Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2012 April 16 • Monday

The 213th Soundtrack of the Week is 60's Television's Hits, a compilation of theme music for Japanese television programs from the 1960s.

It kicks off with one of my favorites, the theme music for Ultra Q, which was the 190th Soundtrack of the Week.

Second is the Batman theme, but a Japanese version! It begins the way you remember it, with that "Wipe Out"-like riff and the chant of "Batman! Batman!" But then there are Japanese vocals and a swinging jazz section with a sax solo!

This is followed by the theme to Spy Catcher, a surf number with lyrics appropriate to the title of the show. "S… P… Y… Spy! Catch! Catch! Catch!"

Next is a show whose title translates literally as License of Inanimate Nature but is better known as Key Hunter. It has a soaring, yearning vocal that sounds like something Masaru Sato composed.

Number five is the theme from The Guardmen. It's a catchy, surfy instrumental which builds to a Morricone-like climax with brass instruments building in intensity and electric guitar making weird noises.

Next is a sunny and sprightly song for Mama and Fukuro-san. It starts with the classic Dick Dale-like descending line on electric guitar before going into this impossible perky song that will make you think of cartoon kittens dancing around freshly baked cupcakes. The backing band is really good and quite surfy. At some point the male vocalist imitates that descending guitar line, after which the guitar plays it again and then there's a very short organ break.

Surf continues to be the prominent style in the next song, "Yuuhi ni mukatte", which has something to do with sunset. Another male vocalist sings cheerfully while guitar, organ, bass and drums get surfy in the background.

Other highlights include the girl-group shout and stomp theme for Mini Mini Girl, whatever that was.

The great Takeshi Terauchi with his group The Bunnies plays the theme for Taiyo Yaro, which would translate roughly as Sun Bastard or Bastard Sun, I believe. This was released as a single and you can listen to it while looking at the cover here.

There's a swinging song that's something of a change of pace, though it has a kind of lounge Hawaii Five-0 theme quality to it, for a show that might be called The Night I Want To Hold Your Hand.

A group called Pinky and The Colors contribute a sunny pop theme song for a show called Fly Off Into the Blue Sky. (At least that's how I translate it.)

A group called The Wonders do a Japanese version of Barry Gray's Captain Scarlet theme. The melody is exactly the same and the arrangement is very similar to Gray's original.

Amachi Shigeru's theme song for At Night is a heartfelt crooner with a bossa nova beat. If you like Takakura Ken's songs, you'll probably like this. You can check it out here.

Finally, the last tune on the record really stands out. Fast walking bass and drums provide the foundation for very fast scatting in unison with electric guitar for the 11PM theme.