Well now...quite a random batch of shows/movies, eh?
I suppose they're all...Tokusatsu...?
The main point of writing this blog was to review the brand-new Machineman Song & Music CD Set that was released only a few days ago as of this writing. I decided to tack on Daitetsujin 17 (since it is a similar set) and Spider-man (since it is also Toei). Then I posed the question on Twitter if I should add more. I got a response...and so I am also going to talk about the Cybercop Perfect Music Collection..............and Gunhed because I really want to talk about it. Heh. Totally random!
Dennou Keisatsu Cybercop Perfect Music Collection
To get things started I guess I should talk about a CD that has been in my collection since I bought it new way back when. Cybercop is a show that I never really got into no matter how many times I gave it a try. Luckily it has a sizeable enough fanbase that we were given this wonderful CD set nearly ten years after it aired.
The format is one that has since become familiar in the Toei/Columbia CD world. Disc One is the Music Collection and Disc Two is the Song Collection. In the 90s Columbia wasn't doing this...and now they seem to have picked up on the format--possibly on the enduring popularity of this set
Music first on this set. At sixty-one minutes this disc is hardly packed to the brim, but it does manage to pack in quite a lot of content thanks to minimal fluff. It contains the TV Size versions of both theme songs as well as a Karaoke version of Tsuioku no Jupiter and a One Chorus Karaoke version of the Band Kaze version of the ending theme song. The rest is pure BGM.
Ichiro Nitta is the composer in charge of this series. I'm not very familiar with his work outside of this show and his work on the first two Sukeban Deka shows, but he seems to have career in anime also. If I were to compare this with another series soundtrack...I suppose it is somewhat similar to Chojin Sentai Jetman. I'm not sure if I'm saying that this soundtrack was ahead of it's time or that Jetman's was behind the times, but there is a certain similarity between the two. I suppose it's certainly the mix of guitar and horn with supporting synthesizers.
Annoyingly all of the tracks are long form. I genuinely don't mind having a CD with fifty tracks if it means I can get to the piece of music I want to faster. This isn't the case here. Fifteen tracks minus the four tracks of songs means only eleven tracks of music. This means there are plenty of tracks that range between six and ten minutes. Oh well... Atleast the music itself is very good. The addition of sound effects throughout is pretty neat as well.
The standout track for me is one called Lucifer. The section beginning at 2:30 is my favorite. I would give the production code, M-01 for example, but the booklet is laid out pretty sloppily.
The song collection is somewhat Frankenstein'd together. It isn't separated in any particular way, which is rather annoying. Tracks 1~3 are three different versions of the opening theme song (vocal, Karaoke, and Instrumental). Track 4 is more BGM. 5~6 are vocal and Karaoke versions of Honoo no Messenger. Track 7 is BGM. 8~9 are vocal and Karaoke versions of the Band Kaze version of the ending theme song Shooting Star. Track 10 is the vocal version of Tsuioku no Jupiter (if you remember, the Karaoke version is on the first disc). Track 11 is more BGM. Tracks 12~13 are vocal and Karaoke versions of the regular version of Shooting Star. Tracks 14~16 are the vocal songs Let it go, Into the Night, and Brand New Tomorrow.
It really would've been nice if they split this CD up a little bit better. The BGM belongs on the first disc and the songs there belong here. They really should have split up the Karaoke from the vocal tracks while they were at it. It just makes the last three tracks seem like they were lazily tacked on as an after thought.
In general I like the songs from this show. The OP is a little bit tacky as is the bassline in the ED, but they're still enjoyable. The rest of the songs are pretty good. I especially like Into the Night and Brand New Tomorrow, which was a single on its own in 1988 (yes, I own that also).
Set Overall: "Perfect" may be a stretch, but this CD set was incredibly well done when it was released in 1998. It may have taken some time for Toei/Columbia to copy and perfect the formula, but someone had to get the ball rolling somehow. Recommended. Not only for you, but recommended that this set go back into print.
Ehhh...let's try this again...
Gunhed Original Soundtrack
I spoke about the 1989 Toho Movie Gunhed at great lengths a few months back. I recommend checking out the entry and the film sometime.
Anyway, yes, I avoided talking about the soundtrack in that post because I wanted to save it for a CD Collection entry. Since this is a short CD, I will try to keep it short.
Normally I hate Digipak-style packaging, but this one is laid out nicely.
The CD begins and ends with a vocal song Mariko Nagai. The film's ending song (Japanese Audio Track only) is called Time, which is my favorite of the two vocal songs. It's a fun little song that totally doesn't reflect the absolute bleakness of the film. The second vocal song, Anata o Miteruto is strictly an image song as it didn't appear in the film at all. It's a good enough track with some great singing, but a bit generic as far as late 80s, early 90s ballads go.
