after fading in the West.
5. Yukihiro Takahashi (高橋 幸宏) – School Of Thought (1980)
RS: C/G/M (synth, piano)
From the second solo album by his Yellow Magic Orchestra colleague. This won’t be his only appearance having been a leading session player from the 1970s on as well as a producer and having a long solo career.
6. Momo – See You In The Sky (1985)
もも – 空に会おうよ
Written for the Sumitomo Group’s Pavilion at the 1985 International Science and Technology Exposition in Tsukuba, Ibaraki. His then wife and fourth YMO Akiko Yano (矢野顕子) wrote the lyrics.
Released as though sung by the fictitious Momo it was Sumiko Yamagata (山県 寿美子) exercising her vocal chords.
Any suspicions that this made the mix because of Peach reference are entirely accurate.
7. Susan – Freezin’ Fish Under The Moonlight (Eating My Backbone) (1980)
RS: c-C/M (keyboards)
From the Do You Believe In Mazik LP.
(Aside: I wonder? The initial fade and then rise in volume at the end of this track looks like a fish tale in a computer editing program – technology rare but available in dedicated hardware by the time of this recording. And any synthesizer user would have been familiar with amplitude envelopes.)
8. Sketch Show – Attention Tokyo (2003)
Yukihiro Takahasi (高橋 幸宏) in partnership with the other member of the YMO troika Haruomi Hosono (細野晴臣). From the Loophole album.
9. Riuichi Sakamoto + Danceries – Dance (1982)
In which RS falls in with a band of medieval and renaissance musicians who also recorded End Of Asia a tune originally on Thousand Knives Of Ryuichi Sakamoto (hold on that sounds familiar).
Riuichi is one of several variations in the romanization of 坂本龍一.
10. Kenny Wen – A Flower Is Not A Flower (1996)
(溫金龍 – 花非花)
From the album of the same name by the Taiwanese player of the bowed two-stringed Erhu.
11. N.M.L – Zero Landmine (2001)
RS: C/P/M (piano)
No More Landmine was a multinational ensemble suggesting that a weapon that blows random people up long after any conflict is not a good idea.
Piano and Cello version with the man himself tickling the ivories and Mari Fujiwara (藤原真理) scraping away.
Lyrics on the full version by David Sylvian
12. Sakamoto & Scott – Once In A Lifetime (1982)
From the first of a brace of releases with the Pop Muzik man.
13. Koharu Kisaragi (如月小春) – Neo-Plant (Nega) (1986)
The only foray into music by the playwright, essayist and director. It grew out of a theatre performance from the year before.
14. Rajie – Love Heart (1978)
RS: c-C/M (piano, synth)
Written with.. yes you guessed it, Yukihiro Takahashi.
Rajie (Hona Junko 本田淳子) released albums between 1977 and 1985 after previously being in teen groups.
15. Virginia Astley – Some Small Hope (1986)
A familiar voice supports the former singer songwriter and former Ravishing Beauty with Kate St. John (Dream Academy etc.) and Nicky Holland (Tears For Fears). Another with a more successful and sustained career in Japan than her homeland.
16. Lily (りりィ) – Aurora (1976)
RS: *C/A/M (piano, synth, organ, clavinet, mellotron, glockenspiel, chimes)
RS The Pink Floyd Years
Playing as part of the Bye Bye Session Band who along with members of the Sadistic Mika Band (with guess who on drums) played on large numbers of Japanese recordings in the 1970s in a similar way to how the Wrecking Crew in Los Angeles monopolised session work in USA in the 1960s & 1970s.
17. Sheena & The Rokkets – Rocket Factory (1979)
RS: C/M (keyboards)
I’ve a suspicion that Sheena and the chaps of the leading lights of the Mentai Rock Scene in late 70s Fukuoka City didn’t have much of a look in on this instrumental from their debut LP 真空パック(Vacuum Pack).
18. Yasuaki Shimizu (清水靖晃) – Doll Play II (1981)
RS: C/A/M (drums, synth)
From The Nervous Subversive Activities Prevention Law = IQ 179 by the sax playing composer producer. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest this is a concept album.
19. HASYMO – The City Of Light (2008)
It’s those men again as Human Audio Sponge Meets Yellow Magic Orchestra in something of a reunion. HAS was what Yukihiro Takahasi & Haruomi Hosono called themselves when RS joined them for live performances during the period they were trading as Sketch Show.
20. Miki Nakatani – Chronic Love (1999)
中谷美紀 – クロニック・ラヴ
I’ve taken the odd liberty with song titles in this selection where I’ve thought the translation could be better put in English but I was thwarted here as the katakana, クロニック・ラヴ, is used here to indicate a foreign loan word and is literally Kuronikku ravu.
