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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Tokyo Rosenthal

Tokyo’s Fifth

Review by Gary Hill

The latest from Tokyo Rosenthal, this fits well into his catalog. He’s always been a creative guy with a pretty wide range of influences. This set fits in nicely with that. It’s got a lot of folk and country built into it, but there are plenty of other sounds here, too. This is just plain entertaining, however you slice (or label) it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
This Ship Will Sail

The folk meets prog sound of the opening here is cool. It works out to a seafaring folk tune that’s quite tasty. There are some more powered up sections in this number. Overall, it’s classy, catchy and just plain cool. I love the use of symphonic elements in the mix, too. Interestingly enough, at times this actually makes me think of some of the folkier music that The Moody Blues did in the early days.

Waste of a Heart
Things drop way down on this one. It’s very much a country styled tune. It has a very old-school country sound at that, too. The more powered up sections aren’t that far removed from the opening tune, but delivered with more of a country element. I like the guitar solo on this tune a lot and there are some very evocative vocal parts.
Mulberry Place

Although the tempo is boosted and the arrangement is immediately more full than on the last couple tunes, this is more like the country of the piece that preceded it. The violin (or should I say “fiddle”) on this is a great touch and this is a catchy tune with some real Americana built into it.

What Did I Used to Be?

The vocals on this really deliver. There is still some twangy guitar in this one, but overall this is like classic folk rock sound. I just love the lyrics and singing here. This is such a great tune. It’s possibly my favorite of the whole set. In fact, it might be my favorite from Tokyo Rosenthal. It’s not that it’s a big change, or particularly unique. It’s just that the song is so well written and catchy that it’s classic.

The Immigrant

A Latin, Island vibe is present here. This is a good tune, but pales in comparison to the previous one. This just isn’t all that special. Still, it does have some nice acoustic guitar work.

Helter Skelter

Wow! This Beatles cover is great! It’s sort of a progressive rock take on the piece, but the violin brings more of that country sound. I just love this thing. It’s another highlight of the set. It’s less a cover than it is a reinvention. It’s that different from the original.

Killaloe

This one’s more of a pure folk tune. The violin adds a lot to the mix. Additionally, the vocal performance is particularly strong. There is a faster paced jam later that’s very much in a bluegrass kind of arrangement. That said, though, there are hints of The Who in that jam.

Smoke and Mirrors

The introduction to this one is piano based, and rather classical. It works out from there to more of a folk-inspired rock jam. This is quite a tasty number. I really like the extended guitar solos on this a lot. In fact, in terms of instrumental work alone, this might be the best tune on the disc.

We Put You Down

This balladic cut is extremely powerful. It’s just loaded with emotion. The musical arrangement really does a great job of building that evocative aspect of the piece. It’s got a classic folk rock sound to it. It’s another of the highlights of the set. It’s also another of my all-time favorites from Tokyo Rosenthal. Yes, it’s that good.

Thank You, You're Beautiful

Somehow, this reminds me again of The Moody Blues a bit. It’s not as strong as the opener, though. In fact, this might be my least favorite cut of the disc. It’s set in more of a folk rock arrangement. It feels like something that might have come out in the early 1970s. It just doesn’t seem all that effective to me. Personally, I would have put it somewhere closer to the middle of the disc and left “We Put You Down” as the closer. I think it would have made for a stronger album overall.

 
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