Yoko Hatanaka, "More Sexy"

When something is this deliberately saucy, it almost becomes parody.

Yoko Hatanaka (畑中葉子) is a singer whose career began in the late 70s with a ho-hum album, San Francisco Story, a collection of innocuous, soft pop songs skipping across beds of strings and various ethnic musics bleached of all color. Of course, it's all done in a contemporary enka style, giving the impression it's very much for the AM side of the dial.

A few years later, however, she was recast as a sexpot and released 白日夢 (HakujitsumuDaydream in English), a steamy affair that's pointed squarely in the direction of jouncy disco and shreddy riff-rock. At this time, she was acting quite a lot, primarily in these softcore dramas with titles like Sexy Pudding: Almost AddictiveDo It Again: Like an Animal, and Daydream of Love. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say her second LP was little more than a glorified pin-up calendar. For evidence, examine the sleeve.

At any rate, the songs are impressively rich, sometimes even impressively conceived. Hooky, well-arranged tunes with a sultry yet measured wink that is, in a word, hot. "モア・セクシー" ("More Sexy") is the obvious starting point—it's certainly the boldest track—but give the whole album a chance.

Decades later, after taking time off to have kids, she returned to recording and put out Get Back Yoko!, a much more mature affair with a Friday-night cabaret sensibility. It's concluded with a rearranged, reimagined version of one of her earliest hits, "後から前から" ("From the Back to the Front"—this woman's innuendo!), which synth wiz Yan Tomita (ヤン富田) played on and Yumiko Ohno (大野由美子), of Buffalo Daughter and Havana Exotica, provided backing vocals for.