Miki made three albums with RS between 1996 and 1999 before being drawn back to acting full time by the success of her role in The Ring.
21. Miu Sakamoto (坂本美雨)- In Aquascape (1999)
The daughter of RS and…
22. Akiko Yano – Tong Poo (1982)
RS: *C/P/M (synth)
Ryuichi’s then better half with her lyrics to the Yellow Magic Orchestra song. From Dinner’s Ready (ごはんができたよ)
23. Hiromi Go – Hiromi’s Crime (1983)
郷ひろみ – 比呂魅卿の犯罪
Already a veteran pop singer at 28 by the time of this release 原武裕美 (Haratake Hiromi) is still wowing them in the aisles as I write.
A touch of a Cliff Richard vibe from this one time spokesman for a plastic surgery clinic.
24. Hi-Phonic Big 15 – Dragoon (1979)
From the 15th anniversary album for a Hitachi advertising radio show.
As cribbed from the Make Believe Melodies Substack of an American in Japan who writes on music amongst other things. He did an article on some or RS’s more unusual collaborations which would have been really useful if it hadn’t come out just after I spent days trawling through Discogs.
25. Off Shore – Kakutougi’s Theme (1983)
RS: C/M (keyboard, synth)
Ryuichi’s All Night Disco Dance Party draws to a close with a track from an album also known as ‘Freeway Music’ in its cassette version and performed by many of the usual suspects.
26. Unaigumi (うないぐみ) – 弥勒世果報 Undercooled (2015)
RS: *C/c-P/A/G/M (piano, keyboards)
Undercooled, originally from RS’s 2004 album CHASM, is here combined with 弥勒世果報 (Miruku Yugafu) a Okinawan folk song about an ancient belief in, ‘an ideal peaceful and prosperous world brought about by Mirukugami’.
Profits from the release went to the Henoko fund opposing the construction and relocation of US military bases on the island.
27. Hoon – Mother Natures’s Children (2003)
One of two originals on an album of mainly classical piano pieces done in an ambient style.
28. Yutaka Sado & Siena Wind Orchestra – The Japanese Soccer Anthem (2010)
A 1994 commission from the Japan Football Association.
29. Syuko Sakai – Computer Granny (1981)
酒井司優子 – コンピューター おばあちゃん
Not the only occasion RS dipped his toes into music for children and, as I learnt from the above article a touchstone in Japanese techno-pop.
30. Sandii & The Sunsetz – Rachael (1985)
Hidden away on the b-side of the 12″ single Babes In The Wood.
31. Seri Ishikaway – Mr. Forottage’s Monster Hunt (1985)
石川セリ – フォロッタージュ氏の怪物狩り
Now I’ve checked this the best I could a number of times and that really is the title.
32. Tamao Koike – October In A Mirror (1980)
小池玉緒 – 鏡の中の十月
The full complement of the YMO provide the music for this single – également disponible en français.
You don’t need to be a polyglot to notice the change of October to Autumn.
33. Kiyoshi Maekawa – Another Man, Another Woman (1982)
前川清 – 他人の男・別の女
RS: C/A/M (keyboards, synth, bass, drums)
From an eponymous LP release by the lead singer of Hiroshi Uchiyamada and Cool Five (内山田洋とクール・ファイブ). Your definition of cool may vary.
34. Harue Momyama – Sailor’s Song (1979)
桃山晴衣 – 虚空の舟唄
RS: C/M (synth)
If you can have a centrepiece near the end this is it. By a singer and shamisen player who spent their life studying a wide range of Japanese music history.
I had a slight panic when checking a couple of facts just before the compilation was uploaded as RS wasn’t listed as composer on some sites. But Discogs came to the rescue with a scan of the label of the original LP in which he is listed along with Harue as 作曲.
35. Sigourney Weaver & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Peach Boy Denouement (1991)
36. Morelenbaum² / Sakamoto – Sayonara (1995)
RS: *C/M (piano, vocals)
A combination who later recorded an LP of lesser known numbers by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Paula Morelenbaum joins RS on vocals whilst Jaques Morelenbaum provides cello accompaniment.
The song is from the 1991 album Heartbeat.
37. Kiyoshiro Imawano & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Ikenai Rouge Magic (1982)
忌野清志郎 & 坂本龍一 – い・け・な・いルージュマジック
RS: *C/c-P/A – also a rare lyric writing credit)
It was only ever going to end one way – a song to promote a cosmetics company’s advertising campaign.
A single with Kiyoshiro Imawano whose band since 1968, RC Succession, had recently disbanded. The duo inverted the original idea of the marketing department at Shiseido to suggest wearing the makeup was rebellious and an act of individualism.
Several performances of historical significance survive intact.