Skip to main content

100 Albums: "Cowboy Bebop Blue" by Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts
Title: Cowboy Bebop Blue
Released: 1999
Genre: various, but mostly jazz and rock fusion


Cowboy Bebop was a sci-fi-meets-spaghetti-Western anime that ran for twenty-six episodes from 1998 to 1999 in Japan. It was localized to America in 2001 as part of Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" block on Sunday evenings, and it helped popularize that programming block, as well as being an introduction to the more mature version of the art form to Western audiences. For a more thorough tribute to the show and its influences, I recommend Beyond Ghibli's video essay A Fistful Of Woolongs. The key part of the show was the score, written by Yoko Kanno to evoke jazz, funk, and rock. Blue is the third full-length soundtrack album released for the series.

The highlight of the album is Mushroom Hunting, a delightful little jazz number arranged like a dance track. In terms of the straight instrumental jazz pieces that are most immediately assocaited wtih the series, there's Autumn in Ganymede and NY Rush. Steve Conte of New York Dolls sings on a couple of tracks, including the fantastic Call Me, Call Me. And then there's the truly weird track Chicken Bone by Sydney With Sister R, a choir performs Ave Maria, and the disc ends with a Japanese-language rendition of the series closing credits track, See You Space Cowboy (Not Final Mix Mountain Root), originally sung in English as The Real Folk Blues.

The album is best of the series OSTs, as well as the most musically diverse, but still manages to hold together into a single listenable whole. And, if you're a fan of the anime, you'll have a great time revisiting the aural textures that helped make the show so compelling.

Further Listening: All of the soundtracks have highs and lows, but if you were to pick one other than Blue, I'd recommend Future Blues, the soundtrack to the movie. It has Yo Pumpkin Head, DigginGotta Knock A Little Harder, and Mai Yamane's version of Rain. And if you can find it, the two-disc version includes a single-disc redux of the Cowgirl Ed and Ask DNA EPs, which makes for a disjointed listening experience that is nonetheless chock full of amazing music. I would not recommend the four-disc box set as an introduction to the music of the series. It's full of spoken-word tracks (in Japanese) and extended and alternate takes.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Alexandra Rowland And Bad Faith Accusations

This morning, writing twitter was blown up by a post from Alexandra Rowland accusing Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear of some nasty manipulative behavior. I have reason to believe that Rowland is acting in bad faith. Seven or eight years ago, Rowland and I were in the same writing group. I didn't know them well, but we became Facebook friends because that's what you do. At some point after we fell out of contact with each other, they made a post about an affair with an influential older male who had lied about being in an open marriage and proceeded to manipulate and gaslight and emotionally abuse them. I didn't know any of the people involved other than Rowland, but I was affected enough by Rowland’s post that I can still recall reading it all these years later. So when I saw Rowland's blog this morning, I assumed it was the same situation... except the dates weren't right. The Bear/Lynch events took place in 2016, but the post I remembered was older than that. So I

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Ramin Djawadi Title:   Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack Released:  2013 Genre:  DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld  has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned  catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above. While all of the soundtracks for GoT  are very listenable, this is m

On Getting Laser Eyes

Last week I got Lasik. I was looking forward to not having to deal with glasses getting smudged by my kids or slipping off my face. I figured that not needing them would be pretty convenient. However, the words I heard over and over from other people who'd already done it were: "life-changing." That seemed to be overstating a bit. Convenient, yes, but life-changing? I didn't get it. I get it now. I've had some kind of vision correction, either glasses or contacts, for the last thirty-odd years, which is nearly as far back as I can remember. And what I hadn't realized was the extent to which this had become part of my identity. It's not that I thought glasses were cool because I wore them--although I did and they are. It's that the ability to see was, for me, artificial and temporary. And my vision was pretty bad, so my natural state was one of... not so much "blindness" as "isolation." There was a layer of vagueness that sat bet