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, October 31, 2016

Gorie with Jasmine & Joann -- Mickey

Dang! Choreographer-singer (she wore many more hats) Toni Basil was almost on the cusp of 40 when she came out with this 1982 megahit, "Mickey". I had never seen a New Wave form of cheerleading before and I gotta say that Basil pulled off some really fine angular moves at the beginning of the video. She was one of the reasons that I got into music videos way back when.

OK, now let's take things ahead by several years. One of the major ingredients that keeps the engines of variety shows running is the comedy teams with weird names that have kept coming out of the woodwork (or Osaka). One of the more successful teams is Garage Sale (ガレッジセール) which had its beginnings in 1995 from the Osakan comedy-producing emporium Yoshimoto Kogyo. Composed of Hiroki Kawata(川田広樹)and Gori (ゴリ), I knew Garage Sale specifically for their "Enjoy Play" shtick which they used to enter the stage. Apparently, the guys came up with a techno mix as you can see above. Gori is the first one to pop out in front of the camera.

Let's go even further. Although I never saw the show, there was a late-night Fuji-TV comedy-variety show starring a number of comedy teams called "Wannai R&R" (ワンナイR&R...One-Night Rock'n Roll) (2000-2006). Garage Sale was one of the combi, and from the hilarity, there was a character born on the show which featured Gori in drag under the name of Gorie Matsuura(松浦ゴリエ). Her backstory was that she was the buxom younger sister of real-life aidoru Aya Matsuura(松浦亜弥). As for her looks, I can say that after seeing her, I actually found Dustin Hoffman's Tootsie a bit more attractive.

Anyways...the character got an even bigger boost in her profile when in September 2004, Gorie got together with tarento Jasmine Allen and Joann Yamazaki to provide their own cover of "Mickey". Although Gorie got top billing, it sounds like Jasmine and Joann did most of the vocal heavy lifting for the song whose Japanese lyrics were provided by the Gorie Bika Iinkai(ゴリエ美化委員会...The Gorie Association for Beautification). To give credit where credit is due, the song was originally created by Michael David Chapman and Nicky Chinn.

Well, before you could say "runaway hit", the song sold over 100,000 copies in its first week of release and went Platinum. Hitting No. 1 was a foregone conclusion and it did so for two straight weeks. By the end of the year, it was the 10th-ranking single for 2004. Ahhh...Japanese pop culture, you gotta love it.

Fujimal Yoshino & Haruko Kuwana -- Who Are You?

Halloween, and therefore October, are just a few hours from becoming history. So, let's finish tonight with a nice little bit of City Pop. Considering the holiday, I'm sure there have been a few relevant parties over the last few nights where the costumed folks were asking the question "Who are you?"

Well, City Pop has the answer in the form of a question (just like on "Jeopardy"), and it is "Who Are You?" by guitarist-singer-composer Fujimal Yoshino(芳野藤丸). I've seen Yoshino among the pages of "Japanese City Pop" all these years and he was in the band SHOGUN and has been a contemporary of fellow guitarist and City Popster Makoto Matsushita(松下誠)in the band AB'S. In 1982, he released his first solo album titled "Yoshino Fujimal" in which the first track is "Who Are You?"

The duet with fellow City Pop singer Haruko Kuwana(桑名晴子)is a relaxing but bouncy piece which seems to have concentrated all that genre goodness in its 5 minutes and change. There is Yoshino on guitar, his buddy Matsushita on bass, Jake H. Concepcion on sunny sax and even EPO helps out on backing vocals with Yoshino, Kuwana, Matsushita and drummer Naoki Watanabe(渡辺直樹). We might be well into autumn but summer comes back nicely with this one, and I can't help but feel a bit of Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)as well.

Yoshino composed it with Kazuko Kobayashi(小林和子)providing the lyrics. My respect to commenter Gen who kindly steered me toward a list of City Pop favourites by Brazilian musician Ed Motta, and that is how I found out about "Who Are You?".

Music Station (ミュージックステーション)

For the longest time, I've avoided writing about this long-running music show, TV Asahi's "Music Station". And frankly the reason was really quite irrational. I had just felt that I shouldn't really go into a show that I never really watched all that often although I knew about it almost back to the point that it had first premiered.

It wasn't really my fault, either. Logistics was the main reason. Of course, during the late 1980s, I had only known about the ranking shows such as TBS' "The Best 10" (ザ・ベストテン) and the venerable "Yoru no Hit Studio"(夜のヒットスタジオ)on Fuji-TV through rental tapes. And then when I finally did get to Japan those two times, it just so happened that I had to work Friday nights which was when "Music Station" was televised. By the time I actually had Friday nights off, which was close to the end of my time in Japan, I really had no idea or interest in the folks who were showing up on the show.

Just to give fair warning in advance, depending on where you are, you may not be able to see the above video due to the usual copyright wrangles. If that is indeed the case, my apologies in advance. However, the above is TM Network and I believe they are on "Music Station". Back in those late 1980s (it could have been 1987 or 1988), one of my English students (a really early one...before my JET adventure) was kind enough to dub a couple of episodes of the show on VHS tape when she went back to visit her family in Japan. It just so happened that the one guest I remembered was TM Network (and nope, the above footage isn't it). My impressions were that each of the band members had a really bad case of bed head.

The very first broadcast of "Music Station" was October 24 1986 which means it has just celebrated 30 years on air as of this writing. Now, according to the blurb for this YouTube video, this footage came straight from Episode 1. I realize that aidoru pop up on the show regularly even now but it's still surprising to see that way back when, singers such as Naoko Kawai(河合奈保子)did show up. And that's because I've seen "Music Station" as the hip and cooler cousin to "The Best 10" and "Yoru no Hit Studio" which had that old-style glam and glitz of Las Vegas in my eyes. Perhaps it was the rock theme song (more on that later) or the color scheme which was fairly familiar to that of HMV (which I also saw as the hip and cool music store).

Of course, the long-time host of "Music Station" has been professional host and comedian Tamori (タモリ) paired with a TV Asahi announcer. However for the first 6 months of the show, hosting duties had belonged to another veteran TV presence Hiroshi Sekiguchi(関口宏)and singer Rie Nakahara(中原理恵)with aidoru Yu Hayami(早見優)taking care of a small segment each episode.

