Archive for the ‘soundtrack’ Category

Now that I have these themes to Knight Rider and Airwolf I feel that I can do anything

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Somewhere, buried in a scrapbook, photo album or shoebox is a photo.

It is a photo of me at the (then) happiest moment of my life.

It is a photo of seven year old me in motherfucking K.I.T.T.

Goddamn that was a good day.

Man, remember when TV was awesome? TV used to be awesome. And I don’t mean bullshit critically acclaimed awesome of today’s TV. I mean talking cars, flying motorcycles, shapeshifting detectives, cyborg secret agents, electro-kinetic guitarists and Night Court.

What’s on TV now? Shitty sexist sitcoms, non-stop reality TV, and over-the-top exploitation garbage disguising itself as art.

Yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff out there I guess. TV shows with nuance, interesting, complex characters, dramatic tension, and amazing acting. But fuck that shit. When I turn on the TV, I want to escape from reality completely and without question. I want to be free of tension, depression, anxiety and sadness. I don’t want to be reminded of anything horrible, any of mankind’s ills, and of the horrible problems in the world. I want to see a man and a talking car fight crime. I want to see a helicopter take out…whoever the bad guys in Airwolf were (it’s been a while). And I want to see it without a hint of pretense, without any suggestion that the people behind the scenes are thinking for one second they are making art (which was the problem with Lost, Heroes, and just about any other “serious” sci-fi show of the past 15 years).

And I’m sure there are a lot of TV fans reading this right now thinking that I’m full of shit. Fine, maybe I am full of shit. Maybe you (and everyone else) was right and Breaking Bad was actually a great show; maybe Game of Thrones is actually a well-written fantasy that doesn’t bank on controversy and sexism to bring in the ratings; maybe the Big Bang Theory actually is funny (FUCK YOU NO IT’S NOT).

Maybe all that is true. But I’ll tell you one thing; none of those shows, not a single one, have a theme song as epic as the theme song to Airwolf.

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The Japan Symphonic Orchestra/K.R. Right Project
Airwolf Theme 1
Knight Rider Theme 2
Knight Rider Theme 1
Knight Rider Theme 3
Airwolf Theme 3
Airwolf Theme 2
I fucking love Japan and stuff like this is why. An EP comprised entirely of cover versions of theme music from Knight Rider and Airwolf, two shows that had absolutely nothing in common, not even networks, aside from the fact that both had utterly amazing theme music (and completely radical vehicles as the title characters). Why release something like this? Because the Japanese know amazing music when they hear it.

The first track is an extended, very extended (eight minute!) symphonic take on the Airwolf theme. And yes, it is as unbelievably amazingly spectacularly stupendous as you think it is.

The other five tracks are primarily synthesized versions of the music from both TV shows, featuring elements from the series’ incidental music as well as the main themes.  They’re all amazing, but hey, when you lead with an eight minute symphonic version of the motherfucking Airwolf theme, other shit just seems weak in comparison.

By the way “K.K. Right Project” is actually Kenji Kawai, a Japanese composer who worked on about a billion different Patlabor projects.

The Super Flyest

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

I NEED HELP SOMEONE HELP ME.

There is an insanely awesome super deluxe edition of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome To The Pleasuredome coming out later this year via PledgeMusic. However, do to stupid bullshit lawyer shit, it can’t be purchased by anyone living in the US or Japan. As those are the only two billing addresses I have, I’m screwed.

Would any of my UK/Australia/wherever readers be so kind as to buy it in my stead and mail it to me? I’ll pay for everything, including shipping, of course. I’ll even send you some tunes if you so desire.

If so, leave a comment with your email address. I won’t approve it, I’ll just use it to contact you. Thanks!

Someone helped me out! Thanks for all the offers everyone!

And now for something completely different.

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Super Fly TNT – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The original Super Fly is widely regarded as a classic of the “Blaxploitation” era of films, and is typically mentioned in the same breath as other classics such as Shaft, Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones. But here’s the thing about Super Fly – it’s really not that good a movie.

