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.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Savage -- Itsumademo Itsumademo (いつまでもいつまでも)

Almost a month ago, I featured Akira Terao's(寺尾聰)debut album as a solo artist, "Futari no Fuusen ~ Koibito to Issho ni Kiite Kudasai"(二人の風船 ~ 恋人と一緒に聴いて下さい)from 1970 where I also mentioned about his membership in the Group Sounds band, The Savage(ザ・サベージ).

Well, I managed to track down The Savage's debut single "Itsumademo Itsumademo" from July 1966. Realizing that the word itsumademo can be translated as always or no matter what, I've decided to go with "Never Ever" according to how it's used in the lyric "Itsumademo, itsumademo, hanashitakunai" (いつまでも、いつまでも、離したくない...I never ever want to let you go). From that line, you can guess it is an ardent love song.

Although Terao was a co-vocalist for the band, guitarist Yoshio Okujima(奥島吉雄)was the lead vocal here for "Itsumademo Itsumademo" and I have to say that I really like his deep resonant tones. Considering that The Savage started out in 1963 as an instrumental band, it must have been quite the find that both Okujima and Terao could hold a tune rather nicely.

The president of the talent agency Hori Productions at the time, Takeo Hori(堀威夫), asked Ben Sasaki(佐々木勉)to compose and write a song for the up-and-coming The Savage since Sasaki himself was seen as an up-and-coming songwriter with his eye on the genre of garage folk. It was Hori's intriguing plan to have a nice folk song start off the Group Sounds phase of The Savage in line with some of the folk ballads sung by Yuzo Kayama(加山雄三)and Mike Maki(マイク眞木). I'm not quite sure how Okujima, Terao and the rest of the band felt about their boss' plan but as it turned out, "Itsumademo Itsumademo" became a hit and a standard in both the folk and Group Sounds genres. And to be honest, for my ears, its arrangement still strikes me as being quite firmly as a GS ballad. Perhaps, it can still be a song to be played at Japanese wedding receptions.

(empty karaoke version)

As for The Savage, the band shifted in its lineup a fair bit but in the beginning it was an electric guitar group fronted by Okujima, Renkichi Hayashi(林廉吉)on guitar, Shuurou Matsuda(松田守朗)on bass and Takashi Kondo(近藤タカシ)on drums although he was eventually replaced by the late Yoshio Oba(大場吉雄). In 1965, Oba and Matsuda left the band with Terao coming in at bass and Junichi Watanabe(渡辺純一)becoming the 3rd drummer.

Supposedly the name of the band originated from a hit song by the British band The Shadows "Savage" and that was about as close to wild as Okujima and company would get. Even the J-Wiki article pointed out that their appearance on stage was more on the gentlemanly side. Judging from the cover of their first single, I think they would be the guys who would be warmly welcomed by any bobbysoxer's mother with milk and cookies.

As for Ben Sasaki, he was the same fellow behind hits such as the Mood Kayo classic "Wakarete mo Suki na Hito"(別れても好きな人)by Los Indios and Silvia(ロス・インディオス&シルヴィア), and "Natsu no Ojosan"(夏のお嬢さん)the 70s aidoru hit for Ikue Sakakibara(榊原郁恵). Unfortunately, he passed away at the young age of 46 in March 1985.

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