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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sachiko Nishida/Yujiro Ishihara/Keiko Fuji -- Akasaka no Yoru wa Fukete (赤坂の夜は更けて)

The Force may be with me tonight. Just hours away from the 66th edition of NHK's Kohaku Utagassen(紅白歌合戦), I decided to take a time trip back 50 years and see what was going on with the 16th edition in 1965, 2.5 months after my birth. In the lineup for the Red Team from that year, I came across Sachiko Nishida's(西田佐知子)name and the title "Akasaka no Yoru wa Fukete" (Akasaka After Dark) written and composed by Domei Suzuki(鈴木道明). And boy, is it a winner for me!
(karaoke version)

When it comes to the tony Tokyo district of Akasaka and Mood Kayo, I always had the impression of Latin music. However, "Akasaka no Yoru wa Fukete" is a lovely jazz ballad that came out as a single for Nishida and several other singers at around the same time near the end of 1965, but it looks as if Nishida was the winner of those sweepstakes. And I would say no wonder. Her evocative and echoing delivery breathes life into those lyrics about a woman pining away in some ritzy bar in the title area for her lost love. I can imagine the sadness, the diluted glass of scotch-on-the-rocks, the ashtray filled with plenty of lipstick-stained butts and a tousled head on the counter. This is what Mood Kayo is all about. For Nishida, her performance of "Akasaka" marked her 5th consecutive time on the Kohaku.

Since then, I think "Akasaka no Yoru wa Fukete" has become a Mood Kayo standard of sorts considering how many other artists have covered it since its release 50 years ago. The Big Man himself, Yujiro Ishihara(石原裕次郎), has also given the song its due, but his version has that Cool Cat Jazz arrangement compared to the Akasaka nightclub atmosphere evoked by Nishida's original. As someone as I've seen as the Japanese equivalent of Frank Sinatra as the leader of the Rat Pack, he and this version fit hand-in-glove.

Then we have Keiko Fuji's(藤圭子)take on "Akasaka no Yoru wa Fukete" which also has its own intriguingly different arrangement. With the accordion in there, the setting seems to be somewhere in some lonely bar in Paris with a bit more anguish from Fuji. All of the versions here are fine and there are quite a few more covers on YouTube as well.

Not Akasaka but Asakusa

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