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.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Garo -- Romance (ロマンス)

Happy Monday to you all! With the Rio Olympics having gone into memory and things perhaps settling down to the usual end of summer (it was actually pleasantly cool this morning), I thought it would be nice to start the work week on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" with something happy and light.

(cover version)

So here is "Romance" by the 70s folk group, Garo (ガロ). That word seems to have cropped up in a lot of pop kayo titles from that era, speaking to the sentimentalism of the Japanese. Of course, the most familiar example is Hiromi Iwasaki's(岩崎宏美)"Romance" which was one of her early big hits in 1975.

Garo's "Romance" came out in August 1973 as the band's 6th single. It is a song that has pricked at something familiar in my memory so I most likely have seen it performed on video somewhere sometime. It has that comfortably bouncy beat which would accompany a couple fondly remembering the early days of their love...that mandolin helps out a lot.

Michio Yamagami(山上路夫)wrote the appropriately romantic lyrics while the late Mamoru Horiuchi(堀内護), one of the three members of Garo, composed the music along with coming up with the idea of using the mandolin (according to the J-Wiki article on the song). "Romance" was another hit for the band, peaking at No. 3 and finishing 1973 as the 42nd-most popular song on Oricon. It also won a prize at the Japan Record Awards.

When I wrote about their most well-known song, "Gakusei Gai no Kissaten"(学生街の喫茶店), I failed to write a little bit about the members of Garo. As I mentioned, there were three members: Mamoru "MARK" Horiuchi, Tomiaki "TOMMY" Hidaka(日高富明)and Masumi "VOCAL" Ono(大野真澄)who took care of the singing and chorus work and were all adept on guitar and mandolin with Hidaka even showing his prowess on koto. Sadly, Horiuchi passed away in 2014 due to stomach cancer at the age of 65.

The video directly above has music unit Nagomizu(なごみーず)performing "Romance" on stage with Konosuke Sakazaki(坂崎幸之助)of ALFEE. The band first formed in 2004 and consists of former Garo member Ono along with Shozo Ise(伊勢正三), formerly of the bands Kaguyahime and Kaze(かぐや姫・風), and singer Hiromi Ohta(太田裕美)who also gained fame in the 1970s for her "Momen no Handkerchief"(木綿のハンカチーフ).

I have to finish off with Miku Hatsune's(初音ミク)adorable take on the song.


  1. This is the first time I've heard about Gao and I like the song. As you said, it's light and happy. Cheerful but still have the sentimentalism of 70s songs.

    1. Yes, it is quite the comfortable stroll through the park, isn't it? I'm hopeful that I will still be able to discover similarly cheerful tunes from this era.

  2. I was pleased to play bass with them on some of their early recordings. They were all my friends and very talented lads. - Alan Merrill

  3. I met them in the summer of 1971 and I played bass on some of their early recordings. Some titles I recall plying on are "Namida Wa Iranai" "Ashita Ni Nareba" and "Utsukushisugite" and some others. The band members were all my close friends and very very talented lads. So sad two of them have passed away. I'm still in touch with Masumi Ohno (aka Vocal Booth) and he's a successful TV and radio host now in 2019. - Alan Merrill

    1. Hello, Alan. Thanks very much for your reminiscences about Garo, and yes, it is too bad about Mark and Tommy passing away so soon.

      Just out of curiosity, was there a big difference between playing with Japanese bands and Western bands? I've never been in the music industry but with my experience in Japan, there's a definite difference between company lifestyles in Japan and Canada.


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