Thursday, December 26, 2013

Best Of The Best Of: Part Two

Hit & Fun (2007)

Tokyo I'm on My Way
Umi e To
Nagisa ni matsuwaru etc.
Hi Hi
Hataraku Otoko
Akai Buranko
Curcuit no Musume
Puffy no Rule
Kore ga Watashi no Ikiru Michi
Mogura Like
Boogie Woogie No.5
Teen Titans Theme
Hito ni Yasashiku
Ai no Shirushi
Invisible Tomorrow
Hazumu Rizumu
Asia no Junshin
Call Me What You Like *
Go Baby Power Now *
Basket Case (Live) *
* Bonus track on limited edition

“Hit & Fun” mostly covers the albums from “Spike” through “Honeycreeper” and I think this is a great selection of songs for the period of time between the aforementioned albums.  On the main disc, “Otomemoriaru” is the only new song added to the disk, but it is a really great song and highlights what Ami and Yumi can achieve vocally that almost no other artists can.    The bonus disc from the limited edition of “Hit & Fun” adds a couple of English language tracks, a remix and a live cover of Green Day’s “Basketcase.”  For a small amount more, that bonus disc really bumps up “Hit & Fun” as a compilation CD and barring a monstrous compilation cd this would be towards the top… which is what happened with the release of “15”.

Selection: A
Packaging: B+
Value: A (A+ with bonus cd)
Overall: A

15 (2011)

Disc 1
1. Someone
2. Kore ga Watashi no Ikirumichi
3. Oriental Diamond
4. Boogie Woogie No. 5
6. Hi Hi
7. boom boom beat
8. Red Swing
9. Nice Buddy
10. Ai no Shirushi
12. Circuit no Musume
13. Hiyori Hime
14. My Story
15. Mole-Like
16. Nagisa ni Matsuwaru Et Cetera
17. All Because Of You
18. R.G.W.
19. Happy Birthday
20. Asia no Junshin

Disc 2
1. Shall We Dance?
2. Kimi to Otobai
3. Radio Tokyo
5. Violet
6. Jet Police
7. Hazumu Rhythm
8. Puffy's Rule
9. Security Blanket
10. Bring it on
11. Yokubou
12. Wedding Bell
13. Friends
14. Kirei na Namida ga Tarinai yo
15. UREI
16. Jet Love
17. Kimi ga Suki
18. Tokusuru Karada
19. Bye Bye  

Puffy celebrates their fifteen year anniversary with the release of “15” and it is a monstrous double disc release that eats every previous release for dinner.  If someone asked me “What best of album Puffy’s should I buy?” I would without hesitation say this is the one.  Rodney Greenblat makes a welcome return to doing a Puffy album cover and interior art.  This in itself is a greatest hits of his previous Puffy singles covers.  The twin disk set is packaged in a cardboard slipcase that really adds to the special nature of this compilation.  Additionally the limited edition included a towel with Greenblat’s art and that was well worth the few hundred extra yen.  The bonus DVD is not a big deal, though the Ami Yumi Emi version of "Asia no Junshin" is fun.

“15” covers Puffy’s career arc in a way no other compilation has to date save “Jet Fever.” 

As in my review of “15” I will note that some albums are disproportionately represented, specifically “Bring it!” which arguably Puffy’s weakest release.  I will say this is counter balanced by the inclusion or “Urei” which is not just a great song, it is one of Puffy’s greatest songs and deserving of being included in this retrospective.   

Anyways "15" is probably the best place to start for anyone looking to discover Puffy and it is a staggering release when factoring in every component of this compilation.  

Selection: A+
Packaging: A+
Value: A
Overall: A+

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Best Of The Best Of: Part One

This has been rattling around in my brain for a while.  Puffy has a fair number of compilation / best of albums over the course of their career.  I thought it would be curious to see what the best of the best of were and see how they compare.  The is by no means a comprehensive fine toothed comb review, but we can get into those kids of details as a discussion.  I will be covering this in three parts and with that...

