... ... It's quite terrible of me to say this, but I can't help but laugh/snicker/smile whenever I see the cover of Hachiro Kasuga's (春日八郎) 20th anniversary album "Nekketsu no Utagoe" (熱血の歌声). It actually doesn't look bad from afar (as in this photo I took), but when viewed up close it's probably the derpiest picture I have of him. I distinctly remember seeing a nice photo of him in the same pose and outfit somewhere that had him grinning naturally, at which time I wondered why the record company/Hachi himself hadn't used that and chose what we see here today as the cover shot. But, well, that's just me.
Griping about pictures aside, I managed to find and purchase "Nekketsu no Utagoe" when my hunt for records brought me to this really nice store called Fuji Records (富士レコード) in Tokyo's used bookstore haven, Jimbocho (神保町). Believe me, I felt like a kid in a candy store that evening and had a jolly good time sifting through their neat and well-stocked ancient enka/ryukoka section. I'd never seen so many Hachi albums before, and all sorts caught my eye and threatened to break my loosely estimated budget, but what made me choose "Nekketsu no Utagoe" in particular despite it not having the most glamorous of covers was that I knew that its tunes weren't what I usually heard from Kasuga. Via the mori kei YouTube channel, I was introduced to a few of the "Nekketsu no Utagoe" songs, and they struck me as modern sounding kayo and enka for its time in 1972. I wanted to explore more of what it had to offer, especially since some of what I had heard prior agreed with me, so I decided to take it with me... along with 4 other records from him. I had a lean dinner that night, but it was worth it.
When I got home, I gave all my records a good listen, and "Nekketsu no Utagoe" did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and my favourite out of the 12 songs has to be the last track on side 1 of the vinyl, "Onna no Koiji".
As with most of the tracks, "Onna no Koiji" sounds mostly pop-oriented with a touch of enka, and I absolutely love Nobuyuki Sakuradai's (桜庭伸幸) beautiful composition for its smooth, soaring strings and chirpy flute. And, of course, I really enjoy how Hachi's vocals fluctuate from low and gritty to high and delicate here. Personally, I feel that Kasuga sounded best when he sang songs like this as it explores more of his vocal range than in the regular enka classics he's known for.
Minoru Shimai (島井実) was responsible for the words, and they center on a woman and her journey to find love. Lyrics-wise, it almost reminds me of a matatabi enka song since we have a solitary main character travelling throughout the country, although our heroine here has an objective in mind rather than just simply wandering around aimlessly like a typical ronin.
On an ending note, I have to thank mori kei for uploading the "Onna no Koiji" video. I had requested for it on a video featuring another tune from "Nekketsu no Utagoe" just yesterday, and less than an hour later the person replied stating that he/she likes the song too and had just posted it. I'm impressed and grateful.
|Hachi was thicc.|