I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Toi et Moi/Yasuko Ouki/Fubuki Koshiji -- Dare mo Inai Umi (誰もいない海)

Well, welcome to September, everyone!

Officially, we're still 3 weeks away from Fall, but traditionally since the passing of August heralds the beginning of the transition from Summer to Autumn, I thought it would be a good time to start introducing some seasonal tunes from the world of kayo kyoku. And whenever September 1 comes around, my thoughts often go back to that old Canadian Tire cassette tape I used to record that 1982 broadcast of "The Sounds of Japan" which focused on the old J-Pop of Fall.

I can still remember most of the lineup from that show:

1) Higurashi -- Aki no Tobira (already profiled)
2) Toi et Moi -- Dare mo Inai Umi
3) Off Course -- Aki no Kehai (already profiled)
4) Mariya Takeuchi -- September (next one!)

I have been listening to the last two songs for years and I'm especially looking forward to profiling one of Mariya's early hits.  As I've mentioned on the entry for Higurashi's "Aki no Tobira", this was a song that I'd been looking high and low for for decades until I finally tracked it down in July.

And now the circle is almost complete with Toi et Moi. This was a duo consisting of Emiko Shiratori and Sumio Akutagawa(白鳥英美子・芥川澄夫). Debuting in 1969, the pair had often been mistaken as a straight folk group due to the gentle melodies and deliveries in their music, especially amongst the many singers and groups who were singing the popular genre at the time. However, Toi et Moi  was just a kayo kyoku pairing singing light Japanese pop.

Toi et Moi's cover of "Dare mo Inai Umi"(The Deserted Sea) in November 1970, the group's 6th single of 21 singles they released throughout their 4-year history, comes off as this pretty and romantic kayo kyoku ballad which starts off with the lyric "Ima wa, mou aki"今は、もう秋....It's now Fall) and talks of promises made to the various parts of that desolate patch of seashore to keep on surviving no matter what. The song peaked at No. 16 on the Oricon weeklies.

However, the original singer for "Dare mo Inai Umi"was the late chanson artist Yasuko Ouki(大木康子) in 1968 (although the makers of the song, Yoko Yamaguchi{山口洋子} and Tsunemi Naito{内藤法美} had originally crafted the song for singer Jerry Ito{ジェリー伊藤} for a weekly bit on a morning TV was never made into a record). Now, chanson is a genre within kayo kyoku that has a small but very loyal group of fans. A lot of Japanese have had a deep and unabiding love for French culture; the music of Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour made such an impact that a number of Japanese singers during the 50s and 60s took up the cause and dedicated themselves to singing chanson of which Ouki was one. Certainly the lyrics for the song lend themselves well to the genre since they talk of proudly defying the odds in the face of huge obstacles. This original version, though, never broke through on the charts.

There was another attempt at the song in the same year that Toi et Moi sang it. Composer Tsunemi Naito's effervescent wife, Fubuki Koshiji(越路吹雪), was also a famous chanson singer, and in fact, until her untimely death in 1980, she was known as the Queen of Chanson in Japan. She never seemed to do things in half-measures. Part of the reason for that was that she had also been groomed as a young girl in the exclusive Takarazuka Academy that specially trained female students to sing, dance and act on the stage with an enhanced, shall we say, theatricality that has garnered some very intense fan loyalty. Her take on "Dare mo Inai Umi"was released on the same day as Toi et Moi's version, but her version didn't do quite as well, only reaching as high as 92 in the rankings.

In any case, the Toi et Moi version is the one that I will always cherish.

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