In the meantime, I am definitely going to pull this one from the back burner. OK, it's pretty generous to say that this was even on the back burner. This is deep freezer material. I chiseled away years of ice to bring this little topic to you today, but at least it is something I always found interesting AND it's Tokusatsu related.
There have only been a few instances in Tokusatsu history where fans have unearthed what could have been... Sure there are things like last minute actor / actress swaps, and the infamous Dynaman V-Leager [sic] suits, but music has always been a much harder topic to broach. I previously wrote about the Ohranger theme song debacle, but none of that has been officially confirmed by Toei or Columbia. Metalder's excellent theme song was also not the first choice [allegedly, of course].
So why exactly are your eyeballs reading this sentence right now? I'm going to tell you all about the weirdness behind the Kamen Rider Stronger theme songs. What sets this one apart from the others I mentioned is that this one was actually confirmed by Toei and Columbia. Yep, this is the one time that they owned up to their mistake and admitted the whole thing. I have a theory on why this happened, but I'll save that for the end. For now, let's dig into Kamen Rider Stronger's complete theme song list.
First, the theme songs that were actually used...
Kamen Rider Stronger no uta [Opening Theme Song, All Episodes]
I don't think I've ever talked about this song. I think it's excellent--especially coming off the love it/hate it Amazon theme song. It didn't quite make my Top 7 list way back when I made it, but it's probably in my Top 10 or 12. Even if it isn't your cup of tea, you have to give it to Ichiro Mizuki for absolutely nailing it. It's definitely one of his best performances on a theme song.
Kyo mo Tatakau Stronger [Ending Theme Song, 1-2]
It was somewhat unusual to have two singers splitting the theme song duty. Sure, there was Kamen Rider and Kamen Rider V3, but those theme songs weren't sung by a singer, rather by the lead actors. Ichiro Mizuki sang the theme song to Kamen Rider Stronger yet the ending theme song was done by Masato Shimon with Mitsuko Horie. This will make a little more sense later...
The instrumentals are identical to the version used for the majority of the series. Now, I'm not much of a fan of Shimon...but good grief are his vocals bad on this track. They're both incredibly stiff and shakier than usual. There is zero consistency throughout the entire thing. Mitsuko Horie sounds...lethargic. It's just a mess. It's really no wonder this version of the song only lasted two episodes before being yanked for...
Kyo mo Tatakau Stronger [Ending Theme Song, 3-31]
Yeah, it was replaced by the same song. This time around its Ichiro Mizuki on lead vocals with an assist once again by Mitsuko Horie. Everything wrong with the singing in the previous version was fixed. This song has gone on to be a bit of a classic 70s Rider anthem no thanks to the shaky Masato Shimon version. It's a fun song and honestly one of the few worthwhile 70s Rider ending songs.
Stronger Action [Ending Theme Song, 32-39]
The winning duo is back. Ichiro Mizuki and Mitsuko Horie belt out a new ending song to close out the post-Tackle episodes of the series. This is a pretty good ending theme song too. It sounds like they had a bunch of fun recording it. It's fair to say that they took a previous formula and cranked it up a bit. Frankly, I prefer Kyo mo Tatakau Stronger over this one, though.
The abandoned opening theme song...
Miyo! Kamen Rider Stronger
Remember how the first version of Kyo mo Tatakau Stronger was sung by Masato Shimon? Well guess who sings this "gem"...
Listening to this song, it's pretty clear that this was intended to be a theme song. It isn't as grand as Kamen Rider Stronger no uta, but it isn't too much different from it either. Once again, the singing is baaaad. It's not hard to see why this one wasn't used. If you have the track, pay particular attention to when he says "Kick!".
It's hard to say at what point in production they scraped this song and changed course. On one hand, this is a bare bones scratch-track. On the other hand, they ended up using the Masato Shimon version of the ending song for two episodes. Both tracks only exist in MONO audio and didn't see a release until 1992 when the first issue of Kamen Rider Complete Song Collection Series Vol.5 was released. Even stranger, Masato Shimon has not done any official work on Tokusatsu since (though...yeah, he totally is the singer of the Gingaman themes...just sayin').
The fact that Columbia released the damn thing is a total mystery. They HAD to release the Shimon version of the ending song since that was used, but this was a little out there. Maybe it was revealed in an interview or something and became a bit of fan lore? I'm at a bit of a loss since this series is way before my time. I feel the whole thing has lead to more questions than answers.
You may be thinking that you heard a version of this song with Ichiro Mizuki on vocals. Well, you're correct. The track was later re-recorded as an IN song with a better singer and a little bit better production value. There is a bump in power with the addition of the backing track.
So how do I know all this to be fact? Columbia printed it in the booklet of the aforementioned Kamen Rider Stronger Song Collection. Yeah. They owned up to it. Maybe it was to shed a little light on to why there was only a brief use of the Masato Shimon version of the ending song. Who knows. I'll take it, though. It's certainly more fun to be able to hear what could have been instead of just being limited to my imagination...
Thanks for swinging by today. Be sure to check out my CD Collection/Music page for more articles and reviews. I guess one day I need to get around to Kamen Rider songs, eh?