I don't have much in the way of notable memories when it comes to "Music Station" for the reasons I laid out above. However, one that I do have is one that I have mentioned before, in the very first article for Dreams Come True that I did for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" since it was on that show that I first saw the band with their amazing performance of "Ureshihazukashi Asagaeri"(うれしはずかし朝帰り), and it was on "Music Station" that I felt that kayo kyoku had made the jump into J-Pop (as subjective as that sounds). What I didn't say was that I had just returned from watching a local festival of guys in loincloths gallivanting about with my host family (and no, the above video isn't from the show).

As I mentioned off the top, "M-Sute" has had this modern and sleek coolness when compared to other music shows. One other factor that contributed to my observation is that somewhere in that long J-Wiki article for the show, it's said that the last enka performer to appear did so back in the early 1990s. Since then, it's been all about the pop and aidoru and rock.

Another is the design of the set which kinda reminds me of what a party room on the USS Enterprise from Starfleet might look like. Perhaps one other subtle thing is that the audience (or one segment of it) is seen weekly on the show which was not often the case on the other programs. In fact, I think the producers made it a policy to ensure that the fans were given almost as much exposure as their idols themselves. Paired with that fact are the live performances of the singers. The sets are not on the same level as the epic scenes that would often engulf the artists on "The Best 10" (which I loved) but they are concert-worthy and the closer proximity of the cameras and audience made the show look like the show was broadcasting a whole spread of concerts on Friday night.

Of course, the piece de resistance is the theme song for "Music Station". Titled "1090 ~ Thousand Dreams", the rock theme for the show contrasts with the old-fashioned studio orchestra themes for "The Best 10" and "Yoru no Hit Studio". When I was first listening to it, I just thought "This has gotta be B'z" behind this one. And I was half-right. "1090" was composed by the guitar-shredding Takahiro Matsumoto(松本孝弘), one-half of B'z.

But strangely enough, as much as "1090" has been linked to "M-Sute" all these years, it is actually the third theme song. Between its debut in late 1986 and the end of 1991, there were two other themes used before the most famous theme got its debut probably on the first broadcast of 1992. It was only in early 2016 this year that "1090" was given a facelift of sorts with the new title being "1090 ~ Million Dreams".

When "1090 ~ Thousand Dreams" was released as a single in March 1992, it actually made it all the way to No. 2 on Oricon and became the 98th-ranked single of the year. The song is also a track on Matsumoto's 2nd original album "Wanna Go Home" from April of that year. That album peaked at No. 3 and was the 94th-ranked album for 1992.

Not sure what "Music Station" has in store in the future but although I still don't watch it all that often, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for it whenever it does its retrospective specials over the past 30 years. It's during those shows that I realize how far it has spanned from the later years of kayo kyoku into the current J-Pop.

SMAP/Shoko Sawada -- Kimi Iro Omoi (君色思い)

It looks like the power of Halloween is even more potent than the depression of Blue Monday. This morning, NHK's nightly news broadcast had live footage of Shibuya once again completely engulfed by the costumed and non-costumed along with a healthy police presence. Mind you, looking at the live cameras in the area, it seems as if it's just the huge intersection in front of JR Shibuya Station and one particular side street that are packed. The main artery of Inokashira Avenue heading up to Tower Records looks normal.

This time, on the main camera, I got to see some more furries, a couple of walking wooden blocks collide into each other, and a Superman. I guess he might be trying to lay low after "Batman v. Superman".

Considering the massive amount of humanity tonight, odds are that there may even an Akazukin Chacha or two. traipsing about. Perhaps the older anime fans may remember the manga-turned-anime "Akazukin Chacha"(赤ずきんチャチャ...Red Riding Hood Chacha)which starred a cute little student in a red riding hood who tried to make magic with some hilarious results.

Yesterday was another round at my anime buddy's house. During the usual anison hour, he played the opening theme from "Akazukin Chacha" which surprised me since it was a SMAP single, "Kimi Iro Omoi". I'm not sure about the translation but perhaps You Have Colourful Memories or You Give Me Colourful Memories may suffice. In any case, I was surprised since I remembered the song as a SMAP hit but didn't know about its status as an anison.

This was the band's 11th single from New Year's Day 1994 and it has that rumbly dance beat. Apparently leader Nakai-kun had the solo singing duties here...and people didn't start bleeding from the ears. There are such things as miracles after all. Still the song is catchy and happy.

Written and composed by Kenji Hayashida(林田健司), "Kimi Iro Omoi" peaked at No. 5 on Oricon and was included on SMAP's "SMAP 005" from February of that year.

I was also looking for the opening credits of the show with the SMAP theme but I couldn't find it anywhere although "Akazukin Chacha" is well represented on YouTube. For those opening credits, I heard this bright and twinkly theme song which I soon realized was indeed "Kimi Iro Omoi" although arranged in a much less dance-y manner but no less cheerfully and sung by a woman.

It turned out that due to the usual wrangles in terms of copyright stuff among all parties involved including Johnny's Entertainment, the SMAP version couldn't be used on the LD/DVD releases of the anime so singer-songwriter Shoko Sawada(沢田聖子), who had sung at least a couple of other songs for the show, was asked to sing her version of "Kimi Iro Omoi".

Hayashida even did a grand self-cover of his creation on his 1997 album "Toyo Ichi"(東洋一...Far East Champion). Cha-cha anyone?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Chiemi Hori -- Yuugure Kibun (夕暮れ気分)

I guess after nikala and Marcos V. have put their contributions for the 1980s aidoru Chiemi Hori(堀ちえみ)onto the blog, it is now my time to put in my two American cents (Canadian pennies have officially not existed for a few years now).

Hori's career as an aidoru was known to me but for all that time in Japan, I only really saw her on TV as a former aidoru-turned-tarento who popped up on a lot of shows. I also know that she has a lot of kids.

Last night, I was leafing through one of the ancient "Young Song" booklets that came in every issue of the teen music magazine "Myojo" and came across Hori's song, "Yuugure Kibun" (Twilight Mood) which was her 8th single from October 1983. The songs talked about by nikala and Marcos for her were later releases and were more on the techno aidoru end of things, but "Yuugure Kibun" seems like a more conventional aidoru ballad, and the lyrics by Fuyuko Moroboshi(諸星冬子)went over well-trod ground in that it dealt with that high school kid having that major crush on a guy but not being able to follow through on her feelings.