The Very Best of Puffy/Amiyumi Jet Fever (2000)

Kore ga Watashi no Ikirumichi
Nagisa ni Matsuwaru EtCetera
Asia no Junshin
Circuit no Musume
Umi eto
Ai no Shirushi
Nehorina Hahorina
Stray Cats Fever
Toku Suru Karada
Nichiyohbi no Musume
Yume no Tameni
Puffy de Rumba
Jet Keisatsu
Dare ga Sore wo
Kore ga Watashi no Ikirumichi (Mandarin version)

Ai no Shirushi (Mandarin version)

If I were judging “Jet Fever” at the time it was released I would say it was more a capitalization on Puffy fever than a compilation people should run out to get as fans would likely have the underlying albums (“Puffy”, SoloSolo”, “Jet” and “Fever*Fever”).  Time, however, changes perception and for someone discovering Puffy “Jet Fever” covers a lot of ground in one release and could be a good pick up.    

The addition of two Chinese language tracks is fun, but as my wife puts it they are not executed well in a linguistic sense, whereas Puffy’s  English songs are usually almost as good as their Japanese counterparts.  
The album art is much driven by Rodney Greenblat, whose images of Puffy still remain connected to Ami and Yumi today.  

Overall I would say “Jet Fever” is a great disc to pickup as it is a comprehensive collection of Puffy’s early songs.

Selection: B+
Packaging: A
Value: A
Overall: B+

An Illustrated History (2002)

Love So Pure
True Asia (Asia no Junshin) (English Version)
That's the Way It Is (Kore ga Watashi no Ikirumichi)
Electric Beach Fever (Nagisa ni Matsuwaru Et Cetera)
Wild Girls on Circuit (Circuit no Musume)
Sign of Love Captain Funk's Puffy De Samba Mix (Ai no Shirushi)
Puffy de Rumba
Talalan (Tararan)
Sunday Girls (Nichiyoubi no Musume)
Friends (Tomodachi)
Mother (Okuda)
Neholina (Nehorina Hahorina)
Brand New Days (Atarashii Hibi)
Stray Cats Fever (Masanori Sasaji)
Puffy's Rule (Puffy no Rule)
Jet Police (Jet Keisatsu)

There is a soft spot in my heart for “An Illustrated History” as it is the first Puffy album I purchased and I’d say it covers the early portion of Puffy’s  adequately, but mostly focuses on Jet and Fever*Fever.  It is definitely an brief introduction to Puffy and definitely paint by numbers.  “Love So Pure” and the remix of “Ai no Shirushi” are probably the interesting choices, as the former was a b-side and the later from PRMX (which is not a great album, but this remix is quite good). 

However as fond as I am of “An Illustrated History” is probably is not a must have save on the used CD market in the US it can be had for about five bucks so with that consideration it is worth a flyer.

Selection: C
Packaging: C
Value: A
Overall: C+

Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi (2004)

Hi Hi
Friends Forever
Planet Tokyo
Joining a Fan Club
Love So Pure
True Asia
Boogie-Woogie No. 5
That's the Way It Is
Into the Beach
Teen Titans Theme
Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi (TV Mix)
Teen Titans Theme (TV Mix)

The only reasons I bought “Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi” is that I am a completist and Sony was offering a poster autographed by Ami and Yumi for ordering direct from Sony’s website.   Three versions of “Hi Hi Puffy Amiyumi” are included on the album, which is a song which for me is on the bottom tier of Puffy songs.  There are a number of songs shared between “Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi” and an “Illustrated History” which seems like a lost opportunity to introduce other songs by Puffy instead of similar ones.  I did like the additions of “Sunrise” and “Into The Beach” but that is not enough to really bump me off my opinion that this is at the bottom rung for Puffy compilations.

Selection: C
Packaging: C
Value: C- (A+ with the autographed poster)