After getting wowed by their first video for the crazy "Psychoanalysis" and then buying their first album, "Michishio no Romance"（満ち汐のロマンス...Tide Flow Romance）, I was looking forward to what new stuff the Osaka boho jazz unit Ego-Wrappin' had in mind. From July 2002, I got my answer through another video for their 2nd single, "Kuchibashi ni Cherry"(A Cherry in the Beak). Wacky title by Yoshie Nakano and Masaki Mori（中納良恵・森雅樹）, but then again didn't a lot of the jazz classics also have them ("Salt Peanuts" by Dizzy Gillespie comes to mind)?
As a bit of a tangent, I was never a fan of hard-boiled crime novelist Mickey Spillane, but I did know about his famous fictional detective, Mike Hammer, mostly through the 80s TV movies starring Stacy Keach. Years later, Japanese director/producer Kaizo Hayashi （林海象）put his own spin on the private eye by coming up with the character of Yokohama dick Mike Hama through the movie "Shiritsu Tantei Hama Mike"（私立探偵濱マイク....Mike Hama Private Eye） and then a 2002 TV series starring the same character. The starring actor, Masatoshi Nagase（長瀬正敏）, was a big fan of Ego-Wrappin', so the band whipped up "Kuchibashi ni Cherry".
My musical image of the tough-as-nails Hammer was some trio led by a sax player playing smoky midnight jazz in a downtown hole-in-the-wall that only the locals knew. However, for the slightly dissipated aging punk of Hama, Ego-Wrappin' plays "Kuchibashi ni Cherry" crazy-cool which fits into the band's skill set. Written and composed by Nakano and Mori, vocalist Nakano goes back into "Psychoanalysis" dynamic mode and gets loud but also low and sultry, while guitarist Mori keeps his laid-back style. This isn't a song for that intimate hole-in-the-wall....it's for that open-air beer garden with the day-glo paper lanterns several blocks down.
The official video for the song is also appropriately out there with Nakano shifting images between that of some college student's image of a Japanese masseuse smacking a rice bowl with chopsticks in a tiny room with koinobori overhead, and that of an old-fashioned lead vocal in front of her jazz unit on a set that looks like it was lifted from the El Tropicana. Talk about bringing the cultures together!
"Kuchibashi ni Cherry" peaked at No. 9 on Oricon as a single. It was also a track on Ego-Wrappin's 3rd album, "Night Food"which was also released in July 2002. The album got as high as No. 5 on the charts and became the 60th-ranked album of 2003.
Here is the commercial for the show with Mike bumbling about his apartment.
|Ego-Wrappin' -- Night Food|