Cowboy Bebop OST 3 "Blue"
Music Performed By Yoko Kanno And The Seatbelts Produced By Yoko Kanno
1. Blue – 5.05
2. Words That We Couldn’t Say – 3.32
3. Autumn In Ganymede – 3.55
4. Mushroom Hunting – 3.19
5. Go Go Cactus Man – 2.28
6. Chicken Bone – 4.57
7. The Real Man – 4.00
8. NY Rush – 5.03
9. Adieu – 5.40
10. Call Me Call Me – 4.43
11. Ave Maria – 5.52
12. Stella By Moor – 1.09
13. Flying Teapot – 3.33
14. Wo Qui Non Coin – 3.43
15. Road To The West – 2.56
16. Farewell Blues – 5.55
Yoko Kanno is probably the most well-known composer/producer of anime soundtracks going and this soundtrack in particular, shows exactly why that is. “Blue” is the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack most focused on the vocal songs present in the series and as such, some wonderful, epic pieces end up coming to the forefront. The Seatbelts do an excellent performance throughout and due to their consistency in doing so, some outstanding vocal performances are offered, most notably that of Emily Bindinger who is a true find. Although some tracks leave a lot to be desired, their failures are most notably due to Kanno’s desire to experiment with sounds and produce something special rather than the run-of-the-mill adequate performances one can expect to find in an anime soundtrack. “Blue” with containing such tracks as “Adieu”, “Call Me, Call Me” and “Road To The West” is probably the Cowboy bebop soundtrack that best sums up the feelings of the series.
Track 1 – Blue (Vocals performed by Mai Yamane Soprano Voice performed by Soichiro Otsuka with Gabriela Robin)
Slow, fading choir vocals singing a melody of beauty slowing being joined by the hypnotic chords of an organ. And thus the beginning of the Blue OST begins with the epic end of series masterpiece. This simplistic beginning does give way to a simple combination of electric guitar and keyboard backing it up allowing the haunting vocals of Mai Yamane to come to the forefront, effortlessly skating the surface of the piece. The lyrics are the most uplifting I’ve ever heard “I’ve never seen a bluer sky, I can feel like reaching out and moving closer.” Symbolising the epiphany experienced by Spike come the end of the show. The chorus of the piece with the immortal lines “Free. Wanna be Free. Gonna be Free” with each note being held just perfectly stir something up inside the listener that is hard to describe. Yamane is given free reign to attack this piece to her heart’s content and as such, is created an amazingly innovative piece that can rightly be said to be the true sound of Bebop.
Track 2 – Words That We Couldn’t Say (Vocals Performed By Steve Conte)
Words that we Couldn’t Say is amazingly simple in composition with acoustic guitar being accompanied by minimal strings and percussion and when added to the formula is the mournful voice of Steve Conte. The treat of the track is probably the guitar solo, one that is reminiscent of something that could be in an early George Michael song. Conte is particularly effective in this piece and manages a depth of emotion not many singers can reach. Words That We Couldn’t Say is a very effective track that will bring out a response from the listener but probably is still not one of the best tracks on the album; such is the quality of the soundtrack!
Track 3 – Autumn In Ganymede
I’ve heard this piece described as lounge music and that’s the best I can come up with also. The percussion is particularly poignant in this track and it sort of overly relaxes in composition until the big piano and brass are combined for a catchy little melody some way in. It’s not a particularly well composed track however and not only last at least a minute longer than it should, but also loses itself half way through descending into almost a mess of random flair guitar playing. Autumn in Ganymede is not a track that’s going to make you stand up and take notice but rather sit back and ‘endure’.
Track 4 – Mushroom Hunting (Vocals Performed By Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch)
This track made me raise my eyebrows so high when I first heard it that I never thought they’d be on my face again. But truly, this track is something special. Pure innovation in a musical sense by Kanno, daringly throwing together a mad melee of instruments coupled with the most pumping beat you’ll ever hear. The samba origins of the track shine through all the way and most people focus on the great job done on percussion, which is quite justified but commendable mention must go to the bass-line and trumpet section both of which are particularly important to contributing to the pure energy found in this track. The vocalist, Cumberbatch does an amazing job in not taking herself too seriously and her flamboyancy works very well within the track, even from the beginning “Let’s kick the beat” you have the feeling that a more so than usual ‘complete job’ was going to be done by the vocalist. There was never any way that this piece was going to be half-hearted. Just to note, the tune is taken from the episode ‘Mushroom Samba’ which also happens to be an upbeat romp, just to show how Kanno’s music can be functional so well at times. Mushroom Hunting borders on the insane when in musical terms but for some reason works to an amazing standard and is a great achievement that never fails to bring a smile to my face.