I mean, yeah, it’s not a bad movie. It certainly oozes style, and Ron O’Neal is one of the coolest motherfuckers who ever graced the silver screen. But it’s a pretty boring flick. It meanders for far too long, the acting is at times incredibly weak, and it’s not even directed all that well. And it’s entirely lacking in Antonio Fargas, who was literally in every other blaxploitation movie from 1969 to 1978. The only reason why we still talk about Super Fly to this date is because of its soundtrack, which is still probably one of the top five greatest soundtracks of all-time (a list that, for me, includes Purple Rain, The Crow and Flashdance and I will not budge on that).

But while Super Fly isn’t a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, I’m going to assume that it’s better than the sequel Super Fly T.N.T., which came out just a year after the 1972 original.

I say “assume” because, while I’ve read a great deal about the flick and have watched the odd clip on YouTube, I’ve never actually seen the movie in its entirety. It’s barely been seen by anyone since it’s original theatrical release, in fact. It would occasionally resurface on VHS throughout the mid-80s (I know my dad’s video store had a copy) but that was about it. As far as I know it has never been aired on cable television and its never been released on Blu-ray, let alone DVD, or even freakin’ laserdisc. It belongs in the pantheon of great lost films still searching for a new home video release, alongside other classics such as Willard, Rad and Meatballs III, y’know – classics.

Equally rare is the film’s soundtrack, which was performed and composed by African band Osibisa. It was released on LP alongside the film in 1973 and that was it for that. Judging from its rarity it appears that it never even got a second pressing on vinyl, and to date has never had an official CD release. And it’s a damn shame, because while I can’t speak to the quality of the film from which it came, the soundtrack to Super Fly T.N.T. is some dope shit. An amazing combination of funk, African music, and even some rock elements, it holds up amazingly well.  Check it out.

But whatever you do, don’t check out anything that’s even remotely involved with the second Super Fly sequel; The Return of Super Fly. Amazing VHS box art aside, that is not a quality flick.

 

Disco Space Invaders! Mario Bros.! Wow! Exclamation Points!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Disco Space Invaders

disco

Funny Stuff (Seriously, that’s the credited artist)
Disco Space Invaders
Dancing Cats
Disco Space Invaders is not game music per say. In fact, it barely has anything to do with the game from which it was allegedly inspired. The title track only features sound effects from the game for a few brief seconds before diverging completely into an entirely unrelated (and entirely amazing) disco track. And from what I can tell, the hilariously-titled b-side “Dancing Cats” has absolutely nothing to do with anything (except for dancing cats).

However, it did come out in 1979, one year before the first Pac-Man children’s records were released in the states; two years before the similar-in-tone “Pac-Man Fever,” and several years before Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Haruomi Hosono would release the first proper video game music single – Super Xevious Hardcore Mix. As such, Disco Space Invaders holds the dubious distinction of being the very first game music-themed release.

It’s historical significance far outweighs its musical quality. But if you enjoy idiotic disco as much as I do (AND DO I), then you’ll probably find some joy in this.

The sleeve for Disco Space Invaders surprisingly has full production credits, complete and in English. I did a search of the people who worked on it, hoping that they would include some pioneer of Japanese electronic music or perhaps a YMO associate, but I don’t think anyone who worked on this went onto do anything of note.

Also, I really hope that thing on the cover is supposed to a mushroom-shaped alien or something.

 

Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack

mario

Koji Kondo
Super Mario Bros. Theme
Super Mario Bros. Theme (Orchestra Version)
Both of these tracks are from a 7″ single that’s simply titled Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. This came out in 1986, and was one of many Mario-themed musical releases to be released that year. I’m fairly certain this was the first one though, and it was also probably the first record put out by Nintendo, although many would follow in the late 80s, as it was really a prime time for game music in Japan.

The first track is exactly what you think it is, a straight-up rendition of the Super Mario Bros. theme. Its different than the one that’s included on the Famicom Music album though. Firstly, it’s much shorter, only including the music from the first stage. Additionally, it features no game sound effects, it’s just music. Oddly enough, it doesn’t end with the stage complete fanfare, instead ending with the music that plays when Mario dies.

The b-side is interesting. While the direct translation of the track is “Orchestra Version,” there’s really not much orchestral about it. I think I hear some chimes in there somewhere, but it’s pretty much a souped up electronic version of the original theme. It’s really different than other arranged versions of the Mario theme that I’ve heard, and it’s actually pretty damn great. I hope they re-use it at some point.

