Page updated Sunday, January 29th, 2012
|THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW|
2011 - 2012 Japanese Cast Recording
Review by Rob Bagnall
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When The Rocky Horror Show was first performed in Japan in 1975, it featured a cast of British players, reprising their familiar roles from the London (King's Road) production. With the show an instant phenomenon in Tokyo, these performers - including Ziggy Byfield as Frank, Rayner Bourton as Rocky, and Chris Malcolm and Belinda Sinclair as Brad and Janet – found themselves being treated like bona fide rock stars by excited young Japanese groupies.
As both stage and screen versions of Rocky Horror have continued to endure in the ensuing decades, it is therefore quite surprising that a Japanese language cast album has never before been produced. However, this new CD - released to tie-in with the current 2011/12 Japanese tour - has been well worth the wait. The only (very minor) gripe I have is that, aside from a couple of pictures of Frank in costume and a montage of images of the cast in the recording studio, the CD liner booklet, which includes the lyrics in Japanese, has no stage shots from the production itself; a fact which suggests that the album was perhaps produced - in order to coincide with the opening of the show - before performances had actually commenced.
The beautifully produced disc comprises all of the show's songs, as well as the welcome inclusion of a track called Frank's Death, the moving (Ennio Morricone style) showdown music, originally adapted by Richard Hartley for the 1990 West End revival from the incidental music he composed for the 1975 movie version. This instrumental piece, which always adds so much to the heartbreaking pathos of The Rocky Horror Show's fatal final moments has been heard in so many post-1990 stage productions but is rarely included on the cast albums, so it is nice to be able to enjoy it here it without any intrusive sound effects or dialogue.
For a number of years, the role of Frank-n-Furter in Japanese tours of the show was embodied by rock singer Rolly Teranishi, a self-confessed Rocky fan, who made the role his own in that part of the world for the latter half of the 1990s. In the latest production, and on the album, Rolly plays Eddie (but not Dr. Scott), and while it is a shame that we don't get to hear his Frank immortalised on the recording, the dynamically deep-voiced Arata Furuta is a more than adequate successor.
Unlike some non-English language Rocky albums, the musical arrangements are refreshingly traditional and familiar. Highlights for me include rocking renditions of The Sword of Damocles and The Floorshow, and a poignant and beautifully understated version of Once In A While, while I particularly like the fact that The Time Warp and I'm Going Home seem to be dominated by guitar and keyboards rather than being slightly sax-heavy as I feel a couple of previous versions have tended to be.
As a collector, I have always preferred to get my Rocky Horror cast albums and soundtracks on CD (or even vinyl and cassette) with an actual cover that I can physically hold in my hands and display proudly on my shelf; but, with the music world becoming increasingly dominated by MP3 downloads, such tangible items are becoming rarer.
Rob Bagnall (January 2012)
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