2020/10/29

Song Collection: Hikari Sentai Maskman

Welcome back to the Song Collection. This time around I'm reviewing a song collection that I could've sworn I reviewed already. Alas, no. I wrote a scathing take on the incredibly poopy BGM, however.

Yeah, so the theme of my dual-posts this month is "Two Song Collections from 1987 that I was certain that I covered, but really haven't...yet...". Be sure to check out my 100% Hironobu Kageyama-less review on the Kamen Rider Black Song Collection!

For this review I'll be listening to my copy of Hikari Sentai Maskman Complete Song Collection from 1997. I previously talked about this disc briefly here.

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01. Hikari Sentai Maskman / Hironobu Kageyama

The series theme song. While Hironobu Kageyama still brings it with the energy, he does so while somehow matching the somewhat glum tone of the music. It's upbeat, but the emotion is driven by the horn. The little bursts of action with somewhat jazzy little riffs smattered in that have a tinge of tragedy. I know I say this a lot in these reviews, but it's really important for the theme song to be memorable and tolerable. Once it's out there, it's the song everyone at Toei is going to be living with for an entire year. It'd better be good.

It's also a great beat to run to...just FYI...

02. Moeru ze Fire / Hironobu Kageyama, SHINES

Ehhhh let's get the sole stinker out of the way.

This song is early 80s cheese in 1987. I'm hard-pressed to think of a song like this that existed after. It's a peppy little thing that really would feel more at home on the Bioman Song Collection. Sure, we've had these soft motivational songs in shows since then, but they at least sounded contemporary. I feel like the Turboranger song collection did a better job of this type of song.

03. Oretachi Ungler / The Unglers

The Unglers = Koorogi '73

If you've been following along with my series of posts here, you know that I have an odd relationship with Koorogi '73. They've been around forever, but only through writing these posts I've noticed that I really, really don't care for them.

This is one of those rare situations where I actually love the damn song.

It's a mess in all the right ways. My complaint about the previous track being out-of-date? This song is extremely OF the date. The beat is chaotic and the singing is suitable for the rare grunt theme song. This one will definitely have you wondering what the hell you listened to the first time around, but man is it a fun track to periodically revisit.

Really, the few times that I do get along with a Koorogi '73 song, I really do get along with it.

04. Lady Action Kimetara Oshare / Satoko Yamano

This is heroine track of the series. I've been kinda hit or miss on the genre, but this one gets a solid 'hit' from me. It's VERY catchy and Satoko Yamano, who had a previous Toei earworm with Pink Pink Pink! from Dokincho! Nemurin, delivers the goods.

I think the pace is the biggest strength this song has. It kinda simmers for a bit and then BAM. It really gets to the fun chorus. 

05. Shot Bomber Zenryoku Shuuchuu / Hironobu Kageyama, Koorogi '73, SHINES

This weirdness is the opening theme song to the Maskman movie. It has a very similar feel to the OP, but it's the fairly silly theme song the the Shot Bomber weapon. The odd backgrounds provided by Koorogi '73 and SHINES really heighten the weirdness.

Even if it was a one-off, this has to be up there with one of the strangest Sentai opening theme songs...that's for sure.

06. Action Fantasy / Miracle Bombers

I think this very well be the final Super Sentai Disco song. Yeah...in 1987. Whoever said disco died in 1980 forgot about the world outside of America.

This isn't much more than a rollcall of all of the Maskman equipment and attacks performed by "Miracle Bombers", which is a super group of basically everyone who performs on this song collection. Koorogi '73 kinda pads the whole thing out with the lead male vocals by Kageyama and lead female vocals by..... I have no idea, to be perfectly honestly. If I really listen to the song like fifty more times than the hundred or so times I've heard it over the years I could probably I.D. the mystery woman from the Columbia team.

Either way, it's a fun song...and the end of an era.