Sadly this release doesn’t feature any linear notes, so I can’t tell you who worked on it. However, it did include a rad poster and some amazing stickers, so check them out!

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Full size poster. Very cool.

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Game shots obviously taken by someone pointing a camera at a TV.

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STICKERS!

 

Famicom Music

Friday, July 4th, 2014

I love it when I say “I wish I had this album” and then I immediately find the album the following day.

famicom music

Famicom Music (Complete Album Download Link)

As I mentioned in a post from a few months ago, Famicom Music was the third release by GMO Records, the game music-centric label started up by Japanese electronic-pop pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra. It was the first of their developer-specific compilations, with releases focused on Konami, Data East, Taito and just about every other important Japanese game developer from the 80s following suit.

The early GMO releases are different than a lot of other game music albums that came after because they would often incorporate the gameplay sound effects into the tracks. Sometimes this is rather annoying (I’d rather hear the Yie Ar Kung Fu theme without punch effects) but sometimes it worked to great benefit. The Mario Bros theme track uses the block smashing sounds in some interesting ways, and the 12″ single “Xevious (Hardcore Mix)” (which I will feature here someday) really uses sound effects in an interesting way that expands on the original music.

Also of note here are the arrange versions (arrange means remix) of themes from two classic Nintendo games, Super Mario Bros. and Balloon Fight. In an era before CD-quality game audio, FM synthesis or anything remotely resembling dedicated audio boards, these arrange versions were usually the only way to hear what the composers of the games had probably had in mind when creating the music for the games. In the case of the Mario Bros. one, it’s almost like a portent of what the game’s music would eventually become in the 16-bit era and beyond.

As this is some of the earliest game music around, this CD is kind of  a mixed bag when it comes to music you’ll actually want to listen to. Obviously the Mario and Zelda themes remain timeless classics, but Wrecking Crew, Donkey Kong and a lot of the others included here are more sound effects than music. Still, they’re interesting from a historical perspective, and will probably trigger massive waves of nostalgia for anyone who grew up on these classic games. Enjoy.

Vintage 8-Bit Jams and a Kickstarter Plea

Monday, May 12th, 2014

One of my favorite games of all-time is Harmonix’s Amplitude, an amazing rhythm game that served as the foundation for the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series. It’s fucking dope, and I wish more people remembered it.

Thankfully, right now Harmonix is using Kickstarter to bring back the series! Which is great! However, with less than two weeks to go before their deadline, they’re still well short of their goal, which is not great!

I love this game and I want to see a new one (I gave…far too much to this Kickstarter) and I want to do whatever I can to help make that happen.  So while my blog isn’t exactly popular, I’m going to do what I can, which is bribe what few readers I do have in the hopes that every little bit helps.

If the Amplitude Kickstarter is a success, I will update Lost Turntable five days a week for one month. And each post will have completely new music, no reposts, no re-recordings. All new shit. So if you’re a reader of this site and have lamented my lack of updates since my move to Tokyo, yo, this is your way to get my ass writing again.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Amplitude Kickstarter page and send them a few bucks!

Then when you’re done with that check out this vintage collection of dope game music!

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Konami Game Music Vol. 1 (complete album download link)

When I was on Retronauts last year (which, if you haven’t heard, you can listen to here) I briefly mentioned the instrumental role that Yellow Magic Orchestra had in getting game music released in Japan. Not only did the group sample video game sounds in their early releases, they started their own label to release game music, the ingeniously-titled G.M.O. Records (Game Music Orchestra).

The first release on said label was simply titled Video Game Music, and I’m fairly certain it was the first full-length video game soundtrack ever released (early 1985), although I could be mistaken. They followed it up later that year with The Return of Video Game Music.

After that, they got a bit more specific with their releases, focusing more on individual game companies for each album. The first of these was Famicom Music, which featured nothing but music from Nintendo-produced Famicom titles. With a roster of tunes that includes themes from The Legend Of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Excitebike and motherfucking Balloon Fight (in a remixed version no less!) it’s definitely on my want list. One day it will be mine.

