Time once again for another version of Cool and Strange music from sixties Japan!
Of course, you've all heard of Eartha Kitt? Orson Welles once called her the "The most exciting woman in the world." Eartha Kitt had a definite distinctive singing style. You might remember her for such smash hits as "C'est Si Bon," or "Santa Baby." Or, you might even remember that she played Cat Woman in the Batman TV series in the sixties. But did you know that she also sang a song in Japanese (well, part of it is in Japanese) that was a hit?
Yep. The song is a traditional Japanese kids song and it's about a temple in Japan that has a raccoon living there that comes out at night to have fun with friends. I love this song and it brings tears to my eyes as my mother used to sing this to me at bedtime when I was a very young boy of about 4 or 5 years old. This one song was probably very important for me to fall in love with Japan from a young tyke.
Eartha Kitt - Sho Jo Ji
The next song is very cool too and I ask that you pay very close attention to the video. This is pretty racy stuff! There's a naked lady in there! I gather that this show is sort of inspired by American sixties spy and police shows ala "Mission Impossible." I crack up at what the narration says. In one part the narrator pronounces that, "They love freedom. They protect peace!"
Here's the opening sequence to the 1968 version of the smash hit TV show, "Key Hunter."
You can hear the original version of the theme to Key Hunter, without narration here.
The next interesting song is from a TV show from 1964 that actually had success overseas. The show was entitled, 忍者部隊月光 (Ninja Butai Gekko) but the title for the foreign audience was "Phantom Agents" (probably because back in the mid-sixties there hadn't been such a worldwide fascination with Japan yet... (Not sure). This is a great example of doing the best you can with basically zero budget. The Wikipedia description of Phantom Agents is pretty funny:
The Phantom Agents were modern day ninjas working for the Japanese government, mostly against the dastardly "Black Flag" organization. They wore "pudding basin" motorcycle helmets, and in the earlier episodes they ran everywhere in single file, but later graduated to a Toyota Crown Saloon.
No. Not this Black Flag!
The Phantom Agents were armed with ninja weapons such as shuriken and used guns "only as a last resort," as was patiently explained to the only female member in the title sequence of each episode. They had the ability to jump backwards up onto the limbs of trees and could hold a piece of cloth with a brick pattern on it in front of them and thus blend into the wall behind them, becoming invisible to their opponents.
Pretty funny and very cool stuff, eh?
Thanks for tuning in.... And thanks to my mom for singing Sho Jo Ji to me every night. When I stumbled upon this song by accident, I started crying. Thank you, Mom! I'll never forget!
But before you go.... Check out the scenes from the TV show Phantom Agents with the very silly scenes and the cool song starting at about 40 seconds! Enjoy! This is pretty funny too!
See you all next time!