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, August 7, 2021

Ichiro Utsumi/Hachiro Kasuga/Senri and Mari Unabara -- Dontonbori Koushinkyoku(道頓堀行進曲)


Thanks to this blog, I've not only been able to enjoy the various types of Japanese popular music of the current times and relatively recent times but also the kayo going back way before my birth. So I'm talking about a very young Hibari Misora(美空ひばり), Ichiro Fujiyama(藤山一郎), etc. Part of the reason that I've been able to enjoy and appreciate some of the Japanese music spanning back to even before World War II is that I had already been getting a taste of the old orchestra pop stuff as a child.

When I was a kid, I used to watch Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and The Little Rascals all the time on television. "The Little Rascals" was regular afternoon fare for years so as I was watching the hijinks of Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Porky and the rest of the bunch, I heard some of that music as the soundtrack. Once in a while, the gang even held their little concerts and performances on homemade stages.

What got me remembering my childhood days today was listening to this particular song "Dontonbori Koushinkyoku" (Dontonbori March), first recorded by singer and theatre director Ichiro Utsumi(内海一郎). Released in December 1928, as the title signifies, it's a brisk and jaunty little march composed by Seihachi Shiojiri(塩尻精八)celebrating the activity of Dontonbori, one of the most famous areas of Osaka. Right now, it's known as one of the great foodie neighbourhoods within a metropolis that has been called the stomach of Japan but even way back then, Shigejiro Hibi's(日比繁次郎)lyrics note that Dontonbori was quite the place for happy carousing. Incidentally, Hibi may have been the pseudonym of novelist Koichi Hata(畑耕一)according to some YouTube comments and other webpages, but his J-Wiki article doesn't make that perfectly clear.

Utsumi was known as a singer of jazz songs but with "Dontonbori Koushinkyoku", I'm not quite sure if this original version of the song would be placed as such. It sounds like a kayo of that time or maybe it was even the equivalent of the sweet music that had been played by orchestras in the West as a counterbalance to the so-called sinful jazz.

According to the uploader for this video, the legendary Hachiro Kasuga(春日八郎)gave his own marching band take on "Dontonbori Koushinkyoku" in an album titled "Kasuga Hachiro no Taisho Showa Hayari Uta"(春日八郎の 大正昭和はやり唄...Hachiro Kasuga's Taisho and Showa Era Popular Songs) released in 1963.

Then in 1977, the Osakan sister act comedy duo Senri and Mari Unabara(海原千里・万里)released their own cover of "Dontonbori Koushinkyoku" as a single. This version is quite a lot of fun with a playful poke at "In the Mood" in the intro before going into some swinging Dixieland jazz. The sisters had another hit tribute to their hometown through "Osaka Rhapsody"(大阪ラプソディー)the previous year.

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