Credits

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.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Yuko Asano -- Summer Champion(サマー・チャンピオン)


My very first summer job was in 1983 when I was hired to paint all of the fences in a townhouse development in the northeastern district of Toronto called Agincourt. I realize that you can't see inside my memories but, let me reassure you, this was a huge development. I also had to water lawns in the morning and pick up any garbage in the area. Then the remainder of the day was painting the fences a dark green, something that took over 2 months to complete. It was a surreal "Twilight Zone" experience since the neighbourhood was virtually deserted during the day with folks out at work or school. There was a group of kids, mind you, that took care of landscaping once a week but I never associated with them. It was simply me, a can of paint and a paintbrush outside alone.


However, once in a while, someone would play the radio so that I did get some background music. One song that I distinctly remember was the 1983 hit "Never Gonna Let You Go" by Sergio Mendes. Yes, that Sergio Mendes...the one behind "Mas que Nada", his signature tune from the 1960s. And yet, "Never Gonna Let You Go" was the first Mendes song that I had ever heard, a dreamy and epic ballad of the 1980s that was far into the AOR genre.  I also remember seeing it on Casey Kasem's "America's Top 40" TV show frequently.


Well, in the 1970s which was perhaps seen as a quieter period for Mendes, he released the album "Magic Lady" in 1979 which had the disco-pop song "Summer Dream" as one of the tracks.


However, I only found out about "Summer Dream" and "Magic Lady" because I discovered the cover version first in the form of Yuko Asano's(浅野ゆう子)"Summer Champion". It was released as Asano's 14th single in April 1979. The Japanese lyrics were provided by Ayumi Date( 伊達歩), and like the original, it's quite the roving downtown City Pop number with the sultry vocals by the singer. As with some of her other output during the late 1970s going into the 1980s, it's quite the revelation that she used to perform some of those urban contemporary songs I've enjoyed when I consider that I used to know her simply as the trendy drama queen and the classy if quirky commercial pitchperson.


Not certain which album it was released on or even if it did get onto an album, but it has been placed on her "Golden Best RCA/Fun House Years"(GOLDEN☆BEST 浅野ゆう子 RCA/FUN HOUSE YEARS)from 2005.

I finished my time painting just before my senior year in high school. Battling sunburn, heatstroke and athlete's foot, I rather felt like a summer champion by the time Labour Day swung by. And the money helped in getting me into first year at University of Toronto.

4 comments:

  1. Hi J-Canuck!

    The track is on her 7th album "Stop the Conversation" (ストップ・ザ・カンバセーション) released in 1979 (Wikipedia wrongly states 1980).

    She has a lot of those songs in her 2nd half of her career as well as a lot of covers :)

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    1. Ahhh...I bow to thee, Daemonskald!

      Thanks for clarifying that. I never thought I would say this but I would now be interested in getting an actual Yuko Asano album. If she actually read this, she would probably have a twinkle in her eye and say "Zehi, zehi!":)

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  2. I can't describe enough how much I love "Teruteru Kazoku", 2003-04 NHK drama in which Asano performed the mother of four dauguhters (Konno Mahiru from Takarazuka, Uehara Takako of Speed, Ueno Juri and Ishihara Satomi). It's Ueno and Ishihara's debut and both of them started their careers from this drama.

    "Teruteru" was very important to me as I consider it the best musical comedy that Japanese have made.ever. The original novel was written by Nakanishi Rei, who used to write lyrics for Ishihara Yujiro, the Peanuts, Kitahara Mirei and many others but in 90s-2000s, Nakanishi published quite a few novels and Teruteru was one of them. Nakanishi in real life married with a younger sister of Ishida Ayumi (Blue Light Yokohama), so the story was about the family of Nakanish&s wife.

    Tons of old songs were featured in that drama and drama's own music was written by Miyagawa Hiroshi.

    Anyway contrary to her image, Asano was Kansai native so she could speak Kansai dialect. What she was asked to do was a very energetic Osaka stagemother so she knew what to do from her own life.

    And of course she could dance. Asano played "Sentimental Journey" (Doris Day), "Konna Beppin Mitakotonai (Kagurazaka Hanko), "Only You" (Platters) and Ai-no Kiseki (Hide and Rosannna).

    It was very fun drama and after then I started to dig Miyagawa's work deeply.

    Teruteru Family doing "Anata nara Dosuru" (another Ishida Ayumi's hit)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3e62JDW5fjs

    "Wakaitte Subarashii"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ3w2B-Ys5A

    - Hanibo

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    1. Hello, Hanibo.

      I recently saw a song performed on "Minna no Uta" that was actually made and sung by actress Juri Ueno. She's not bad at all.

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