A bit of a coincidence but I was having lunch at Touhenboku Ramen today in midtown with a couple of friends and mentioned in passing that "Kayo Kyoku Plus" would be celebrating its 6th anniversary any day now. Well, it turns out that TODAY is the 6th anniversary! So let us give a brief celebration.
Thank you, Fred, Barney and...police officers (although we all know this was for Wilma).
So, what song would be the one to commemorate the 6th? Actually, I had been thinking about this one for about a week and I have realized that it meshes quite well since the very first article I wrote for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" was for a male singer's hit song in 1981: Jun Horie's（堀江淳）"Memory Glass"（メモリーグラス）. And as veteran readers for the blog may already know, that year was the year that all of the switches within me were turned on permanently when it came to my love for Japanese music (and music in general).
Therefore, I'm going to go with another 1981 song that was yet another hit for the band Off Course（オフコース）. I had assumed that I had already covered "I Love You" sometime in the past 6 years since the group's 21st single from June of that year has become one of their mainstays. But as I have come to realize, there are songs that have managed to slip through the cracks of my memory so catching up is warranted for me.
The very first version of "I Love You", which was written and composed by Kazumasa Oda（小田和正）, that I heard was through one of Off Course's compilations (not the one pictured at the top). Apparently, that BEST album decided to include the version that was performed live at the Budokan in 1982.
That Budokan performance still remains my favourite take by Off Course for "I Love You" since it is performed very intimately (despite the thousands of fans in the audience). I mean, the recorded version is fine but compared to the concert take, it comes off as being a little too bouncy. What really made the performance special was how Oda whispered off the lyrics "I Love You"; that must have gotten the fans weeping up a storm.
But in the Budokan performance and the recorded version that I have on the CD pictured at the top "Off Course -- Single A-Side Collection", one thing that intrigued me was the barely audible English voices during the instrumental break before the final verse. I had kinda figured from how they sounded that they must have been radio announcers. Well, looking up the J-Wiki article on "I Love You", I found out that the voices were indeed announcers reporting the death of John Lennon in 1980. As I said, the versions that I have really muted down the narration but the one video at the top has it played at full volume although it is just a male announcer. According to J-Wiki, there was one take with a female and then male voice doing the reports that was recorded onto the single version. I'm assuming then that the male-only announcer version was the album version for Off Course's 10th album "I LOVE YOU" from July 1982. Perhaps then the version with the barely audible announcements could have been the very first recording of the ballad on their 2nd BEST compilation, "SELECTION 1978-81" from September 1981.
In any case, it's all good for me. The single version for "I Love You" made it up to No. 6 on Oricon later becoming the 81st-ranked single for 1981. The 1982 "I LOVE YOU" album hit the top spot and was even the 8th-ranked album for that year while "SELECTION 1978-81" was also another No. 1 hit. That album also did very well in the yearly rankings as it scored No. 15 in 1981 and then No. 33 in 1982. While I'm at it, I should mention about the very first Off Course song that I wrote about, the classic "Aki no Kehai"（秋の気配）from 1977.
Now that we have reached 6 years, again let me give my gratitude to all those who have been helping out on the blog: fellow veteran collaborators Marcos V. and Noelle Tham along with collaborators such as T-cat, Karen, Francium and Larry Chan, and those who have contributed in the past such as JTM and nikala. Of course, I also appreciate the commenters and all of those who have dropped in to see what's been going on from time to time on the blog, even if it is just for a minute. It's been fun and let's see how much further "Kayo Kyoku Plus" takes all of us.