Credits

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.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bread & Butter/Haruko Kuwana -- Ano Koro no Mama (あの頃のまま)



When I was writing my latest article on Akiko Kobayashi(小林明子) last week, I remembered that before Kobayashi had debuted with her smash hit of "Koi ni Ochite"(恋におちて)in 1985, she had already started writing songs for other artists. One of those groups was the folk/AOR brotherly duo of Bread & Butter. Satsuya and Fuyumi Iwasawa(岩沢幸矢・二弓) from Kanagawa Prefecture debuted in 1969 and since then, the brothers have released 41 singles and 24 albums with the most recent album coming out in 2011.

I recall that one of my former students who's around my age also highly recommended Bread & Butter, especially when it came to their 6th album, "Late Late Summer" which was released in June 1979. From the album came their 14th single, "Ano Koro no Mama" (Just Like Those Days). Listening to it on YouTube immediately put me into a reflective state of mind which is what "Ano Koro no Mama" is about. Starting from the wistful piano and the gentle singing of the Iwasawa brothers, the lyrics speak about a businessman at that certain station which contained a lot more than the usual train schedules. As he was standing there, he started remembering those bittersweet days again.


The song sounds like something that would've been made back in the early 70s instead of the late 70s, but the strings in there also reminded me of some of the sweet sounds that would populate a number of early 80s aidoru tunes (Akina Nakamori comes to mind). The surprise for me was that it was actually written and composed by Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実) under her alias of Karuho Kureta (呉田軽穂...and here I thought she saved that pen name when writing for just Seiko Matsuda). It's been well known that Yuming often wrote her lyrics while keeping in mind about what was occupying the minds of young women at that time. But this time, it seemed that she was trying a bit of extrapolation in terms of men perhaps in their 30s (taking into consideration the reference to Simon & Garfunkel in one line); at the time, the singer-songwriter was just 25 years old. That piano intro, by the way, sounds just like Yuming. And I think the cover for "Late Late Summer" with the Iwasawas standing by the ocean on a cloudy day makes for the ideal environment for this song.


Haruko 'Halko' Kuwana(桑名春子) is an Osaka-born singer whose older brother was the late Masahiro Kuwana(桑名正博) whose big hit was "Sexual Violet No. 1".  As far as I know, she is still performing but her discography is fairly brief with 3 singles and 11 albums under her belt. However, I enjoy her version of "Ano Koro no Mama" as well. She has a wonderfully smoky voice here and this cover has a fine jazzy City Pop arrangement. Since I made a meteorological reference in the last paragraph with Bread & Butter when it came to this song, I will also say that Kuwana's cover evokes a rainy evening downtown. It was never made into an official single but it does reside in her 1982 3rd album, "Moonlight Island", itself a disc of cover songs.

A few other singers have also done their versions of it. In fact, until earlier tonight, I had been thinking about inserting Junichi Inagaki's(稲垣潤一) cover and even a self-cover by Yuming herself since I had come across their videos on YouTube. But apparently, the powers-that-be quickly shot down those videos and my intentions which was too bad, especially in the case of Inagaki (but that's been rectified now). His version was also City Pop as would befit his style, but it was at a much peppier pace....pretty much on the same level as "Christmas Carol no Koro ni wa" (クリスマスキャロルの頃には). It was the B-side to his 7th single in 1984, "Ocean Blue" (another Yuming-penned song but under her real name) but is also part of his 2007 BEST compilation, "Rainy Voice". I also think Inagaki was an ideal choice to cover the song since he and Bread & Butter seem to share similar deliveries.

As for Yuming's version, it is part of her own album of self-covers, "Faces" which came out in 2003. Although it's a pity that those versions are no longer accessible, I'm still quite happy with the original by Bread & Butter and the cover by Kuwana, and would be more than happy to get "Late, Late Summer" that my student and friend heartily recommended.

March 23, 2014: Well, I managed to find the Inagaki cover right here.

2 comments:

  1. Hello J-Canuck,

    That's a beautiful song. I've heard of Bread & Butter before but never gave them a proper listen until now. The melancholic mood and what I could catch of lyrics made an impression on me, and I love their vocals. I hear you on the Inagaki comparison. It's a pity his version is not available on Youtube, but Kuwana's was great as well.

    Looking at the list of Yuming's contributions, I keep wondering why she decided to use her alias for some artists and her real name for others. Tomoyo Harada's song was certainly credited with her real name, whereas Kaoru Sudo, who wasn't an idol, had a song penned by "Karuho Kureta". What a mystery...

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    Replies
    1. Hi, nikala. Hope the New Year is going well for you.

      I've never figured out why she would be going with that alias, either. It certainly wasn't to conceal her true identity. I may have mentioned on one of the Seiko articles that perhaps she took on "Karuho Kureta" as a pen name to write for aidoru, but Bread & Butter put that theory to bed. I can only put it to "artistic discretion". :)

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