However, I have to say that those instrumental flourishes in the intro and in the middle of "Yuugure Kibun" by the composer Shigeru Amano(天野滋)were what put this tune onto a higher level for me. So, arranger Nobuyuki Shimizu(清水信之)also gets accolades from me. Those keyboards add some lushness that I wouldn't have associated with an 80s aidoru tune at that time, so at first, I thought that this was going to be a more serious pop song or even an AOR/City Pop piece. However, the sung portion by Hori brought things back to aidoru-dom but even so, "Yuugure Kibun" was a pleasant revelation to me.

The song reached No. 8 on Oricon and won Hori the Golden Aidoru Prize at the Japan Record Awards in 1983.

Art of Noise -- Legs

I've been a fan of the Art of Noise since their breakthrough hit early in the 1980s, "Beat Box".

All those amazing samples with the voices and the smashing percussive beats....I couldn't help but be mesmerized. Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley and the rest of the Art of Noise were approachable and avant-garde at the same time.

OK, I'm a big fan of this British New Wave/synthpop group. How does this chime in with this blog? Well, for one thing, a couple of Art of Noise's tunes actually made it across the Pacific to be used in a couple of variety shows. One was the band's cover of the old "Dragnet" theme (I did get my copy of the 12" remix as you can see above) which was used in one segment of the Tunnels' comedy hour on Thursdays which involved a parody of the "Kamen Rider" series, and an excerpt of the song introduced the chief villain.

The other song was longer lasting. It happened to be the strangely titled "Legs" which came out in 1985, but in Japan, it was simply known as the theme song for the magician Mr. Marikku(Mr.マリック), the mysterious conjurer who had his 15 minutes of fame during the late 1980s into the 1990s.

The music video didn't make it onto the regular rotation of music videos as far as I could remember. I think it was probably saved for the late night programs such as the local Toronto version "City Limits" which always had the more bizarre stuff. But for those who have a leg fetish, this video is your all-you-can-eat buffet.

However, as much as I like all of those songs by the Art of Noise, I have saved my particular love for the one and only "Peter Gunn" from 1986. I specifically kept the radio on at certain times so that I could heart that one. Perhaps by that point, AON were no longer quite so avant-garde, but man was their stuff still catchy!

Hachiro Kasuga feat. Miyako Otsuki -- Meoto Zenzai (夫婦善哉)

Hachiro Kasuga

Dug up this old 45" from the kayo vaults this past week and tried it on the stereo. On first listen, the music is proud and festive and represents what I used to hear all those years ago.

(karaoke version)

This is "Meoto Zenzai" which gave me a fair chase through the Internet as to how it would be translated. However, I tracked it down to Wikipedia's entry on a 1955 movie with the same title about "...a couple, a spoiled son and a down-to-earth girl, in Osaka in the early Showa era". The entry translates the title as Hooray for Marriage or Sweet Beans For Two. I'm not sure what the connection is between the bowl of sweet bean soup that I often have for New Year's breakfast and marriage, so I will go with the former translation. I've never seen the movie but I'm fairly certain that this initial mismatch in matrimony gets molded down into marital bliss by the end.

"Meoto Zenzai" the song, however, was recorded and released in 1965 by Hachiro Kasuga(春日八郎)with spoken vocal by Miyako Otsuki(大月みやこ), who was still a teenager at the time although she had already released four or five singles as a singer. While native Osakan Otsuki speaks her lines in her Kansai dialect about having to go through the trials and tribulations with her husband, it seems as if Kasuga as the feckless fellow is probably more attracted to the drinking establishments of Osaka, although by the end, it's possible that he is devoted to his wife. I'm hoping that the festiveness of the melody is hinting that all of what was recorded by Kasuga and Otsuki is more tongue-in-cheek than real.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not 100% on those lyrics so perhaps one of you readers with a better grasp on Japanese may be able to prove or disprove my interpretation. Those words, by the way, were written by Yasuji/Yasuharu/Yasuo Akita秋田泰治...a number of readings for that first name and he has no J-Wiki entry)while the music was composed by Toshikazu Nishiwaki(西脇稔和).

Miyako Otsuki

Southern All Stars -- Erotica Seven (エロティカ・セブン)

Happy Halloween! A lot of parties going on this weekend for the scary holiday, both here and in Japan. I took a look at the live streaming camera (via YouTube) overlooking that huge intersection in front of Shibuya Station earlier this morning and saw a mass of humanity even bigger than usual for a Friday night crossing back and forth. I could identify a number of furries and at least one Captain Jack. Plus, there were even more cops...I think there were at least 10 or so at each corner. I gather that this year, the police resolved not to be overwhelmed like they were last time. We'll see...there is still Sunday night.

So I was thinking about what I could do on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" to pay tribute to Halloween. I'd already done my fair share over the past few years so I was initially stumped. But then, I remembered those scallywags from Japanese popular music, Southern All Stars (サザンオールスターズ). And Keisuke Kuwata(桑田佳祐)and company did do a video which had a slightly Halloween-esque feeling to it in that leader Kuwata at least was decked out in a Dracula outfit.

That video was for "Erotica Seven", the band's 32nd single from July 1993. I remember it well since it was the theme song for a particularly salacious J-Drama titled "Akuma no Kiss"(悪魔のKISS...The Devil's Kiss)that was shown at my university club's JTV night during a period of Wednesdays involving some women who get caught up in some rather nasty activity. And Southern All Stars were never known as subtle so they were the right choice to come up with the theme song.

Kuwata was responsible for words and music. "Erotica Seven" is just a rollicking sex adventure in both cases as the singer describes a really good night with a lady. When I was reading through the J-Wiki entry for Southern All Stars in general, I was caught by one quote by one of the members who said that "If there ain't any sex in the lyrics, it's no good". If that was indeed SAS' philosophy, then they put it to very good use in this song and also for two other songs, a trio that Kuwata has dubbed his Three Erotic Creations.

