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Moondancer - 1979 Moondancer

ARTIST: Moondancer
ALBUM: Moondancer
LABEL: Alfa Records (Japan)
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1997, Alfa Records (Japan), ALCA-9178


LINEUP: Atsumi Rei - hammond organ, piano, solina, moog, keyboards, vocals * Sawamura Taku - electric & acoustic guitar, 12 string guitar, flute, vocals * Shimoda Nobuhisa - bass, vocals * Sato Yoshiki - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Kagami No Naka No Shojo (Skin Tight Snake Skin Girl) * 02 Daddy Michael No Hanzai (Crime Of Daddy Michael) * 03 Giniro no Nami (Silver Wave) * 04 Yumemiru Kodomotachi (Dreaming Children) * 05 Arabesque * 06 Fly Up! Ima (Fly Up! Now) * 07 Asu E No Koshin (Of The Picture Tomorrow Koshin) * 08 Bara Shinju (BA-RA-SIN-JU) * 09 Kanashimi No Candle (Candle Love) a) Tsere No Yosei (I Met Maria In Celle) b) Christmas Eve No Yoru (Night Before Christmas) c) Kanashimi No Candle (Candle Love)

Just one album from this Japanese band who have had very little written about their brief lifespan other than a lengthy Prog Archives review and an old interview on a hard to decipher Japanese web site. Putting together the digital bits and pieces the band was headed by keyboard player Atsumi Rei who after Moondancer's split joined up with Glory Daze favourites Vow Wow and later the keyboard heavy Sense Of Wonder. Apparently Moondancer did tour although how extensively is a mystery and despite good reviews the self-titled debut disappeared quickly which in part might explain the band's quick exit from the scene.

The Songs
Pre-dating fellow countrymen Novela, the sound of both bands is similar, mixing hard rock with accessible and often quite tasty prog moves. Throw in a lot of Queen, especially in the guitar work of Sawamura Taku, douse it with 'Sarabande' period Jon Lord, mid 70's Uriah Heep and a dollop of Renaissance and the end result is one of the better rock albums to come out of Japan. For the most part the lyrics are in Japanese and Rei's passionate vocals suggest Freddie Mercury from time to time. Opener 'Kagami No Naka No Shojo (Skin Tight Snake Skin Girl)' is not as heavy as the title might suggest yet some of the vocal arrangements sound like they were lifted straight off of 'Queen II'. It's well known Japanese song titles often don't translate very well to English, case in point 'Daddy Michael No Hanzai (Crime of Daddy Michael)'. I don't know what the lyrical subject matter is although two songs deep and its clear Atsumi's keyboard work is the star of the show with sweeping, pomp synth washes and dazzling piano runs. 'Giniro no Nami (Silver Wave)' offers a classical minuet while 'Arabesque' is the album's winner with a beautiful Brian May influenced guitar solo and string orchestration. Closing with the gorgeous three part symphonic pop masterpiece 'Candle Love'; Moondancer were perhaps too late in the game to appeal to wider audiences with their version of hard prog, but this album is nothing to be ashamed of and can be slotted as a precursor to the productive mid-80's Japanese prog revival that included Gerard, Outer Limits, Pale Acute Moon, Vienna, Scheherazade, Starless and my personal favourite Teru's Symphonia.

In Summary
A YouTube clip of Moondancer performing a live version of 'Arabesque' on Japanese TV is entertaining, especially Atsumi Rei's flouncy Freddie Mercury meets Gregg Giuffria stage wear while the rest of the band are barely visible. In 1997 the LP saw a CD reissue although no bonus tracks were included.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 17 2014 20:46:01
Moondancer - 1979 Arabesque
YouTube Video:
#2 | gdazegod on November 17 2014 20:52:25
The Japanese Queen?
#3 | gdazegod on November 17 2014 20:53:43
Eric, I managed to find a good sized jacket/album cover of this one over at
#4 | Eric on November 17 2014 22:54:13
Thanks G!

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