Okinawa Yuumoasongu Ketteiban

Three years ago, Tokyo’s Respect label released Uchina Love Song an album featuring six different women singers. The project was overseen by famed minyo teacher Setsuko Kikuyama. Five of those singers now return for this new project which focuses on humorous Okinawan songs. They are joined by three male singers and by Kikuyama herself who also produced.

Okinawa Yuumoasongu Ketteiban is a double album with 24 tracks and a total running time of 95 minutes. The idea originated last year but the recording was delayed owing to the coronavirus outbreak. The new release manages to embrace the pandemic in a timely way as these songs are intended to raise the spirits in troubled times.

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Most of the selections are minyo and shimauta that were especially popular in the years following the devastation of war on these islands. They became known through radio and live shows and took their place as popular songs of the Okinawan people. These new recordings revive the songs and sometimes change or add new lyrics and verses to update them for our current times.

So, on CD2 of this set we find the title ‘Social Distance Kouta’. This is sung by Kanako Horiuchi but with words by none other than Respect’s own Kenichi Takahashi. And the ‘bonus track’ closing CD1 is ‘Corona Bushi’. This is the Yaeyama tune ‘Densa Bushi’ but with lyrics by the Okinawa Tomo no Kai from Ohio, USA.

The singers share the songs between them and around half the tracks are duets or collaborations. Hajime Nakasone kicks us off with his version of ‘Sukikanna’ and this is immediately followed by the excellent Yoko Ishikawa with ‘Uturuyamun ya miibusamun’ a song by the late Rinsuke Teruya. Among many other fine tracks, a personal favourite is ‘Daisanajiya’ sung here very effectively by Shinichi Shinjo and Kanako Horiuchi.

The unique sense of humour and ability of Okinawans to find something to make them smile in the most difficult circumstances is fully on display here. But this isn’t a comedy show. The album is packed with fine songs, and the vocals, sanshin, and general musicianship are exemplary throughout. It’s another important release from Respect.

The nine singers featured on the songs are Setsuko Kikuyama, Hironobu Nohara, Shinichi Shinjo, Hajime Nakasone, Kanako Horiuchi, Megumi Arakaki, Kaori Yamashiro, Yoko Ishikawa, and Lucy Nagamine. The 68-page CD booklet contains lots of information in Japanese with profiles of the musicians, photos, and song lyrics.

Okinawa Yuumoasongu Ketteiban will be released by Respect on 25th November.

www.respect-record.co.jp

Here is a video of the studio recording of ‘Corona Bushi’ with lead vocal by Hajime Nakasone:

Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

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