Sunday, March 10, 2013
Akina Nakamori -- Aibu (愛撫)
In general we talk about the timeless 80s material from Akina Nakamori (中森明菜), but some of her 90s songs are very good too. And “Aibu” (愛撫), in my opinion, is one of those great songs.
“Aibu” was first included on her 1993 album, “UNBALANCE+BALANCE”, the first album release of original work since “CRUISE”, released in 1989, and since she moved away from Warner-Pioneer to MCA Victor Japan around 1992.
I’ve read somewhere that since the song became a fan favorite at the time, there were a lot or requests for a single release with “Aibu” as the a-side. It didn’t quite happen this way, but, in 1994, it became the secondary a-side of her “Kata Omoi” single (片想い・愛撫). Although not released as the primary a-side, it was treated as one by Akina, because the song was performed many times on her late 90s and 00s concerts. The ballad “Kata Omoi”, primary a-side of this single, however, didn’t receive the same love from Akina.
I was surely going to write about “Aibu” someday, but the main inspiration for writing this article today was, however, the video posted above. It’s a live TV performance (it looks like "Yoru no Hit Studio", but I can't confirm) with Akina singing “Aibu” while Tetsuya Komuro (小室哲哉), the pop wizard of the 90s, accompanies her at the piano. Although the quality of the video is not amazing, it’s great to see Akina with her sexiness and strong presence performing the song with TK. I know that it was a common practice for him to play the piano while Namie Amuro (安室奈美恵) or Tomomi Kahala (華原朋美) were performing, but I didn’t know that he did it with Akina Nakamori too.
Although a well-known artist at the time (around 1993 and early 1994), TK wasn’t quite at the top of his fame as a producer. TRF was already out, but "survival dAnce ~no no cry more~", their first million seller hit single, and Shinohara’s Street Fighter hit “Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokorozuyosa to” (恋しさと せつなさと 心強さと) were yet to come. In this context, working with Akina Nakamori was really something, as she was one of the top female singers of her time.
As for “Aibu”, it’s a dance-pop song with some latin elements, two genres that Komuro liked to mix together (we can see this mix in other Komuro written/produced songs like “Lady Generation” by Ryoko Shinohara [篠原涼子] and the album version of “Body Feels EXIT” by Namie Amuro). Akina’s rendition is, as always, flawless. The upbeat arrangement combined with the dramatic vibrato of her voice during the chorus is just beautiful. We can tell that her voice was especially deep in the 90s, and that’s a plus in a song like “Aibu”. She also recorded “MOONLIGHT SHADOW ~Tsuki ni Hoeru~” (MOONLIGHT SHADOW-月に吠えろ)” with Komuro in 1996, but it’s not a song as good as “Aibu” is. But in my opinion, Akina and TK should have worked together more times.
As I’ve already pointed out, “Aibu” was an album track of Akina’s 1993 album “UNBALANCE+BALANCE”. The album reached #4 on the Oricon weekly charts, selling over 186,000 copies. While Tetsuya Komuro was the responsible for music and arrangement, the lyrics were written by Takashi Matsumoto (松本隆).