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Akiko's back

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PJ

Member
Interesting News :cool:

Understand Akiko's Album is a mixture of Carpenters Songs in Both English and Japanese :o

Concert should be Good -shame that Richard could not Attend Due to CPAC Fundraiser 1/3 :sad:

I Enjoyed Akiko's Album with Richard in 1988 and this Follow Up will be One to Obtain in 2003.

Amongst the Songs Covered by Akiko :

Goodbye To Love , Close To You & I Need To Be In Love (Singles)

Lovelines ( Karen Solo)

Somebody's Been Lying , Desperado ( Album Tracks)

-Combination of Carpenters Classics , Singles and some Rarely Covered Album Tracks :)

Peter...Anticipating Another Interesting Album.......
 

350hunny

New Member
Thread Starter
Hi, PJ. It's good to know there's still someone out there that is fond of Akiko's recordings.I heard some snippets of her versions of Top Of The World and Ticket To Ride on the radio today. She sounds as good as ever.

Richard is said to have added his comment on her interpretations of the songs recorded for this release.

I'm looking forward to getting one on March 5.
 

JAZZ4JEFF

Active Member
Yuko Ogura said:
Hello my friends,

I am happy to have read that "Top of the World" fundraiser turned out to
be such a great event! I wish I were there, but attending shows back to
back , and across both sides of Pacific ocean seemed to be a bit too
much to do in two days!!

Before I forget, let me mention that this is the last call for Akiko's
autographed album. Please make an access to the URL below, send me
necessary info if you would like a copy:
http://www.kamome.or.jp/yuko/carp/akiko/e.html

Carpenters' Tribute show on Feb. 28th was quite a success. Over 2000 seats has been sold, and you can see people sitting at the very back of the venue, Shibuya Kokaido in very busy shopping district in Tokyo.

There are quite a few journalists from various magazines and newspapers at the show. At least I saw 4 small articles in the following day found on newspaper websites. Somebody said there was also a short report about it even on TV.

The show opened at 6:40 pm and lasted for 2 and a half hours. It went a bit too long as we planned it to be 2 hours, but the "talk" part got a bit too long. This is a professionally produced show, and ticket was about $48, modestly priced show in Japan.

We had 3 female singers: Keiko Toge who sang "I Need To Be in Love" on one of Japanese TV shows in front of Richard, and she has alto voice like Karen did; Akiko Kobayashi whose "City Of Angeles" album was produced by Richard and she had a million seller hit and a winner of Japanese Song of the year" equivalent to American Grammy; Emiko Shiratori who had debuted in 1969 and was one of the contestant at Yamaha International Song Festival in 1970 which Carpenters guested. Emiko was born in the same year as Karen.

Keiko opened the show with Yesterday Once More followed by Jambalaya. She then introduced herself and invited a host on stage. As we had 3 singers, we needed a host to control the traffic on stage, so to speak. By the way, I supervised the show, so I know how and why we did things the way we did. How I booked this host was ... in a way very strange. It was the day we spoke about who we should hire as a host, and also the day Akiko's manager agreed Akiko's appearance. I came home and found this envelope on my desk. It was from a guy I have not spoken in years.... probably I have not seen him 10 years and last time we spoke must have been more than 5 years ago on the phone. I opened it, and found 73 Billboard ads of "Now and Then" album. Then I knew who I needed to ask to be a host of the show. It was the guy who sent me "Now and Then"ads.

Then Keiko did a 18 minute Carpenters medley. It opened with "Rainbow Connection" and did about 10 songs in a row including oddies like "Calling Occupants" and "The End of the World". Then we borrowed Richard's arrangement for the last 3 songs with "Only Yesterday","I Won't Last A Day Without You","Goodbye to Love" in order. There were more than a dozen musicians on stage including a string quartet, and two female backup vocalists. I thought they sounded really gorgeous. Keiko can not be exactly like Karen, but was a very nice tribute.

As Keiko left the stage, we-- the host and myself -- took over the stage and chatted a bit with a pianist/vocallist who also had a very big hit a few years ago. He not plays keyboards very well, but his vocal blends with Keiko just perfect! From the very moment I heard his singing voice at the first rehearsal, I became his fan. His name is Hiroshi Urusido, known as half of a duo called, Cousin.

