Although among my friends, I'm most likely the most teetotaling member of the group, I have enjoyed the odd beer, sake and shochu both here and in Japan. I even have a soft spot in my heart for the sweeter liqueurs such as cassis, Kahlua and rum. That last one is something that I've had in cake and Coke along with my cocktails.🍹
Therefore, if anyone in Japan asks me something like "Rum wa o-suki?", I can nod my head to a certain reluctant degree...in moderation, of course. Speaking of which, I have this song by the jazz vocal group Crest Four Singers with the very same title. "Rum wa O-Suki?" (Do You Like Rum?) is the B-side to the quintet's 1979 single "Hey! Mister Smile".
I've already posted up one other song by Crest Four Singers, the Big Band-friendly "Sun Shade"（サン・シェイド）and I found out about that one through the YouTube channel, New J Channel. Lightning has apparently struck twice since I've just discovered "Rum wa O-Suki?" in the same fashion, so my thanks to the channel administrators. In any case, compared to that first Crest Four Singers song, "Rum wa O-Suki?" is definitely another tune made in the mold of The Manhattan Transfer, specifically in the delivery by the group, but the Big Band feeling has been taken down for this particular song and there's a bit more in the way of cute little contemporary bleeps and bloops of synthesizers accompanying the laidback melody, strangely enough.
Well, the reason behind this is that two of the songwriters happen to be straight from technopop pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra. Yup, Ryuichi Sakamoto（坂本龍一）and Haruomi Hosono（細野晴臣）helped arranged the latter's music, and another surprise is that J-R&B queen Minako Yoshida（吉田美奈子）provided the lyrics. I gather that because of the title, "Rum wa O-Suki?" may be a second cousin to another booze-themed title a little over a decade down the line, "Whiskey ga O-Suki deshou?" (ウィスキーが、お好きでしょ）, which is a torch song by enka singer Sayuri Ishikawa（石川さゆり）.
Going further down the rabbit hole, I've discovered that Crest Four Singers' version is actually a cover of the Yoshida original from her March 1976 album "Flapper". The same jazziness is there but without the synthpop aspect. Instead, the original has a taste of Hosono's Tin Pan Alley sound. I actually feel like that I am sitting in a Tiki bar as I listen to it, although I hope that Yoshida was able to get rid of that over-insistent bartender at the end.