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.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mahina Stars & Kazuko Matsuo/Frank Nagai -- Dare Yori mo Kimi wo Aisu (誰よりも君を愛す)

I heard this one for the first time a couple of nights ago on an NHK kayo kyoku show (not "Kayo Concert" since it has been pre-empted for the Sochi Games), and it certainly fulfilled the criteria to be a Mood Kayo. There was the melancholy melody, a wonderful trumpet and its ability to prompt images of drinking away the blues in some Tokyo nomiya.

The singer that night happened to be enka wunderkind (well, he's not that young anymore) Kiyoshi Hikawa(氷川きよし), but the originals were Hiroshi Wada & Mahina Stars(和田弘&マヒナスターズ) with Kazuko Matsuo(松尾和子), two of the legends of Mood Kayo. Matsuo had struck one out of the park in July 1959 along with her duet partner, Frank Nagai(フランク永井), with the classic "Tokyo Nightclub"(東京ナイトクラブ)before partnering up with Mahina Stars for "Dare Yori mo Kimi wo Aisu" (I Love You More Than Anyone) later in December.

"Dare Yori mo Kimi wo Aisu" doesn't have the Latin cha-cha that "Tokyo Nightclub" has, but it still has that comfortable atmosphere of fine drinking and dining and dancing with a bit of that Hawaiian twang that Mahina Stars is famous for. Written by Kohan Kawauchi(川内康範) and composed by Tadashi Yoshida(吉田正), I just love that crisp if sad trumpet that slices through the air. What if Harry James or Chet Baker had tried a solo on this one?

The Oricon charts were still several years away, but the song got its accolades by earning the Grand Prize on the 2nd annual Japan Record Awards and getting an invitation to the Kohaku Utagassen a year later. And even more importantly, it has been recognized as being one of the seminal examples of the genre. According to the J-Wiki article for the song, lyricist Kawauchi had been writing a short story of the same title for the monthly magazine "Myojo"(明星) from which he crafted the lyrics.

A decade later, the King of Mood Kayo himself, Frank Nagai, finally did a solo cover version (although he also did a duet of this song with Matsuo at some point as shown below) for his 1969 album, "COLEZO! Dare Yori mo Kimi wo Aisu -- Frank Nagai Yoshida Melody wo Utau"(COLEZO! 誰よりも君を愛す~フランク永井吉田メロディーを唄う....THIS IS IT! I Love You More Than Anyone -- Frank Nagai Sings The Yoshida Melodies). No one sings up a clinking glass of whiskey on the rocks in Akasaka better than Nagai.

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