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, September 5, 2014

Akiba Yutaka & Arrow Knights/Hiroshi Uchiyamada & The Cool Five/Kiyoshi Maekawa -- Nakanoshima Blues (中の島ブルース)

                                                  Arrow Knights' version (1975)

I guess you could say that 'Nakanoshima Blues' is one of The Cool Five's well-known songs. Released on the 25th of July, 1975 it did well on the Oricon charts, cracking the top 10 and placing 9th at its peak and giving them another hit after 'Soshite Kobe' in 1972. However, The Cool Five wasn't the first to sing this song.


The original version was sung by Yutaka Akiba & Arrow Knights (秋庭豊とアローナイツ), with the late Yutaka Akiba as the leader and Akira Kinoshita (木下あきら) as the lead vocalist. And was this Mood Kayo group's debut song... I suppose twice? Before we get to that, here's some background info on this group.

Apparently, the Arrow Knights started out an amateur singing group from a construction company Sumiseki Materials Co., Ltd that decided to go pro and if I read it right on the Japanese Wikipedia page for 'Nakanoshima Blues', they were rather popular in Sapporo - where they originated.

The original original version of the song was self-produced and was released in 1973. The lyrics then only mentioned Nakanoshima, in Sapporo. I didn't think it did that well and they did not have any other singles from then until 1975.

In 1975, the lyrics of the song were changed to incorporate Osaka and Nagasaki into the equation. And this version released in July as well for the Arrow Knights finally hit the nail on the head and made the group relatively well-known. Therefore, twice their debut song. For both the 1973 and 1975 versions, the lyrics were written by this fellow 斎藤保 (I have no idea how to pronounce his name)  and the music by Tasuku Yoshida (吉田 佐).


Since both Mood Kayo groups released the same song at around the same time, there was some competition to see whose version was better. In the end, The Cool Five's version did better in terms of sales. And they did get to sing their 25th single at the 26th Kohaku uta gassen (1975). Can't say the same for the Arrow Knights though. It could be because of The Cool Five's popularity in the 70's that gave them the upper-hand. (Edited)

I myself prefer The Cool Five's version... and no, I'm not being biased. Well, maybe a little. But you can decide for yourself as to whose rendition of 'Nakanoshima Blues' tickles your fancy.

                                                              The Cool Five's version

Kiyoshi Maekawa (前川 清) - lead vocalist of The Cool Five - also sings this song solo without his now reduced to 4 cronies. Here's him singing it with Takao Horiuchi's (堀内孝雄) newly formed group Brothers 5 (ブラザーズ5) as his backup singers in 2014.

1 comment:

  1. I gotta admit that it's a tough choice for me whether the Arrow Knights or the Cool Five version is better. I love that Mood Kayo trumpet from the former version but the latter has a better arrangement with that Mood Kayo sax. Still, the nighttime videos are perfect for both!


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.