Tracks 2~13 are made up of the music from the movie. I happen to love the music, but really don't think this soundtrack is for everyone. It ranges from very moody to slightly less moody to full-on-synth action.
The standout track on this CD is the one titled PRE-PRODUCTION. It is basically the kickass music from the trailer. Do yourself a favor and listen to it with headphones or with the old home stereo fired up. It will rattle your spine. None of the other tracks on this disc are nearly as heavily processed as this. Seriously...your teeth will rattle and you might be able to see sound after only a few listens.
Overall: I friggin love this one. You might not. Check out the movie and decided for yourself.
Eccentric Sound Of Spider-man
I have gone on record in saying that I have a severe dislike of the Spider-man theme songs. The music collection, however, is a different animal. This is actually a very well-crafted disc. It does have a somewhat generic 70s sound at times, but there was some definite effort given to this production. If I could liken it to another soundtrack...I'd say it's almost similar to the Battle Fever J Music Collection in structure and sound. I mean, it makes sense since both Music Collections were done by Michiaki Watanabe only a year apart.
If you are wondering about the awful theme songs, yes, they're both represented here in a few different forms. There are five versions of the OP (TV Size, Instrumental, Full Size Vocal, TV Size Chorus Karaoke, and Full Size Chorus Karaoke). On top of this, there are four versions of the ED (Instrumental, TV Size, Full Size Vocal, and TV Size Karaoke). Yeah, the themes I don't really like take up quite a bit of real estate here...but I'm willing to look past that.
My favorite track is probably the stupidest. Track 12, Tenkan, is a collection of various recordings of "Spider-man" as said in the opening theme song. It's just so unnecessary. Ringtone fodder at it's finest.
That said, it doesn't quite live up to the "eccentric" title, but it is a very fun music collection despite the 57 different versions of the theme songs.
Overall: Give it a try if you're a fan of soundtracks of the 1970s.
Daitetsujin 17 Music Collection
Out of nowhere Columbia released a 2-Disc Song and Music Collection for Daitetsujin 17. I'm not complaining about it or anything, it was just an entirely random thing to do and a random time to do it. Heh. Like "We have to get this out before 2010!".
The set begins with the Music Collection on Disc One with the Song Collection on Disc Two. Once again this soundtrack was done by Michiaki Watanabe. He was in charge of practically every non-Rider Toei show for a pretty long stretch of time. So what's this set about?
To start things off we get the Music Collection. Despite being the second reviewed Watanabe music collection in this blog, it actually pre-dates Spider-man by a year. It kinda shows even though I think a lot of Watanabe's work sounds like an enormous blob of similarity. I'm not sure if he had a larger budget to work with on Spider-man, but there is a marked difference. Maybe the Eccentric Sound Of Spider-man was eccentric afterall...
That said there isn't anything wrong with this music collection. It just suffers from sounding like everything else. Like if someone were to play three untitled Watanabe tracks and have me try to identify the series...I would probably be able to name anything non-17 related. This is just too forgettable to identify.
Both theme songs are represented on this disc in TV Size and TV Size Karaoke forms.
I talked about the Song Collection previously on my review of the Superhero Chronicle 1970s & 1980s CD Sets. As I said there, the Song Collection is mostly just Ichiro Mizuki and early-ish Koorogi '73. The theme songs are excellent and the rest of the songs are pretty good too. The vocal collection takes up tracks 1~10 with Karaoke versions of some of the songs taking up 11~16.
Tracks 17~21 are leftover BGM titled "Music Collection 2". Nothing outwardly exciting here.
Set Overall: Unless you were a big fan of Daitetsujin 17, Ichiro Mizuki, or Karaoke...I would skip this one.
Seiun Kamen Machineman Song & Music Collection
While this might be the last CD in this entry, this is the first one I'm writing about. I've listened to this set about three times since I received it on its release date (Amazon Japan will get it to you on time!) and am thoroughly impressed.
I was never really a big fan of the series, but I really enjoyed a lot of the music that I heard. As I mentioned in my last CD Collection post, the Song Collection has been available on CD for several years. In short, the Song Collection is very good--especially if you like MoJo.
The Music Collection, on the other hand, has only been available on Vinyl for the past thirty years. It was always this elusive thing to me since I don't download mp3s and I try not to buy too much in the way of vinyl. I've been ragging on Columbia for years to release the Machineman Music Collection under their ANIMEX1200 CD line...and boy am I glad they didn't.
This set...is amazing! Again, not even really a fan of the show. Just the content of this set and it's execution are perfect. This is the standard that all future Columbia releases should aspire to meet. Both discs are stuffed to the gills with 80 minutes of content a piece. Everything I was hoping for AND MORE was included. I mean, I blindly preordered this set on the second of January...and they didn't release the tracklist until almost March. I had no idea what the content was going to be...and they exceeded everything I could hope for.
Here is what we got...
