As mentioned in J-Canuck's article on Koichi Aoki's (青木光一) "Kaki no Kizaka no Ie" (柿の木坂の家), the recent "Kayo Concert" featured the works of Toru Funamura (船村徹). Needless to say, I was wonderfully surprised to see that the renowned, aged composer was still alive and kicking - he's in his early eighties, but from his frail exterior and wispy voice, he looked like a nonagenarian. That aside, Funamura had composed a great number of hits back in the day, some of which were sung by deceased enka veterans I love. So you could say that the first 3 minutes of the show knocked my socks off (figuratively, I don't wear socks at home) by showing old footage of Hideo Murata (村田英雄) who was at his imposing/intimidating best as he sung his most successful hit "Osho" (王将), which was then followed by a rather dapper-looking Hachiro Kasuga (春日八郎) mournfully warbling "Wakare no Ippon Sugi" (別れの一本杉), and to wrap things up for that little segment was Michiya Mihashi's (三橋美智也) performance (in COLOUR) of a song I'm not yet familiar with... it sounded good though. I would have been satisfied to just see just one, but ALL three of them!? That was like hitting the enka-jackpot! It was absolutely aMAzing!
Anyway, another highlight for me during the rest of the 40 minutes were the appearances made by Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし), who looked as regal as ever in an all black, and later, all white, kimono and haori. He first appeared to sing one of his many successes from the 80's, "Yagiri no Watashi". Now, although I didn't give "Yagiri no Watashi" the attention it deserves, I had seen the title of this hit many times, usually associated with the man himself or Naomi Chiaki (ちあきなおみ), and I had read that both singers (and actually along with a few others) "competed" to see whose version did better. Long story short, Hosokawa's rendition received more love, peaking at 1st place on the Oricon monthlies and it eventually came in 2nd by the end of 1983, he even sang it on his 9th Kohaku appearance that same year. And through his performance that night, I could see why.
"Yagiri no Watashi" occurred to me as rather grand, both in an elegant and manly sort of way from the combination of accordion and the deep, rhythmic thumping of the drums. It kind of reminded me of Muchi's "Osho", though not as forceful, which allowed me to learn the stark musical styles of this grey composer - he could either go cry-in-your-sake-melancholic, or I'm-the-big-cheese-grand, or maybe somewhere in between. But the important thing is, I appreciated this interesting contrast going on in Hosokawa's version - it fits his stage persona. This contrast was what was lacking when I had a listen to Chiaki's rendition. While I enjoyed her deep, husky voice, there just seemed to be something missing... ... Come to think of it, I suppose it's actually meant to be gentle and feminine like that since it was first sung by Chiaki in 1976 (B-side to another single), but it was beefed up years later to accommodate Hosokawa's stronger vocals.