TVD Radar: Hiroshi Sato, Awakening 2LP 40th anniversary reissue in stores, 11/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Originally released on June 21, 1982, Awakening is Hiroshi Sato’s fourth solo record and first for ALFA. Featuring Canadian vocalist Wendy Matthews and liberal usage of the LinnDrum machine (the cutting-edge drum machine of the time), this record fuses Sato’s highly regarded sound sensibilities with the atmosphere of the American West Coast.

The mellow and soulful record doesn’t feel inorganic despite the heavy use of programmed drums and is considered a masterpiece having influenced future generations in Japan and abroad. Tatsuro Yamashita, Tsunehide Matsuki, and Yuji Toriyama are guest guitarists on some of the tracks.

Disc 1 contains the original record as it was released in 1982 and Disc 2 features versions of 8 tracks taken from the original record with vocals and waves removed including “BLUE AND MOODY MUSIC (WENDY’S VERSION),” which was on the original CD in 1986 and a new version of “IT IS NOT EASY remixed by Sato in 2005. This is the first time the contents of Disc 2 are being released on vinyl. Disc cutting was overseen by Japanese master craftsman Shigeru Takezawa. Both discs will be available on color vinyl. Disc 1 on transparent light blue vinyl and disc 2 on regular transparent vinyl.

More about Hiroshi Sato | Hiroshi Sato was born in the ’40s in Kagoshima, Japan to a Buddhist monk family. By his early teen years he was depressed, feeling stuck with the expectation that he would carry on the family tradition of becoming a monk. It is in this context he would discover music, first through playing guitar. In high school he learned drums and bass, recorded his own songs at home and eventually got his hands on a SONY Open Reel 4 track recorder. At 20, Hiroshi Sato taught himself keys.

By the ’70s, Sato would jam around Osaka and Kyoto, meeting and working with fellow musicians initially playing jazz and then blues and folk music. He was a member of Original The Dylan during this time as well. During a recording session for Ryo Kagawa he met Shigeru Suzuki and moved to Tokyo where he would join Huckleback (Shigeru Suzuki’s answer to Tin Pan Alley) and later Tin Pan Alley.

In 1976 he released his first record Supermarket, which he recorded at Electra Studio in Los Angeles. He recorded two more records in Japan before deciding to move to the United States in 1979, despite being pitched the idea of joining YMO by Haruomi Hosono prior. He rejected Hosono and moved abroad to LA.

In LA he worked with Maria Muldaur, Randy Crawford and more. ALFA founder Murai Kunihiko also moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 1980 to open ALFA America. Hiroshi Sato soon signed to ALFA as both an artist and producer. Sato then recorded demos for his fourth solo album Awakening before bringing them with him when he moved back to Japan, where he finished the record. Wendy Mathews also flew to Tokyo to record with Sato.

After Awakening, Sato would release another eight records with ALFA Music, culminating with Happy & Lucky in 1993. Sato passed away on October 26, 2012.

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