I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Kingtones/Yoshihiro Kai/Hibari Misora -- Good Night, Baby

All right....a bit of personal history here so please be patient. When I was but a wee lad (and unfortunately, I did wee quite a bit), part of my television memory scape involved watching those compilation LP commercials by the famous K-Tel Records company. That nasal announcer barked out all those splendid hits of the 60s and 70s by acts like Sammy Davis Jr., ABBA and KC & The Sunshine Band. Another group that seared itself into my memory because of those ads was Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the famed doo-wop group. Frankie had that supremely high voice when he and the guys performed hits such as "Sherry" and "Walk Like A Man". Frankly, when I first learned what a eunuch was, my mind immediately went to Frankie.

So, here come The Kingtones. Masato Uchida(内田正人)began this vocal quartet in 1960 but it wasn't until almost a decade later when the guys released their very first 45", "Good Night, Baby". I've heard this chestnut off and on for decades via their performances on TV, and always considered The Kingtones to be a Japanese version of The Four Seasons (although they might be closer to The Platters) because of the doo-wop and Uchida's high tones.

Released in May 1968, I had once thought that "Good Night, Baby" came over from the United States. However, as it turned out, it was totally Made In Japan. Written by Manami Hiro(ひろまなみ), whose real name was Toshiko Ohinata(大日方俊子)and composed by Hiroshi Mutsu(むつひろし), it took its sweet time getting up the charts, finally breaking the Oricon's Top 20 in January 1969 and then spending most of March of that year in the No. 2 position. It was even released under the Atco Records label in America where it got as high as No. 48 in the R&B category. The 1969 Kohaku also came knocking and The Kingtones appeared on the stage on New Year's Eve.

A decade later, Kai Band's Yoshihiro Kai(甲斐よしひろ)released a rock cover of "Good Night, Baby" for his debut as a solo artist from May 1978.

(Music163 is no longer accessible.)

The legendary Hibari Misora(美空ひばり)also gave her own version of the song although I couldn't track down the exact year she recorded it. It is available on "Misora Hibari Seitan 70 Nen Kinen Misora Hibari Cover Song Collection"(美空ひばり生誕70年記念 ミソラヒバリ カバーソング コレクション...Hibari Misora 70th Anniversary Memorial Cover Song Collection). Of course, other singers have covered "Good Night, Baby" including one Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之)who also led a doo-wop group of his own some years later.

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