Artist: Toyko 
   Title: San
   Label: Yesterrock
 

Founded in Frankfurt, Germany in the early 1980's, Tokyo had some level of success with the three albums they released during 1981-1983.  Self-titled debut 'Tokyo' was followed by 'Fasten Seat-Belts', then by this album 'San' in 1983.  It has been re-mastered for CD with added bonus tracks, and it transports you back to when jeans were tight, hair was big and plinky-plonky keyboards were all the rage in music then. 

Those keyboards are very prominent in opener 'Don't Want Your Money', a power-pop a la Nik Kershaw mould if anything, battling it out with the guitars over a strong chanted chorus.  The intro on the follow up 'Need Another Love' sends images of headbands and lycra gym outfits, it's pacy, regimented beat right out of that scene, though well past it's sell by date as a song. 

Unfortunately things only pick up in parts from here on as 'Don't Run Away' gets dragged out in a slow borefest of synths, albeit saved from being skipped over due to a neat solo.  'Too High' does get the blood pumping a bit more with its Survivor style bass beat and thudding drums, before you get a lesson in elevator music via the instrumental 'Emiko', featuring soaring solos and keyboards galore. 

Now 'Jealousy' is more like it!  The band show that they can match up to the Nightranger's and the Toto's of this world here.  The catchy foot-stomping power-pop element just what is needed now, and as 'Invisible' kicks in, your onto another winner with an infectious chorus.  

Back to the over indulgence on the keyboards again, as 'Caroline' has the simple type of lyrics a fifteen years boy could have written in his jotter at school, all puppy-eyed and in love for the first time.  Memories anyone?  'Summer Day' could easily be taken from the Fame soundtrack as the glad to be alive words 'n music skip along, edging dangerously close to that territory, and that's when it suddenly dawns on you. 

This album is starting to sound like some 1980's American TV shows, the songs farmed out all over the place, easily fitting in to each one.  Hints of Phil Collins come along on 'Diana' (one of the previously un-released demos), its soulful bass and vocals backed up by some parping horn section that said artist like to use now and then on some of his own hits. 

Back to the rockier side on 'You're A Liar', those guitars used to give the track its backbone, before you delve into what can only be described as heightened sensuality!  Once you get over the hotel bar piano player at the beginning, 'See You Again' suddenly becomes a lot more interesting to say the least.  Where did SHE come from?? This song shouldn't work at all here, but its easily the best one on the album, Groove Armarda meets Miles Davis meets Carlos Santana all in one. 

What's going on??  It certainly grabs your attention, and doesn't let go until those vocals are over. Its like Alice Kriges 'Borg' character singing to you.  Pure bliss!!  You're brought back down to Earth with a bump with a revamped version of 'Too high', the better of the two as it's more up-to-date with its gutsy guitar riff and slight echoey vocals.  A sort of freshen up if you will.

Ending on another instrumental, 'Ocean Of Love', it's hard to say too much in a negative way about 'San'.  Yes, it does sound dated around the edges, but then you get hit with an oddball or two to upset the apple cart (or not!!), but maybe that's what was needed all along.  It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I promise you, rock fan or not, it's worth it just to hear 'See You Again', but be prepared to get the tingles when you do!!

Review by: Bob Baldwin

Tracklisting:

1.   Don't want your money
2.   Need another love
3.   Don't run away
4.   Too high
5.   Emiko
6.   Jealousy
7.   Invisible
8.   Caroline
9.   Golden time
10. Summer day
11. One step away
12. Diana
13. You're a liar
14. See you again
15. Too high
16. Ocean of love
                  

 

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