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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Shizuka Kudo -- Trinity

For all these years, I've had a few of Shizuka Kudo's(工藤静香)CD singles but only one album by the 1980s aidoru superstar. And that was her 7th studio album, "Trinity" from March 1992, which after one or two listenings post-purchase, I placed it back on the shelves for years. I simply wasn't that much of a fan of hers for the album to merit multiple plays on the the time.

First off, though, I do feel that I have to go off on a tangent here since one of the things that I had long been wondering about was Ms. Kudo's vaunted English ability...well, that and her apparently mutant-like ability to stretch out the skin on her cheeks to Mr. Fantastic levels...but I will leave that one alone. Anyways, I did hear that she spoke English quite fluently and with an English accent, to boot.

Well, I took a look at the footage from the NHK variety program "Eigo de Shabera Night"(英語でしゃべらナイト...Can You Speak English?)that had its run during the 2000s. I used to watch it from time to time since there was a curiosity factor within me about which geinojin had that fluency in English....after all, I was teaching the language for a quarter of a century. In any case, Kudo made her appearance and I have to say that she was quite proficient (aside from the usual prepositional errors). If I were to place her in a level under NOVA, which was my old school in Tokyo, she would be around Level 4 or even Level 3 which is for an advanced student. As for any English accent...err, I don't really think so. However, I think she and Mr. Kimura could make a nice life of it here in Canada.

Back to our regularly scheduled article. As I said, "Trinity" came out in March 1992, and finally putting it back into the CD tray after so long, I realized that Kudo was pushing a variety of musical genres to the extent that I really started to wonder if she could really be categorized as an aidoru anymore although that's what J-Wiki is still pegging her as for this album. Tsugutoshi Goto(後藤次利), who was the composer for a number of her earlier hits, took care of the composition work and arrangement for all of the tracks.

The first track is "Mechakucha ni Naiteshimaitai"(めちゃくちゃに泣いてしまいたい...I Really Want To Break Down And Cry), her 15th single from January in the same year. This was the trigger for me to give another chance to "Trinity" since remnants of the song still remained in my memories over the years. Listening to it on the stereo and then seeing performances of it on YouTube, I discovered...finally...that it is quite the interesting mix of old-time soul and gospel with contemporary pop. I even get a hint of the old 1950s when I hear it as well. Longtime Anzen Chitai(安全地帯)associate Goro Matsui(松井五郎)provided the lyrics of heartbreak.

"Mechakucha ni Naiteshimaitai" did very well by peaking at No. 4 and ending up as the 73rd-ranked single of 1992. The song also got Kudo her 5th of 8 appearances on the Kohaku Utagassen that year. At a Hong Kong concert in 1993, the entire audience joined her to sing it which had her acting out the title.

Unfortunately, I think the first track is all I could find to represent "Trinity" on YouTube or the other video sites. However, there is the relatively generous Apple site.

Track 2 is "Moonlight no Sei ja nai"(MOONLIGHTのせいじゃない...Don't Blame It On The Moonlight), and I realized that this was the one other track from which I had some memory. Now, after some years of a jazz phase back in Japan, I appreciate this a whole lot more. Actually, it's more of a neo-swing jazz sort of fun. Matsui was also responsible for the lyrics of this song which brings images of an old-fashioned night on the town. Kudo also has a nice delivery here, reminiscent of a jazz chanteuse behind one of those ancient and huge stand microphones at NBC Studios in Manhattan.

"my eyes", Track 3, has Kudo plumbing closer to her old sultry style along with a 70s soul-rock feel. This was the Kudo that I was accustomed to hearing and seeing on the music shows back in the 1980s, and frankly the Kudo that I was afraid of crossing in a dark alley. Veteran Yoshiko Miura(三浦徳子)provided the lyrics here.

That's all I will do with "Trinity" right now since I am still in the process of re-acquainting myself with the album. Yup, once again, it's one of those albums that I have to come to appreciate with new ears, so it's not going back onto the shelf quite yet. Perhaps, then, I may be brave enough to try out Rie Miyazawa's(宮沢りえ)"Mu" again soon. In any case, "Trinity" reached as high as No. 3 on Oricon, and once I get more of a handle on the songs, I can do a follow-up or cover some of the tracks individually.

The above is a karaoke cover of "Mechakucha ni Naiteshimaitai" with its original arrangement.

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