Yosuke Inoue

Yosuke Inoue & Tamio Okuda

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In 1996, Tamio Okuda co-wrote a song with Yosui Inoue, once called the Bob Dylan of Japan, for an unknown girl group he was producing called Puffy. The song was "Ajia no Junshin," and it went on to be one of that year's biggest hits on the Japanese charts and propelled Puffy into overnight success. A year later, whether because of the success or despite it, Okuda and Inoue released a full album of songs they had written together (at a mountain temple retreat, so went the publicity). The two only duet properly on three songs, the opening track, the splendid single, "Arigato," and their own version of Puffy's single. Elsewhere, each singer takes a song each. Inoue prefers '60s retro rock: "Colorful" cops its sound from "And I Love Her" and "A+B" is a blend of "It's Only Love" and "Be My Baby." Okuda, as any fan knows, idolizes the Beatles as much as Inoue, in particular George Harrison -- the excellent "Tsuki Hito Shizuku," originally a 1994 single for Kyouko Koizumi -- but dabbles in some heavy Led Zepplinesque riffage (the glorious "2500" and one of his best tracks, solo or otherwise, "2 Cars"). Backing both singers is Okuda's crack band Dr. Strangelove, who handles the various genres impeccably. One of the best Japanese albums of 1997.

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