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, August 22, 2014

Nagisa no All-Stars/Tomoko Aran -- Be My Venus

Depending on who you ask here in Toronto, there hasn't been much of a summer. We've had quite a lot of rain this year and the temperatures haven't officially gone over 30 degrees Celsius (although the Humidex has done so) thus far with a month left in the season. The good news is that we also haven't had any smog alerts, so the breathing has definitely been easy these past few months. Over in Japan, though, people there might say that they've gotten far too much of a summer. Hey guys, feel free to come and visit my city....we have the CNE, FanExpo, one final big RibFest and TIFF in the next couple of weeks!

It's Friday, so let's pop up another summer song. Back in my Gunma days, I was browsing through some CD shop when I came across this album called "The Best of Nagisa All-Stars" (1991) on the shelf. I'd never heard of this unit but looking at the cover, I did recognize at least four faces, and those four faces belonged to summer band TUBE (Nobuteru Maeda, Michiya Haruhata, Hideyuki Kakuno, Ryoji Matsumoto). Then there were some others that I didn't know on sight, but I later found out that I had heard them.

But more on the lineup later. Let me get the song out of the way and into your ears. One of the tracks from this album I decided to get was "Be My Venus" which was also the first single by this expanded TUBE band back in July 1988. Like any of the big TUBE hits, it's fun, summery and soaring....and it was created by singer-songwriters Tomoko Aran and Tetsuro Oda(亜蘭知子・織田哲郎). And it also seems to have been concocted so that a number of folks could take over the mike....perfect for the karaoke box.

"Be My Venus" was also on the 2nd of 3 albums by Nagisa no All-Stars, "Nagisa no Cassette Vol. 2" (June 1988). Not sure how the single did but this album went as high as No. 10 on Oricon. As for the BEST album, it peaked at No. 43.

Now, getting back to the band's makeup, Nagisa no All-Stars(渚のオールスターズ...Beach All-Stars)was formed in 1987 with singer-songwriter Tetsuro Oda as the heart of the group. As I mentioned, TUBE came on board, but I was surprised to realize that a couple of other recruits were Fusanosuke Kondo and Yuiko Tsubokura(近藤房之助・坪倉唯子). On that BEST album, they looked like regular folks which is why I didn't recognize them but it turned out that they were the heavily-disguised lead vocals for B.B. Queens, the unit behind the No. 1 song for 1990, "Odoru Ponpokorin"(おどるポンポコリン). Tomoko Aran also joined the group along with musicians Kazuyoshi Ito(伊藤一義), Seiichiro Kuribayashi(栗林誠一郎), Chuei Yoshikawa(吉川忠英), Takashi Masuzaki(増崎孝司), Nobu Saito(斎藤ノヴ), Hojin Egawa(江川ほーじん) and Monsieur Kamayatsu(ムッシュかまやつ) from the Group Sounds-era band The Spiders. It was quite The Avengers of Japanese summer pop.

And like any superhero group, the rotation has changed over the years. Nagisa no All-Stars got together again in 2006 with TUBE, Oda, Aran and Kamayatsu, but they were also joined by Rina Aiuchi(愛内里菜)and Miyu formerly of ZONE.

Aran did a slightly more languid cover of her own song in 1989 through her 8th album, "Stay In My Eyes". This would be the version to sip a caipirinha with.

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