But while I don’t have that stellar compilation, I do have the second developer-focused release by GMO, Konami Game Music Vol. 1, which came out in 1986. While it doesn’t have anything as well-regarded and classic as the Zelda or Mario themes on it, it does have some pretty great standout tunes. The theme music to Yie Ar Kung Fu is included in full, and that shit is dope (even with the game sound effects playing over it). But by far the real standouts here are the TWO versions of the Gradius theme music; the original version and a remixed (or “arranged”) version. The original Gradius theme is some of the greatest game music of all-time, so getting any version of it is a win in my book.

And if this leaves you in the mood for more game music, I recommend the amazing soundtrack to Darius, which you can actually get on iTunes (wow). Check out this batshit insane live version of the Darius theme “Chaos.”

Woah.

Breakathaon

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

As I’ve mentioned numerous times over, before I packed up my shit and headed for Japan, I made sure that I had high-quality recordings of as many vinyl-only releases as possible. Because I needed to be ready to listen to an obscure Depeche Mode remix at a moment’s notice no matter what continent I happened to be on! To me this was as high a priority task as “selling my house” and “getting my work visa in order.”

The first step of this process was to manually go through all of my records and make two piles. One was “I hope I can record this again if I have time” pile, while the other was the “I NEED HIGH QUALITY VERSIONS OF THESE SONGS NOW” pile.

On top of that pile where the soundracks to both Breakin‘ films. Because…look, if I need to explain to you WHY I need high-quality vinyl rips of the soundtracks to both Breakin‘ films then I don’t know why the fuck you’re reading my blog.

The following tracks are all the tracks from both Breakin‘ films that AREN’T available on CD or digitally. So sorry, no “Ain’t Nobody.” Plenty of choice cuts though!

Ollie & Jerry
Breakin’…There’s No Stopping Us
Showdown
Electric Boogaloo
When I.C.U
Ollie & Jerry are Ollie E. Brown and Jerry Knight. In addition to performing several tracks on the soundtracks to each Breakin‘ film (including the title tracks), they also produced and wrote many of the other songs on both albums. Jerry released a few solo albums in the 80s, and was also in Raydio with Ray Parker Jr., but both he and Ollie found much of their success as producers and songwriters, working with artists such as The Jets, Gloria Gaynor and Howard Johnson. These tracks are all pretty fantastic, but my fav of the bunch has to be “Showdown,” which is pure old-school electro at its finest.

Hot Streak
Body Work
I can’t find much on Hot Streak. From what I can tell, the group never released a proper album. In fact, I’m fairly certain that this was the only song they ever released. It’s a fun tune, but  forgettable, and I’m sure no one in the group ever did anything of note, but let me check to be sure…

Holy shit. Hot Streak wrote “Holiday.”

Yeah, “Holiday.” As in Madonna’s first hit single “Holiday.”

Okay, that was random.

Carol Lynn Thomas
99 1/2
Believe In The Beat
Carol Lynn Thomas found her first success thanks to the Breakin‘ soundtrack with “99 1/2,” which was a hit dance and R&B single when it came out. Makes sense too – because the song is fucking DOPE. It’s a great combination of pop and electro , complete with a Stacy Q “Two Of Hearts” vocals-turning-into-synth-track bit that’s totally rad. And if that wasn’t enough, it features a completely metal Van Halenesque guitar solo that’s seemingly thrown in for no reason other than that “Beat It” did it first.

DOPE.

“Believe In The Beat” is good too, although it kind of sounds like something the Pointer Sisters would have rejected.

3-V
Heart Of The Beat
The second mind-blowing revelation of the Breakin’ soundtracks – 3-V is Charlie Midnight and Dan Hartman – two people whose names you may not recognize but music you surely do. Charlie Midnight is a songwriter and producer who worked with acts like Joe Cocker and James Brown. His biggest hit is probably Brown’s tune from Rocky IV, “Living In America.” He also worked on the one song that you probably know Dan Hartman for,  “I Can Dream About You”  from the Streets Of Fire soundtrack.

Relevant side-note: Streets Of Fire is the third-greatest movie about music ever made.