We introduced Akiko Kobayashi, and she opened her portion of the show with "Touch Me When We Were Dancing". She said, "This is the first time I sang this song in 12 years. Last time I sang, I was with Richard on stage". Akiko looked very nervous before getting to the stage, but she did her job beautifully. Then Akiko did "Honolulu City Lights" and introduced this song as something Richard let her listen when it was still unreleased. She ended her part with "Rainy Days and Mondays". I love her soft singing voice which actually reflect her warm personality.

Then we put a small table and some stools, and we talked about Carpenters, all together us on stage, together.I won't go into detail, but you know what!!??? We finally found a guy who composed "Suntory Pop"! Emiko's guitarist!! Nobody knew about it, and when they started talking about which song and how they would be performing, Mr. Umegaki, her guitarist said, "you know, I made a commercial song and Carpenters did it. It was for Suntory's "Pop"". Oh boy, how odd all those people are somehow related to Carpenters. Oh I forgot to mention, the host I hired claimed that he went to Sushi bar with Carpenters after guesting at Yamaha Song Festival. He certainly went to see that Song Festival, and since he was already "in" the business, Sushi bar story is very believable.
We talked about Carpenters for 15-20 minutes, it was Emiko's turn to sing.

Emiko has an amazing voice, very clear and warm. She does not sing like Karen. She was born with such singing talent, and she does not have to sing like anybody else. I know I would not get tired if Emiko did the whole show for 2 hours. This singer is definitely born with an amazing voice and singing talent like Karen did. No wonder she has strong followers and singing over 30 years professionally. She does not sounds like nor sing like Karen, but she is very close to what Karen Carpenter was.
Emiko and her group did 4 songs: Superstar, This Masquarade, Ticket To Ride, and We've Only Just Begun. I especially loved her version of "Ticket To Ride". It was Carpenters in a sense because it was a rock a ballad. But she borrowed Beatles' harmony. Oh I would love to have them record it!

Again it was time for the host, Mike Ko$#!^ani, and I to appear on stage. Emiko used her own band, and the stage set had to be changed.

Keiko started last half of her show with "Help!" playing drums by herself. Any other Carpenters tunes Karen played drums live was too hard. "Help!" was something manageable to play drums and to sing at the same time. As Keiko is not a drummer, I thought she did fantastic job... although she did better at rehearsals.... . Then she did "Close To You", "Sing" and " I Need to be in Love".

I had them play "Sometimes" as an ancore, and we ALL got together on stage and sang "Top of the World" at the very end of the show. "Sometimes" was a touching moment and "Top" was fun.
When all of us disappeared from the stage, Karen's Theme started play and a screen rolled down. They showed some pics I had taken on Feb. 4th 2003. And a short message I had written started rolling on the photos like end credit of the film.

Although I was not in the audience, I am pretty sure it was a very nice tribute show, and probably more. A few enthusiastic Carpetners fan mentioned that nobody could take place of Karen. They are correct. It was not a "Carpenters sounds alike show". It was a tribute to Carpenters by 3 female singers. It was not meant to replace Karen. And nobody could ever.

It was nice to have an opportunity for us, Japanese Carpenters fans, to get together again. It was in 1997 Richard came and played in Tokyo. We have not had any opportunity to enjoy Carpenters music played live since then. See, we do get nice CDs and all, but the U.S. fans can get to see Richard perform live much often than Japanese do.

I was hired to supervise the show. What a fun job to do!! You just name the songs and they will professionally put together a show with them! Well, it was not that easy but basically that was what it was.

Thank you for reading my long post. We hope to do this again next year. Hope you can come and join us!!

Oh one last thing I want to mention. I usually wear this one watch which I have been using over 15 years. From time to time, if I feel like I want to look nice and expensive, I wear a Bvlgari watch my mother bought for me a few years ago. I felt like wearing Bvlgari on the day of the show, I put it on.
I got on the train at 10:26am, and wanted to see what time it was being on the train. It said 11:31. "It can not be as the destination is within 30 minute range, how can it be 11:31 now???" Then I realized that the battery ran out. I remember using this watch in January, so the battery ran out after that. And the date says "4".
Probably you already got it. It got stopped on Feb 4th.. Japan time... and at 11:31. I do not know if it was AM or PM. On Feb. 4th 11:31 am, I was at Cypress.
As I did not have time for battery change, I ended up wearing the wrist watch which stopped on Feb. 4, 2003 all day.

