04-28-22 - Album Review: Ride On Time - Tatsuro Yamashita
Much like a modern triple A game, this is not fully finished. Expect changes and fixes.
Howdy! Been a hot minute... Uhhh. Well y'know, having a life is a real hard, annoying, thing.
Anyways! Since last time I've been doing my usual thing; listening to music. Always important to add some music to your day, keeps the soul healthy.
One album that has really gotten my attention since last time is Ride On Time, by Tatsuro Yamashita.
Some of you might know him from the epic Come Along and Come Along II compilation albums. If you're wondering why you haven't heard of this epic music making man before this point, it's probably because none of his stuff (execpt for like, a few songs from a collabrative album) are on spotify, and all of the YouTube uploads are bootlegs, not offical. The only way to legally buy his stuff, is on CD.
I thought to myself:
Ah! Whatever! I can buy CDs, that's not so bad. That's what I thought... Oh how wrong I was.
CD import costs hurt me. Also, the offical Tatusro Yamashita store does not ship to America. In fact, those are the only english words on the page.
I will not ship internationally. I will restrict to the dispatch in Japan.
Whatever, I eventually bit the bullet and bought some CDs, having to deal with horrofic import costs. But hey, they're new, and have their obi strips, so I can't complain as much as I'd like to.
Right, so, after all that, you're probably wondering:
Alright Jay, that's cool and all, but when are you gonna get to the a l b u m r e v i e w? Hold your horses kiddo, we're getting there.
Right, the ablum. Let's start with the cover... or should I say covers.
Okay, so, you don't get two covers with the CD copy (sadly) but the original record had two sleeves; an outer cover, and an inner cover.
Outer Cover with obi:
A funny thing about the obi, it's sponsored by Maxell. The text on the far left
いい音しか残れない roughly translates to
Only good sound remains and the back just straight up says Maxell.
I couldn't actually find an image of the back of the outer cover to confirm it so uhh... This is just what I've heard.
I'm starting to get the impression that Maxell sponsored this album...
I'm already hooked, I mean, wow, what an epic cover. But it gets better, because then there's an inner cover:
Hell of an experience already. But of course, a cover on its own is just a pretty picture. The cover is nothing, without the album contained behind it.
I tell ya, a thick and punchy bass is a great way to start an album.
Track One: いつか = (Someday)
Yeah, not a bad way to start an album at all. Great bassline to get you going, the percussion working alongside it to drive things forward.
From the rough translation of the lyrics, it seems to be about someday finding somebody to love, so you won't be alone anymore.
It's wistful in that regard. Not as floaty as some of the other songs on the album, it's still plenty grounded.
I really love the small, (I dunno if those are bells, or like, finger cymbals) you can ear in the right ear in the intro and the chorus.
Track Two: Daydream
Speaking of floaty, we've already gotten to a nice light track. Okay, well, it's not that light, it's actually got some pretty punchy drums, but I like that.
I guess another thing you'll notice is that this album has a lot of F U N K Y F R E S H B E A T S. This song espically.
I supppose I should reveal that I'm biased. I like summer, and this song is all about a summer's daydream in the city (I THINK.)
If I had the luxary of learning the language I could be more sure of this, but as it is, I can't, because I'm dumb, but I don't care.
I really love the percussion on this one, espically the gentle maracas you can hear during the chorus. It conjures a vision of the sand man sending me into a colorful sumer's daydream.
Oh, also, this song has an epic trumpet solo. Now, as a sax player, I'm usually annoyed by the existance of trumpets, but this, yeah, this ain't bad at all.
Not to say this song doesn't use the horns properly. I belive I can hear a baritone saxophone in the bassline. The bari sax player credited on the album was: Shunzo Sunahara, while the two trumpet playres credited for the album were: Susumu Kazuhara and Yoshihiro Nakagawa. The one credited for the solo on this track is: Shigeharu Mukai. Fine work from all of you.
I love the doubling done on the vocals in this track, really thickens them up, you can just get wrapped in the whole thing. And now that I know a rough translation of the lyrics, I can imagine a huge parade of colors as everbody in the city gets wrapped in this huge colorful daydream. That's an image I can get behind.
Track Three: Silent Screamer
This album continues to go strong so far. There's no fat, it's very trim in that regard. I like that, it's just banger after banger, although there is some breathing room later on. Some tracks slow it down to give you that room. This track, does not do that.
Once again, strong percussion. Tatsu knows how to make it groovy. There's one hell of a soul to this album, it really does feel like a whole nuanced thing.
Some epic guitar solos on this one, the two credited are: Kazuo Shiina and Tatsuro Yamashita.
Even with a translation I can't really tell what this song is about. I think it's about a car? "SILENT SCREAMER!" "STREET RACER!" This car is a silent screamer I guess. I think it's what's sometimes refered to as a sleeper car.
I have been informed that it most likely could also be talking about a girl, and how she's a sleeper car in her own right. I dunno, they weren't too clear about it...
