Kayōkyoku（昭和时代流行音乐）在70年代主要由受爵士影响的Mood Kayo、迪斯科/泡泡糖风格的偶像音乐或Aidoru（アイドル）以及受布鲁斯影响的硬摇滚和民谣组成。虽然 Kayo 天生就融合了西方和日本的音阶，但大多数流行歌曲的创作更倾向于日本的情感，没有太多的变化。尽管如此，随着新音乐（ニューミュージック）的出现，日本出现了一场推动音乐家如何创作音乐的运动，新音乐开始于诸如Happy End、Tin Pan Alley和Yumi Arai（荒井由実）等音乐表演，以及最终以乐队 Sugar Babe 和他们 1975 年发行的 SONGS 告终。
Sugar Babe是一支1973年在日本东京成立并于1976年解散的软摇滚乐队。乐队的核心是山下达郎、大贯妙子、村松邦男. 该乐队于 1973 年在摇滚乐队 Happy End 的告别音乐会上首次现场表演。70年代有很多一次性的乐队，但让他们脱颖而出的是他们的音乐风格。他们可能是最早使用 7ths & Broken 和弦的日本摇滚乐队之一，这使得音乐与那个时期的流行音乐截然不同。虽然他们的同时代人是摇滚歌手，但 Sugar Babe 专注于演奏旋律优美、精心制作的曲调，深受 60 年代和 70 年代美国流行音乐和灵魂音乐的影响。再加上关于城市生活的浪漫歌词，所有这些元素促成了他们的首张专辑 SONGS 的创作，这为后来被称为City Pop奠定了基础。
乐队最初的出道阵容是山下达郎（演奏多种乐器）、大贯妙子、村松邦男（似乎有三位主唱），鳄川己久男（贝斯)，木村诚(打击乐)和野口明彦（鼓）组成。虽然在专辑的实际录制和Sugar Babe存在的最后一年发生了一些变化，其中包括吉他上加入了伊藤银次，以及由上原裕代替的鳄川己久男和野口明彦。分别演奏鼓和贝司的寺尾次郎。Sugar Babe 还得到了前 Happy End主唱大泷咏一（专辑的制作人和混音师）和Fumiyo Nunoya（硬摇滚乐队 Blues Creation 的主唱）等前辈的帮助。 专辑封面由金子辰也设计，他的艺术是对 1954 年出版的摄影书《巴黎的女人》中两位女性的照片的再创作，由 Nico Jesse 和 André Maurois 合着。
Sugar Babe 和他们的制作人大泷咏一（中间）一起
专辑的录制从1974年10月28日开始，一直持续到1975年3月7日。 SONGS于1975年4月25日发行，由大泷的Niagara厂牌旗舰发行，该厂牌是Elec Records的子厂牌之一。第一个日本独立品牌。乐队对主流的反响大多是负面的，在大学生的小众人群之外，显然包括一个年轻的、出道前的玛丽亚竹内。由于没有其他乐队的相同风格，他们受到了很多不合理的批评和愚蠢的诽谤。在接受 Red Bull Academy 采访时，大贯妙子回忆起 Sugar Babe 演奏的一场音乐会，观众开始向他们扔垃圾和瓶子，每当他们唱歌时就被尖叫并称为“一堆蝉”。乐队于 1976 年解散，部分原因是他们的唱片公司破产，以及他们在音乐上逐渐分开的事实。山下达郎、大贯妙子、村松邦男仍然继续拥有着成功常青的职业生涯，并将原本要在用他们第二张 Sugar Babe 的大部分材料用于他们各自的首张专辑， 大贯妙子-Grey Skies(1976)，村松邦男-Green Waters （1983 年）和山下达郎 -Circus Town （1976 年）。
SHOW: This almost Broadway Revue-style intro serves as the perfect beginning to the album, the highlight being the vocal breakdown at the end reminiscent of the Four Seasons.
DOWNTOWN: And here it is, what’s basically ground zero for literally all City Pop music. Combining the bright surf rock-esque guitars, with the funky drums & clavinet beat reminiscent of the Isley Brothers, to create the perfect anthem for a lively Saturday night.
Mirage Town (Shinkirou no Machi /蜃気楼の街): Taeko Ohnuki and her piano take the spotlight this time to give us a more mellow look at being in the city.
World of Wind (Kaze no Sekai/ 風の世界）: Another one of Taeko’s introspective songs, this time about feeling lonely in an empty city.
