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, February 9, 2013

Anri -- Kanashimi no Kujaku (哀しみの孔雀)

(excerpts only)

Anri's(杏里) 3rd album, "Kanashimi no Kujaku"(Sorrowful Peacock), is not my favourite album of hers ("Boogie Woogie in Mainland", "Circuit of Rainbow" or "Wave" rank quite a bit higher), but it is one of the more interesting that I've come across, and one that I've wanted to profile for a while.

Released in September 1981, I came across it in one of the CD shops in Tokyo. I'd already bought a number of her late 80s/early 90s discs when she was in full thrall with American R&B, and their covers consisted of a very vivacious and smiley Eiko Kawashima standing against a very summery setting. On the other hand, the cover for "Kanashimi no Kujaku" from those early years had Anri looking very pensive in a heavy jacket standing against a tall rugged man with 5 o'clock shadow. Later buying her first 2 albums, "apricot jam" and "Feelin'", the cover for her 3rd album also had her looking more mature when compared to her teenage sylph-like looks on those covers.

In any case, looking at that distinctive cover, I snapped up that album in a jiffy. I listened to the 12 tracks and found them revealing in that Anri sounded very un-Anri-like. Her creamy vocals were still recognizable, but they were pushing in a totally different direction. Case in point, the 2nd track, "Espresso de Nemurenai"(エスプレッソで眠れない....Can't Sleep Cause of the Espresso) is basically Anri's telling of an Italian romance-comedy in which a love 'em-and-leave 'em Casanova takes off in his green Fiat while his latest conquest is left wondering whether he'll return. The lyrics were by prolific Shigesato Itoi(糸井重里) and the song was composed by Keiichi Suzuki(鈴木慶一) (I wonder if Suzuki had been a few of those small cups of the killer coffee when he was creating this song). The video is up above. The song was also Anri's 9th single released in February 1982.

Like "Espresso de Nemurenai", the rest of the tracks in this album took on a more European New Music feeling which, as Anri fans would know, was a dramatically different bent for the singer, who had just turned 20 at that time. The official age of turning into an adult in Japan is the big Two-Oh, so perhaps Anri may have wanted to reflect this more mature turn of musical phrase. In the album, she took on old-fashioned French pop, something that sounded more Central Asian, and even a touch of New Wave via Blondie mixed in with some of that old summer pop through Track 10, "Itsu no Hi ka Happy End"いつの日かHappy End...When Is My Happy End?) which was written by Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子), who herself had been going through some musical changes at the time as well.

(full album)

Keiichi Suzuki, the producer of the album, was also the lead vocal for The Moonriders, a pop and rock band that had started up in 1975, and he and a couple of other members of the band were helping out in the production. The above links have a couple of more songs from "Kanashimi no Kujaku". First up is the mournful title track (composed by Anri and written by Nanako Sato[佐藤奈々子]) at 36:17 which finishes the album; Anri sings of waking up beside a lover in the morning and realizing that the relationship was coming to its inevitable end. And the next song is probably the shortest Anri song in her very long repertoire at 16:34, "Riviera kara no Tegami"(リビエラからの手紙...A Letter From The Riviera) (composed by Suzuki and written by Sato), which is a Dear John letter with a musically spooky sinister edge. If you're detecting a theme through the three songs profiled, I can assure you it's not all romantic gloom and doom....about half of it is, but not all.

In any case, listening to the album again today after so many years to prepare for this profile proved to be a fascinating experience, especially in light of what was to come for her in the form of another producer by the name of Toshiki Kadomatsu(角松敏生). There wasn't much information even in Japanese concerning "Kanashimi no Kujaku", but what little I could get I found on The Moonriders website which did give some insight into this very different Anri album. After Anri's debut success with "Olivia wo Kikinagara" in 1978, the singer went through a dry spell for a number of years. I mentioned that perhaps the coming-of-age for her may have influenced her temporary direction into this European sound, but it could also have been an attempt to break out of the slump. Thanks in part to Kadomatsu and Anri's efforts, she could finally achieve that lasting success two years later with "Cat's Eye".

The streets of Manhattan

Anri  -- Kanashimi no Kujaku

As a bit of a PS, I came across this cover version of "Espresso de Nemurenai" by a singer/model by the name of nAo, which was released in 2011.


  1. Thanks J-Canuck for this great post on Anri/杏里, I'm a big fan of Anri but I haven't heard エスプレッソで眠れない nor リビエラからの手紙 before so this is an interesting surprise. I tend to like her more uptempo later songs better like モーニング スコール, オリエンタル・ローズ, Back to the BASIC, 16 BEAT, 悲しみがとまらない and 気ままにREFLECTION but she also did some great slow songs too like her debut オリビアを聴きながら.

  2. Hi, JTM.

    Yeah, I think Anri was in that situation that a number of other singers have gone through in which they get that promising debut but then have to go through that desert of trying to follow up on that success. Kinda wondering if Carly Rae Jepsen will be facing that from this year.

    I'm glad I got the album although I would probably agree with a lot of the other Anri fans that the songs here don't come all that close to her best hits. It would be for Anri completists only.

  3. Thanks so much for writing about "Kanashimi no Kujaku". I got pretty addicted to her funky mid-late 80's songs, so I overlooked this "transitional" phase of hers for the longest time. The three tracks you wrote about are pretty intriguing, especially "Riviera kara no Tegami", but as you and JTM mentioned, they're not as memorable as her later work. Catchy summery tunes and Anri just go so well together you can't separate them. I actually happen to be a fan of Keiichi Suzuki and Moonriders, but very few other artists can pull their style off. Teaming up with Kadomatsu certainly was a big blessing for her.

  4. Hey, nikala.

    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, for the past few decades, if a J-Pop fan hears the name "Anri", he/she would usually think "summery R&B", so coming across this album is truly a revelation. It's too bad I couldn't find some of the other tracks from "Kanashimi no Kujaku" on the Net; they'd make you think "Whoa! That was Anri?!" Good try with The Moonriders, but I think Kadomatsu was the one that finally made things click with her.


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