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Kenji Todoroki - vocals
Jun ‘Kimio’ Mizutani – lead guitar
Koichi Fujita – rhythm guitar
Yuyu Hoguchi - organ
Ryoji Ono – bass
Takamitsu Nakazawa - drums

With their double-breasted suits and neatly styled hair, this smartly dressed sextet was the first band to come from the Watanabe Production management company. They were formed in mid-1966 by legendary guitar mangler Jun ‘Kimio’ Mizutani and organist Yuyu Hoguchi, both of whom had formerly played with Ryuichi Tsuda & The Blue Ace. After moulding the boys into a suitably commercial image, Watanabe signed The Out Cast to Teichiku Records, who released their first single, a folk song ‘Tomodachi Ni Naro (Let’s Be Friends)’ which was a flop. Hot on its heels came a second single, another folk song ‘Aisurukoto Wa Darede No Dekiru (Anyone Can Love)’. This was also a flop, but the b-side, entitled ‘Denwa De Iikara (Just Gimme A Call)’, was a bubblegum classic flip out which guaranteed Mizutani and the band a place in garage rock legend. In the summer of 1967, Out Cast played a very psychedelic show with The Tigers at Tokyo’s Nichigeki, and scored their first hit ‘Enpitsu Ga Ippon (A Pencil)’ that same summer. Two further minor hits guaranteed the release of their LP KIMI NO BOKU MO TOMODACHI NI NARO (‘Let’s You And Me Become Friends’), which was full of Mizutani’s signature mayhem. However, Mizutani and singer Kenji Todoroki were growing tired of the Ground Sounds format and found the suffocating restrictions of Watanabe Productions impossible to deal with. The two quit the band to form the more artistically satisfying Adams, causing Watanabe Productions to sack everyone else except bass player Ryoji Ono, in an Electric Prunes-style rock pogrom. The new line up continued briefly with new vocalist Osamu Okamoto, guitarist Katsumi Tani, organist Yoshiharu Sugano and drummer Yukio Asakura; but The Out Cast’s days were over.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Hiromitu Suzuki - vocals
Masaru Hoshi - lead guitar, vocals
Tarou Miyuki - guitar
Kaoru Murakami - bass
Mikiharu Suzuki - drums

