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.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wink/Mari Amachi/Candies/Yoko Ishida -- Sugar Baby Love

This article certainly got a little more involved that I had thought it would be.

Well, first off, when I landed in Japan in mid-summer 1989, I had gotten onto the Wink bandwagon midway when the entire country seemed to be in the thrall of "Samishii Nettaigyo"(淋しい熱帯魚). My first impression of Sachiko Suzuki and Shoko Aida(鈴木早智子・相田翔子) when they appeared on all of the music shows was that they were not just a new type of aidoru but ai-dolls from their looks and moves which just added to the Wink mystique when more of their hits came out.

So, when their BEST collection of singles came out in November 1990, "Wink Hot Singles", I decided I needed to catch up a bit on their pre-1989 releases. The first song was of course their debut, "Sugar Baby Love" which came out in April 1988. As is the case with many a star singer's discography, the debut and the early releases sound quite a bit different. And so I was a bit intrigued to hear "Sugar Baby Love" as this aidoru-esque tribute to the old doo-wop sound which had an intro which reminded me of "Little Darlin" by The Diamonds from the late 50s.

If I had heard "Sugar Baby Love" when it first came out, I probably wouldn't have predicted that Wink would've gone onto stardom, but according to the charts, there were already signs that things were looking pretty up for the duo. There was no major ad campaign for Wink or the debut, but it still managed to get as high as No. 20 on the singles charts and stayed in the Top 100 for 11 weeks. In addition, it was even used as a theme song for a Fuji-TV drama starring Yoko Minamino titled "Netsuppoi no!"熱っぽいの...I Feel Feverish!)Not too shabby.

Now I had heard that Wink's "Sugar Baby Love" was a cover of an original tune by a European band. I'd assumed that it was some of Eurobeat group from the mid-80s, but actually the original singers came all the way from 1974. The Rubettes hailed from the UK as this doo-wop group and their own debut of "Sugar Baby Love" got them to the top of the charts for 8 weeks straight. It even got placed at No. 37 on the US Billboard charts. Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington wrote and composed the song, and according to Wikipedia, they had first offered it to another band following the production of a demo version but were declined. Then they offered it to the studio musicians who had recorded that demo....on provision that they become a group. Hence, The Rubettes were born.

And it was there that I thought that the article would end. However, by accident, I discovered that Wink hadn't been the direct Japanese inheritors of "Sugar Baby Love". I came across a YouTube video that showed that 70s aidorus Mari Amachi(天地真理) and Candies had done their version of the song in the same year that The Rubettes premiered it. Amachi had done her version through her first live LP, "Mari Amachi on Stage" from December 1974. In the same month, Candies provided their version via their 3rd album, "Namida no Kisetsu"(涙の季節...Season of Tears).

Finally, there was even another cover which followed the Wink version. In 2001, singer Yoko Ishida(石田耀子) provided her own "Sugar Baby Love" as the opening theme for the anime "Chiccha na Yuki Tsukai no Sugar"(ちっちゃな雪使いのシュガー...Little Snow Fairy Sugar)and her 5th single.

As Bickerton and Waddington illustrated, isn't it nice what happens when you ask nicely?

Sachiko and Shoko must have been shopping
before the government raised the consumption tax!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, god. I really love Wink. Honestly, though, "Sugar Baby Love" is not a song that I hear very often. I also remember that it was a big surprise to hear an eurobeat/synthpop version of this lovely 70s song. As I grew up listening to the original, thanks to my father, it was strange to hear all the synths and the aidoru vocals in the song. That's probably why I had a hard time digesting it. All in all, I mostly listen to Wink's version in their concerts. It's always a nice highlight.


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