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.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Asako Toki/Magokoro Brothers/Bird -- Summer Nude (サマーヌード)

At this point, I think I have two albums by the velvety-voiced Asako Toki(土岐麻子), one of them being in the shot above. Still love that cover design for her 2011 "Light" album which is a BEST collection for the Tokyo-born singer.

She may have been born in The Big Sushi but for my own reasons, I've seen her as a Chiba lass. I remember seeing her for the first time on TV doing her version of YMO's classic "Kimi ni Mune Kyun"(君に、胸キュン)which got my curiosity. Then one time I was in the Tsudanuma district of Narashino City, Chiba Prefecture, not too far away from Chiba City since I usually taught my English circle there on Tuesday mornings. I had a few hours of time to kill before my next lesson in Tokyo so I had lunch in one of the commercial complexes in the area which included a CD shop. It just so happened that "Light" was on sale there and so the CD was playing on the speakers. As I said, I did love that 80s-looking cover and the music was quite nice so I picked it up right then and there. "Light" has been one of the touchstones that has helped me remember that shop and Tsudanuma in general.

This article would be the 6th Asako Toki entry on the blog, so 5 of them are from this album: "Komugi Iro no Mermaid"(小麦色のマーメイド), "Gift", "I-ke-na-i Rouge Magic" (い・け・な・いルージュマジック), a cover of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature", and this one, "Summer Nude". A nice glass of smooth sherry of a song, it's got that lovely laidback and tropical feeling to go with those wonderful Toki vocals. I'd say enjoy that glass while swinging in the hammock. It might be cold out there wherever you are; put this on the'll warm up. All kidding aside, the first time Toki sang this one was on her 2008 album "Summerin'".

What I didn't know was that "Summer Nude" was a Toki cover of a song that had been originally performed by a rock and soul group Magokoro Brothers(真心ブラザーズ). I did hear of the name but never experienced their music before. And what a pity that is. Because I was really impressed by the original version of "Summer Nude".

Released in April 1995 as their 12th single, "Summer Nude" is a funky and jazzy delight by Magokoro Brothers that reminded me of another group which was quite popular around that time, Original Love. Love the horns! It may have only gone up to No. 81 on the charts but let's say that this wonderful song can be our own little secret. Once again, that analogy of some wonderful stuff in the underwater 90% of that J-Pop iceberg is coming into play.

"Summer Nude" was created by Magokoro Brothers, Hidetoshi Sakurai(桜井秀俊)and Yoichi "YO-KING" Kuramochi(倉持陽一). The two first met in the late 1980s while students at Waseda University with Sakurai in the Faculty of Law and Kuramochi in the Faculty of Education. Their first single, "Umi" (うみ...Sea) was released in September 1989. "Summer Nude" was first included in an album through their 2nd BEST compilation, "B.A.D.(Bigger and Deffer) 〜MB's Single Collection" in June 1997. That album peaked at No. 10.

Bird released her rapid-fire version of "Summer Nude" as her 23rd and final single to date in July 2008. I'll have to be honest, though, and say that this was not quite up to the level of the ones by Toki and Magokoro Brothers and not even up to Bird's early wonderful material.


  1. The second video you've embedded is a later live rendition featuring Okuda Tamio. The original Magokoro Brothers version of Summer Nude is here:

    I have to admit I wasn't overly impressed by the original "Summer Nude", but Magokoro Brothers later brought in producer CHOKKAKU to make a new version, and the resulting track, "ENDLESS SUMMER NUDE", is excellent:

    Personally I find "ENDLESS SUMMER NUDE" far better than the original :) The more complex harmony and rhythm and the richer instrumentation add a lot of color to the song. The instrumental solos are also a lot more interesting and original than in the original.

    And a few years later, Tomita Lab made a version, "ENDLESS SUMMER NUDE(Tomita Lab. Remix)", which is even better. In fact I'd say it's probably my favorite Tomita Lab song in general. It brings a unique emotional feeling to the song which is simultaneously both bittersweet and tense/energetic. I guess this is accomplished partly by the ostinato rhythm section (especially the bassline) and the tendency towards unstable harmony like m7♭5 chords and dominant seventh chords with the seven in the bass, among other things.

    Of note is the bridge section (2:42-3:15) which is a total departure from the previous versions, especially the final buildup which flows perfectly into the next section as the vocals come back in (そうさ、僕ら今[...]). In contrast, the original song's bridge is just a verse without lyrics, while ENDLESS at least has a proper bridge but without as much of an emotional contour as Tomita's version, IMO.

    Check it out if you have a chance -- it's available on the tribute album 真心カバーズ, or as the B-side of Magokoro Brothers' single 紺色. It's also included on Disc 2 of the limited edition of Tomita Lab's compilation album "Beautiful Songs to Remember". Unfortunately I couldn't find it on youtube -- it had been uploaded to nico nico douga but has since been deleted.

    1. Hi, Keshav.

      Thanks for your comments on "Summer Nude". I wish I had your vocabulary for music but I don't know very much about the terminology, but I know what sounds good to me, and this song is indeed very pleasant. Glad to hear that Tomita Lab was involved with the remix. He certainly is one fellow who can weave some magic.:)


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.