One of the best of all the Group Sounds acts, Tokyo’s The Mops actually came close to the Animals/Then-inspired garage sound of The Shadows Of Knight and The Blues Magoos, even injecting something weird and special of their own through vocalist Hiromitu Suzuki’s truly pained delivery and occasionally deranged lyrics. Indeed, even Western bands rarely managed lyrics as raw as ‘Please kill me’ as Suzuki beseeched on their fuzz epic 6/8 ‘Blind Bird’. It’s clear from their get up and instrumental styling that The Mops wanted to reach The Misunderstood’s braying stratospheric delivery and the mushied-3 a.m.-in-a-city-under-smog production that The Gonn achieved on ‘The Blackout Of Gretely’, but the record company and their own inexperience denied them those options. Inconsistent throughout their career, The Mops nevertheless hit real major peaks, even towards the end when they found their way into so-called New Rock via Grand Funk’s epic proto-metal version of ‘Outside Looking In’ by The Animals, one full year after The Mops covered the same song.
The Mops began as yet another Ventures-styled instrumental group in the early spring of 1966. With most of the musicians still being of high school age, they rehearsed far more than they gigged, and drummer Mikiharu Suzuki resented his older brother Hiromitu’s constant admonishments that he was not doing enough schoolwork. However, when Mikiharu invited his older sibling to a Mops rehearsal to show that he was not just wasting time, Hiromitu was so inspired by their collective racket that he joined the group as lead vocalist. Although the musicians themselves were mainly influenced by The Yardbirds and The Stones, the new singer’s obsessions with Eric Burdon and Steve Winwood soon re-shaped their sound, as The Mops played more and more shows at jazz kissas around Saitama and the Tokyo area. Moreover, when they played Tokyo’s Go-Go-Kissa club in early 1967, The Mops were approached by a management team who agreed to look after their interests, but only on condition that they become a psychedelic band. Influenced by Steve Winwood’s recent move to the psychedelically-styled Traffic, the quintet agreed; signed to Victor Records and debuted in November 1967, billed as ‘First Psychedelic Band In Japan!’ However, by the time their first single ‘Asamade Matenai’ had charted at the lower end of the Japanese Top 40, other bands had caught up with their psychedelic stylings, pushing The Mops to all kinds of ruses in order to substantiate their claim as Japan’s premier psychedelicians – and in drug free Japan, this was not an easy task. Huge lighting rigs began to appear at Mops shows, and flangeing, wah-wah pedals and fuzz boxes saturated their live sounds, while the band themselves grew their hair even longer, adopted granny glasses, and played blind-folded in order to disorientate themselves and stimulate natural psychedelic effects.
On their 1968 debut LP PSYCHEDELIC SOUND IN JAPAN, The Mops covered Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody To Love’ and ‘White Rabbit’ with a righteous abandon, injecting a 13th Floor Elevators Texan yawp into the former and using the quasi-Eastern nature of the latter to their advantage with wonderful Chinese strings and another fabulous vocal from Hiromitu Suzuki. However, The Mops’ version of The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ was just funny and had none of the junked out Philippino Catholicism that D’Swooners cleverly smeared all over their own Jose Feliciano version. To say the instrumental passage was enthusiastic is probably better than saying everyone just hammers along dutifully until the interesting vocal bit rescues them. The Mops’ obsession with The Animals peaked on their pointless version of ‘San Francisco Nights’, during which the band bored everyone for the duration of the 45 seconds explaining why they’d chosen to record the song (big deal, get over it), but the band did do ‘Outside Looking In’ justice. Their own songs were hot when they were being weird, but crap when they wrote ‘real’ songs. The ‘help-me-I’m-going-under-for-the-last-time’ nature of ‘Atsukunarenai (I Can’t Get Hot)’ is truly psychedelic and works better as the B-side of their single ‘Omae No Subeteo’ rather than buried at the end of side one’s seven song avalanche on PSYCHEDELIC SOUND IN JAPAN.
When bassist Kaori Murakami quit for a place in university in Spring ’69, rhythm guitarist Tarou Miyuki swapped to bass, the lack of two guitars considerably opening up the sound and making for a spaciousness, allowing Masaru Hoshi’s excellent leads to cut right through. But the Group Sounds era was already coming to a close and, after three singles and the aforementioned LP, the band was dropped from the Victor Records roster. A as the prevailing trend for Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath began to kick in with a vengeance, many Group Sounds split during this time, but The Mops weathered the storm well. After hearing Grand Funk Railroad’s masterful ‘heavy’ adaptation of ‘Outside Looking In’ by their beloved Animals, The Mops re-styled themselves ‘New Rock’. If they’d gone all the way, it would have been fantastic, however, as was the way of most bands of this period, The Mops still remained true to their GS roots by accommodating too great a range of styles on LPs, sandwiching dutiful ‘contemporary’ sounds (ballads, comedy, you name it) between the slabs of moronic genius. From beginning to end, Hiromitu Suzuki remained fixated with The Animals’ Eric Burdon and Steve Winwood in all his Spencer Davis/Traffic/Blind Faith incarnations. Indeed, even as late as 1970, Suzuki continued to hop from Little Stevie vocal stylings to those of Eric Burdon often within the space of the same verse. However, the band thereafter actually gained a new artistic momentum from the new sounds they encountered and, signing to the Toshiba/Liberty label, continued until 1974, recording and releasing five more patchy covering-all-bases LPs and thirteen singles.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
The Love

Yuji Takamiya – vocals
Koichi Fujita – lead guitar
Hiroshiu Kihata – organ
Hideo Arai – bass
Tadao Shimada - drums

