山口百恵 - 二十才の記念碑 曼珠沙華
二十才の記念碑 曼珠沙華 is a beyond sublime album by the flawless 山口百恵 (i posted her GOLDEN FLIGHT album a while back, for those who haven't checked the archive). this album kills me on every level. i am devastated by the delivery, the flow, Momoe's breath-taking vocals, absolutely everything. it is a perfect album, by every means. while she released a staggering number of albums throughout her ten year-long career which began at the age of thirteen in 1970, none of them ever managed to be anything but great.
her dedication and commitment to the music is what, i think, made her such a breathtaking powerhouse of a vocalist and a performer. a long time ago, i remember watching a video of her final performance. she comes out on the empty stage in a poofy white dress, with a crown of white flowers upon her head for the last song (the crushing さよならの向う側), and the lights are down low. Momoe looks to the crowd, and they cheer her on as tears roll down her face. she begins the song, and struggles at first with keeping her voice even as she weeps. but, soon she empowers herself, and ends up giving the single most majestic and awe-inspiring performance that i have ever witnessed. the lights blaze behind her as she sings the last words of the song, and i feel like i've been witness to a goddess.
every song on this album is filled with the most exquisite emotional depth. she sings from her very heart, and you can feel it as it rips through you on every ballad and rousing epic. because of this, i have a very hard time listening to this album while doing anything else, because i end up losing interest in the task. essentially, this album can never be background music for me. the affect it has on me really is that strong.
the highlight of this album is track six, 曼珠沙華. it builds up slow with Momoe accompanied by an acoustic guitar, but soon enough an electric guitar and an entire string orchestra joins in as Momoe's voice builds and builds. it is everything that i love about this incredible woman.
10. 十五の頃 (紅梅集)