I kinda wonder how the audience and fellow guests felt whenever Southern All Stars performed "Erotica Seven" on the music shows such as "Music Station". Did they squirm and giggle uncomfortably or did they just laugh it off easily with "Aw, that's just Southern All Stars for you"?Probably both. But there was no doubt about the band's Midas touch...the song hit No. 1 and ended up as the 4th-ranked single of 1993. In fact, the single sold over 1.8 million copies and is currently the 2nd-most successful SAS song next to "Tsunami" from 2000. In terms of the Top 100 in Oricon history, "Erotica Seven" currently occupies the 47th position (not the 69th?....heh, heh...couldn't resist).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Jun Togawa -- Zukei no Koi (図形の恋)

Back in August, I wrote about the opening and ending themes for the anime "Kono Bijutsu-bu ni wa Mondai ga aru"(この美術部には問題がある!)with the latter being Sumire Uesaka's(上坂すみれ)"Koi suru Zukei (cubic futurismo)"(恋する図形...A Figure in Love), the quirky earworm hatched by TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN FUND.

I mentioned there that Uesaka was so much of a fan of singer-actress Jun Togawa(戸川純)that she adopted a variation of one of Togawa's song titles from the 1980s, "Zukei no Koi"(Figure Love)to become the co-title for her own tune. Then and there, I decided that I would eventually do a write-up on that Togawa tune.

One of the other reasons that I wanted to cover "Zukei no Koi" was that I had read about Togawa through nikala's article of the singer's "Yumemiru Yakusoku" (夢見る約束) and actually knew about her from reputation. She has had quite the avant-garde New Wave approach to music and has shown a good deal of weirdness when she has made those occasional appearances on variety shows. Plus, from time to time, when I've entered Tower Records in Shibuya, I came across an album of hers on which there's a cover of her barely wearing any clothing in some hay-filled barn. Go fig.

Anyways, as for "Zukei no Koi", I can understand why Uesaka has been a fan of Togawa since on listening to this particular song, there is a certain vocal resemblance between the two. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Uesaka has already performed covers of the song in concert. It first came out in November 1985 as a track on Togawa's 3rd solo album "Suki Suki Dai Suki"(好き好き大好き...Love You, Love You, Really Love You), and it's this cheery New Wave confession of love from the singer who is willing to bend herself into any sort of shape to satisfy the target of her adorations.

Thinking about some of the genre diversification in aidoru music that I've witnessed over the last few years, I think Togawa could have been called a New Wave aidoru with that chirpy voice of hers up against some of that technopop that had me thinking back to Blondie. Seeing her in performance above in the video, I think she would have been that introverted weird kid up in the back of the lecture hall not paying attention to the professor but doodling all sorts of creative stuff in her notebook. However, she didn't write or compose "Zukei no Koi". Instead that assignment went to Toshiro Izumi(泉水敏郎).

Obviously it's all in Japanese but if you can understand it, you can watch Togawa present her own unique sense of her world.

Akiko Yano -- Denwa Sen (電話線)

Well, I made the "mistake" of listening to the first track of "Granola", the 1987 album by Akiko Yano(矢野顕子)a couple of nights ago and instantly declaring that I had to get the disc. There's just something about the way she twirls around a melody that gets me hopelessly hooked onto the song, and it's not just that one song but most if not all of the album.

I had a talk with one of my other good friends who had dropped by the house today for a couple of hours and inevitably we talked about music. We both agreed that a BEST compilation of a long-established singer is wonderful to get all those hits together for the fans and provide a good taste of what makes the singer tick for the newbie listeners. But in the same breath, we also concurred that tracking down those individual original albums was even more splendid to find those unknown personal aural gems. "Granola" like the other Yano albums that I have amassed over the years will probably have quite a few of those lovely tunes, I bet.

However for tonight, my article on Yano will dwell on a song that did make it into her 20th anniversary BEST album, "Hitotsudake/the very best of Akiko Yano" from 1996 (good heavens, it's been 40 years this year!) and was actually a track on her debut album "Japanese Girl" from 1976.

I've already made a short remark about "Denwa Sen" (Telephone Line) on the article for that BEST compilation "Hitotsudake", but I simply wanted to add a few more of my impressions about the song. As I mentioned there, Yano's lyrics talked about reaching out and touching somebody special by the wonders of 1970s telecommunications technology. But listening to the music a bit more attentively, there are hints of Carole King and Joni Mitchell in there.

It's interesting to listen to the early Yano since I think maybe a lot of folks (including me) may have first gotten to know the singer-songwriter when she was touring with Yellow Magic Orchestra manning the synthesizers (this isn't to slag her incredible solo career but I've always seen her as much of an added YMO member as I have for Hideki Matsutake); and she did hit the big time in popularity with those technopop songs and albums from 1980. At that point, maybe a few of us saw her as the Japanese Kate Bush. But even when she started out with just her piano and her backing band in the mid-1970s, she probably thrilled that seed of her group of fans with not only her brand of refreshing New Music but also with those vocals which scatted, whooped and hollered as they took us on a musical roller coaster ride.

So you've got this singer who's barely into her twenties expertly twinkling her own melodies on the piano as she provides these force-of-nature vocals which reassuredly feel they don't need to be perfectly on the notes. And that one example is "Denwa Sen". Her delivery and music have that sensation of riding the telephone lines at the speed of an electron all across the nation. The music may remind me of Carole and Joni but her voice is a joyful bucking bronco. If it had been her wish to stand out from other singers, she did succeed there.

And yet I knew one fellow back in my university days and knew his way around Japanese pop music who absolutely hated Yano...and Yuming, for the same reasons that I have actually enjoyed the two all these years.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Yasuyuki Okamura/MEG -- Scanty Blues (スキャンティブルース)

Time for a bit of Japanese funk again...and so once I'm gonna rely on Yasuyuki Okamura(岡村靖幸)with his "Scanty Blues" which he composed. I first came across this musical trip through the city streets when I got my copy of the "Space Dandy" edition of his single "Viva Namida" (ビバナミダ) when it came out in January 2014 (the original single for "Viva Namida" released in October 2013 didn't include "Scanty Blues").

Compared to the funk-it-up dance atmosphere of "Viva Namida", his "Scanty Blues" has more of a subversive feeling although the familiar Okamura vocal whoops and grunts are in there. While everyone is having a grand old time in the disco inside, "Scanty Blues" sounds like it lured Okamura outside into the back alleys for something more dangerous. I'm not sure what the lyrics are all about although the impressions coming into my head are some sub-rosa dealings and negotiations among the night lifers.

And those lyrics were provided by MEG. I have never bought any of her albums or singles although I often saw them on the shelves at HMV and Tower Records back in my Tokyo days. But she is apparently quite the multitasker as not only a singer and songwriter but also as a fashion model and fashion designer who works in both Japan and France.