Firefox
Street People
Radiotron
Stylin’ Profilin’
Okay, I take back what I said about “Believe In The Beat”- these tracks sound like Pointer Sisters rejects. Firefox was a soul/pop duo who only released one album – which was produced by Ollie of Ollie & Jerry. They really didn’t take off and it’s pretty obvious why. The songs are catchy enough and fun, but their forgettable nature really isn’t helped by the completely flat vocals by the two lead singers, neither of which did much after the group called it quits.

Re-Flex
Cut It
Synth-pop also-ran whose one hit, “The Politics Of Dancing” has sadly fallen through the cracks of time. I thought they were a one-and-done group but apparently there is a six CD Re-Flex box set out there. Pretty impressive for a band that only released one album.

“Cut It” is no “The Politics Of Dancing” but it’s okay.

Chris “The Glove” Taylor and David Storrs (Featuring Ice-T)
Reckless
Wikipedia calls Chris “The Glove” Taylor a “West Coast DJ pioneer” and I don’t see a reason to argue with that. David Storrs was apparently a semi-prolific name in the early rap/electro scene, and contributed to a few albums and singles under the alias The Alien Wizard, which is a totally awesome stage name.

And, oh yeah, Ice-T, you probably heard of him. He’s on Law & Order. He apparently loves cops.

Steve Donn
Gotta Have The Money
This is a bad song. Very bad. Not good. Steve Donn can’t sing. Sorry Steve.

Midway
Set It Out
Above-average electro by session guitarist Bruce Nazarian and DJ Duane Bradley. Nazarian played guitar on Was (Not Was)’s debut LP, so he’s all right with me.

Mark Scott
I Don’t Wanna Come Down
This is the best not Michael Jackson song of 1984! Seriously, I don’t know who Mark Scott is, but he really wants to be MJ with this track, complete with a pseudo MJ falsetto and faux MJ ‘oohs!’ It’s a blatant rip-off.

And I totally love it! This song is great! If they would have actually gotten Michael Jackson to record this it would have been a hit single, no question. Great track.

Rags & Riches
Oye Mamacita
Spanish-flavored electro? Sure, why not. I have no idea who Rags & Riches are though. According to Discogs they only released a handful of singles, one of which was a 22-minute medley based on “Land Of 1,000 Dances.”

I can’t decide if I never ever want to hear that or if I want to hear that right now.

Hot Rap Tracks from Movies that even Steve Guttenberg Turned Down

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Tonight’s post is going to be rather brief, but I think the quality will make up for the lack of quantity.

Oh, did I say quality? I meant, “complete and utter fucking stupidity.”

But if I don’t post the 12″ remix to the theme song to Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, then who will?

Probably some asshole. Fuck that.

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Grandmaster Melle Mel & Van Silk
What’s The Matter With Your World (Club Mix)
What’s The Matter With Your World (Radio Mix)
What’s The Matter With Your World (Instrumental Mix)
Grandmaster Melle Mel was an original member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. He was the primary songwriter and performer behind the hits “The Message” and “White Lines (Don’t Do It).” He was one of rap’s first true stars, and one of the first to take rap and help to inch it towards the mainstream.

Nine years later, he was rapping the theme song to Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, and they couldn’t even bother to spell his name right on the cover to the 12″ single.

Life can be really harsh sometimes.

And by the way, I found this while scouring a bargain bin soundtrack section looking for the soundtrack the Village People movie, Can’t Stop The Music.

I am history’s greatest monster.

The D.C. Cab Soundtrack. I don’t know why.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Giorgio Moroder produced three soundtracks in 1983.

The first was for Flashdance, it went on to sell millions of copies, win an Oscar for best original song, and helped influence the very sound of the 1980s.

The second was for Scarface. While not as influential, it certainly served as a memorable score for the film, and featured great songs by the legendary Debbie Harry.

The third was for D.C. Cab. And hey, two out of three ain’t bad.

