For those who are into the old kayo, whenever the name Akira Nishikino（錦野旦）pops up, the usual song that appears in memories is his zesty 3rd single "Sora ni Taiyo ga Aru Kagiri"（空に太陽がある限り）, written and composed by the late songwriter Kuranosuke Hamaguchi（浜口庫之助）.
Of course, when Nishikino does appear on various programs (he doesn't show up as much as he used to) such as NHK's "Uta Kon"（うたコン）, "Sora ni Taiyo ga Aru Kagiri" would be the go-to performance. However, on the "Uta Kon" episode back on July 10th, which was devoted to the works of his old master, Nishikino not only sang his most famous hit but also his debut single from May 1970, "Mou Koi Nanoka" (Is This Love?).
It's always a treat when a veteran singer who seems to always go with his biggest hit on music shows finally decides to dig into his/her discography vaults and performs something that I had yet to hear. That was indeed the case with "Mou Koi Nanoka".
As was the case with "Sora ni Taiyo ga Aru Kagiri", "Mou Koi Nanoka" was also a HamaKura creation for his padawan (whose name at the time was written down in hiragana: にしきのあきら), and the song struck me for its innocent and questioning melody which matched the young Nishikino's words of figuring out this strange emotion roiling inside him. An interesting thing was that when the native of Oita Prefecture was given his promotion to the public, his catchphrase was "The Sony Enka Knight"（ソニー演歌の騎士）.
"Mou Koi Nanoka" does evoke images of cherry blossom petals and romantic walks near temples and ancient arched bridges, but at this point, I can't really say that the arrangement here places it as an enka tune. It just sounds like a romantic kayo ballad. And quite a successful one, to boot. It didn't break the Top 10 on Oricon but peaked at a respectable No. 24, selling a tad over 150,000 records. He also won Best New Artist honours at the Japan Record Awards and his first of 6 invitations to the Kohaku Utagassen during the 1970s.