I always find it thoroughly amusing to hear renditions of mainstream J-Pop songs by Enka singers since they usually pleasantly surprise me by how well they can pull it off. Sometimes, they may even shed their "Enka-ness" and sound completely different from when they sing songs from their respective genre. There is a series of albums that go by "Enka no Chikara" (エンカのチカラ... Power of Enka) that gives me my fill of that. All the tracks listed in these albums are J-Pop/Kayokyoku hits from different decades (depending on the album) and are sung by the likes of Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし) and Sayuri Ishikawa (石川さゆり). So far, through the wonders of the music163 website and the homepage of "Enka no Chikara", the most jaw-dropping covers I have heard of are Itsuki's "Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" (世界に一つだけの花... This one partially blew my mind. And I'm probably being biased, but I like his version best), Takashi Hosokawa's (細川たかし) "Julia ni Heartbreak"(ジュリアに傷心... I prefer Hosokawa's version too. There's just more kick to it with his powerful vocals), Harumi Miyako's "ZUTTO" (She sounded so... so... unrecognizable...! Mind blown to infinity) and of course, Kiyoshi Maekawa's (前川清) "Choo Choo Train" (I have now seen everything) and the song I'll be writing about today, "HOWEVER". Man, this guy never fails to impress me... :)
Anyway, I saw Maekawa's version of GLAY's hit while scrolling through the track list for "Enka no Chikara Saikyo Z White" (エンカのチカラ 最強Z ホワイト) on the album's site. They had indicated the names of the original singers by the side, and my interest piqued when I saw the "GLAY", a rock band, beside Mae-Kiyo's name. "He can sing rock too?!" was the first thing that entered my head, so with a skeptic smile on my face, I went ahead to check "HOWEVER" out on YouTube to see what I could be in for. Contrary to what I had anticipated, "HOWEVER" was not one of those crazy-loud rock songs with screaming, for that I'm very thankful. Instead, it was easy on the ears. Composed (and written) by the band's guitarist TAKURO, the electric guitar was not overpowering, blending in well with the synths and piano, and I liked it immediately on my first listen. I found TERU's vocal delivery pretty cool too.
"HOWEVER" was released as GLAY's 12th single on 6th August 1997 and it did really well, staying at 1st place for 5 weeks (last 2 weeks in August, other 3 weeks in September) before securing its spot in the Top 10 at 9th position by the end of the year. It also managed make the band the Grand Prix winners at the 30th Japan Cable Awards, got them the bronze prize at the 16th JASRAC Awards, their first ticket to the Kohaku in 1997 and was their first-ever million seller out of 6. Wow, impressive. Then the drama "Ryukudaai Abunai Onna" (略奪愛・アブない女) used "HOWEVER" as its ending theme - TAKURO was actually in charge of the music for that show.