A cinematic journey through Japanese music
Marty Friedman, the former lead guitarist for legendary heavy metal band Megadeth, has returned with a kick-ass and fully guitar-driven instrumental album titled Tokyo Jukebox 3. The album is a collection of 12 tracks, and each one appears to outdo the previous track with even more heavenly guitar solos and raging drums. Everything people love from classic rock and Japanese music, they can find somewhere in Tokyo Jukebox 3.
Friedman left Megadeth in 1999, citing his interest in expansion to more diverse sounds. He quickly became known as the solo album king, as he had already released four solo albums by the time he left Megadeth and now has a collection of 17 solo projects. Friedman later moved to Japan, where he quickly made a new name for himself, working alongside famed Japanese music groups, and collaborating on movie soundtracks and appearing in a variety of Japanese television shows.
Tokyo Jukebox 3 is the third and final entry in the Tokyo Jukebox trilogy (the prior two entrees came out in 2009 and 2011). All three albums feature covers of Japanese rock songs by which Friedman has been influenced or inspired. Tokyo Jukebox 3 is perfectly organized as a hypothetical movie soundtrack—it’s introduced with a high and heavy energy, which anyone can embark on an adventure with, and then keeps people entertained with slower songs before quickly reaching its apex, and finally concluding with some classic outro covers.
The album kicks-off with a cover of famed Japanese pop-rock group Zard’s track, “Makenaide.” Of course, Friedman sticks to what he does best and emphasizes the guitars with more of a hard rock approach and an injection of heaviness in each guitar riff. He replaces the lyrics with dueling guitar choruses. It’s difficult not to picture Friedman with long heavy metal hair headbanging alongside every beat.
The following track is a cover of Kurousa-P, aka WhiteFlame. The cover involves one of Japan’s most famous vocaloids, Hatsune Miku, and the track “Senbonzakura” is one of the biggest vocaloid hits. Just like the previous track, Friedman eliminates the pop from the original track and hammers in extraordinary guitar skills that remodel the song into a truly rocking few minutes.
The first voice heard in the album comes from a morning radio host in “Echo.” It is not until “The Perfect World (feat. Alfakyun)” that people will hear any vocals. Friedman’s original “The Perfect World” featured Jean-Ken Johnny and was used as the main theme for Netflix’s anime series, B: The Beginning. The original track is gloomier, while the new version, though it is mostly the same, gives off a more powerful vibe.
The album closes with another of Friedman’s own compositions, “Japan Heritage Official Theme Song.” The track features an orchestra and classical Japanese sounds, yet Friedman absolutely still manages to incorporate a soulful performance in this incredible guitar track. It takes the listener on an incredible journey full of emotions that just might give them goosebumps.
Tokyo Jukebox 3 is an adventure through the greatest hits in Japanese music. It ranges from old-school Japanese pop to modern pop and even features vocaloid hits. Friedman works in his own personality throughout the album and beautifully incorporates his incredible guitar skills, all alongside his genuine passion for Japanese music. He managed to construct an album that does more than just provide entertainment. It guides the listener through a cinematic experience.