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, April 24, 2018

Four Leaves -- Olivia no Shirabe(オリビアの調べ)

When I was a kid, I used to hear the name Olivia Hussey bandied about from time to time, not really knowing who she was. Well, I found out that she was this actress who got her big break in the 1960s from her role as Juliet in "Romeo & Juliet" (some sort of doomed romance, I think). However, the Japanese especially fell for her hard and it didn't hurt that she was married to singer Akira Fuse(布施明)for a time.

Last week on NHK's "Uta Kon"(うたコン), some of the male performers gave a rendition of a song by Four Leaves(フォーリーブス). The name sounded familiar but for the life of me, that was really the only thing I could fathom about this group.

As it turns out, Four Leaves was one of the earliest Johnny's Entertainment groups, so you can say that it is one of the grand ancestors for SMAP and Arashi(嵐). The group consisted of Koji Kita(北公次), Takashi Aoyama(青山孝史), Toshio Egi(江木俊夫)and Masao Orimo(おりも政夫)with their debut single, "Olivia no Shirabe" (Olivia's Melody) coming out in September 1968.

Man, it's quite the groovy trip with some of those nostalgic horns, rumbling drums and jangly guitar. And yep, the song is a lovelorn tribute to the aforementioned Olivia Hussey. She was indeed popular. Kita himself wrote the lyrics while Kunihiko Suzuki(鈴木邦彦)took care of the dynamic music. Nice touch with the harp, by the way. Just the whole arrangement has me thinking Group Sounds but probably none of the members ever touched instruments when performing anyways.

"Olivia no Shirabe" peaked at No. 15 on Oricon and it was also a track on their album "Hit! Hit! Hit! Four Leaves Golden Show ~ Four Leaves 1965-1975". Four Leaves lasted until 1978 after 38 singles and 7 consecutive appearances on the Kohaku Utagassen. In 2002, the four decided to get the old band together and even put out a new single "it's more Ai"(it's more 愛...It's More Love)in that year before finally calling it quits in 2009.

You might want to check out another kayo in tribute to another Olivia.

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