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Shalamar
Deadline USA
Shalamar is how the world was introduced to Jody Whatley, an 80s pop also-ran who scored a few hits with tracks like “Looking For A New Love” and “Real Love.” She was rad. Shalamar was…less rad. But they weren’t bad, and were probably one of the only disco acts to successfully make the transition to 80s pop and score a few MTV hits. This song is certainly catchy as hell, and reeks of Morder’s production, even if it was actually produced by Pete Bellote, a frequent Morroder collaborator. Synthesized funk gold. Seriously, the more I listen to this song the more I love it. I want to set my own real-life 80s training montage to it.

Peabo Bryson
D.C. Cab
This is the hardest I’ve ever heard Peabo rock, which is saying absolutely nothing considering he’s best known for songs like “Tonight I Celebrate My Love” and his “Beauty and the Beast” duet with Celine Dion. If you hear this song and think “wow, I need more Peabo in my live!” trust me, you don’t. You really don’t.

Champaign
Knock Me On My Feet
I only barely know one other Champaign song, the minor 1981 hit “How ‘Bout Us,” which I forgot completely until I looked it up on YouTube, and then promptly forgot about again. That song is horrendous. This song is amazing, probably the most Moroder of the songs from the soundtrack that I’m featuring here. The guitar solo is dope!

Karen Kamon
Squeeze Play
Karen Kamon is a singer who is probably best known for her work on the Flashdance soundtrack. No, she didn’t sing “Flashdance,” that was Irene Cara. And no, that wasn’t her on “He’s a Dream,” that was Shandi. She sang “Manhunt,” the soundtrack for the other, other dance scene in the film. She released two albums in the early 80s as well, but I’ve never heard them and they’ve never even been re-issued on CD, so I can’t speak to them. This song is pretty great though. It’s no “Manhunt,” but it’s a nice dance tune. Unfortunately, the LP suffered from some drastic inner-groove distortion here, so it’s a little distorted.

Leon Sylvers
World Champion
Don’t know much about this guy either, apparently he was a big producer for a bit, but he hasn’t done much in a while. Not a bad song, but forgettable.

Stephanie Mills
Party Me Tonight
Stephanie Mills was the original Dorothy int the first Broadway production of The Wiz, and that’s fucking awesome. I don’t think her pop career was ever as big as her stage one though. This is a synthtastic example of Mordoder production, and would fit in perfectly on the soundtrack to Flashdance.

Gary U.S. Bonds
One More Time Around The Block Othelia
Gary U.S. Bonds sung “Quarter To Three,” one of the best soul songs of the early 60s. Twenty-one years later he was on the D.C. Cab soundtrack. Man, life can be rough. At least he got the theme song to the baddest motherfucker in the movie, Othelia, played by the ultimate bad-ass Marsha Warfield. But I’ll talk more about her when I review the movie on my other site.

Giorgio Moroder
Knock Me On My Feet (Instrumental)
I guess Giorgio had high hopes for this one if he felt he should close the soundtrack with this instrumental version. Like I said before, it is definitely very Moroder, but when you hear the other stuff he was putting out around that time, this just doesn’t compare at all. Eh, at least it’s not “Danger Zone.”

The D.C. Cab soundtrack also featured “The Dream” by Irene Cara (wow!) and DeBarge’s “Single Heart.” However, those are both available on CD and digitally, so I’m not including them here. Sorry!

Hope you enjoy these tunes, and after you grab them, head over to my other site for reviews of the Beggars 5CD box sets, Joyful Noise’s Cause & Effect Vol. 1, and the really bad vinyl version of the really good new Alice In Chains album. And if you’re feeling like hating humanity, check out this post too.

Punch The Monkey! Lupin The 3rd Remixes, Part 2!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

More Lupin remixes! I hope someone likes these. I feel like I’m going super specific here.

These are all taken from Punch That Monkey 2! The second of a three-part series that came out in 1999 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Lupin The 3rd, the popular anime/manga series. I wrote about the series already, so I’m just going to cut to the chase this time.

And in case anyone was wondering, the albums are called Punch The Monkey because the creator of Lupin goes by the pen name of Monkey Punch.

I have no idea why.