Okamura and MEG collaborated on her original "Scanty Blues" as her 1st official single from July 2002. The arrangement doesn't sound all that different from the Okamura self-cover but the grunts and whoops are all on Okamura's side. The MEG original probably left quite the impression on listeners that she would be going for the more sultry than sweet sound. In both versions, though, there is that techno element that kinda/sorta renders "Scanty Blues" as this film noir theme from outer space. So it was a good choice for inclusion in the "Space Dandy" edition of the single which peaked at No. 15 on Oricon.

Seiko Matsuda -- Anata no Subete ni Naritai (あなたのすべてになりたい)

Well, I've always seen Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)as the eternal 1980s aidoru even when she went for a more US pop sound in the latter half of that decade. I know that she has kept on releasing singles even well into this year (her 82nd, I believe) but for me, it's hard for me to shake that image of her bopping about in that distinctive hairstyle and frilly dress.

And yet, I've been aware that she has also released some lovely ballads into the 1990s. One of them is a song that I've only finally gotten to listen to in its entirety tonight, and that is "Anata no Subete ni Naritai" (I Want To Be Your Everything). You couldn't get more romantic than that title; wouldn't you want your significant other to say that to you?

This was Seiko-chan's 33rd single from August 1992 with lyrics by Seiko herself and melody by Ryo Ogura(小倉良). And speaking about that melody, it sounds as mellow and Western as a David Foster love song. The only thing missing is a lodge out in the mountains at night with a couple snuggling in front of a fireplace. It might have been a summer release but there is something quite adult and Xmas-y about it.

And listening to this ballad, it did strike home that Matsuda's vocals had become quite polished by that point. No longer the aidoru, she was a full-fledged pop singer although J-Wiki for some reason has still categorized "Anata no Subete ni Naritai" as an aidoru kayo. She basically entered the same pop realm where folks like Akiko Kobayashi(小林明子)and Midori Karashima(辛島美登里)resided.

Although it seems as if Seiko's songs were no longer hitting the top of the charts all that regularly, this ballad didn't do too badly by peaking at No. 31. It was also a track on her 20th album "1992 Nouvelle Vague" which was released in March 1992 and hit No. 8 on the album charts. "Anata no Subete ni Naritai" was also played on the TBS drama "Otona no Sentaku"(おとなの選択...The Adult Choice)which starred the singer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Maaya Uchida -- Mivv♡Dream (ミヴ♡ドリーム)

The above photo is of the 2nd soundtrack to "Active Raid" which has just completed its second season. My anime buddy and I got to see both seasons and they were pretty entertaining although of course, my friend understood the lingo much better than I could. It did remind me a lot of a past anime, "Patlabor" which also had its mix of mecha, drama, comedy, and political intrigue surrounding a put-upon military unit. I think the Japanese have an even greater love for the underdog than Canadians or Americans.

Now, the opening and ending themes for both seasons have yet to really grow on me. They were the usual guitar-and-synth numbers that my buddy enjoyed enough to get the actual singles along with the soundtracks but I don't think they have really clicked with me.

However, there was one song that was performed in one episode of Season 2 that got attention from the two of us. Episode 5 involved the sister of the leader of Unit 8 and a buddy attending a concert of a school chum who became an aidoru of a special type.

I figure that even now in the relatively new glammed-up Akihabara or Kabukicho, there is probably a live house that actually holds rather bizarre concerts for the otaku crowd. So, seeing Hinata and her friend watching young Mivv make her entrance over the backs of moaning topless otaku guys got a few chuckles from us. But hearing her spout out punk lyrics in the voice of Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)to a 1980s aidoru melody had us going "Ohhhhhhhhhhhkkkkkkkaaaaayyyyyyyyy..."

And what was hilarious was that it was seiyuu Maaya Uchida(内田真礼)playing Mivv. My friend has the full song "Mivv♡Dream" on the 2nd soundtrack. Now, what she sings won't exactly astound David Mamet fans; to wit, the only English profanity that is in the song is "Kiss my ass" and "Sonovabitch" which is now considered acceptable swearing in prime time shows here in North America. Still, this is Uchida that I'm talking about and in the past few years that I've gotten back to anime, I've known the seiyuu for playing the timid types such as Sharo in "Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?"(ご注文はうさぎですか?)and out-there Rikka from "Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!"(中二病でも恋がしたい!). So, hearing her exhort her audience to tear out their innards in that sweet voice of hers was a fun thing to watch. The lyrics, by the way, were written by Naruhisa Arakawa(荒川稔久)while the happy melody was the responsibility of Sadahiro Nakano(中野定博). My respects to them for channeling the music of my youth.

If only there were an R-rated version...

Jun Mayuzumi/Mi-Ke/Yo Hitoto -- Tenshi no Yuwaku (天使の誘惑)

Caught the latest episode of "Uta Kon"(うたコン)last night. Apparently the show was giving tribute to the current NHK morning serial drama "Beppin-san"(べっぴんさん), and even the star, actress Kyoko Yoshine(芳根京子)was on hand with part of the hosting duties.

One of the songs that was performed was "Tenshi no Yuwaku" (Angel's Temptation) which had all the cheeriness of a picnic on a Sunday. The original song was sung by singer-actress Jun Mayuzumi(黛ジュン), just shy of her 20th birthday. With the Hawaiian Mood Kayo arrangement and the lyrics by Rei Nakanishi(なかにし礼)weeping about the guy who got away, you would think that this should have been a depressing ballad, worthy of a glass of sake or two. However, this is probably the happiest major-chord Mood Kayo I've ever heard. Even Mayuzumi above was doing some go-go in the performance. I would be forgiven if I assumed that she actually got the boyfriend.

Mayuzumi was born Junko Watanabe(渡辺順子)in May 1948 in Tokyo's Chofu City. She had actually debuted as a teenager in 1964 under her real name but only 3 singles came out of the deal including the first single which was most likely the cover version of Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen". However, following a move to another talent agency, she made another debut under her stage name of Jun Mayuzumi in 1967 with "Koi no Hallelujah"(恋のハレルヤ...Hallelujah of Love).

