In my youth I railed against “best of” sets. “Go buy the regular albums, there are hidden gems to be found there!”
I got better.
What is it?
Best of Yoshida Brothers | Tsugaru Shamisen is a 2008 compilation of thirteen songs by the Yoshida Brothers. The brothers themselves play the shamisen, a three-stringed instrument which superficially resembles a banjo, while accompanied by a variety of instrumentalists.
How does it sound?
And now for something completely different:
Why this pick?
Years ago I quipped here that I like two kind of music: Pop, and Rock. That was somewhat facetious on my part. Hook me with the right kind of introduction and I’ll follow your band off the beaten path a little ways, at least. In this case the hook was the music video for “Rising.” (Don’t bother searching YouTube for it, it’s long since been scrubbed of any decent-quality versions.)
I waffled for a while on whether to track down several individual albums or just punt to the best-of. Since the best-of was the most readily available option and removed the task of figuring out which is the “best” starter record, here we are.
Which songs are the highlights?
The aforementioned “Rising” really is the star of the show, but I also recommend “Storm” and the remix version of “Kodo” (two versions appear on this compilation) as high-quality upbeat material.
Of the slower paced fare, I most enjoy “Overland Blues” and the compilation’s closing selection, “Morricone,” a piece which is the best homage to spaghetti western soundtracks since Metallica covered “The Ecstasy of Gold” for their S&M show.
Which songs don’t work so well?
And here’s where I cheat and break the format.
I couldn’t tell you which of the other tracks do or don’t work, because this entire style is so far outside my normal experience that I don’t have a frame of reference from which to adequately judge. Nothing on this album is actually jarring or unpleasant, and several of the songs I haven’t named are in my “BGM” mood list. This is a case where, if this is what you’re in the mood for, anything here will suit that mood.
Which album did you almost pick in favor of this one?
My other Japanese-culture pick would’ve been the Geinoh Yamashirogumi release of the music from the Akira anime film. That would’ve been too many 1988 records in an 80s-heavy lineup, however. While it might have been more interesting to write about, it also wouldn’t have been as joyful a recommendation. So here we are.
Any final thoughts?
I officially endorse “best of” records for when you aren’t sure where the hell to start with a new band.
Yes, my pre-millenium self would see the above statement and cringe in horror. Things change!