Pinky & Killers

28Jan06

After spending an hour or so in a megane-ya picking out new eyeglass frames, Richard, Michelle, and I walked over to the Hartland for some fish and chips and a few pints. Since it was a Sunday night it was a bit slow, so Shinji-san (the owner) disappeared upstairs and came down with a huge box of 45s and a portable red and white Vestax record player. The box proved to be a treasure horde of Japanese popular music from the 60s and early 70s, and Richard and I put on record after record while dancing around the small bar in childish delight. It was really, really, cold outside, but we were inside where it was warm, drinking beer and listening to delightful, scratchy-old recordings through a tinny, tiny speaker. There’s simply something unspeakably fun about putting record after record on a portable turntable, picking up the tonearm, and dropping it into the groove to see what happens. We played sad, high-lonesome enka recordings from the early 60s, proto J-pop numbers that had pictures of beautiful chanteuses on the cover, several late-60s folk inspired records, a number of Japanese pressings of American songs (Simon and Garfunkel, Grand Funk Railroad), and even a rare collection of company songs cheerfully sung by company employees (who should have been working). The highlights, for me, were: 1) The enka (sort of like country) tune sung by the farmer who wants to move to the city. The cover is bright orange and shows a peasant farmer with crazy shaded glasses and a beard who is holding a hoe with his arms raised in the air and absolutely looks like nothing so much as a student radical from 68. 2) Two records by Pinky & Killers, a pop outfit from the 60s with “Pinky,” presumably the cute woman in a half-suit and pink tie, and Killers, a bunch of guys standing around in tuxedos, frills, and bowlers, with hard expressions on their faces and pencil-thin mustaches. Think Odd Job, but with a red carnation and a pop sensibility. 3) The song sung by a drunkard who keeps falling down the stairs. This song is really famous and is the product of a band called The Folk Satirists, or something like that. Anyhow, the important feature is that the singer sings in a voice like Alvin from The Chipmunks. Just think “drunk Chipmunks” and you’ve got a pretty fair idea. 4) Must not forget the Nancy Sinatra double bill of “Summer Wine” and “Sugar Town.” At one point while we were cranking one or the other of these tunes, Fujiwara-san, who is a regular, poked his head through the door and looked around with an expression on his face that can best be described as “Are you putting me on?” In any case, Shinji-san is too kind and he ended up giving Richard and myself stacks of 45s and inviting us to come back again next week for more. And indeed, we probably will. And indeed, we walked home through the cold, cold, snow. It was delightful.



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