Track 5 – Go Go Cactus Man
Spaghetti westerns, on how I loathe them. This track is taken straight from the score of the worst Clint Eastwood film you could imagine and is so annoying it’s unbelievable. Not until the one minute mark is it listenable to, for until then it’s a horrible blend of sound effects and whistles that could easily have the not so faithful of Kanno fans reaching for a sledge hammer to take to their CD player. After a minute, thank goodness it improves. The guitar is played as well as any that I’ve heard in a Western track and the beat that comes in could have me up and line dancing. It does improve from here on in and can be seen as one of the more humorous tracks on the soundtrack but putting this just after Mushroom Hunting I feel is pushing it. Go Go Cactus Man is an interesting track that is very slow to start off but improves towards the end, although may be a bit too tongue-in-cheek for most people’s liking.
Track 6 – Chicken Bone (Vocals performed by Sydney with Sister R)
Read any review of this soundtrack and you’ll normally get an overly inflated complimentary view of this track. The beat is repetitive and seems very obnoxious and the other instruments in the track are not used to great effect. On my kindest day, I could say that it is an experimental track that simply did not work…on my most honest day I’ll say it sounds like a Britney Spears track being stuck in a blender. I for one, just don’t know what Kanno was trying to achieve with this one, the lyrics have the interesting factor going for them but why so many tongue-in-cheek tracks?! We all know that a better job could be done than this and this is so monotonous and repetitive that ….actually no, that’s it exactly. I don’t know what was going on in this track and why people keep saying it’s so brilliant is beyond me. The vocalist does a very cute job with what’s she given, singing in a sultry way that might inspire some goose pimples but you can only do as good a job as the material allows you to. Chicken Bone is a 10 on the interesting and the “What the hell was she thinking?” scale but will rank quite low on Kanno’s greatest achievements list.
Track 7 – The Real Man
It’s fast, it’s furious and the percussion shows no sign of slowing down! The brass section violates the piece just perfectly and then all of sudden it grinds to a halt at the 1.05 minutes mark. It then comes back with the same percussion but played a bit more as a background with a nice baseline to accompany it. There are a lot of very nice sounds created in this piece from strings, brass and the like but it doesn’t really go anywhere and seems devoid of structure. But it is however, the kind of innovation and experimentation that should be present in an anime soundtrack and for some reason although not pleasing on the ear particularly, it does work as a piece! Ironically enough, the best moment is to finish off, it just suddenly stops completely and abruptly. The Real Man, is in conclusion is very interesting and a really nice track full of high-octane energy but is without structure or purpose completely…but that’s no reason to dislike it!
Track 8 – New York Rush
An innovative recreation of the ‘rush’ theme from the first OST. It’s slightly more laid back than it’s predecessor and the percussion is allowed to take a backseat to some outrageous moments from the brass section. It’s another fast-paced jink fitting to be used at the most high-energy moments of the series. The guitar solos are particularly nice, as is the piano that comes in and the bass solo is done to an excellent standard also. As the soundtrack goes on, we are seeing more of these experimental pieces that aren’t usually associated with Kanno but this one is nice. N.Y Rush hasn’t got the beauty of other soundtrack pieces but for simple, functional reasons, it works as a piece.
Track 9 – Adieu (Vocals Performed By Emily Bindiger)
Ladies and Gentlemen, we now have musical perfection in one singular piece. The vocalist Emily Bindiger is so talented, it’s unheard of. She is the voice that encompasses all that is Cowboy Bebop in my opinion, as soon as she opens her mouth, you feel that she knows and understands everything that a Spike or a Jet could ever go through. Listening to the beginning of the track, you can be forgiven for thinking it’s a light-hearted jaunt but this is wonderfully deceptive, for it’s after this that the true beauty of the piece can be contrasted. For as soon as the line “And I know by your smile, it’s you” comes in, the listener’s heart will melt guaranteed. Bindinger’s voice once again, is so perfect, each note sounds like it’s a struggle to get out which creates a great air of emotion. These struggling notes are what can get the tears running more than anything else. Lyrically the song is so close to perfect it’s scary and instruments wise, it’s just a piano and nothing else. This is fine however because this song is all about Emily Bindinger and her amazing voice. When she sings, “She feels the pain” no listener could ever doubt it. Definitive line of the song is when the piano cuts out and we’re left with just Emily’s beautiful voice. Adieu is the highlight of the soundtrack without a doubt and has everything that makes Bebop so special, so sorrowful, so beautiful, and more important so right.
