Tatsuro Yamashita is a household name in Japan, but I'm gonna take a leap here and guess that most of you readers out there have never heard of him . . . Shame on you, when one of the oldest record labels and retail music outlets has named him the 74th (out of 100) most influential artist and the 5th best singer (out of 50, after Aretha, but before Bjork).
I first heard 'Tats' as he's fondly referred to in the Land of the Rising Sun, on the first Chairman Mao & Citizen Kane comp, "Select 001". The song "Dancer" was featured in almost its full version (rare for comps like these) and of all the dope tracks on the comp, "Dancer" was something that I needed to have in my collection. A trip to The Sound Library (before it moved) provided me with a small disincentive in that I found out that it was easily a $60 record if I happened to find it in a knowledgeable NYC shop, but the chances of finding it hanging on the wall somewhere was not gonna be easy either. I lucked out and found this one and his 1979 LP, "Moonglow" on eBay without too much trouble and for a reasonable price, even considering the cost of shipping from Japan. A quick search just revealed that "Spacy" is currently on auction for a reasonable start price and shipping is only from Canada! (By the way, I have some auctions of my own that are currently live and will be adding dozens of LPs in the next few weeks in an effort to raise some money for the cross-country move and also to lighten my load)
Tatsuro Yamashita - Dancer
Just such a great song and shows Tats' superb voice and that drummer . . . he just kills it the whole way through. I think of Tats as a Japanese Boz Scaggs as this jam has a bit of a "Lowdown" vibe.
Tatsuro Yamashita - Rainy Walk
This is one is a bit lighter than "Dancer" but when I was going through records yesterday in an effort to separate the keepers from the sellers, I threw this record on to see if it had anything redeeming on it. I ended up playing "Rainy Walk" at least six times yesterday as a result. The whole album is pretty great too, but this is the standout for me. Great Japanese pop-funk . . . if only I had more of this kinda stuff I could make a wicked Japanese pop-funk mix . . .