Record Reviews

Album review: Marty Friedman “Tokyo Jukebox 3”

Marty Friedman never ceases to amaze me. My mind is officially blown, once again, as Marty offers us the third part of his “Tokyo Jukebox” series.

Marty Friedman lives for creating great music and he doesn’t care about any musical boundaries at all. His constant reinventions keep blowing my mind, both with his studio recordings and live shows. Not only does he play whatever style he fancies at the time when he creates new music, he frequently mixes different styles even within songs. With every new release, Marty aims to take his music one step further and he always succeeds. Even when he does covers, he makes the songs his own by infusing his personality into the music as if he had composed them.

“Tokyo Jukebox 3” is an album which mainly consists of Japanese cover songs, most of them delivered in instrumental versions. One of my personal highlights on this album is “Gurenge”, originally a pop hit in 2019 by Japanese pop vocalist LiSA and also used as the theme song for the anime series “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba”. On the album, there is also an excellent take on Da Pump’s “USA”. The standard, but annoyingly catchy, J-pop hit gets a proper Marty treatment and he turns it into a really cool instrumental showpiece. We get other covers of well-known pop songs by artists like Momoiro Clover Z, Sekai no Owari and Little Glee Monster. Marty offers us an excellent outlandish and good-fun version of ZARD’s 1993 hit “Makenaide”. Another 1990s hit, Every Little Thing’s “Time Goes By”, comes with some of the album’s finest guitar parts. On this album, Marty has taken a somewhat different approach to some of his guitar work and has managed to come up with some fine and, even for him, unusual guitar sounds.

The album is not all about covers though. There are two Marty songs on it as well. One is the beautiful “Japan Heritage Official Theme Song”, a song commissioned by the Japanese government a few years ago and on which Marty performs together with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Then there is a new version of “The Perfect World”, here featuring vocals by Alfakyun. This track is the absolute highlight on the album for me. It combines terrific guitar work from Marty, a splendid and groovy rhythm section, a characteristic voice, all fitting inside a wonderful high-energy J-pop/rock song. This version beats Marty’s own original version. It’s a bit edgier. I love it.

Marty has approached this with the idea of making a good-fun album of great music to cheer people up in these dark pandemic times. He succeeds. I hope he will consider doing some special “Tokyo Jukebox 3” live gigs, perhaps playing the new album in its entirety and with the best bits from the two earlier “Tokyo Jukebox” albums. Just a thought…

I never get bored listening to Marty Friedman. I loved the heavy metal he played with Cacophony and Megadeth and I love even more all the unexpected musical directions he has gone off in since moving to Japan. He can still be a heavy metal-style guitar hero, but he doesn’t shy away from playing whatever style he stumbles across. He’s a true artist and someone who ignores what is expected of him and just focuses on taking his music creation further. My expectations on Marty Friedman are always sky high. He is one of the best guitarists alive. He constantly tries new things, always evolving, never standing still. Few artists at his level dare to do these kinds of genre-bending musical creations. But Marty does and he keeps blowing my mind.

Marty Friedman’s album “Tokyo Jukebox 3” will be released in Japan on 21st October via Avex.