07. Aura ni kagayake! Great Five / Hironobu Kageyama

From: The CD Collection-- Gattai Tamashii ~Super Sentai Robot Song Perfect Collection~:

"This is Hironobu Kageyama's second Sentai mecha theme song and probably his most forgettable. I know I said I wasn't very impressed by his Changerobo theme from Changeman, but this one is just bland. My criticisms with that one were only magnified with this one. Well, he does sound like he was just a little bit closer to the microphone, but it's still distracting how low his vocals sound versus the music."

08. Telepathize shite kure / Katsuya Miura

A pretty solid ballad. I know this song is quite popular, and I can't really argue with that. I will just say that the vocalistic stylings of Katsuya Miura are pretty lacking. The music is quite good, though. The moody bass along with the backing vocals are the main feature.

Otherwise, I remember spending nights aimlessly cruising the streets of Havana in Driver 2 with this playing. Is it a fitting song for that situation? No, but...it happened.

09. Dashitemiyo ze! Aura Power / Hironobu Kageyama

I like the dreary optimism in the music. 

On the surface it's a pretty standard rock song (with a pretty long intro for some reason) but I always dug this the most on this song collection. This is the type of song that Kageyama can do perfectly in his sleep (I almost wrote with his arm tied behind his back...). The structure is just so damn good...the whole package is just great. 

This is the closest link to Kageyama's outside work than any other anison, IMO. If you pick up any of Kageyama's solo music from the 80s, this is pretty much what it sounds like. Yes, there was a point where his career became anison, but there was that fun era where he sang corny love songs. I kinda really like that Kageyama in a weird way...

Here's a random link to his cover of Jon Parr's St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion).

10. Ten Eyes ~5nin no hitomi~ / Hironobu Kageyama, Koorogi '73, SHINES

Weirdly they saved the action-hype song for the end of this tracklist. This is the only real action song of the series, to be perfectly honest. 

It's alright. I used to be hotter on this one, but really it's just another rollcall song...this time hyping up each character. Koorogi '73 is sparsely featured, which is acceptable, and SHINES cover the Yellow Mask and Pink Mask segments.

11. Ai no Soldier / Hironobu Kageyama

The series ending song. I know that Kokoro wa Tamago from Jetman is the best of the four Kageyama ending themes, but this is a close second. 

Personally...it also saddens me quit a bit. I don't know why I remember this, but this is the last song I listened to before starting my day on 9/11. That has always kinda haunted me, especially since it has the same underlying bleakness of the other Maskman songs, but it hasn't stopped me from enjoying the song in the years since.

It's definitely not bouncy, but it does carry along briskly. For extra fun, be sure to check out the Karaoke version. I almost prefer it that way...it's a different experience. 

12. Hikari Sentai Maskman [Original Karaoke]

13. Oretachi Ungler [Original Karaoke]

14. Lasy Action Kimetara Oshare [Original Karaoke]

15. Shot Bomber Zenryoku Shuuchuu [Original Karaoke]

16. Aura ni kagayake! Great Five [Original Karaoke]

17. Dashitemiyo ze! Aura Power [Original Karaoke]

18. Ten Eyes ~5nin no hitomi~ [Original Karaoke]

19. Ai no Soldier [Original Karaoke]

20. Shot Bomber Zenryoku Shuuchuu Type B -Bonus Track- / Hironobu Kageyama, Koorogi '73, SHINES

This is an alternate version of the Shot Bomber theme that replaces "Fire~! Shot Bomber!" with "Fire~! Jet Cannon!" in the lyrics. I guess that's the easy way to double your weapon theme songs.

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OVERALL: If you've been following my site long enough, you might be wondering what I'm smoking. How can the guy who utterly trashed the music collection from Maskman two years ago sing it's praises about it's song collection?

*shrug*

I'm just as baffled as you are. Don't blame me, though. The song collection is strangely 100% competent while the BGM, you know...the fuel and lifeblood of the series, is so weak. The BGM is just...so bad. Haha. Meanwhile, we basically have a pretty solid Hironobu Kageyama album with a few guest singers for the song collection. 