The Love was formed in 1968 by Out Cast’s rhythm guitaist Koichi Fujita, after two of that band’s founding members Kimio Mizutani and Kenji Todoroki quit to form their commercially disastrous symphonic rock band Adams. The Love also failed to make much impact, releasing only one flop single entitled ‘Icarus No Hoshi (Star Of Icarus)’ b/w ‘Once Again’. Like the singles that Out Cast released, the powerful b-side written by leader Fujita far exceeded the honey sweet tin pan alley staff written main track, ‘Once Again’’s false fade out aiding the song and turning it into something of a psychedelic folk legend. In truth, however, even this is fairly standard fare, and wouldn’t pass muster on even the later volumes of PEBBLES. Koichi Fujita later became a very successful producer with Omega Tribe.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Yuzo Kayama – guitar
Osamu Kitajima - guitar
Yuzo Watanabe – bass
Ei Kitajima – drums

This clean cut quartet was formed by the movie actor, singer and sometime TV presenter Yuzo Kayama, most famous for inventing the term ‘Group Sounds’ while live on his own TV chat show in 1964. Born in 1937 and already well known for his dashing good looks, Kayama enjoyed entirely new levels of female popularity when, inspired by the 1965 Japanese tour from America’s The Ventures, the actor polished up his dormant guitar skills and turned into a full-on surf guitar God! Kayama’s management team signed the band to Toshiba Records, who added a caveat in the contract that Yuzo must be seen to sing a small percentage of ballads to widen The Launchers’ appeal. This he did and then some, delivering his words in an ostentatiously off-the-cuff Dean Martin-type baritone that still sends shivers down the spines of many a middle-aged Japanese woman. Songs such as ‘Boomerang Baby’ and ‘Mafuya No Kaerimichi’ were huge hits for The Launchers, but Kayama’s ultimate accolades came via The Ventures themselves, who were so impressed by his guitar clamour that they recorded their own versions of two Launchers songs ‘Black Sand Beach’ and ‘Yozora No Hoshi’. At the finale of a joint Ventures/Launchers tour of Japan, the Americans ceremoniously presented Kayama with one of their own signature-model Mosrite guitars. Kayama returned to acting once the beat boom had died down, and the debut album FREE ASSOCIATION was released without him in December ’68, featuring instead the talent of second guitarist Osamu Kitajima, who was Kayama’s young cousin. In September 1969, Kitajima’s Launchers released a concept album about an imaginary country entitled OASY OKOKU (‘Oasy Kingdom’). However, the days of the GS sound was already on the wane, and The Launchers split soon after. In 1971, Kitajima split for England, where he concocted the Justin Heathcliff LP, naming it so as to conjure up a quintessential Englishness. In 1972, Kitajima returned to Japan where he teamed up with former Dynamites guitarist Fujio Yamagauchi, who was enjoying a brief sabbatical from his drug buddies in Murahatchibu. Together, the two guitarists recorded one LP FUJIO & OSAMU. Yuzo Kayama returned to rock’n’roll many years later, re-recording several of his old songs in 1994.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Kuni Kawachi– piano, organ, lyrics, arrangements
Tome Kitagawa – vocals, conga
Pepe Yoshihiro – bass
Chito Kawachi – drums, lyrics, arrangements, vocals

