Expertly curated by Yosuke Kitazawa and Mark “Frosty” McNeill (dublab), and once again featuring the iconic artwork of legendary artist Hiroshi Nagai on its cover, this volume of Pacific Breeze is a female-forward offering, spotlighting the voices of women who would become household names in Japan as actresses and pop idols. Brimming with an innovative spirit, the album includes essential hits and under-the-radar rarities, including techno-pop classics from Susan, Miharu Koshi, and Chiemi Manabe; funk from Miho Fujiwara and Naomi Akimoto; and a sultry reggae jam by Teresa Noda. Pacific Breeze 3 also delivers hypnotic jazz fusion by Parachute and Hiroyuki Namba, a synthesizer fantasy from Osamu Shoji, and magnetic pop by Makoto Matsushita and Chu Kosaka. As with the last two records, the visionary members of Yellow Magic Orchestra continue to have a presence on Pacific Breeze 3, with Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Yukihiro Takahashi taking up producer and musician roles on many of these tracks.
Pacific Breeze 3 will be released February 24th on double LP, CD, and cassette. All editions feature newly-remastered audio by Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters and liner notes by Yosuke Kitazawa.
When LITA introduced Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1976-1986 in 2019, it was the first collection of its kind, featuring sought-after tracks that had been nearly impossible to obtain outside of Japan. The album, which drew praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, PopMatters, and AllMusic, included choice cuts from Minako Yoshida, Taeko Ohnuki, Hiroshi Sato, and Haruomi Hosono, among other key players from the era, whose work reflected an optimistic, cosmopolitan fantasy colored by the country’s affluence at the time. After the success of the original album, LITA continued to dig deeper with 2020’s Pacific Breeze 2: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1972-1986, which featured songs by Bread & Butter, Eiichi Ohtaki, Kimiko Kasai, and Piper, plus Vaporwave favorites like Tomoko Aran and Anri. Now, Pacific Breeze 3: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1975-1987 continues the story and shines a light on several emerging musical trends that would become prevalent in the ‘90s and beyond.
Among the album’s highlights is “Heartbeat” from former Chocolate Lips frontwoman, Miho Fujiwara. Bridging the East with the West, the funk-forward track was penned by American artist Wornell Jones (a member of Young Senators, who collaborated with Nils Lofgren, Leon Russell, and the Pointer Sisters) under the alias of Mathew Kamei, for the 1986 anime feature, California Crisis. Another notable cross-cultural selection is “Tropical Love,” a 1979 reggae song from actress Teresa Noda. The unique track was written by Kazuhiko Kato (Folk Crusaders, Sadistic Mika Band) and arranged by Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto, while Noda recorded the song in Jamaica, alongside such reggae legends as Rita Marley, Michael Richards, and Val Douglas.
Pizzicato Five’s charming “Boy Meets Girl,” meanwhile, serves up late ‘80s synth-pop with a continental twist. Within a few years, the group’s blend of pop, jazz, and ‘60s soul would become instrumental in the development of the Shibuya-kei scene, through which they gained international stardom. Another artist who found success abroad is actress, model, and “Queen of Techno Pop,” Susan, who is represented on Pacific Breeze 3 through her bubbly 1980 hit, “Ah! Soka.” A protégé of YMO’s Yukihiro Takahashi, the French-Japanese artist worked with an all-star team on her debut album, Do You Believe In Mazik?, including Makoto Kubota, Shigeru Umebayashi, Hideki Matsutake, and Hajime Tachibana, in addition to all three members of YMO. A promotional tour the following year helped Susan become one of the few Japanese artists to break through in Europe at the time.
One of the album’s more unique tracks is “Scandal Night” by Miharu Koshi. The song, which appeared on Koshi’s 1983 masterpiece, Tutu, found the artist during a stylistic shift, as she embraced elements of techno, classical, and Euro-pop to create a dramatic new sound. The track and album were produced by Koshi’s longtime collaborator, Haruomi Hosono of YMO. In addition to other selections on Pacific Breeze 3, Hosono also contributed to 1975’s “Shirakechimauze,” a soulful pop song by the late, legendary rock artist, Chu Kosaka (of The Floral and Apryl Fool). The track originally appeared on Kosaka’s highly-influential album, HORO, a collaboration with the Hosono/Shigeru Suzuki collective, Tin Pan Alley.
Among the compilation’s jazz-forward selections is the sultry “Bewitched (Are You Leaving Soon)” by Naomi Akimoto. Blending elements of synth-pop and new wave, the song was featured on the singer’s third album, 1982’s The 20th Anniversary. Another highlight is the breezy “Kowloon Daily,” from fusion collective, Parachute. Culled from the group’s 1980 LP, From Asian Port, the song features the talents of Izumi “Mimi” Kobayashi (Flying Mimi Band), Tatsuo Hayashi (Tin Pan Alley), Yoshihiko Ando (AB’s), Tsuyoshi Kon (Aragon), and the prolific session guitarist, Masaki Matsubara.
On the final disc is “Pub Casablanca,” a playful instrumental from composer, arranger, and pioneering synthesizer player, Osamu Shoji. The prolific musician served as the bandleader for the NHK show Stage 101 and collaborated with a variety of acts during his career, including The Tigers, The Wild Ones, Garo, Akiko Wada, and Tomo et Moi. This particular track is culled from his 1978 album, Yakan Hikou (Night Flight). Closing Pacific Breeze 3 is “Untotooku,” a synth-pop cult classic from teen idol and actress, Chiemi Manabe. Produced and arranged by Nobuyuki Shimizu, the offbeat track appeared on Manabe’s 1982 album, Fushigi Shoujo (which roughly translates to “Mysterious Girl”). The song has since become a favorite of DJs and producers around the globe.