The night before the show, I found a letter from Carpenter Foundation on my desk coming home from our last rehearsal. I was just happy. I know some kind of "sign" would come and I was not surprised. But when I saw my watch stopped on Feb. 4th, it was a bit too much. It was like I was reassured that Karen is truly watching and supporting.


Thanks,
Yuko
 

350hunny

New Member
Thread Starter

Murray

Well-Known Member
I got my copy of Akiko's new CD today, autographed by her on the date of release. (Thanks to Yuko for arranging that!) :)

The album, titled "A Song For You", is a collection of Carpenters covers sung by Akiko in English and Japanese, accompanied by the Moscow Symphony. The orchestral arrangements are simply beautiful, and are unusual in that there are NO drums or other rhythm instruments used. Akiko sounds less like Karen than she did on the RC produced album from 1989, likely because she sings in a higher key here than on the earlier album. Her English pronunciation has also improved dramatically.

It was quite expensive (what Japanese import isn't?), but I'm happy that I added it to my collection of Carpenters tribute albums!

Murray
 

350hunny

New Member
Thread Starter
Hi, Murray. Thanks for your input. I'm glad to hear you like Akiko's new cd. After listening to it, in my opinion, she could have sung better. But by her interpretations of lesser known songs like LOVELINES, which I was not very much into because of Karen's unnatural higher tones, it seems I was suggested to take another close listen to it so I may grow on the song.

Akiko has shared behind-the-recording session stories on her website in Japanese so I'm thinking of putting them into English later.
 

davidgra

Active Member
My copy of Akiko's A SONG FOR YOU arrived today...

I was surprised, like Murray, how much she does NOT sound like Karen on this recording. I think that has to do with the production as much as anything else (she's a very good vocalist in her own right).

The arrangements are very un-Carpenter-like, which gives the album a very different feel from the start. I like hearing some of the songs sung in Japanese, because her English sounds pretty artificial in places. I'm not so sure her English has improved all that much from the CITY OF ANGELS CD; I think perhaps she is able to mimic Karen's pronunciation on these songs, which I'm sure she's listened to a thousand times -- whereas she didn't have that luxury on the CITY OF ANGELS project.

This CD is not a must for all Carpenters' fans, but I'd recommend it to anyone who would like to hear BIG orchestral arrangements of familiar songs. The arrangement of "Lovelines" is one of the most interesting, since a full orchestra produces a REALLY different sound than a disco band does...

David
...going through his stack of nine CDs that arrived from Japan this morning...
 

350hunny

New Member
Thread Starter
Hi, David. I also feel that Akiko sings less like Karen on this cd. On the day when the tribute concert was held in Japan, Akiko shared with us the story that before working with Richard for City of Angels, she was suggested to have him produce her album by the people she had met for a Hong Kong song festival she was asked to join when they found she has a similar vocal quality as Karen's.

In her teens, she says she used to tape Carpenters songs from the radio and found herself singing like Karen, on a song like Rainy Days & Mondays, if I remember right.

Well, I'm not sure if she was a big fan of Carpenters because the album
she ever bought for the first time was Made In America.
She adds that Queen was one of her favorite rock bands.

But as a fact, she dedicated to Karen and Richard a song called Misunderstand on her first album and you can tell she made efforts to make it sound like Carpenters. It goes like 'If only yesterday would come right back to me...'.

On her earlier albums, she used a lot of lower register which may have given you goose bumps to hear it while she has shown a little-girl-voice quality (I call it a sobbing voice) here and there, which is far from Karen's.

On City of Angels, I was impressed with the Carpenter-Bettis song How could I ask for more? Akiko's singing helped me imagine how Karen would have sung it.
Richard agrees that she has a similar lower register as Karen's so he might have been attracted to her deep voice and tried to make most of it.

It might be a good idea to ask Akiko if she had any intention to sound like Karen on her earlier albums and this new cd.

It is obvious that Akiko is not a belter, but she sounds too low to be heard on many songs of this A SONG FOR YOU cd.
She has been in music business so far but moved to London and has been a housewife on the other hand, eventually stayed away from stages.
She needs a little more warming-up, I guess.
They say she is trying to make a comeback in Japan and planning to have a Christmas concert (hopefully joining Richard after he releases his Christmas cd ) this year.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Morning Opens Quietly...
I remember hearing a song off of Akiko's Cd a couple years ago & she sound alot like Karen. I heard it first from ran's site. I think the song was called "Only the Angels Know"

I really liked it & thought she really sounded like Karen in some of the phrasing she used. It was kinda errie at first when I heard it cause it reminded me of a Karen song. I never bought the CD cause I heard that was basically the only song she really sounded like Karen on.