The history of Happenings Four is an important one, despite their musical contributions to the Group Sounds scene being mainly disappointing and trite. For they were one of the few bands with the guts to try to break the GS mould and bring something new on board. They began in 1964 as a quintet named Sunrise, and were led by brothers Kuni and Chito Kawachi, on organ and percussion respectively. Playing a Latin based rock, Sunrise was completed by bassist Pepe Yoshihiro, percussionist Pedoro Umemura and guitarist Hiroshi Satomi. In 1966, Miki Curtis discovered them and took them to Tokyo, where they signed to the mighty management team Asuka Puro. Vocalist and conga player Tome Kitegawa joined at this time, and they were booked into night clubs and cabaret to develop their act. In 1967, when guitarist Hiroshi left to form Hiroshi Satomi & Ichibanboshi (‘The First Star’), the Kawachi brothers decided to sack percussionist Umemura and changed their name to Happenings Four. Signing to the Watanabe Pro management team, they gained immediate interest because of their novel guitarless line-up. Their debut single was okay, but gained press attention because of its incredible sleeve design, by legendary pop artist Tadanori Yokoo.
In 1968, the second single ‘Kimi No Hitomi O Mitsumete (Looking Into Your Eyes)’ fared better, as did a third ‘Alligator Boogaloo’. Inspired by Miki Curtis’ tendency to ham it up, Happening Four successfully played up to the Japanese cliché with hair in top knots, and kimonos, releasing their debut LP THE MAGICAL HAPPENINGS TOUR in a gorgeous fold out jacket, depicting the members on an 10,000 yen note. In early 1969, Kuna Kawachi offered up his own version of the sounds coming from Britain’s The Nice and Soft Machine with the second album CLASSICAL ELEGANCE : BAROQUE’N’ROLL. This LP contained heavy versions of Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel songs in a sleeve of imaginary bucolic bliss, in which a pink clad and moustachioed Jason King-styled shepherd groover rests upon the roots of ye olde oak tree as his flock of sheep graze quietly in the Bach-ground. Later in ’69, Kawauchi enlisted Nobuhiko Shinohara on keyboards and vocals to boost the prog credentials of the oputfit, who now altered their name to Happenings Four +1. The band split in 1972, whereupon Kawachi recorded commercials, and contributed to the Love Live Life +1 project, as well as recording his classic LP KIRIKYOGEN with members of Flower Travellin’ band.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Sin Okamoto - vocals
Hisayuki Okitu - lead guitar
Koichi Miyazaki - rhythm guitar
Yasuji Sato - organ
Mikio Morida – bass
Yukio Miya – drums

Led by drummer and founding member Yukio Miya, The Jaguars were one of the most famous of all the Group Sounds bands, taking their lead

Also of immense importance to the fashioning of the early Group Sounds scene was the six-piece known as The Jaguars, led by drummer Yukio Miya. The Jaguars, or ‘jaggerz’ as the Japanese referred to them, straddled the void between pure pop music and garage rock, turning out versions of The Blues Magoos’ arrangement of ‘Tobacco Road’ and Mitch Ryder’s ‘See See Rider’, but taking their shorter-haired image from those overly smiley British muckers Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Indeed, The Jaguars recorded their own version of that band’s 45 ‘Zabadak’ and scored another Top 20 hit with Dave Dee’s cod-Spaghetti Western epic ‘Legend of Xanadu’, transplanted into a Greek context with balalaikas and the whole band done out as Greek peasant fashion victims.

More credibly, The Jaguars covered The Blues Magoos’ thunderous version of J.D. Loudermilk’s ‘Tobacco Road’, as well as Mitch Ryder’s soul epic ‘See See Rider’. Some evidence of the band’s popularity is shown by their appearance, in 1968, as stars of their own movie. This HELP-influenced comedy romp was entitled JAGUARS TEKIZEN JYOURIKU (HEY YOU, GO!), and made The Jaguars even bigger stars. Footage of Buddhist monks passing through immigration were superimposed over shots of The Jaguars playing to fans high atop a balcony; lead guitarist Hisayuki Okitu was filmed playing guitar surrounded by young women sucking ice lollies; psychedelic prism FX clouded the screen as a Dr Evil-type character made people disappear, and the many direct lifts from the HELP movie only reinforced the cultural position of The Jaguars. However, with the rising confidence of the other group members, leader Yukio Miya felt his position of power slipping, and promptly left for a career with the originally titled New Jaguars. The decision was ultimately disastrous for all. Miya was replaced on drums by Takeshi Hamano, but neither of the two factions were ever so successful again as The Jaguars had once been. The original members attempted a change of musical direction, even replacing members, while Miya’s New Jaguars failed to chart and split up in 1970. The original faction struggled on until their dissolution in 1971.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Tadashi Kosaka – vocals
Eiji Kikuchi – lead guitar
Hiro Yanagida – organ, rhythm guitar
Yoshiichi Sugiyama – bass
Yasuichi Yoshimura - drums

