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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kuniko Yamada -- Yamada Katsutenai CD (やまだかつてないCD)

Kuniko Yamada(山田邦子), a homely but hilariously cheeky comedienne, first found fame on the Fuji-TV Saturday night comedy-variety show, "Oretachi Hyokinzoku"オレたちひょうきん族...We Are The Funny Guys) which pretty much ran for the entire decade of the 1980s. Her specialty was impersonating singers, but I recall seeing her in a segment in which she drew some surprisingly racy stuff in front of the kids. But with her own star rising, Yamada eventually got her own variety show on the same network from October 1989 titled "Kuni-chan no Yamada Katsutenai Terebi"(やまだかつてないテレビ....Kuni's Yamada Unprecedented TV) every Wednesday night. It was part of my weekly viewing routine during my years in Gunma. The comedienne was her usual hammy self in various skits and segments with other regulars, but a number of musicians also achieved a form of semi-regular status on the show.

So, in March 1991, a double-CD pack which resembled one of those cubic watermelons that Japanese scientists had concocted some years back was released titled "Yamada Katsutenai CD"やまだかつてないCD....Yamada Unprecedented CD). Being a fan of the show, of course, I just had to purchase my own copy. CD 1 has all of the original songs while CD 2 contains the karaoke versions of those songs. Almost half of them have already been profiled: Kan -- "Ai wa Katsu", Mariko Nagai -- "ZUTTO" and the late Kaori Kawamura -- "Tsubasa wo Kudasai".

Kawamura also had another contribution to the show in the form of "Kamisama ga Oritekuru Yoru"神様が降りてくる夜...The Night The Gods Come Down), a pop-rock tune which was used as the theme for one of the recurring segments: a parodic feature on medieval Japanese court life.

During the turn of this decade, the singing duo Wink had become one of the big acts in show business. Of course, Kuniko Yamada, whose talent lay in impersonating singers, just couldn't resist and decided that she needed to impersonate them. So, she incorporated another segment in 1990 titled "Nihon Zenkoku Sachiko Sagase"(日本全国早智子探せ....Find A Sachiko All Over Japan) in which her Shoko Aida would find the right Sachiko Suzuki. She found her....Chie Yokoyama(横山知枝), a high school student from Hiroshima Prefecture. Together they formed the unit, Yamadakatsutenai Wink(やまだかつてないWink), and their first single was "T-Intersection -- Anata ni Modorenai"(T-Intersection -- あなたに戻れない...I Can't Return to You), an uptempo Eurobeat piece whose lyrics were written by Yamada herself and composed by saxophonist MALTA.

In the following year, the ersatz Wink came up with a ballad titled "Sayonara dakedo Sayonara janai"さよならだけどさよならじゃない...It is and It Isn't Goodbye), which was also written by Yamada and composed by regular guest KAN. It was created partially as a tribute to Yokoyama who was on her way to graduating from high school and onto college. However, it's become a graduation song for just about everyone. It did become a hit, peaking at No. 2 and ending up as the 49th-ranked song of 1991. The entire disc set itself was able to hit the top spot on Oricon as well.

There is also a Xmas song by the duo on the CD, but let's save that for a more appropriate time.

Yamada Katsutenai CD
Discs to help me remember the late 80s and early 90s

Seeds not included


  1. Yamadakatsutenai Wink was fun! Xmas Xmas performance in same show with original Wink was great.

    Malta has been a mystery to me. He seemed to be involved everywhere in end of 80's, but I haven't found much about his personal history, what instrumentalists he admired, or so on.

    The greatest Japanese Christmas song to me remains this certain piece composed by Makoto Matsui and lyrics by Yasushi Akimoto (who else).

  2. Hi, Jari.

    Yep, I wish there were more of Yamadakatsutenai TV segments on YouTube. The DVDs of the series have been out for a while now.

    I'm a big J-Xmas song fan but I have to admit that I don't know this one with Matsui and Akimoto. By chance, have you ever seen it on YouTube? I'll be doing a Xmas song segment in December.

    Malta is a name I've come across now and then, but little more than that until I started doing some research for this article, and even then it was just to find out he's a saxophonist. Time to look deeper.

  3. Duh, I thought this was the easiest way to hint a song without giving out a spoiler. Though, I must admit, I was unnecessarily cryptic. :-P

    It's actually a famous one:

  4. Yup, I was the dumbass here, but actually the composer's name is Makoto Mitsui, not Matsui. When I looked up Matsui, I got some kabuki actor!

    "Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa" is one of my go-to songs during the Xmas season....along with "Christmas Eve", of course.


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