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.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cute Beat Club Band -- Chotto Give Me A Break! (ちょっとGive me a break!)

The late 1980s at the University of Toronto was quite the heady time. I was actively participating in a university club that was connected with Japan for the very first time and I was only a 10-minute walk away from all of my favourite Chinatown record stores for the latest in LPs and audio cassettes. My GPA was probably the only victim in this but at least I did...barely...graduate and get over to Japan to start my career.

Of course, part of my experiences with the Japanese-Canadian Students' Association involved some of us often helping out our friend from the club who served as the first vice-president and then the president at her apartment at Dundas West whenever there were upcoming bake sales or picnics. She was quite the prolific cook. And she was also quite the Checkers' (チェッカーズ) fan since she would have some of their stuff playing on the stereo.

It's been quite a while since I put up a Checkers article. And tonight I wanted to put up one of their songs but this is one of their songs that didn't come under the Checkers label. For a smattering of months, leader Fumiya Fujii(藤井郁弥)and his guys decided to follow a style that wasn't part of their usual New Wave/50s doo wop schtick that first got them into limelight on Oricon and the music ranking programs. Apparently, according to J-Wiki, all of the members were enamored with this British rock group called The George Springhill Band, and so Fujii and company took on a more twangier pop/rock tone and took on a new guise called the Cute Beat Club Band (the name given to them by their fans). And no, although the photo above was promoting CBCB, they definitely didn't go 40s Be-Bop.

"Chotto Give Me A Break!" (Hey, Give Me A Break!) was actually the B-side to Cute Beat Club Band's lone single, "Nanatsu no Umi no Chikyuugi"(7つの海の地球儀...Globe of the 7 Seas)from November 1987. I decided to go with this song since it is also a tune that I have somewhere among my compilation tapes from Chinatown.

Judging from "Chotto Give Me A Break!", there was a bit of a harder edge (relatively speaking...these were the Checkers, after all) to CBCB. There was no more of the sweet 50s. Instead, I hear something of The Fixx and perhaps even a hint of Spandau Ballet from way back in the early 80s. The familiar warble of Fujii and that deep bass of one of the other members are still in there, but yeah, it was more 80s Britpop. Heck, the band even filmed the video in England while wearing old-fashioned prison uniforms. Not quite sure how the folks on Abbey Road felt about that.

Prolific lyricist Yasushi Akimoto(秋元康)wrote the words while CBCB bandmate Special Turuku came up with the jangly music. During their Cute Beat Club Band phase, all of the members went with some silly monikers such as Hellow Fujii for the leader.

The experiment did quite well as "Chotto Give Me A Break!" managed to peak at No.4 on Oricon. And perhaps it also gave Checkers the impetus to further shed away that 50s image and go more for the straight-ahead pop/rock sound that they took up later into the decade.

Strangely enough, for all of the influences I heard in the song, I cannot find any YouTube video or any other evidence for The George Springhill Band aside from a brief listing of the band's lineup on this page. Otherwise, the rest of the page is in Japanese.

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