The first disc is the song collection. Tracks 1~6, 8~10 are the same songs that appeared on the Superhero Chronicle Set. Track 7 is the instrumental song called Fighting Explosion which, ofcourse, was only available on vinyl prior to this. Tracks 11~19 are Karaoke versions of all vocal songs (1~6, 8~10). Track 20 and 21 are TV Size Karaoke versions of the theme songs. Track 22 is the Off-Chorus version of the Opening theme song (MoJo minus the child choir backing vocals). Track 23 is the Off-Chorus version of Ball Boy's song (Machiko Soga minus the kids). Track 24 is the TV Size version of the excellent IN Song Denko Action Machineman...
Last but not least, Track 25 is the 2015 version of the opening theme song with MoJo returning on vocals. This is the track that had many fans curious early on since it was one of the few solid details released about this CD when preorders opened in January. In all honesty, I was really curious to see if they were going to do a sloppy modernization with a tired sounding MoJo. Rest assured...MoJo returns in top form to sing a slightly more soulful version of the original Machineman theme song that we all know and love. It is exactly as-titled...a new recording of the same old song. It's very clean sounding with a few new subtle elements tossed in.
MoJo approved! It's funny that he wrote this after I pre-ordered it.
So if you were expecting a new version like they did with the Kamen Rider Super 1 themes in 2011, you might be disappointed. I actually enjoy the 2015 version of the Machineman song quite a bit.
Disc One Overall: Again...this disc was absolutely PACKED with glorious newly unearthed content. The Karaoke, the off-chorus versions, the TV Size Karaoke versions...Wow! We're only half way through the set and I'm blown away!
With the song collection out of the way, it's time to move on to what many fans will consider the main event--the music collection! To make things even more unique, this Music Collection is composed by Yuji Ohno...someone I'm really not familiar with at all. In all fairness to me, this is his lone (as far as I can tell) credit as composer to a Tokusatsu series. This kinda lends to the freshness in sound to the Music Collection in general. I am going to say something that will get me jumped by a lot of people.
I can only take so much Michiaki Watanabe and Shunsuke Kikuchi. Credit where credit is due, they laid a fantastic foundation of solid Tokusatsu soundtracks...but they were starting to sound tired and dated by the 80s. They still did good work, but time kinda passed them by in my opinion. By the time Jiban rolled around, Watanabe was mercilessly ripping off his own music three times over while Kikuchi was still adding chimes to everything in Super 1 (OK, OK...he did great work in Dragonball and Dragonball Z...he felt at home on that show).
This soundtrack is gold to my ears. For a third-banana Toei show in 1984, it easily had the best soundtrack. Shaider was just a mess of Fushigi Song variations while Bioman didn't have too much beyond instrumental versions and variations of the vocal songs. Machineman is a complete soundtrack. It's a little bit on the laid-back side, but does have a good deal of action and upbeat music with plenty of glorious bass. This is the perfect soundtrack for the time. Yuji Ohno nailed it. I'm just baffled as to why this music has been locked up for so long...it's just a great set.
I should also mention that the TV Size versions of the themes are here as well as instrumental versions of both. This is back when TV size versions were not edited down versions of the full size, but recorded separately (I wouldn't be surprised if Machineman was one of, if not the last to do it this way). Machineman is a special case because the very beginning of the OP had this awesome little bass part that led into the song proper while the TV Size ED had a unique ending to it. Nice to say that both are represented properly here. Oh yes, and all Subtitles, Eyecatches, incidental music are included. They really went all out!
So the content is good...how about the quality? Well, if you have heard any of the soundtracks to the Uchuu Keiji shows, you know the quality of the sound. It still sounds great with headphones, but you'll definitely hear things like background noise and an ever-present loud hum during quiet spots. They didn't really have the future in mind when they were recording these soundtracks in MONO for TV shows that were going to be broadcast in MONO. Again, if you listen to as much old music as I do, you're used to this.
Disc Two Overall: Superb. Really, this is a fantastic Music collection.
Set Overall: It took them entirely too long, but Toei has finally put together the perfect CD set. I really hope they keep up the amazing work on future releases. If you're a fan of Machineman or 80s Soundtracks I can't recommend this set enough. I'm totally against downloading...and this time I really mean it. Buy the set. Let Columbia know that they're finally doing us fans right so that we can get more fantastic music releases like this. They definitely spent the time and truly earned the money they charged this time around.
I managed to write quite a bit about five measly CDs. Next time for my CD Collection posts, I plan on writing about all of the Ohranger CDs I could get my hands on...and then some. Remember the whole Kyoko Sound Laboratory fiasco? Well, I'll be covering that once again along with some oddball IN songs by Namie Amuro and TRF. Expect to see that sometime in April or May.
In the meantime, check out my CD Collection/Article page! An update should be coming soon enough!
See You Again...