Record Review #3: Yumi Arai’s Message of Rouge/Ask Me Anything (Express ETP-20107)
The first notion one must remember about Yumi Arai’s hit single Message of Rouge is not to associate it with Hayao Miyazaki’s 1989 feature film Kiki’s Delivery Service, for it was actually released 14 years earlier in 1975. Yumi Arai, now known by her married name since 1979 Yumi Matsutoya but affectionately known to her fans and friends as Yuming had a reasonably sized hit with her single Message of Rouge in 1975.
Released on the EMI/Toshiba subsidiary Express Records Message of Rouge was the single taken from Yuming’s album that year called Yuming Brand with its fantastic pop hooks and its interesting 3-D cover. In fact Hayao Miyazaki would take another great album track from Yuming Brand, If I’ve Been Enveloped By Tenderness, to close out Kiki’s Delivery Service with.
One of the few mistakes Disney made when they dubbed the film into English was they replaced both of the Yuming songs with two new songs written by songwriter Sydney Forest. Not that they are bad songs but I prefer the 50’s pop style of Message of Rouge that Miyazaki originally picked, which gives the beginning of the film a nice playful and innocent mood.
Having known that Message of Rouge was a hit I made a guess that it must had been released as a single. Sure enough after some searching on various Japanese websites I located the original 1975 release of Message of Rouge with its Yuming picture sleeve that is most likely unknown to most Kiki’s Delivery Service and Studio Ghibli fans. It is not that Message of Rouge is a rare record, I just don't think anybody had bothered to look for it!
The B-Side, Ask Me Anything was actually from the previous Yuming LP Cobalt Hour. Many record labels like to do this as it exposes the singles purchaser to other songs that would hopefully lead to another full length LP sale. After listening to some of her tracks I have come to the conclusion that Yuming is a master at crafting pop songs and melodies as Ask Me Anything is another well crafted and arranged song with a very jazz influenced guitar solo in the break and a sweet melody throughout the song.
Somewhere along the line Hayao Miyazaki must of remembered Message of Rouge from way back in 1975 and decided to include it in his film Kiki’s Delivery Service in 1989. I am certainly glad Miyazaki did as its introduced many of us to the fantastic pop world of Yuming. An interesting Studio Ghibli related item that is worth looking out for.
©2009 Article and Photos by Leonardo Flores and Collection. Message Of Rouge and Ask Me Anything is owned by Yumi Matsutoya and Express Records and is published on Collection DX for review purposes only.