This is Hironobu Kageyama's second outing as Super-Sentai-Series-Songster...Superior (?) and he definitely had a pinch of maturity snuck in since his Changeman songs in 1985. He may have started with Changeman, but I think his Maskman songs are really where his anison career kicked off. The same year he basically did the whole song collection for The Headmasters, Saint Saiya was the following year, and was CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA'ing the year after that and beyond.....

So, yeah, I can safely recommend this one. It has some minor flaws, but it's otherwise an easily enjoyable album. 

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That's it for now. Please stay safe and I'll be back soon with more posts!

-CC

PREVIOUSLY...

Song Collection: Kamen Rider Black
Song Collection: Dennou Keisatsu Cybercop REVISED

Ghost Warrior--That Time Hiroshi Fujioka Was In a Fish-Out-Of-Water Action ThingK2--That Time Hiroshi Fujioka Was In a Mountain Climbing Movie

Song Collection: Kamen Rider Black


Welcome back to another song collection review! I'm listening to two song collections from 1987 back-to-back for this double feature. So right after you read this one, you can check out my take on the Hikari Sentai Maskman song collection. There's no ranking or winner, but it's totally Maskman.

I guess the selections came about when I not only realized I never reviewed either, but also we're getting a third attempt at a Kamen Rider Black SHFiguart. Yeah, they tried (and failed) just as many times to release a decent version of the theme song from the same series, so why not??

For this review I'll be listening to the song collection via the Kamen Rider Black Song & BGM Collection from 2015. I previously talked about this here.




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01. Kamen Rider Black / Tetsuo Kurata

I may get some grief for admitting this...but I really don't like this theme song. The bulk of my dislike lies in the singer, one Tetsuo Kurata. The young actor did a perfectly good job at bringing the Kamen Rider franchise back to life, but he certainly had his limits in talent. Yeah, his singing is pretty woeful. This is probably the best of the trio of songs he performed during his two Rider series, but the notes are pretty shaky throughout. 

Given everyone at Columbia was pretty well pre-occupied in 1987 it's hard to think of who could've picked up the slack. Shinichi Ishihara really wasn't a thing until 1989. Takayuki Miyauchi...this really isn't his style of song. They clearly wanted to distance themselves from the past, so Ichiro Mizuki was out. Maybe Norio Sakai would've been the better choice? As we'll see later on, he was already there to sing the ending song...so why not both?

Why is picturing a better singer to this song a tough nut to crack? Well...it's the music. The jerky electronic beat is hard to match in vocals (and impossible to dance to...just sayin'). Yeah, I really don't like anything about this song except maybe the bass. 

02. Gekiso! Ni dai Machine / Toshiya Igarashi

The theme song to both of Kotaro's bikes in the series--Battle Hopper and Road Sector. This type of song is nothing new to the Rider franchise, so it's nice to see that the obligatory bike theme carried on. Like Kamen Rider Super 1, this series dedicates part of the song to one bike and then the other half to the other. Pretty simple.

This is a pretty rockin' theme as well. Literal explosion sound effects are peppered in for added emphasis. Just imagine the explosion effects being Road Sector breaking through a wall...or Battle Hopper defecting to Shadow Moon and attacking Kotaro. Whoops! Spoiler!

03. Goal e mukatte hashire / Toshiya Igarashi

Very similar to the previous song, but not nearly as cool. It manages to be an uptempo softy somehow. I really don't have too much else to say really.

04. Kamen Rider Black ~Hoshi no Lullaby~ / Toshiya Igarashi

I remember this one playing often in the series. *checks notes* Four times?? It felt like way more! As you can tell from the title, this is a lullaby. It's a nice song. As far as lullabies go, this one it at least contemporary and interesting. It could've been much lamer. Not too many songs like this have a serviceable beat.

05. BLACK ACTION / Toshiya Igarashi

OK, this song was playing all-the-time in the series. It's the perfect song for all hell breaking loose. That fast beat along with the hectic guitar give it some amazing energy. As with the previous track, the name pretty much says it all. This isn't the only action song of the series, but it's fair to say that it's *THE* action song. 

The only problem is that it isn't the best action song of the series...nope. It's not. That's because it's...........

06. Blackhole Message / Toshiya Igarashi

I feel like every good song collection has it's quintessential hit. This one is a slam dunk.