"Tenshi no Yuwaku" was her 4th single released in May 1968. Getting back onto that horse again worked this time since during the 2 years of 1967 and 1968, Mayuzumi managed to sell 5 million records with the singles that came out. "Tenshi no Yuwaku" was one of those hits which featured her image of being in a mini-skirt coming out with those lower and bright vocals. The song peaked at No. 3 on the then-new Oricon and won her a Japan Record Prize. The above video is from the televised ceremonies of that event. It eventually became the 18th-ranked song of the year.

Of course, the Kohaku Utagassen came calling. But her performance of "Tenshi no Yuwaku" was actually her 2nd appearance on the NHK New Year's Eve special. She had actually gone on the show the year before and would appear 2 more times in the next couple of years.

(Sorry but the video has been taken down.)

"Tenshi no Yuwaku" would be covered by a number of artists over the decades including the group Mi-Ke for their 2nd album "Natsukashi no Blue Light Yokohama Yokosuka"(懐かしのブルーライトヨコハマヨコスカ...Nostalgic Blue Light Yokohama Yokosuka)from December 1991 which got as high as No. 15 on the charts. As was usually the case with this trio, the arrangements for the original music by Kunihiko Suzuki(鈴木邦彦)mixed in the nostalgia with the contemporary synths. The new version may have had more energy but the delivery above by the ladies sounded more languid.


Then in 2012, Yo Hitoto(一青窈)gave her own interpretation of the song via her album of covers "Kayo Kyoku"(歌窈曲). This take is interesting as performed in the video above since it has an arrangement reminiscent of all those TUBE tunes by Tetsuro Oda(織田哲郎).

Sanae Jounouchi -- Ajisaibashi (あじさい橋)

Yesterday, looking at Oricon’s 1986 Top 100 hits, I was surprised to see how many female aidoru tunes were in the list – I counted nothing less than 54 songs. In other words, half of the list was occupied by female aidoru tunes, leaving the other half to Enka singers, Rock bands, City Pop artists, male aidoru singers/groups, among other genres of Japanese popular music we could add here.

Apart from some usual Akina Nakamori (中森明菜), Kyoko Koizumi (小泉今日子) or Miho Nakayama’s (中山美穂) hits (to name a few big aidoru from the time), the huge majority of aidoru singers in 1986’s list were members of the big group Onyanko Club (おニャン子クラブ) going solo or being divided into subunits. For the critics, it was probably a very similar nightmare to what happens with AKB48, its subunits and sister groups nowadays, and we can thank – or blame – the same man, Yasushi Akimoto (秋元康), for both phenomenons.

Among the many singles released by Onyanko Club’s members in this particular year, I was able to discover an interesting and unusual one: “Ajisaibashi” by Sanae Jounouchi (城之内早苗).

Released in June 1986 as Sanae Jounouchi’s debut single, “Ajisaibashi” was meant to be an enka song. It somehow succeeds, but I find the vocals really light in this one, if compared to the usual vibrato-heavy and more traditional enka singing style. Maybe Sanae was still learning how to sing enka in a more mature way (I still have to listen to her more recent singles), but “Ajisaibashi” ends sounding more like an usual ballad with a warm melody and just some enka flourishes in the arrangement. In the end, it was probably due to this “light way of performing enka” that I liked the song so much.

Here’s Sanae singing “Ajisaibashi” in a more recent performance.

“Ajisaibashi” reached #1 on the Oricon chart, selling 155,000 copies. Lyrics were written by Yasushi Akimoto, while music and arrangement were done by Akira Mitake (見岳章).


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ami Ozaki -- Meisou (冥想)

When it comes to singer-songwriter Ami Ozaki's(尾崎亜美)vast discography, I will always be reminded of the light bossa of "My Pure Lady" and the oh-so-soft "I've Been Mellow". Her music in the early days were the aural equivalent of a comforting cup of tea or a mug of hot chocolate.

At the same time, there is also a lot to like about her very first single, "Meisou" (Contemplation) which was released all the way back in March 1976. I kinda wonder what the reaction was like when Ozaki trilled her debut...the sound was very much in the New Music category, reminiscent of some of the sunnier pop tunes that I had heard as a kid on the radio in Canada. Did the younger folks reflexively sigh in relaxation on hearing this new voice for the New Music cause?

Whatever the case, "Meisou" has got those clear Ozaki vocals that I've been familiar with but without that slight rasp of her later songs, and there is that mellow keyboard that I can always see her behind on TV. In contrast to what the title implies, there's isn't anything remotely quiet or still about "Meisou". In fact, the lyrics talk about a giddy girl's happy insistence that she is the one that the particular boy has been searching for. Perhaps the contemplation has been on the laddie's part.

I don't know how well "Meisou" did on the charts but it is included on Ozaki's debut album "Shady" from August 1976.

(from about 4:35)

Flipper's Guitar -- Groove Tube

Mike Myers brought back the 1960s again back in the 1990s with his "Austin Powers" franchise, and an entire generation got to know about what Burt Bacharach, groovy and psychedelic were all about. Mind you, I actually lived through all that although I don't remember much since I was less than 5 at the time. However there was one show that I still have memories of...and that was the American variety hour (yes, the USA did have variety shows back then) "Laugh-In", a prime time comedy tour-de-force starring Dan Rowan and Dick Martin as the hosts of barely contained lunacy mixed in with all that was late 1960s pop culture: go-go dancing, body painting...and groovy. Giggly Goldie Hawn in a bikini dancing it up...yup, she is seared in my memory.

But even before Mike Myers gave us a look-see into that crazy decade, the Japanese at least had already been getting some of those images and music from back then for some years via Shibuya-kei. Of course, there was Pizzicato Five who took care of the Swingin' 60s party-all-night aspect of the genre, but at around the same time, there was also the duo of Flipper's Guitar who carried over their mellower take with some influence from French pop.

However, I was surprised to discover that Keigo Oyamada and Kenji Ozawa(小山田圭吾・小沢健二)did indulge some of that P5 nighttime fun for their 5th single, "Groove Tube" from March 1991. The J-Wiki article for the single had a mass of text that I had to wade through but really couldn't find anything too insightful about "Groove Tube" itself aside from the quote from Oyamada that stated that the men had wanted to put out their most powerful single with this one with the booty-shaking rhythm of B'z and a hard-edged guitar sound reminiscent of Tomoyasu Hotei(布袋寅泰).