Track 10 – Call Me, Call Me (Vocals Performed By Steve Conte)
One of the more professional songs on the soundtrack. The lyrics are of the highest quality once again and the vocalist Steve Conte does a very good job again and holding his voice just that extra bit longer every note to get a sad overtone. The acoustic guitar is very simple but when combined with clever use of strings and brass in the song, creates a very sad sound that is very sorrowful, very mournful. The track itself is most notably used when Radical Ed leaves the Bebop (Hard Luck Women) and as such, seems almost wasted as it is too deep a piece for her character. It’s one of those songs that is very long but it isn’t overplayed, the length is almost perfect but it is very emotionally draining. Call Me, Call Me is a very strong piece that compliments this soundtrack no end and should definitely be listened to many times!
Track 11 – Ave Maria (Soprano Vocals performed by Jerzy Knetig)
Well you know what you’re going to get with this one. It is used brilliantly in the series as the song being performed at the opera during “Ballad of Fallen Angels” and it a particularly strong performance of the song. The choir do an adequate job and the soprano in particular puts in a high standard of performance. It’s really a beautiful track but if you’re not a big fan of opera, this isn’t going to win you over just because it features in a Cowboy Bebop soundtrack. It’s five minutes long, so most people will probably want to skip it, but before you do…give it that one listen because it is a good performance. Ave Maria won’t be to everyone’s taste, but what it tries to do, it does well.
Track 12 – Stella By Moor
This piece is beautiful and features in I believe both Waltz for Venus and Jupiter Jazz. It’s a music box piece so expect a simple melody performed exquisitely with precision and professionalism. The melody is delightful though and is crammed full with a nostalgic feeling, I find when listening to this track that it’s easy to start quiet personal reflections one-self and I believe that this sort of thought-provocation is what makes a good track. Stella By Moor although short, is a beautiful piece and the type of which that Yoko Kanno writes so well.
Track 13 – Flying Teapot (Vocals Performed By Emily Bindinger)
The lyrics seem ridiculous at times but the arrangement and composition more than makes up for these inadequacies. I consider it a great honour firstly to hear Emily Bindinger gracing us with her presence on another track. This track gives her even more licence to experiment with her voice than even Adieu and she makes full use of this by putting in a fine personal performance than can make the listener go into a dream-like state. There aren’t enough superlatives to throw at Emily, as she is just so that talented a vocalist that I recommend further investigation into. Instrumentally wise, the song once again remains simple to compliment Emily’s voice by maintaining a simple piano accompanied by a singular brass instrument left to blast out. Flying Teapot is a wonderful piece that fits in with the feeling of Bebop so well and is once again a reflection of the amazing talent of Emily Bindinger.
Track 14 – Wo Qui Non Coin (Vocals Performed By Vocals by Aoi “ED” Tada)
It’s very difficult to describe this track without using the words ‘nice’ and ‘pleasant’. Wo Qui Non Coin isn’t going to be the best song on any collection but it fits in ok with this soundtrack and offers a different sort of song that adds to the diversity of the soundtrack on the whole. The vocalist Aoi Tada has a very cute voice and adapts the basic concept of the song well to the character of ED. It is a kind of sad song with a simplistic almost French-like beauty. Instrumentally it’s very simple and repetitive but not to the point of being annoying. Wo Qui Non Coin in conclusion, is rather simple and is a pretty decent attempt at a different sort of track but not one to spend too much time over.
Track 15 – The Road To The West
All the sadness, all the longing and all the desperation that are present in Cowboy Bebop are reflected in this one track. The only accompaniment to the saxophone is a simple synth chord that is beautiful and reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti of Twin Peaks fame. But although, the synth is very nice, Road to the west is all about the single saxophone. It’s use is very symbolic in it’s reflection of the aloneness of Spike and the “something beautiful inside” that he lost a long time ago can be felt in the beauty of the music it plays. The piece has such a sense of longing and of something lost and is one of the best examples of sax music that one could find anywhere. It has that Cowboy Bebop ‘Blue’ feeling to it. The Road To The West is an exceptional piece and the theme for all lost souls everywhere. Perfection.
Track 16 – Farewell Blues (Vocals Performed By Mai Yamane)
Ah a differentiating version of the “Real Folk Blues”, this is what Cowboy Bebop is all about. This version is played in the last episode just as Spike is taking on Vicious (or taking on his past, however you want to look at it) for the last time. The main difference is that it’s a lot more downbeat than the episode ending version and Mai Yamane contains herself a bit more and is a lot more restrained in not overdoing any of her notes. One would probably prefer the Real Folk Blues as it is heard much more often than Farewell Blues, but this piece has its strengths. Namely, it has got a ‘final’ feeling to it, which is special and can’t be explained in musical terms. Great performances from the band include a great bass line and a lovely percussion job. Farewell Blues is an excellent piece and due to the lack of the Real folk blues on this soundtrack, should be listened to over and over again.