I love the breakdown in the middle, epic drum solo with a great bassline to go with it.
This song likes to fake you out a few times, you'll think it's ending and then all of a sudden it goes "Nah bro! Wasn't finished yet!"
It ends via a fadout actaully. Can't say I know whether it was a good idea or a bad idea to have it end like that. If we go with the idea that it's about a car, then I suppose you could say it feels like it's just sped away. Maybe...
Track Four: Ride On Time
This is the title track.
Here we are, the epic title track of the album, and as with any epic track, it starts with vocals and a piano. I hope you've got a good pair of headphones with a wide soundstage, a track like this deserves it. It also deserves headphones that can give the kicks and bass a good punch without taking away from the mids and highs.
What's it about? Well I once again think that it's about opening your heart as to the future.
Looking out onto the blue horizon with an open heart. Open your heart! WOAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH REWN REWN REWN REWN DUN NUHN. Sorry, I got crush 40 on the mind with lyrics that roughly translite like that.
You can't blame me, and c'mon! Who wouldn't want to take a ride on time with me?
This is also the first song on the ablum actually written by Tatsu. The last three were written by 吉田美奈子 (Minako Yoshida)
What can I say here about the instrumentals that I haven't already said? It's something you need to listen to really. The single version of the song as well, although... The single version may be more funky, but it just doesn't have as epic as an ending as the album version does.
RIDE ON TIME
RIDE ON TIME
Track Five: 夏への扉 = (The Door Into Summer)
I feel like I've heard of another song before with a name close to this one... Ah well, I'm sure I'll remember it later.
This is where the album starts to get floaty. You really do feel like you're stepping through a door into summer.
It's about finding that lost youth and hodling onto the joy of summer. One day you'll find the door back, but all you can do in the mean time is just hold onto it as best you can.
Funky synths and bass, as usual. The drums are perfect, once again, as usual.
There's also a Flugelhorn Solo, courtesy of: Kenji Nakazawa. Crisp stuff, gives us a nice deep horn to really resonate with the soul.
The ending is weird, it sounds like you're beaming up. Maybe we found the door to summer?
Also, special shoutouts to the lyrics "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" for being so much fun to sing, say, and hear. What does it mean? Dunno, but it sure does sound nice.
Track Six: My Sugar Babe
These last two songs are raelly just a chance to catch our breaths. Starting with something a little slower like Door Into Summer, and then moving onto this.
It's a gentle song, and it really feels like it should end the record out, but the song they did choose ended up doing a much better job than this one would have done.
This is a nice breather, a great way of pacing the record really.
There's a fine keyboard solo on this track by: Kenji Nakazawa. This is also the second song on the album written by Tatsuro himself.
For those who care, the album will continue on this slow trend, not that it matters, as long as each song is good.
Track Seven: Rainy Day
To be honest, this is the song I have the least expereince with, but I have listened to it a few times.
It's gentle like the last few, with the two noteable things I have to say it being, I really like the way vocals are layered, and there's an alto sax solo by Hidefumi Toki
Track Eight: 雲のゆくえに - (Clouds)
There's no way I can be sure of the actual translation of this song's title. One source says it's just "Clouds" while two others give me different names, but ones that mean the same. "Where The Clouds Go" and "The Whereabots of the Clouds" are both epic titles, and I'm sad I can't be sure what title is the true one.
NOT that it matters, what's the soooooooong like? Well, you'll be pleased to know that it's good. It starts off with this bell sample in the right ear, with a gutiar and very punchy drums to back it up. I'd play you an isloated version of the bell, but sadly I can't even upload a 1~ second .mp3 without donating. Don't worry, one day I'll donate and update the page to refelct this.
It's not hard to miss though, so it's not worth worrying about as is.
I relaized I could just embed a youtube video here instead of having it as local mdeia.
Another fine solo on the alto sax by Hidefumi Toki, you won't find me complaining about it!
Track Nine: おやすみ = (Kissing Goodnight)
Welcome to the final track. This is a lullaby, and really, bittersweet for me.
I wish this album went on a little longer. The mark of good things though is knowing when to end.
I don't have much to say really. I feel like after all of that stuff, I'm finally drifiting off. As we come to the end, you can hear the surface noise in the runoff, and then a soft thump as your tone arm lifts from the grooves and retracts.
If you're a numbers guy, I give this album a...
If you'd prefer more words, then here they are.
This album is an expereinece, much like Pet Sounds or Rubber Soul, it's the kind of album that doesn't have fat, it flows together with little difficulty. Sadly it will never get the recodnission that it deserves due to it's almost completely non-existant avalability in the US. I know streaming services pay like trash, but you could always sell the songs digitially and make a majority of the profits. I'm pretty sure the vendor overhead is a lot cheaper when it comes to all digital compared to CDs.
Look, if you ever get the chance, I highly reccomend this album. Grab your good cans, head into a quite room, relax, and take a ride on time.
I was your host, Jay The Sound Hound. As always...
Be cool, be wild, be groovy and ride on time!