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On course with Off Course


Lately I’ve been listening a lot of something that your stereotypical parent units with their old people’s tastes would highly enjoy, and that serves only as a compliment.

Off Course were formed in 1969 and had a few decades of huge success before amicably calling it a day in the late 80’s. They were one of the biggest names of ‘j-folk’ or what Japanese call folk music; in Japan, folk doesn’t mean guys with thick beards warbling harmonies over acoustic guitars, but “contemporary pop songs accompanied with acoustic guitars” (thx Wikipedia). This essentially means soft, mid-tempo pop songs with pleasant vocals and a pleasant sound. In fact, if there’s a group that could have their image next to the word “pleasant” in a dictionary, these guys would be it. Posterchild of AOR. MOR if you want to be derisive.

But man, does it ever fit the autumn that’s now looming over us. Trees are turning multicolour, cold rain is a constant accompaniment, skies are grayer and days get darker. Just what you need is some pleasant, warm pop music to warm up the mind as you trudge through another cold, wet morning. It’s upbeat to keep a smile on your face, but not too upbeat to clash with days; not low enough in tempo to sound like a crawl but not too fast either, staying in the sort of pleasant pace to keep the mind calm. It’s simply very pretty and warms the inside, having a sort of familiarity to it. It’s like coming home in the evening, replacing the cold miserable rain with a warm sofa, hot drink and the bright crackle of a fireplace.

I can’t claim to be much of an expert: all I’ve got is the mp3 version of a 3-CD compilation (courtesy of my friend) which hosts most of the band’s singles and respective b-sides (pretty much always just as good as the a-sides, which leads me to think they’re just album tracks throw into the second side as was the habit those days) through their career. Despite spanning a couple of decades there’s not much change, the first disc having a bit softer production in contrast to the sharper sound of their later career and keyboards get a bit more prominent role in the later days. Otherwise it sounds like the band’s been locked into their own special time bubble despite the passing of years. My favourite part is the third disc but that might just be because it’s the one I’ve been listening to the most thanks to “Kotoba ni Dekinai” (made famous by Sonic X episode 26 – yes, that’s where I bumped into the band originally as well) and”Yes-No” which are both A-class songs.

Uploading the whole three discs would be a bit of a joke so have a six track minimini-compilation.

MP3: six Off Course songs

Yes Yes Yes

3 Comments leave one →
  1. shane permalink
    14/11/2010 13:20

    I am a recent fan of Off Course but not through the Sonic X series as you are. I’m one of those of “parental units” w/old people tastes (!). I’m wondering if you’ve found any English transations of some of this popular former J-folk group, particularly the song “Yes-No”? I’ve been looking all over the Internet but haven’t had much success. A dear friend, who’s Japanese (another old parental unit-type) told me that in 1980, when he was studying for a year abroad in Australia in graduate school, he listened to his Off Course tape constantly, especially this particular song. Thanks for any help you can give this old northern California gal.
    Keep enjoying the fall colors and crisp weather.

  2. Flint permalink*
    16/11/2010 19:58

    Hey Shane,

    Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find translations myself. Only Yes-Yes-Yes seems to be available online on one but otherwise no luck. I suppose they’re a bit too old and unfamiliar to the Western audiences to have someone translating their body of work.


  1. A japán rock kezdete | Japán zene

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