The other night, I received a comment on the article for Reiko Mari's（万里れい子）"Psyche na Machi"（サイケな街）, the go-go number from the late 1960s, It was from Chasing Showa who told me about this website run by former Tokyo DJ Sheila Burgel who has a love for various kinds of music including the girl pop performed by Japanese singers in the 1960s. He also informed me about a couple of albums paying tribute to that era, "Nippon Girls" and "Goodnight Tokyo". It was quite interesting to hear some of the singers and bands who had been included in those releases let go of their inner yeah-yeah shagadelia because some of them at least used to do some of the more traditional kayo in the early 1960s.
You can have a listen to the videos above but don't blame me if you suddenly get the urge to twist or shrug or pony.
One of those singers that I was referring to happens to be Mie Nakao（中尾ミエ）. Although I know of her more as a regular tarento and a participant in those late-night informercials in Japan, she did start her career as one of the big aidoru of the 1960s. And one of the more famous old kayo from way back when was her 1962 debut single "Kawaii Baby"（可愛いベイビー）, a cover of a Connie Francis number.
Well, in July 1968, she released a new single called "Koi no Sharock", a funky and fuzzy tune that had me imagining the young Nakao discovering some dance moves on the psychedelic dance floor. The thing is, though, I really don't know what sharock is all about. At first, I had thought that the word was derived from Sherlock...as in Sherlock Holmes, the great detective. Holmes is well known in Japan, and I had assumed that the title would be translated as "Sherlock of Love" as in someone tracking down and masterfully figuring out the emotion.
But from what I've read on one Japanese-language site, that doesn't seem to be the case. In the era of Group Sounds, namely the late 1960s, there was another music genre name that seemed to have been bandied about: New Rhythm that would go along with all of those cool dances from America such as The Twist, The Pony and The Swim. Considering the fuzzy guitars as well, perhaps I could also include anything by The Rolling Stones from that time. However, the powerful Watanabe Productions management agency wanted to get in on the naming action behind this new sound so they came up with....you guessed it, sharock.
I still have no idea what the sha- is all about. The term is written in katakana so I don't know about any kanji for sha- or whether it was even derived from kanji. I doubt the sha- would refer to the kanji for company「社」. Corporate rock? Sounds rather oxymoronic...especially in those days. Maybe the sha- refers to terse and powerful onomatopoeia, kinda like when a martial artist or Ultraman yells something when he does his move.
Getting back to "Koi no Sharock", the lyricist was Chizuko Matsubara（松原智津子）with an assist from Kazumi Yasui（安井かずみ）while the music was composed by Kazuyoshi Arai（新居一芳）, otherwise known as Masao Saiki（彩木雅夫）, the fellow who would later create the Mood Kayo classic "Nagasaki wa Kyou mo Ame Datta"（長崎は今日も雨だった）for Hiroshi Uchiyamada and The Cool Five（内山田洋とクール・ファイブ）. Just so that the new sound of sharock was well understood and permeating into the youth of Japan at the time, Side B for Nakao's single was given the title of "Sharock No. 1". If anyone else out there can tell me what that prefix means, I would be most appreciative of a contact.