My first bout of fascination with Japanese rock music happened in the early ’90s as a result of watching a lot of anime. I still have all eight volumes of Bubblegum Crisis soundtracks.
Around that time, I was just buying random discs, hoping to scratch the itch caused by putting Iijima Mari’s "Ai, Oboete Imasu ka?", Miyasato Kumi’s "Himitsu Ku-da-sa-i" and Oomori Kuniko’s "Konya wa Hurricane" on repeat.
One such disc was Tomorrow by Hamada Mari.
At her peak, Hamada was considered the hair metal queen of Japan, and she’s best known for collaborating with Mr. Big.
Hamada still records, but she doesn’t command the same name recognition outside of Japan as Matsuda Seiko or Nakamori Akina.
Even compared to what I was listening to at the time — 1991 — Tomorrow is a thoroughly mainstream pop album. Next to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and any number of ’80s college rock bands, Hamada’s Tomorrow was the token commercial acquisition.
I knew I shouldn’t like the album, but I did anyway. And I have never considered selling it when money got tight. The songwriting on the album is remarkably durable, and as dated as it may come across now, there’s something spirited in the performance that translates well today.