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, April 6, 2013

Hiroshi Uchiyamada and The Cool Five -- Soshite, Kobe (そして、神戸)

It was just a day ago that I mentioned about my time in Kobe at that JET Renewers' Conference via Junko Yagami's(八神純子) album, "My Invitation", so I decided it was time to address an old kayo kyoku classic, "Soshite, Kobe"(And Then, Kobe) by Hiroshi Uchiyamada(内山田洋) and The Cool Five. Besides, it's been well over a year since I had profiled their 1969 debut hit, "Nagasaki wa Kyou mo Ame Datta"長崎は今日も雨だった.

Once again, geography and enka collaborate here, especially when it comes to the big port cities of Japan such as Yokohama, Nagasaki and Kobe. The lyricist and composers of enka just love to imbue such songs with the epic air of ships passing each other in the night and mysterious trysts in the various watering holes of the city as the foghorns blare. "Soshite, Kobe"is no different. Like with the other cities, the 5th-largest city in Japan acts as the backdrop for another love lost and another lonely heart gained, along with potential cirrhosis of the liver due to imbibing mass quantities (hey, it's an enka's gonna happen!)

Written by Kazuya Senke(千家和也), who would also write several songs for Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵), and composed by Keisuke Hama(浜圭介) for release in November 1972, I'd forgotten how muscular this Mood Kayo was. The brass and The Cool Five just pierce through the night fog....this is no countryside enka tune. Plus, there is even a wonky electric guitar to remind listeners of that very fact.

And then, there is Kiyoshi Maekawa(前川清), the lead vocal. All of his tropes are there: the ramrod-straight posture, the agonized face and the kilometre-long stare. He doesn't so much sing "Soshite, Kobe" as he sullenly fires it out like the beam from a lighthouse. Wow, Method Enka!

The song reached as high as No. 6 on Oricon as it sold just a little over 300,000 copies and achieved a ranking of 32 in the 1973 yearly list. It would also earn a composition prize at the Japan Record Awards. It has also become as much of a theme song for Maekawa as the group's tribute to Nagasaki has as Maekawa has also sung it solo at the 1991, 1995 and 2004 versions of the Kohaku Utagassen before singing it with The Cool Five at the 2007 edition.

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