I’ve long, long, been a fan of utasaa (minyou singer) Yasukatsu Oshima and although I already own most of the albums in his discography, having his music readily available for other future fans on iTunes is simply awesome. I have to give a lot of props to whoever is in charge of promoting the singer (Miki Nagata?) because in addition to having his albums on iTunes, Yasukatsu’s website has been wonderfully redone with information in English (with an RSS feed), a Twitter acccount, and gems like this translated bit from an interview found in Urma magazine.
If I had to recommend an album of his to start your collection with, I’d say pick-up “Island Journey” which is very easy to listen to and features guest musicians such as J-pop artist UA, pianist Ayano Kinjou of the J-pop duo Kiroro, and wunderkind utasaa Kanako Hatoma.
Unfortunately, missing from the albums available on iTunes as well as the discography listing on the website is his debut album “Nishi Kaji Hai Kaji,” released in 1993 from Polystar. The album featured the song “Irayoi Tsukiyahama” which was co-written with Eishou Higa of BEGIN (who covers the song on their first shimauta collection “Omototakeo 1″).
Among his contemporaries from Yaeyama, if I were to connect a genre to each I would say that Yukito Ara is rock, Eishou Higa (BEGIN) is pop, and Yasukatsu is soul. My wish from now is to see all of their music—especially Yukito’s as well as Parsha’s because they’re on an indie label—available digitally as well. It’s my hope that they’ll follow Yasukatsu’s lead in making their music readily available to the world through online stores like iTunes.
(BTW, the only album of his missing in my collection was his beautiful collaboration with Geoffrey Keezer which, thanks to it being available on iTunes, I now own. )