Another Great Album from Mr. Parks
An Amazon Customer | 08/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As the title implies, most of the songs on Tokyo Rose are about Japan, or, more accurately, about the relationship between Japan and the United States. The songs are full of poignant social commentary, but it seems that another reviewer has already discussed this, so I'll focus more on the actual music. The album has plenty of slow, beautiful, melodic songs (notably "Cowboy" and "White Crysanthemum"). The song "Calypso" sounds like it should be about Carribean girls stylistically, even though the arrangement is much more complex than such songs typically are, as should be expected from Van Dyke Parks. The most energetic and fun songs on the album are "Yankee Go Home" and the magnificent "Trade War", both of which can stand up to an infinite number of listens on repeat (believe me; I've tried). "America" is similar to "Van Dyke Parks" from "Song Cycle" and "Stars and Stripes Forever" on "Discover America" in the way that Parks rearranges a familiar song to fit the album thematically. It works remarkably well here; I never realized how pretty that song was until I heard it here. There are no bad tracks on the album (has there ever been a bad track on a Van Dyke Parks album?). My one complaint when I first heard the album was that Parks' voice wasn't what it used to be, but I got over that eventually. I should also recommend highly that you listen to this album with headphones if you want to hear it in its full glory."
The songs all relate in one way or another to Japan.
An Amazon Customer | 06/14/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The theme of Van Dyke Parks' "Tokyo Rose" is suggested in the title: Japan. The songs on the album all deal with Japan in one or another way. This hit a chord with me because of my parents' association with Japanese-Americans during WW2. I would like to share my impressions of these songs."America" reworks a familiar anthem with Japanese chordings and overtones. Then the title song: This is named for an English-speaking Japanese woman, Tokyo Rose, who broadcast demoralizing messages from Japan to our GIs during the war. "Yankee Go Home" portrays American post-war occupiers who come up against anti-Americanism there. Those of the Vietnam era can easily understand the point of the line: "When you discover your hand's in the fire, you pull it back quickly, and then you retire." "Cowboy" is about Hawaii, the change from idyllic rural cattle-ranches to golf-courses used by wealthy vacationing Japanese. "Manzanar" is the name of one of the infamous centers to which American citizens of Japanese origin were forcibly relocated in 1940; it is in Arizona, I believe. Suddenly the boy's girlfriend ("Tell her she is all-American in Japanese") is gone. "Calypso" portrays Japan as a playground for GIs: "This is no Philippines." "White Chrysanthemum" introduces "Poor Old Ned" who fought the Japanese in the war, but who "knew his life had just begun/ when the Nissan plant went in down by the run." Jobs are more important than memories of racial hatred. "Trade War" is a spoof on maintaining "freedom" by using our military superiority to force people to buy and sell the way WE want. "One Home Run" likens life to baseball and reminds us that baseball is now a favorite sport in Japan."