Interestingly that she titled her new CD A Song For You. But from your reviews it sounds like she doesn't sound like Karen too much this time.
 

mr J.

Active Member
I've never heard any of Akiko's albums,but it's not at all unusual that she recorded an album of Carpenters songs with a full orchestra.She most likely borrowed that idea from Karen and Richard.Most of their late 70's work was done with a full orchestra,fronted by Moody Blues bandmaster Peter Knight.This includes both Christmas Albums,plus select cuts on PASSAGE,MADE IN AMERICA,VOICE OF THE HEART,LOVELINES and MUSIC,MUSIC,MUSIC.(also,"I Can Dream,Can't I" from HORIZON,was done with Billy May's orchestra).
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I have the RC-produced Akiko CD, and will dig it out occasionally, but I actually find her voice and enunciation a bit too close to Karen at times. It's a little spooky.

We had a discussion back in the fall about the RC-produced albums from Akiko, Scott Grimes and Veronique Beliveau, leading off with my discovery and review of Veronique's album. It's here for your perusal:

http://www.amcorner.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=980

Harry
...happy it's Friday, online...
 

350hunny

New Member
Thread Starter
It'll take me a while to finish translating Akiko's story from her site and this is part of it.

******
One summer when I (Akiko) came back to Japan, I was unexpectedly approached with an interesting offer by Mr. O, who I owe
a lot of his help with my musical productions for tv ads, for example.
I understand the year 2003 will see the 20th anniversary for Karen Carpenter's decease.
The duo left us a legacy of a number of masterpieces with that imcomparably beautiful voice of Karen's.
She passed away at only 32 because of anerexia nervosa and time has flown like an arrow since she died twenty years ago.
And it was Mr.O's request that I join him for a tribute album he'd like to dedicate to Karen.

I took it willingly as I expected to find myself relaxed joining in the fun recording session as I'm used to singing Carpenters
songs as a warm-up.
And I thought I was ready to sing a couple of songs for the album and the next thing I knew, it turned out that I had to sing the whole album with full orchestra.

The trouble was that it seemed to be quite a tough job to come up with something rather refreshing as I have something similar with Karen: the voices and singing styles.
So it was decided that we hire an orchestra to put it in classical arrangements.

**********
I hope you've enjoyed it. From what she says, it wasn't her idea to use a full orchestra. And I wonder how many C's hit singles used a full orchestra.

I read the discussion on RC-produced albums. Among those 3 albums, my fave happens to be Akiko, a.k.a City of Angels.(I didn't know it was released in US and titled as Akiko, to my surprise.) Because I think it is a good example of a combination of two talented acts proving they can play a variety of music - pop, rock, bossa nova, etc.
She didn't talk a lot about Richard but said he was (musically) strict.
As to the other 2 acts, I like them but their albums sound too much of '80s
, I mean, that particular era's music sound cheap to me.
Veronique's One of us made me wonder who opted the song for her to sing. If Richard had thought of trying this song with Karen, he might have wanted to experiment it with Veronique. Fat chance....?
Scott tried a song written by a Japanese act, who recorded it in Japanese, too. Wonder who passed it on to Scott?
Anyway, their albums seem okay but not a must.
Yet I'm willing to listen to any song Richard was involved in.
For example, B.L.Mitchel's single, Smokey Robinson songs and all.
 

350hunny

New Member
Thread Starter
Scott covered this Japanese pop song that a threesome singing and dancing group had a hit with in 1988.
Since the original version called Futari, i.e. Two People is unavailable on the net, here is another version sung by its writer Ryou Aska, a part of a twosome act called Chage & Aska.


Check out this song if you're interested.
http://www.hmv.co.jp/product/detail.asp?sku=653630

Hit #7 for the sound.

Carpenters also did a cover song -Now.
This song was originally recorded by a Japanese female act Maria Takeuchi whose version is still available on cd in Japanese.
Unfortunately I can't find it on the net for your listening.
 
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