Suzuki still passionate about career after 35 years

Masayuki Suzuki's trademark mirrored sunglasses hide the veteran singer's eyes while reflecting things around him.

"I like [them] because [they] make me look mysterious," said Suzuki, who has released his greatest hits album commemorating the 35th anniversary of his debut as the lead vocalist of the Chanels.

Suzuki said he took off his sunglasses only once in front of his fans. During his first ever solo performance, he tossed them into the audience to express his determination. However, "everyone ducked," Suzuki said.

"It surprised me. Since then, I realised [my sunglasses] are somehow sacred to my fans, so I won't take them off anymore," he said.

Born in 1956 in Tokyo, Suzuki formed the Chanels in 1975, a music group featuring doo-wop and R&B choruses.

The group made its professional debut with the song "Runaway" in 1980, with Suzuki as the lead vocalist. The group was later renamed the Shanels, then Rats & Star.

In 1986, Suzuki began doing solo work. His album "DISCOVER JAPAN," which was released in 2011 to mark the 25th anniversary of his solo activities, won an excellence award for an album in the 53rd Japan Record Awards.

On March 4, Suzuki released his greatest hits album "ALL TIME BEST: Martini Dictionary" (Epic Records Japan). It is a compilation of his work of 35 years comprising three CDs with 45 tracks.

The album is filled with many hit songs, including "Runaway" from the time he was with the Chanels, "Yume de Aetara" (If I could see you in my dreams) by Rats & Star, "Mo Namida wa Iranai" (No more tears) from his solo work and "Lonely Chaplin," a duet he sang with his older sister, Kiyomi Suzuki.

His crooning voice and performances, which have added colour to each time and age, do not sound aged or outdated at all even after all these years.

"I've been focused on creating sounds carefully, unaffected by what's hot and what's not in the music scene," Suzuki said. "I hope listeners will feel that we have spent time together."

Surprisingly, he said he had an inferiority complex about his voice when he was a primary school student.

"It sounded like a middle-aged man and far from a boy soprano," Suzuki recalled. "I couldn't sing in harmony very well when I was in a chorus."

However, after he became the vocalist of bands during his middle and high school days, he suddenly realised his unique voice helped him become an outstanding singer.

Suzuki is passionate about his career, saying, "I want to continue putting colour into my songs and remain a vocalist who can impart dreams to my listeners."

The final track of the album is a new song, "Junai" (Pure love). Singer-songwriter Kazuyoshi Saito wrote the song and played instruments.

To the sharp guitar sounds and light rhythm, Suzuki sounds young and fresh as he sings, "Kako mo mirai mo nagedashite dakishimeaitai." (I want to throw away the past and future and hold you.)

"A synergy effect created by Kazuyoshi's rock and my R&B allowed the song to express a new aspect of Masayuki Suzuki," Suzuki said about the great feeling he got from the new song.

Next year, Suzuki will turn 60, and he expressed surprise that he has remained a singer this long.

"When I think back, the last 35 years have been a dense, unwavering and irreplaceable time," Suzuki said.

"I hope to make my life in my 60s even more rich and fun."