I'm not quite sure that "Groove Tube" actually gets to the level of some Hotei shredding but the song definitely has a good amount of drive. Written and composed by Flipper's Guitar under their moniker of Double KO Corporation, I think it actually has some influences from not only P5 but also Pet Shop Boys. with the lyrics talking about what seems to be a night out at a cool-as-sin and sexy 60s party. And the video kinda illustrates that...wouldn't be surprised to see Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe there sipping cocktails with a bored look.

"Groove Tube" got as high as No. 22 on Oricon and is also a track on "Doctor Head's World Tower", the duo's 3rd album released in July 1991.

To finish off, I would like to mix in this article's theme of psychedelia and Canadiana with a skit from my dearly beloved "SCTV" comedy show. Here is Dr. Braino as played by the late John Candy.

Dead or Alive -- Nude

Yesterday, my father approached me with some very sad news: Pete Burnssinger/songwriter and frontman of 80s Hi-NRG band Dead or Alive – died from a cardiac arrest on October 23th (Sunday), and he was just 57 years old. Needless to say, I became instantly sad.

Now, I know very well this blog is about Japanese music, but anchored by the fact that Pete Burns and Dead or Alive were very famous in Japan during the mid-to-late 80s, I think this space can welcome my little homage to the now deceased Pete Burns.

Dead or Alive experienced worldwide fame between 1985 and 1987, after working with famous British production team Stock, Aitken and Waterman (SAW) in some catchy Hi-NRG cuts like “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, “In Too Deep”, “Brand New Lover”, “Something in My House”, “I’ll Save You All My Kisses”, among others, that resulted in two studio albums and one compilation: “Youthquake”, “Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know” and “Rip It Up”, respectively.

After that, even though their popularity in homeland England and in the United States decreased, the band still had one last stronghold: the distant Japan, where Dead or Alive and their Hi-NRG sound – there called Eurobeat – were very loved.

With that in mind, it was no surprise when 1988’s “Nude”, a self-produced album with no touches from SAW, became a huge success in Japan, but not so much in the English-speaking world. It also helped that lead single “Turn Around and Count 2 Ten” was a true blast of joy, and in a strange way, very similar to the kind of Eurobeat songs that were imported by Japan from Italy at the time.

Here in Brazil, it was second single “Come Home (With Me Baby)” that made similar success among clubbers. The song was more in touch with the Latin Freestyle genre, which was very popular in Rio de Janeiro’s lower class neighborhoods, for example. I think some of my older cousins must probably know this song.

As for my personal favorites from “Nude”, I’d say they are the bouncy “I Don’t Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”, with its dated – yet charming – feel, and the overtly dramatic album closers “I Cannot Carry On” and "My “Forbidden Love” – both of them a mix of Pete’s theatrical singing with some stormy late 80s synths.

Unfortunately, after some time, Pete became more known for all the bad plastic surgeries and reality TV appearances than for the music he created. His outrageously flamboyant looks were far from being tame, and it probably didn’t help his career in the music industry that extreme sincerety and sarcasm were also a big part of his personality. Nevertheless, his talent – beautiful, strong and full of personality vocals, coupled with an accurate sense for catchy melodies and clever lyrics – was truly one of a kind.

The “Nude” album was released in December 1988, and, apparently, scored a #1 position on the Oricon chart (I’d love to find some numbers to measure the success of Dead or Alive in Japan at the time, but I wasn’t able to). All songs were written by Pete Burns, while music and arrangement were done by Pete and Dead or Alive.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Miho Nakayama -- Leave Me Alone

(excerpt only)

Continuing the exploration of early Miho Nakayama(中山美穂), I found this earlier collaboration between the late 80s aidoru and City Pop singer-songwriter Toshiki Kadomatsu(角松敏生)called "Leave Me Alone" from her 3rd album "Summer Breeze" from July 1986. With a title like that, Kadomatsu just had to contribute at least one track. In fact, he provided two more songs for the album, including the Miporin hit "You're My Only Shinin' Star" as the final song.

In contrast to the epic ballad that is "You're My Only Shinin' Star", "Leave Me Alone" is this bass-heavy thumper that stomps across the soundscape like a couple of Gundam legs. As soon as I heard it, I just knew that it was a Kadomatsu creation. It certainly helped that Kadomatsu provides some backing vocals as well, and perhaps that guitar solo. Plus there is that nice sax.

As for the album, "Summer Breeze" hit No. 8 on the charts. Perhaps it may become a future purchase but it's kinda too bad that Miporin looks like she swallowed a bad pickle on the cover.

Fumikichi Fujimoto/The Peanuts -- Gion Kouta (祇園小唄)
from Mr Hayata
Somewhere in the piles and piles of photos from yesteryear in old dusty drawers, there are a few of those photos that I took as a high school student of the Gion Festival(祇園祭)in Kyoto during my July 1981 trip. However, since I don't have the time or energy to go into excavation mode, I have decided to upload this photo of one of the many floats used in the highlight parade from the festival.

I distinctly remember seeing those grand floats slowly going down the street from my particular vantage point deep in the crowds on the sidewalk as I valiantly took photos on my dinky little camera. Being the middle of summer, and a Kyoto summer at that, it was a miracle that I didn't end up being transported to a hospital due to heatstroke. Still, I survived although I also remember taking a long nap in my hotel room afterwards.

The song for this article, "Gion Kouta" (Ballad of Gion), is one that I first heard on a recent "Uta Kon" (うたコン). Elegantly performed by Misaki Iwasa(岩佐美咲), formerly of AKB48, I was intrigued as to its origins, so I did a bit of investigation and found that it had first been sung all the way back in 1930. Not only that, it was performed by a geisha by the name of Fumikichi Fujimoto(藤本二三吉)(1897-1976). Born in Tokyo, the singer was born as Fumi Fujimoto(藤本婦美)and became an apprentice geisha in 1909 under the name of Hanko(はん子)before getting her official geisha name of Fumikichi in 1915. From 1924, she began recording songs in a number of the traditional genres such as min'yo with her first hit being "Naniwa Kouta"(浪花小唄...Ballad of Naniwa)in 1929.

However, her huge hit was "Gion Kouta" which was recorded in 1930 as the theme song for the movie "Ehigasa"(絵日傘...The Decorated Parasol).Written by Mikihito Nagata(長田幹彦)and composed by Kouka Sassa(佐々紅華), Fujimoto sings descriptively about her love for the Gion district in Kyoto. Instead of importing the video directly, I have left the link above since going to it, you will find an English translation of the lyrics by the uploader.