That intro is possibly the greatest and most memorable of any Kamen Rider song. It's twenty-two seconds of the slamminest synth/horn combo ever. It just kinda grabs and doesn't let go. Once the lyrics kick in, things settle before building back up. I love it.

On top of that intro, you'll have "Love and peace! Love and peace FOREVER!" stuck in your head. What a great flippin' track...

07. Henshin! Rider Black / Toshiya Igarashi

I think the best part of this song also lies in it's intro. It's no shock that this song accompanied a handful of Henshin sequences in the series...it just works so perfectly.

The rest of the song is decent. I think a few things could've been handled better to make it a little more memorable, but it really isn't too bad. Maybe if it were cut down to four minutes from five. The Song & BGM Collection even has a forty-six second edit that mimicks it's use in the series. That's probably the best version of it!

08. Ore no seishun / Tetsuo Kurata

Another Tetsuo Kurata song. Oooof.

The worst of his three songs lives on the Black RX song collection...so you have to wonder what keeps this one right in the middle... Well...that horn for one. The memorably bizarre appearance of it in the first Kamen Rider Black movie is another (It's like they wanted to make their own video for the Karaoke machine...just picture the lyrics blasting on the screen). You can tell a lot less coaching and care went into Kurata's singing this time around. 

It's a nice music track at least. 

09. Let's Fight Rider / Toshiya Igarashi

The weakest of the fight songs despite what the title would have you believe.

Since I really don't have too much to say about this song in particular, I guess I can use this space to sing my praises of Toshiya Igarashi. He's pretty damn good. You know what? Maybe he should've been the one to sing the theme song? Yeah! Why in the world did he get snubbed? The songs here are the only Tokusatsu songs he ever did. The next year he did the Transformers Masterforce Song Collection. It was kinda meh. 

It's a shame we didn't get more, his raspy vocals worked really well on these songs.

10. Long, Long Ago 20th Century / Norio Sakai

This is the series ending song...and one of the most memorable ones out there. It's such a dim and mysterious sounding song, but it's done in such a calm melody that it serves well as a tender tune in BGM form. The stabbing synths in the vocals are kinda the antithesis.

Norio Sakai's contribution to this song collection is this lone song. He would later go on to give us some songs from Cybercop, Gridman, and an annual song or two between Carranger-Go Go Five. He did make a brief return to Rider for some songs in Kuuga and Agito making him one of the very rare artists to do songs in both Showa and Heisei eras (Hiroshi Fujioka recorded a new Rider single in 2000 and, of course, Akira Kushida for his work on ZX and OOO). Pretty big accomplishment there...

Oh yeah...this is a great ending song.

EX1. Kamen Rider Black (Album Version) / Tetsuo Kurata

There are some variants of the Kamen Rider Black theme song. The first of which is the "Album Version". Yikes...this one is an earlier take that features some incredibly shaky vocals. This is the one that first appeared on the Hit Song Collection. 

The other difference here is that the mastering is different. It does feature the repeated "BLACK!", rather than the distorted one. The vocals are also far, FAR less processed than they are in the...umm...official version?

EX2. Kamen Rider Black (Single Version) / Tetsuo Kurata

This features HEAVY correction to the vocals in a botched attempt to make them sound somewhat usable. It also has the distortion on the "BLACK!".

If you're confused and just want to listen to the best version of this damn theme song, just look for the one that lives as the first track of the first disc on this three-disc set. All versions everywhere else are lousy...with the "Album Version" being the absolute worst of them.

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OVERALL: As solid as the majority of the songs are on this song collection, I really don't feel the need consider it a favorite. There are some VERY memorable tunes here and if you watched the series you heard them often. It's nice to see a song collection get used unlike a series like...Zyuranger or Dairanger. We never really heard from the song collection too often there...

So yes, this is a very show-friendly collection of songs. I recommend them on their enduring popularity even if I've not the biggest proponent.

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Thank you for checking in on me. Keep staying safe and wear a mask!

-CC

PREVIOUSLY...