Always Sighs (Tameiki Bakari/ためいきばかり): A bouncy tune about morning hangover blues written by Kunio Muramatsu that's equal parts bubble gum pop & country rock.
As Usual (Itsumo Doori /いつも通り): A short mid-tempo upbeat tune about someone going about their unchanging life in the big city. The highlight being the awesome string arrangements during the chorus section.
Lovely Melody (Suteki na Melody/すてきなメロディー）: Probably the shortest and most unique song in the album. It’s an upbeat honky-tonk pop tune built around the chords of Pachelbel's Canon. It also features another interesting vocal breakdown, this time with...goat noises???
Somehow Today (Kyou wa Nan daka/今日はなんだか): Probably the 2nd most iconic song Yamashita sings on this album. A high-tempo soft rock tune that almost reaches power ballad territory.
The Rain Has Filled The Palms of My Hands (Ame wa Te no Hira ni Ippai/雨は手のひらにいっぱい): City Pop’s first official resort pop song, about a rainy day in the city. Complete with arrangements that are equal parts, B.J. Thomas & Phil Spector.
Days Gone "60's Dream" (Sugi Sarishi Hibi/過ぎ去りし日々): The only acoustic track on the album by Yamashita himself. A nostalgic & sad song about a high-school relationship that didn’t last.
SUGAR: The finale of the album that feels more like a jam session than a complete song. Still enjoyable nonetheless with its more Latin-based arrangements. The lyrics also feature a nice reference to "Sugar Town" by Nancy Sinatra.
On one hand, each individual song in...well, SONGS represents tight craftsmanship and a great understanding of American Pop music. From the attention-grabbing, Broadway intro Show, to the Isley Bros. tribute in Downtown, to the Pet Sounds meets country pop mash-up of 雨は手のひらにいっぱい. Heck, any of the tracks Ohnuki composed (especially いつも通り) fit right at home with Carol King's discography. Each tune provides its own unique experience that feels both fresh and yet evokes a sense of nostalgia. That being said, some of these songs sound like they don’t belong on the same album.
Listening to SONGS is a lot like getting a party pack of potato chips, you technically get a lot of variety, but each bag of chips is too small to enjoy on its own and you may not like every brand of chips in the package. It’s very clear that each songwriter on this album has their particular music preferences, but the lack of full potential keeps the album from having the fluidity the listener needs for a fully enjoyable trip. Yamashita is trying to take us to California, while Ohnuki wants to go to Europe, and Muramatsu is lost somewhere in the Midwest. Even compared to their closest contemporary, Sentimental City Romance (which debuted the same year), have a more unified sound despite delving into the west coast, country rock, and funk, all on the same album.
In its defense, however, SONGS is one of the lesser offenders of this issue and Almost all of the individual songs are still iconic on their own merits. 雨は手のひらにいっぱい would be the first song to showcase Ohtaki’s own brand of “Wall of Sound” production, which he would later develop for his magnum opus, A Long Vacation. And tunes like Ohunki’s いつも通り & Yamashita’s Downtown would set the standard for the future sound of City Pop, both instrumental and lyrical.
I think people who are more accustomed to the late 70s' & 80s' City Pop might feel a bit alienated from this album since its sound leans less towards Steely Dan and TOTO, and more towards Carol King, The Rascals & The 5th Avenue Band (who was quoted by Ohnuki as a major influence). But past that, I think SONGS by Sugar Babe is worth a listen just on the merit of it being ground zero for City Pop, and how it changed the landscape of Pop & Rock music in Japan. On top of that SONGS prominently changed the landscape of pop & rock forever, influencing many artists to come. According to singer-songwriter Toshiki Kadomatsu (角松 敏生), Sugar Babe was a monumental influence on him as he listened to it relentlessly in his youth. Going on about how he & other high-school students who were well versed in the 3 chord progression of rock, couldn't catch up with the more complex riffs & chords Sugar Babe was doing at all. Pop artists Eiko Miyagawa (宮川榮子), a.k.a. EPO made her career debut as one of the “Three Daughters of RCA” with a whole single & album dedicated to Sugar Babe’s signature song, Downtown.
In a landscape that was dominated by acts like Pink Lady, Hiromi Go, Momoe Yamaguchi, & Hideki Saijo, fellow Kayo historian J-Canuck put it best when he says Sugar Babe came in and pierced through that landscape like a bolt of lightning, and truly stands out as something unique and revolutionary.
（via Come Along Radio）
SONGS By Sugar Babe 1975