Chaz Jankel – Ai No Corrida
You see girl, you thrill me, half kill me, that's what you do
Ai No Corrida, that's where I am
You send me there, your dream is my command
Ai No Corrida
#ChazJankel #QuincyJones #AiNoCorrida
In August 1980 we saw in the charts a song that had moderate success. Then, one year later, someone much more famous made a very similar version, and had a much greater success even though the two songs were practically the same. But let’s go in order.
We are in the summer of 1980, as we said, and British musician Chaz Jankel creates a song with an irresistible funky rhythm, embellished with a sort of falsetto in a Bee Gees style. Chaz was moderately known in England, but he was a very eclectic guy, and he liked to play with his name (which is a diminutive of Charles) to find the names of his albums, with titles such as Chasanova and Chazablanca, as he used to write Chaz sometimes with a final z and sometimes with a final s.
The song composed by Chaz has a curious and attractive title, incomprehensible at first sight: Ai No Corrida. For me, a kid in 1980 who was listening to a song in English, the title meant little, perhaps it was someone who in broken English expressed his opposition to Spanish arena shows. In reality I was thousands of miles away, even in a geographical sense, because I would have had to think about Japan more than in Spain.
In fact, Ai No Corrida is the title of a Japanese film, and means “Love Bullfight”. Warning: we are not talking about a samurai film (which may have been of interest to Michael Cretu for his Samurai), but about an erotic film. And not just any short film, but a film considered one of the absolute masterpieces of eroticism. The English title of the film, inspired by a true story, was In the Realm of the Senses. The plot travels on the parallel tracks of the intertwining of feelings and the most extreme eroticism, and I leave you the pleasure of going there to see the details, if you are interested.
Ai No Corrida, we said, is an irresistible song. The title won’t tell you much, but I’m sure as soon as you hear it, you’ll jump dancing (assuming you were at least a boy in 1980). Probably, however, something will sound strange to you: next to the title of the song, in the labyrinths of your brain, there will probably be a name different from Chaz Jankel, and much more famous, because in 1981 this song was remade (practically the same, but in a sort of dance version) by the great Quincy Jones. Yes, exactly the producer of Thriller, as well as the soul of We are the World of USA for Africa along with Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.
Quincy had a more powerful production behind him, as well as a larger market, so his version topped the charts in countless countries.
The good Chaz Jankel, however, had also the idea to shoot a video, even though we were in 1980. He had been far-sighted, and had created this dreamlike dimension in which two lovers fight between irony and sensuality (I would say that in the end the woman wins). Also noteworthy is the idea of appearing with a make up, an idea that we would later find in different new wave songs, such as Fade to Grey, for example, and later also in Guardian Angel by Drafi Deutscher’s Masquerade.
Oddly, one year later, Quincy Jones did not shoot any videos, although there are many performances of him in various concerts and TV appearances. Moreover, Quincy didn’t even sing the song, the singer was Charles May, better known by the stage name of Dune.
In short, Chaz Jankel certainly remained in the background for most of his career even if he will find other successes in the following years, but Ai No Corrida has certainly entered the memories and imagination of many dinosaurs of the 80s.