The short-lived and poppy Floral was formed as a factory-style ‘boy band’, in 1968, by university students between 18-22, who had all auditioned for Japan’s Monkees Fan Club, who were searching for a Japanese equivalent. The Floral released no LPs, but made one 7” single entitled MUSICOLOR RECORD containing the songs ‘Namida Wa Hanabira (Tears Are Flower Petals)’ b/w ‘Suiheisen No Bara (Roses On The Horizon)’. The lyricist for the A-side was Akira Uno, who went on to become a famous illustrator. The Floral split when the serious-minded Hiro Yanagida left to form the more heavyweight and more successful Apryl Fool.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Tokimune ‘Dave’ Hirao – vocals
Eddie Ban – guitar
Kenneth Ito - guitar
Masayoshi ‘Louis Louis’ Kabe – bass
Mamoru Manu - drums

As the most anachronistic, muddle-headed, obstinate and capricious of all the first wave of Group Sounds acts, Yokohama City’s Golden Cups most deserve a thorough explanation and excavation in this book. For no band save perhaps The Undertones was ever comprised of such true rock fans that they accidentally scuppered their career through the sheer joy of playing whatsoever was passing through members stereo systems at any given time. From their bizarre but brilliant take on American garage music (‘Hey Joe’) through their horrendous blues workout period (they recorded half of The Butterfield Blues Band’s EAST WEST LP for Chrissakes), via their dreadful record company-pleasing staff writer composed hits ("Nagai Kami no Shoujo" ("A Girl With Long Hair") and "Aisuru Kimini (My Love Only For You)’) to the sheer loserdom of their twilight live LPs (‘Joy To The World’, ‘Nantucket Sleighride’, ‘I Shall Be Released’), The Golden Cups always made important career moves based on members’ current obsessions. This is probably because the band members were raised in the international port of Yokohama City, Japan’s equivalent of Hamburg and Liverpool, and famous across insular Japan for its high percentage of foreign nationals. And just as Liverpudlians of the early ‘60s benefited so much from their casual dockside trading with American ships that they were nicknamed ‘Cunard Yanks’ by the rest of Britain, so the teenagers of Yokohama scored records, clothes and even musical instruments down at the docks that never made it into popular Japanese culture. From the off, all of the members of The Golden Cups were way ahead of the pack as Yokohama’s nearby US Army base at Honmoku pumped out rock’n’roll on its Far East Network radio transmitters. The Cups were founded by Dave Hirao, who’d sung lead vocal in Yokohama’s The Sphinx back in ’64, traveling to the USA the following year to experience the sounds of rock’n’roll first hand. On returning home, Dave discovered that local guitarist Eddie Ban had done precisely the same, returning from his own American jaunt with a prized fuzz box. The two hooked up with Hawaiian guitarist Kenneth Ito, whose immaculate credentials included ownership of the first Fender Telecaster in Japan, and fluency in English. Initially taking the name Group & I, the three discovered the tall gangly glue-sniffing Franco-Japanese Masayoshi Kabe in a local record shop bunking off from the local international school, where he played lead guitar in the band Take Five. Local boy Mamoru Manu completed the band on drums. The band’s earliest set was made up entirely of wild covers and included The Byrds/Love/Leaves’ version of ‘Hey Joe’, James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’, Them’s ‘One More Time’ plus standard work outs on ‘I Got My Mojo Workin’’, winning them the coveted position as house band at the infamous Golden Cup Discotheque, near the Honmoku US Army base whence so much of their radio influences had issued from. Playing to GI’s every night tightened up the band considerably, and they changed their name to The Golden Cups at the behest of the discotheque manager. With incredible timing, the newly-named band was asked to appear on the brand new early morning TV show Young 720, which aired every morning on NHK-TV, at 7.20 am. The appearance propelled them into the midst of the burgeoning Group Sounds scene and a deal with Capitol Records. With their righteous rock backgrounds and long experience, the Cups found themselves playing arduous schedules, Dave Hirao recalling later: "We were