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, March 8, 2017

Kazuhiko Shima/Naomi Chiaki -- Ame no Yoru Anata wa Kaeru (雨の夜あなたは帰る)

Perhaps even more than enka, the genre of Mood Kayo could be equated with the cry-in-your-beer and love-starved side of country music here in Canada and the United States. When I think of the genre in general, images of standing alone on a fog-swathed pier, walking alone on a side street at midnight and sitting alone at a bar come to mind (although there are of course Mood Kayo that have a couple drunkenly flirting together). I gather that the Japanese are not only sentimental but also really contemplative.

I found one typical example of the unhappy-in-love Mood Kayo and it was due to me looking up Toru Funamura(船村徹)on J-Wiki since he passed away last month. Funamura composed this ballad "Ame no Yoru Anata wa Kaeru" (Walking Home On A Rainy Evening) for singer Kazuhiko Shima(島和彦)in 1966. It's definitely one of the more mournful kayo that I have ever heard with Osamu Yoshioka's(吉岡治)lyrics filtering through Shima's languid vocals. I'm not sure what instigated the guy's lonely walk home but it's sung from the point of view of the woman as she envisions his unhappy lot. The only thing he can look forward to is a cup of black coffee according to the words.

For all of those enka/Mood Kayo fans, if the name Kazuhiko Shima doesn't really ring a bell, it's because he didn't last all that long in the music least not up to the present day. There isn't even much of a J-Wiki entry for him. He was born in 1944 and he became a singer in the 1960s by signing up with Nippon Columbia. It looks like "Ame no Yoru Anata wa Kaeru" was his biggest hit because it was the song that got him his sole invitation to the Kohaku Utagassen of 1966, although he is known for two other songs.

At present, he is operating his own establishment, known as the Supper Club Shima in the tony district of Akasaka in Tokyo. where he sometimes performs his old songs. Apparently, he's also quite well versed in magic.

I had to do a bit of digging but I think chanteuse Naomi Chiaki (ちあきなおみ) recorded a cover of "Ame no Yoru Anata wa Kaeru" for a 1974 EP titled "Enbukyoku"円舞曲...although the furigana reads as "Waltz"). And I gotta say that I like her version even more than the original by Shima. Starting off with an intro that had me thinking immediately of Keiko Fuji(藤圭子), those vocals of hers and the lonely Latin guitar took things to another level. That sultry delivery made me wonder whether she was embodying a spirit accompanying the poor guy home.

As much as I've known the great Ikuzo Yoshi(吉幾三)for his upbeat material such as "Yukiguni"(雪国), I also know him for those cry-in-your-beer ballads including "Sake yo"(酒よ). So I thought it was a natural for him to perform a cover of "Ame no Yoru Anata wa Kaeru".

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