Yuji Ohno
Lupin The 3rd ’78 (Afro Rock Theme~Douchatta No Lupin Mix)
Yuji Ohno was the composer for the second Lupin series, which first aired on Japanese television in 1977. He also did the music for the Miyazaki-directed Lupin film The Castle of Cagliostro, an excellent animated flick if there ever was one. This remix is by Yoshihiro Sawasaki, who has been releasing music in Japan since 1994, either under his own name or under various others, my favorite being Doctor YS & The Cosmic Drunkards. His music seems to run the gamut from acid breaks to minimal to straight-up dance, and everything I’ve heard I’ve dug. I really have to start getting into more Japanese electronic music…

Kazuya Senka/Yuji Ohno
Theme From Lupin The 3rd~Theme From Lupin “E” (Vocal Version)
A full vocal mix of the original theme music, with some light jazzy instrumental instrumentation thrown in for good measure. Nearly all the guitars are removed, and replaced with some incredibly laid-back keyboard work. I have no idea who Kazuya Senka is, so if anyone wants to fill me in, please do.

This remix is by ECD, a hip-hop act who I believe is Yoshinori Ishida, or Ishida with another person. Judging from the quantity of stuff he has on YouTube, it would appear he’s still going strong, and has quite the following. also Japanese hip-hop is crazy.

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra
Lupin The 3rd ’78
Great name for a band, and very accurate, as they are massive ska group with over 10 members. These guys have been around for over 20 years now, and continue to release new music. If their Wikipedia is any indication, they also tend to go through members like Def Leppard and Lynyrd skynyrd combined, unfortunately.

Takeo Yamashita
Theme From Lupin The 3rd II (Readymade All That Jazz Mix)
Theme From Lupin The 3rd 3
Theme From Lupin The 3rd (Akakage’s Happy Set)
Takeo Yamashita was a composer of various live-action and anime shows throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He composed the original Lupin The 3rd theme song for the original series, and he also wrote the music for Giant Robo, the live-action version of the series that Americans know as Gigangtor. (He didn’t, however, write the awesome Gigantor song.)

All three of these remixes are by different people. The first is by Yasuharu Konishi of Pizzacato Five fame (he contributed a mix to the other Lupin compilation I put up). It’s crazy, and I love every minute of it, even if it barely resembles the original song.

The second track has no remix name, but it is indeed a remix, and was done by someone from the Japanese group Polysics. They’ve been described by others a Japanese Devo, and that’s pretty accurate. So, imagine the Lupin theme remixed by Devo, that’s what this sounds like. In other words, it sounds pretty rad. It actually sounds strikingly similar to Devo’s cover of “Working In A Coal Mine” in some parts, I don’t know if that was intentional or not. I hope it was.

The last mix is by an act called Akakage. According to Discogs, it used to be a duo, but most of their later stuff was credited only to a single person; Yoichiro Ito. From what I’ve heard of him, he really really likes Fatboy Slim. But hey, I really really like Fatboy Slim, so I’m not going to knock him for it.

Yoshihiko Katori Jazz Orchestra
Lupin The 3rd ’78 Theme (Melting Version)
I have no idea who these people are. Sorry.

Kanaho Maki/Yuji Ohno
Love Squall (Pansasa Love Anthem Mix)
Love Squall -M&M Bossa Bass Space
I know nothing about Kanaho Maki, tried my best, couldn’t find anything. Ditto for Pandart Sasanooha,  who is credited  for the “Pansasa Love Anthem Mix.”

The second mix is by Monday Michiru, an artist I had actually heard of before buying this compilation. Her music goes all over the place, from jazz and electronic to R&B and pop. Apparently she’s a big deal in Japan. As you might have been able to guess from the remix title, this mix has a strong bassa nova vibe to it.

The Ventures
Lupin The 3rd ’78
Yes, The Ventures. Yes, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, best-selling instrumental rock group of all time Ventures. How did this happen?

Well, apparently The Ventures are HUGE in Japan. Seriously, at their peak popularity in Japan they allegedly outsold The Beatles. I honestly think the phrase “big in Japan” was created in part because of their massive success there. Shit, they should totally cover that Alphaville song. This is a straight-up cover of the original theme, no remixing, no electronic add-ons, and no vocals (it is The Ventures after all). It’s really, really good. They should have totally rocked this at the Rock And Roll Hallf Of Fame induction concert and blown everyone’s mind.

