Various Artists

Climax 80's Blue

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The Climax line on Sony's Japanese label has been collecting balladry from the past couple of decades of Japanese music with relatively high success, touching either keystones of pop culture à la the VH1: I Love The… series or honest fondness for musical stylings past and gone. With the Blue release, the focus is on straightforward, simplistic power ballads and power pop ballads. The mix is unabashedly melodramatic, hailing from the lounges and lounge singers of Japan's not-too-distant musical past. Everything in the massive 40-song set has overdone expressiveness -- it has massive drama inherent in the deliveries, it has pleading. What it does not have much of, a hallmark of more contemporary Japanese singer/songwriter trends, is a more personal form of emotional expression. This is basic, simplistic balladry at its purest and arguably at its emptiest. There are a few interesting, exceptional artists represented who have stood the test of time and fame better -- Chage & Aska provide an interesting bit of pop that seems to have sourced part of its material from Middle Eastern pop of the day, and the venerable Unicorn present a nice piece. Unfortunately, those pedigrees aren't enough to save the whole from becoming more kitsch than nostalgia. True fans of the era and style may be pleased at the comprehensiveness, but newcomers should look to other artists/eras for their enjoyment.