very busy. One day we did ten 45 minute shows in a row, and then got to the studio around midnight to record." In June 1967, Capitol released the Cups’ disappointing and twee debut single ‘Itoshi No Jizabel’ with its remarkable garage romp B-side "Hiwa Mata Noboru’, following up with the incredible ‘Giniro No Glass (Love Is My Life)’. However, Capitol imposed strict rules on the band’s recording and forced them to use staff songwriters for their singles, causing a schizophrenic attitude to develop in the band. Playing at jazz kissas such as Tokyo’s La Seine, the boys would go for total burn up, but compromise totally at concert halls, playing the dull overly arranged ballads, even accompanied by an orchestra. Consequently, the Cups’ debut LP THE GOLDEN CUPS ALBUM was equally schizophrenic, ranging from fuzzed out garage punk (‘Giniro No Glas’, ‘Hey Joe’) via competent soul and blues re-treads (‘I Got My Mojo Workin’’, ‘I Feel Good’) to truly East take on the ‘Hey Joe’ bassline is, however, still something to experience for its muscular and masterful fuck-offness.
One month later, the band had their biggest career hit with the super lame ‘Nagai Kami No Shoujo (Girl With Long Hair)’, which reached number 14 due to its accompanying cheesy ‘Girl With Long Hair’ contest. The B-side was, however, another high watermark and ‘This Bad Girl’ contained more of Kabe’s sensational bass runs and shows how Eddie Ban’s guitar was naturally chromatic and raga before that concept had really kicked off in the West.
However, Kenneth Ito was forced to return to Hawaii that summer and on his return was denied a visa. He was replaced not by another guitarist, but by 16-year-old fat boy Mickey Yoshino, who arrived in time to contribute substantial amounts to THE GOLDEN CUPS ALBUM VOLUME 2. Again a schizophrenic stalemate, this record featured diabolical hits singles (‘Woman Woman’, ‘My Love Only For You’, ‘Gimme Little Sign’) as well as wild garage goodies such as ‘Happenings At 3 O’Clock A.M.’ However, when the band themselves showed poor judgement with yet more soul standards, it was becoming clear that a whole coherent Golden Cups LP was unlikely ever to happen. It was, therefore, no surprise when The Cups’ took advantage of the floundering Group Sounds scene to record a live LP chock full of Butterfield Blues Band covers, indeed BLUES MESSAGE – ironically pressed on red vinyl - contained versions of ‘Walkin’ Blues’, ‘I Gotta Mind To Give Up Livin’’ and ‘Get Out Of My life’, as well as more unnecessary soul standards. When Eddie Ban left the band in April ’69 to form his own band with D’Swooners drummer Eddie Fortuno and organist Hiro Yanagida of The Floral, Louis Louis Kabe took over on lead guitar. Later LPs included SUPER LIVE SESSION, its title a homage to Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield’s albums of the same names, the music within mirroring the Cups’ current obsession with the extended jamming of Western so-called super groups. However, line-ups now changed regularly and haphazardly, as Eddie Ban returned temporarily then left again, as did guitarist Kenneth Ito, whilst Ai Takano from The Carnabeats came in on drums. The RECITAL LP featured orchestral versions of their hits, whilst the band themselves were currently obsessed with The Band, The Allman Brothers and Jethro Tull! Indeed, the abominable 1971 live LP LIVE ALBUM WITH THE GOLDEN CUPS even featured Three Dog Night’s ‘Joy To The World’! Each release sounded more and more like a cruise ship entertainment than a heavyweight outfit, and it was something of a mercy killing when, on New Year’s Eve 1972, the Okinawa discotheque in which they were playing burned to the ground, taking all of The Cups’ possessions and equipment with it. Ironically for a band that so hated its own hits, the band had chosen to play the cheesy ‘Nagai Kami No Shoujo (Girl With Long Hair)’ that night, but none of the drunken GI’s present had even heard the song before. However, despite this having been a long saga of often painfully unartistic achievement, The Golden Cups deserved to have their story told for the long term changes they exerted on Japanese rock’n’roll.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Takeshi Maki – lead vocals, organ
Satoshi Sakakibara – lead guitar
Hideyuki Koseki – rhythm guitar
Noboru Hayakawa – bass
Yasuo Sakai – drums