Now to be honest, I am very hazy about some of the very old genres of Japanese music but apparently along with min'yo (民謡...folk songs)and the early examples of enka, there were other genres including hauta(端唄...short love songs), zokkyoku(俗曲...another form of folk song)and kouta(小唄...ballads). I was going to categorize this ballad as a min'yo but seeing the title, I can only surmise that fans of this song would probably want me to place this in the correct category of a kouta although I would need some education in differentiating these genres. Good grief. And here I thought it was just the various techno genres that I needed help with.

"Gion Kouta" has probably been covered by just about every enka singer and I was able to find this version by the late Keiko Fuji(藤圭子)which has that more familiar enka arrangement.

(Sorry but the video has been taken down.)

Well, whaddaya know? Here is that performance by Misaki Iwasa.

Heck, even The Peanuts(ザ・ピーナッツ)contributed their own very slightly jazzy take on "Gion Kouta" as a single in 1963.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Noriyo Ikeda -- Dream In The Street

This is another track I found in one of my CDs of the long-running series of "Light Mellow" representing City Pop/J-AOR, this one being labeled "Moment".

"Dream In The Street" is originally the title track from the debut album of Noriyo Ikeda(池田典代), another one of those hidden treasures in the world of urban contemporary Japanese pop from way back when. There is virtually nothing written about this mysterious singer aside from what I could find on one Yahoo Japanese-language music blog which had her getting her start in the late 1970s as a performer in clubs located in Shinjuku and Shimo-Kitazawa in Tokyo.

There is even some dispute as to when the album "Dream In The Street" was released with the liner notes in "Moment" stating it was in 1980 whereas a few online sites state that it was actually 1979 (I will go with 1980 for now). In any case, what is notable about this City Pop gem is that it was composed and arranged by Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎)with Ikeda providing the lyrics about the general goings-on on a night in the big city. The late Hiroshi Sato(佐藤博)was on keyboards and even Yamashita was there as one of the guitarists providing backing vocals.

Ikeda has vocals here which remind me to a certain extent of the voice of Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子)...that breathy and coquettish quality. Plus "Dream In The Street" just bursts onto the street with that familiar City Pop beat shuffling things happily along the sidewalk, and as much as I've mentioned the Doobie Brothers whenever I write about the genre, this particular song has that little addition of Steely Dan this time around. And to wrap up, there is that cool little bit near the end when you hear the drums rattling away and then the bass doing its fine plucking. Those were grand years by Tats.

I don't know how many albums Ikeda released but my impression is that "Dream In The Street" may have been the only one.

Isao Sasaki & Mitsuko Horie with Columbia Yurikago Kai -- Susume! Gorenger (進め! ゴレンジャー)

Today I spent the day with some friends for lunch and a movie, the latter being "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" starring Tom Cruise. I had seen most of the first Jack Reacher movie on TV and wasn't particularly thrown over the moon with it, so it was nice that I actually enjoyed "Never Go Back" a bit more. However, I still thought the movie was rather paint-by-the-numbers. It could have been any of the episodes of "NCIS" with Jethro Gibbs played by Cruise instead of Mark Harmon.

As for my thoughts on the annual rash of superhero blockbusters, it was also as hit-and-miss as "Never Go Back". "Captain America: Civil War" was fine although the story became increasingly sadder, while the earlier "Superman v. Batman" was disappointingly dire. "X-Men: Apocalypse" was also another missed opportunity and I didn't even bother with "Suicide Squad" due to the unhappy reviews despite all of the hoopla of last year's filming of a pivotal chase scene down on Toronto's Yonge Street. I'm hoping that "Doctor Strange" will end this year on a high note and from what I've heard from the early reviews is that it will be good if not spectacular.

In a year when the thought of a superhero team on the Hollywood screen was probably a mere dot of out-there-in-left-field fantasy, I had heard that Japan concocted a live-action show of a group of five human superheroes in contrast with the lone warrior of Kamen Rider(仮面ライダー)and the gigantic Ultraman (ウルトラマン) along with the anime Gatchaman (ガッチャマン). The 1975 show was "Himitsu Sentai Gorenger"(秘密戦隊ゴレンジャー...Secret Task Force Five Rangers), produced by Toei Company and televised on TV Asahi as the first of the long-running Super Sentai series. One of its descendants ended up getting over to America in the early 1990s and transformed into the "Power Rangers" series.

But going back to "Gorenger", I first saw this team on those thick children's readers that were sold in the front of the Furuya Japanese food shop in Chinatown, and boy, did I want to know about these guys. I was amazed by the costumes and the weapons that were miraculously stored in their masks such as the whip in leader Red Ranger's mask and the bow-and-arrow setup in Blue Ranger's mask. However, the 1970s were the pre-Internet, pre-VCR prehistoric age so the best I could do was read one manga involving the team when they were going up against a villainous skeleton with a long cape. Fairly disappointed was I.

Things are obviously quite different now, but when I finally got over to Japan again in 1981, there wasn't any mention of any Super Sentai series and my interest had already waned down to a nub by that point. Still, I could find that little bit of the Gorenger in action above.

Also, there is the theme song, "Susume! Gorenger" (Go! Five Rangers) as sung by Isao Sasaki (ささきいさお) and Mitsuko Horie(堀江美都子)with the chorus group Columbia Yurikago Kai (コロムビアゆりかご会). Of course with Sasaki, I've always seen him as the king of the songs used in the "Uchuu Senkan Yamato"(宇宙戦艦ヤマト)franchise, and Horie has also contributed one or two songs to the adventures of the Yamato. But I think this is the first time I've heard them sing a good ol' tokusatsu tune.

And what a heroic tune it is. There is the urgent first part before the melody gives way to something hopeful with the combination of horns and plucky electric guitar. I've heard "Susume! Gorenger" used in parodies of the Super Sentai format by various comedians over the years but never knew that it had been the theme song for the pioneer show. Shotaro Ishinomori(石森章太郎)wrote the lyrics while Chumei Watanabe(渡辺宙明)took care of the music.

Missed opportunity, to be sure. But at least, I get to see some of what made the show so popular with the kiddies and my parents were able to save a ton of dough and frustration toward me for demanding that I get one of the team costumes.

Also, have a look at JTM's playlist for tokusatsu theme songs since he also mentions about the ending theme for "Gorenger" among some of his other favourite tunes from the genre.