On last night's "Kayo Concert"（歌謡コンサート）, I heard an old Mood Kayo which I hadn't heard in a very long time. It was another one of those songs that I could recognize on first listen, but as has often been the case with enka and Mood Kayo from my childhood, I never knew the title or the singer...or singers in this case...behind it.
Perhaps "Shinjuku Sodachi" (Raised in Shinjuku) is a tune that I heard on the old stereo thanks to my father but I can only be sure about my first listening to it on that fateful 1981 Kohaku Utagassen. It popped up during one of the segments where a good chunk of the participating singers, including the young aidoru at the time including Seiko-chan and Matchy, did an old kayo medley.
Since then, I could always recognize the song if not realize the title or singers just from that snazzy melody by Minoru Endo（遠藤実）. Hearing it again last night, "Shinjuku Sodachi" didn't have the usual infusion of Latin. Instead, I realized that it incorporated some of the rhythm of Group Sounds that had been all the rage in the 1960s. That horn section really got the ball rolling on the song. In fact, I can half-jokingly state that it could be one of the first examples of danceable Mood Kayo that I have ever heard.
The song was released in 1967 as a duet with singers Yoko Tsuyama and Hideo Ohki（津山洋子・大木英夫）. And not surprisingly, the lyrics by Toru Bessho（別所透）have the two performing a musical back-and-forth of how they may be parrying against the other gender but in reality they really gosh darn love each other. The common denominator is that they are barflys in Shinjuku as they both admit somewhat ruefully. Thanks to that driving GS-inspired melody, it has a bit more oomph than the usual Mood Kayo which may explain why it did phenomenally well, selling 1.6 million records and eventually hitting No. 7 on the very new Oricon charts.
Of course, "Shinjuku no Sodachi" has become a standard kayo duet over the decades although I've never had the pleasure myself of performing it at karaoke. Although Tsuyama is still with us, Ohki unfortunately passed away in 2010 at the age of 67.