 

Punch The Monkey! Lupin The 3rd Remixes, Part 1

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Now for some real Japanese stuff.

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It seems to me that most anime/manga is fleeting. Many shows and books have intentionally short runs and are more like mini-series than full-fledged shows. But when a show or book takes off in Japan, it really takes off. Titles like Gundam, Macross, Dragonball, those aren’t just TV shows or comic books in Japan, they’re freaking institutions, multi-generational cultural milestones that seem to go on forever and ever.

While I find the enduring popularity of those series to be utterly fascinating, I can never seem to get into them myself.  Gundam and Macross are too complicated and self-serious for me to enjoy, while series like Naruto, Dragonball and One-Piece are about as aesthetically and thematically pleasing to me as an 18th century Russian novel or an British soap opera. There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just not my thing.

The only long-running Japanese series that I have ever been able to get into at all is Lupin The 3rd, which started as a comic in 1967 before branching out into a TV series in 1971 and even a film series starting in 1978. That’s a lot of Lupin, and while my overall exposure to the the various forms of Lupin-related media have been relatively slim in comparison, I’ve loved just about everything I’ve been able to get my hands on.

I think the main reason that I like Lupin more than those other series is that it’s relatively self-contained. You can pop in any Lupin movie or TV series and figure out the basic gist within minutes, and as a whole it’s pretty light entertainment. While I’m sure Lupin has had his serious moments of the years, most of what I’ve seen has been incredibly easy-going and wacky, just the kind of thing I want to watch when I feel the need to escape for a bit. I also love the style of the series, and how its managed to maintain its 1960s aesthetic in one way or another to this day. (Of course, given my limited exposure to Lupin as a whole, I could just be talking out of my ass, but this is what I’ve noticed from the stuff I’ve seen.)

And it’s music is really dope. In the pantheon of anime soundtracks, the Lupin The 3rd main theme takes my second place spot as greatest of all time, right behind the jazzy perfection of Cowboy Bebop. Just like the series itself, I love its retro style, and how it’s managed to evolve over time to incorporate more modern musical movements. It’s a blast to listen to, and apparently I’m not the only person who thinks so, because holy shit there are a ton of remix compilations of the Lupin The 3rd theme music in Japan. I bought a couple of them (as well as some other Lupin-related vinyl) and I’ll be sharing them over the course of the next few days.

Up tonight are the tracks from the 1998 2LP set Punch The Monkey! Lupin The 3rd; The 30th Anniversary Remixes. I was going to do an artist by artist breakdown of the compilation, but I can hardly find anything about any of the people who worked on this record. When I do, it’s typically in Japanese, so that’s not much of a help. The record does have one name I recognize though, and that’s Yasuharu Konishi; the founder of Readymade Records and original member of Pizzicato Five, one of the only Japanese acts ever to make any kind of headway in the American music scene. His remix is pretty great, but then again, nearly all of these remixes are great. But if I had to pick a favorite, I would probably choose Escalator Team’s “Club Escape Mix” of the ’78 Theme, if for only its completely random sample from Mortal Kombat. How the hell did that happen?

Toshio Matsuura
Lupin The 3rd ’78 Theme From Lupin III (Walther P99 Mix)

Masanori Ikeda
Lupin The 3rd ’80 Theme From Lupin III (Latin Calcutta Mix)

Comoesta Yaegashi
Afro Rock Theme (Afro Rock Mix)

Escalator Team
Lupin The 3rd ’78 Theme From Lupin III (Club Escape Mix)

Fuzita Blender
Funny Walk In Old Fashion (Mori No Blend Mix)

Fantastic Plastic Machine
Theme From Lupin The 3rd (F.P.M.’s Reconstruction Mix)

Yasuharu Konishi
Theme From Lupin The 3rd 3 (The Readymade Yangu Oh! Oh! Mix)

Fantastic Explosion
Toward The Patrol Line (You & Fantastic Explosion Mix)

Sunaga T Experience
Lupin The 3rd ’80 (Sunaga T Experience 9849 Mix)

Jun Sasaki
Love Squall (Fujiko’s Love Mix)

Izuru Utsumi
Theme From Lupin The 3rd II (Bossa ’98 Mix)