A five-piece coming out of Germany, Tokyo released three classy AOR based albums between 1981 and 1984, before morphing into the band Jojo, who released one further album. Featuring respected session musicians Robby Musenbichler (vocals/guitar), Ken Taylor (vocals/bass), Fritz Matzka (drums), Lothar Krell (keyboards) (who previously had been part of the Michael Wynn Band and Supermax) and Klaus Luley (vocals, guitar), Tokyo spent their first year together rehearsing, before hitting the live circuit and releasing their self titled debut album, which housed a sound strongly akin to Toto or Supertramp. A second effort followed called Fasten Seat Belts which toughened up the Tokyo sound a little while also adding touches or Pop-Proggers Saga to the mix and both these two albums and the Jojo release, have alongside this record been rereleased by reissue specialists Yesterrock.
By the time it came for album number three San to be recorded, an almost poppy sheen had crept over Tokyo's still obvious Toto-isms, leaving a sound that really should have led to the band being chart sensations in the US. The sharp, in hindsight too sharp, production means that there's no denying that Sanis an 80's album, full of layered backing vocals, synth swathes and bulging, almost electro-drums. However the excellent guitar work, especially in the solos, meant that Tokyo were never going to be straight chart fodder, even if there's no doubt that the band's melodies and hooks were honed to perfection. The likes of "Jealousy" absolutely bounds along on an enthusiastic guitar line and galloping beat, although it is in the chorus that Tokyo really hit home, with the syrupy vocals and pleasingly heavy guitars making a more than memorable impression. "Summerday" adds a little quirkiness in the same way that much 80's music did, with the synth playing and guitar plucking creating an atmospheric verse that magnifies the straight forward release of the chorus, while "Need Another Love" moulds Toto, Supertramp and any number of electro-pop bands from the 80's to make near AOR-Pop perfection. At the other end of the scale, "Too High" is a dead-ringer for Worlds Apart era Saga. Unfortunately there are two or three other tracks ("Caroline", "Don't Run Away" and "Golden Time" for example) which feel more than a tad formulaic, ultimately stopping San becoming anything other than a good album, with some great moments.
Added to the initial album are five bonus tracks, four of which are demos from the time that San was recorded, the best of which being "Diana" which is another classy slice of Toto-lite, while "You're A Liar" adds a little Foreigner bite to the mix, meaning that both would have actually improved the original album (the guitar solo on "...Liar" is possibly the best on the whole CD). As for the final bonus cut, it comes in the shape of a newly rerecorded and beefed up take on "Too High" by guitarist Musenbichler, which undoubtedly makes for a heavier, more modern song, but in doing so it lacks the charm of the original.
The least hard hitting of the three Tokyo reissues, although marginally more effective than the also reissued Jojo album, San is still a collection of songs that AOR and Pop-Rock lovers will enthuse over for days on end.
1. Don't Want Your Money
2. Need Another Love
3. Don't Run Away
4. Too High
9. Golden Time
11. One Step Away
13. You're A Liar
14. See You Again
15. Too High
16. Ocean Of Love
Added: February 9th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Yesterrock Records
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