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, June 12, 2013

Bakufu Slump -- Runner

Along with a few other songs, such as Princess Princess' "Diamonds", Bakufu Slump's(爆風スランプ) "Runner" is one of my musical memories of my time in Gunma between 1989-1991 as a teacher on the JET Programme. And like "Diamonds", the memory was further engraved into my brain because "Runner"was a favourite tune to be played over (and over) the speakers at the annual junior high school Play Days. Just having the title "Runner"probably would have relegated it to the list for the Broadcasting Club to play it, but the instrumental version just had that jumpy melody to give the kids that extra spring in their step during their dashes.

The crew that eventually became Bakufu Slump came from an amalgam of two bands that had performed and won some big prizes at a 1981 band contest sponsored by the Yamaha Music Foundation: Bop Gun(爆風銃) and Super Slump(スパー・スランプ). Making the union official from 1982, the new band led by the gravelly-voiced Sun Plaza Nakano(サンプラザ中野) made a name for itself as somewhat of a comic band and all-round hellraising group at their concerts by liberal usage of fire extinguishers on the audience and smashing watermelons (good golly, they were the Gallagher of J-Pop!....feel free to look up the performance artist on YouTube). And the usually very staid atmosphere on the Japanese music ranking shows such as "Yoru no Hit Studio Deluxe"夜のヒットスタジオDELUXE) during the 80s was turned upside down when they showed up and brought their outsized theatrics onstage.

I guess when I arrived in Japan at the end of the decade, the band must have mellowed somewhat. Had no idea of their playful anarchy when I first came across them on TV, although I quickly realized what a character Sun Plaza Nakano was with his sunglasses and shiny cue ball head. Now, for the record, the rest of the band are: Pappara Kawai(パッパラー河合) on guitar, Funky Suekichi(ファンキー末吉)on drums, and Barbe-Q Wasada(バーべQ和佐田) on bass since 1989 replacing HaHiHuHeHo-Jin(はひふへほーじん).

"Runner" was the band's 12th single released in October 1988, and the song that Nakano and Co. are best known for. I think it was more than the kids that the song inspired. Probably a lot of adults regained a second wind on hearing the refrain, "Hashiru, hashiru..."(running, running...) , and even now, the Nakano-and-Suekichi-penned hit still gets played at the high school baseball competitions....and probably the Play Days as well.

It got as high as No. 6 on the Oricon weeklies and became the 18th-ranked song of 1989. Not surprisingly, Bakufu Slump got its invitation to the 1988 Kohaku Utagassen although its pretty remarkable getting to play the song there on New Year's Eve less than 3 months after its release. It also became a track on the band's 5th album, "High Lander" released in November 1988. It peaked at No. 3 on the album charts.

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