Minako Yoshida provided backing vocals for a slew of Lab favorites, including Haruomi Hosono’s Tropical Dandy, Pecker’s Pecker Power, YMO’s self-titled debut and Tatsuro Yamashita’s Spacy and For You, but was an established songwriter in her own right and had a respectable solo career. Monochrome follows a string of albums spent seeking a bright, “Californian” sound, marking a return to Japan with more pensive, introspective songwriting and softly-lit midday grooves, evidenced clearly and immediately in the album’s highly-framable artwork. Sessions began with Minnie’s voice and piano, slowly adding layers of drums, saxophone (Yasuaki Shimizu!), vibes, guitar and bass until achieving the sweet spot. The result is as enjoyable as any of the classic American soul albums, language barrier notwithstanding; a self-produced masterwork of intimate grooves, spine-tingling vocal harmonies and mature songwriting. “Midnight Driver” and “Black Moon” have dancefloor potential, but “Tornado,” “Rainy Day” and “Airport” are the easy favorites, resembling our favorite classic soul flavors a la Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, Anita Baker, Minnie Ripperton. Originally released on Alfa, this high-quality analog pressing by Great Tracks is the first vinyl issue since the 1980 original. Housed in old-school style tip-on sleeve with obi strip and Minnie’s hand-penned lyrics and liner notes, recommended.
- high-quality Japan import pressing
- 1st-ever vinyl reissue
- housed in tip on sleeve
- obi strip
- printed insert w/ lyrics, credits + liner notes
- remastered by original sound engineer Tamotsu Yoshida from original master
- limited edition
- music label: Great Tracks 2018
reviewed by sunrise mart 01/2019
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