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The Cougars

Isao Idemitsu – vocals
Yoshiro Matsumoto – lead guitar
Yasuo Hayashi – rhythm guitar
Kaoru Kuramitsu - organ
Hiroaki Shimada – bass
Masao Doshida - drums

In 1967, Crown Records was desperate to create a new kind of GS band, and gave this sextet a choice of either sporting partly shaved heads a la The Monks, or kilts somewhere between a Scots style and those worn by Greece’s evzone military guard. Fearful of the first option, The Cougars opted for red kilts, open-toed lace up Saxon footwear and mid-blue mandarin-collared jackets. The outfits went down so well with fans that when the band stepped out of their guise for one show, there were howls of protest. Musically, The Cougars sounded like a typical American fuzzy garage band on their debut single for Crown Records, the superb trucking A-Side ‘Aphrodite’ propelled along by a ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ rhythm, and a wonderful spindly guitar solo, while the weirder archaic sounding B-side ‘Teku Teku Tengoku’ sounded as though it had been based on Cab Calloway’s 1920’s hit ‘Minnie The Moocher’. Contiguous with this release was another single not considered GS at the time. Entitled ‘Akogare (Yearning)’ b/w ‘Kokro No Koibito (Lover Of My Heart)’, the disc was aimed at the younger pop market. In 1968, The Cougars released two further GS-styled singles, ‘Sukinanda (I Like You)’ b/w ‘J&A’, and ‘Aoi Taiyo (Blue Sun)’ b/w ‘Kawaii Akuma (Cute Devil)’. However, The Cougars were ultimately unsuccessful, but bass player Hiroaki Shimada became massively popular as the leader of comedy band The Busy Four, in which he mimicked Western musicians of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Julian Cope
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