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Marty Friedman - 'Tokyo Jukebox' (Mascot Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Russ P   
Thursday, 04 February 2010 20:20

tokyojukeboxIt was 1984 and the world of rock guitar was about to change forever, although I didn't know it yet. I can remember getting onto a coach heading for some faraway gig (probably Monsters Of Rock) and having my ears twisted out of shape by a truly awful rendition of 'Parisienne Walkways'. It was surreal. We were gearing up for one of the best day of our lives, Van Halen no less, and here we were being forced to listen to The Shadows desecrating Gary Moore's soaring forever-sustaining Gibson, before, wait for it.... bleaching the bounce out of Blondie's 'Heart of Glass', surreal.


Fast-forward a generation and one wonders whether Marty Friedman will have the same effect on the Japanese youth as Hank Marvin had on me way back then. For this new album 'Tokyo Jukebox' features a collection of J-Pop songs given the Marty Friedman touch, and are all presumably much loved by the fans of the genre over there.


The album starts out fiercely enough with a near faithful rendition of 'Tsume Tsume Tsume' by J-Metallers Maximum the Hormone. The beats are mean and jagged whilst the track both thrashy and proggy, thus giving the impression of least 5 songs for the price of one. Alarmingly the metal is swapped straight away for an uneasy and disturbing Eurobeat, and the equally disturbing image of Antoine de Caunes dances into my head. Pity Marty didn't choose to go industrial with 'The Gift'; it certainly would've been a nice contrast to the schmaltzy original. After that blip Marty gets back on track with a familiar thumping straight-ahead rock chug, the type that made up so much of the first two Joe Satriani albums. 'Ashita e no Sanka' has a lovely Vai-esque 'Call It Sleep' tone, and is the only track to contain overtly Japanese melodies that would be recognisable to the European ear. It's really quite filmic in its sound and a fitting end to the album.


It's true to say that I'm now well past my prior infatuation with blurred and flying fingers but, from time to time, I do still listen to the occasional instrumental album to see how those old fellas are getting on nowadays. And this album most certainly does have its appeal. The technique and speed fade from my consciousness and I'm left with the melody and fun in 'Tokyo Jukebox'. It's mostly an upbeat and melodic album, the very same qualities that first attracted me to Tony MacAlpine's music. That the album consists of covers will not matter to us Westerners but, all the same, it's a hell of a lot of fun to Youtube the titles and discover from whence they came.


'Tokyo Jukebox' then, is a veritable curate's egg of guitar wizardry that offers loads of eastern promise to those willing to spare it a listen.