With their overly embroidered red collarless suits and fundamentalist motto ‘Return to the Beatles’ Early Days’, it would be easy to imagine The Edwards as having been a gang-like entity here to change rock’n’roll. Unfortunately, these Capitol recording artists were actually one schizophrenic quintet, their singles split between Spaghetti Western trumpet-led sub-Osmonds Latin melancholy and wildly rampant teen angst Shadows Of Knight-style fuzz guitar struts. Led by drummer Yasuo Sakai, they featured three band members from Tokyo, and two from neighbouring Yokohama City, the line-up being completed when Sakai asked Exciters’ vocalist Takeshi Maki to join them. Joining Terry Terauchi’s new Group Sounds stable, the band recorded their first single ‘Cry Cry Cry’ b/w ‘Koi No Nikki (The Diary Of Love)’ for Capitol Records, but it was nothing at all special, and the band was dropped. Their second and final single ‘Niji No Sunahama (Rainbow Beach)’ b/w ‘Koi No Owari Ni (At The End Of Love)’ was made for the smaller Toshiba offshoot Express Records, after which the band split. Rhythm guitarist Hideyuki Koseki thereafter changed his name to Goro Oishi and joined Takeshi Teraucki’s Bunnys, but nothing more was heard from the rest.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Cris Solano – vocals, bass
Charlie Cajilig – guitar
Ernie Espiritu - organ
Ronnie Parina - trumpets
Eddie Fortuno – drums

Known in some quarters as The Swooners, this full-on Philipino quintet first formed in 1963, playing old time rock’n’roll and doo wop to Manila audiences who demanded as much entertainment from them as their counterparts on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn demanded of the Merseybeat groups. Biding their time until 1965, D’Swooners then made for Hong Kong, where they had a big hit for the Diamond Records label with their waltz-driven key-changing weepy ‘50s styled ‘Sonata Of Love’ – billed as D’Swooners Featuring Cris Solano - and opened prestigious shows for both The Kinks and Manfred Mann. The Japanese singer, guitar slinger and heartthrob actor Yuzo Kayama was at the Manfred Mann concert with his wife, and used his contacts to get the band on Japanese TV. On their arrival in Tokyo, in 1967, to perform on the pop TV show R&B PARADISE, the meek Japanese audiences considered D’Swooners’ shows extremely wild. And when the band decided to stay on in Japan, they could not at first get a record deal. Worse still, drummer Eddie Fortuno was hanging out with fellow Philipino Joey Smith of Speed Glue & Shinki when he was done for possession of cannabis and thrown in jail. However, the band eventually signed to the Philips label, whereupon their first single for the label, their wonderfully rowdy clatterthon version of Smokey Robinson’s ‘Mickey’s Monkey’ was released on the same day as their first LP R&B GOLDEN HITS, the B-side being their old hit ‘Sonata Of Love’. Both records were big hits, as was their syrupy follow up 45 ‘Wonderful World Of Love’. Far better and of real interest to readers of this book is ‘Please Please, Trina’, with its rowdy, sexy organ riffing stomp, lead vocal is the style of Blue Cheer’s Dickie Peterson, and an insistent ‘You Really Got Me’ rhythm. Excellent. D’Swooners made use of wah-wah guitar and a real fire engine siren for their disturbingly damaged proto-Jose Feliciano version of The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’, the song rendered even more mysterious by the strange vocal inflections and Hispanic pronunciations of singer Cris Solano. Even more mysterious to the Japanese was their uncanny accuracy when performing Jimi Hendrix songs, for the guitarist’s style remained something of an unlockable mystery to many of the musicians. D’Swooners capitalized on this with their version of ‘Stone Free’, but also performed a Sam The Sham-style version of The Doors’ ’Hello, I Love You’, plus berserk versions of older songs such as James Brown’s ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s World’, Percy Sledge’s ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ and Sam & Dave’s hoary ‘Hold On, I’m Coming’, sung in a humorous baritone manner. Soon after their second album PORTRAIT OF D’SWOONERS was released, they replaced organist Ernie Espiritu with Japanese musician Jun Batilaran, while trumpeter Butch Tigno took Ronnie Parina’s place. However, D’Swooners’s days were numbered and they split up shortly afterwards without recording anything with the new line up. Eddie Fortuno went on to play drums with Foodbrain, whenever Hiro Tsunoda was out of town with his jazz quintet!
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007