2002 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: Yusaku Matsuda Sound Memorial
CD Label: VAP, Inc.
CD Number: VPCD-81175
Music Composer: Riichiro Manabe (CREST OF THE WOLF)
Number of tracks: 51
Running time: 68:23
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: 1996


September 16, 2002

Review courtesy of Sam Scali

This CD is a generous collection that features the complete soundtracks to two 70's Toho films, each starring Yusaku Matsuda. The first film, "Crest of the Wolf", is a werewolf tale, with a score by Riichiro Manabe (whose other genre work includes "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster", "Godzilla vs. Megalon" and Toho's vampire trilogy). The second film, "Mad Mechanism", scored by Yuji Ono, appears to be another horror-related story, apparently involving a murderous doll.

Stylistically, the music of "Crest of the Wolf" is a mixed bag. The title sequence begins with a brief, mysterious violin-and-drum intro, immediately followed by a mournful, high-pitched flute melody that suggests the lonely cry of a wolf. This segues into a typical 70's title number featuring a plaintive male vocal, sung in Japanese over a mid-tempo jazz-pop background with further variations on the flute theme.

Like many of Manabe's scores, the tracks that follow offer a variety of stylistic approaches - from short, impressionistic cues featuring dissonant, suspenseful melodies (accented by sharp percussion or loopy bells), to occasional longer pieces that showcase flute, piano or synthesizer melodies against funky guitar-and-percussion backgrounds. Track 7 is a Middle Eastern-influenced theme dominated by flute and bongos, while Track 14 marks the return of the male vocalist, this time accompanied only by a strummed, acoustic folk guitar.

Manabe's notoriously whimsical "Godzilla" scores have had their share of detractors, and admittedly sound jarring (thanks in part to their comical, slide-trombone Godzilla theme) when compared to Akira Ifukube's stirring, dramatic work. Still, I often find Manabe's music to be colorful and interesting in its own way, and though I have not seen this movie, the music from "Crest of the Wolf" sounds appropriate enough for a 70's horror film.

Unlike Manabe, I am not familiar with Yuji Ono's other work, but I find his style in "Mad Mechanism" to be similar in some ways to Manabe's approach. The soundtrack starts off with a trio of funky themes propelled by horns, keyboards and a disco beat, hardly what one would expect to hear in a horror film. Next there is a slow, jazzy piano interlude, followed by another slow number with a percolating rhythm. The funk returns with Track 31, a short cue with flute, keyboards and a driving beat, followed by another lively sax-and-synth number.

After that, things start getting mysterious, as darker, more abstract cues begin to creep in between the jazzier numbers. Like much of Manabe's genre work, these tracks are mostly short and dissonant, serving as suspenseful punctuation rather than coherent musical expression.

Though increasingly interrupted by such sinister moments, the music's jazzy feeling never really goes away. Occasional lovely melodies still manage to shine through the claustrophobia, and the soundtrack finally ends with one more brief, funky flourish. Though some of the music here seems more suited for a 70's cop drama than a horror film, there is enough variety to make it an interesting listening experience and a good companion to the Manabe score.

Overall, the music on this CD certainly doesn't have the power or scope of Ifukube's work, but it may appeal to fans of 70's horror soundtracks as well as Toho completists.

Track translations courtesy of Jolyon Yates

English Title: Yusaku Matsuda Sound Memorial: CREST OF THE WOLF & MAD MECHANISM


    Composer: Riichiro Manabe

  1. Toho Logo ~ Prologue
  2. Titles: CREST OF THE WOLF (vocal: Jiro Sugita, co-composer: Mitsuo Komata)
  3. Main Title
  4. Incident One Moonlit Night
  5. Tomei / Tona Society President Son, Do Haguro
  6. Akira Inugami and Do Haguro
  7. Masquerade Rape
  8. "Inu" Crest ('Inu'='Dog'. This is the Inugami Family crest)
  9. Haguro's Blade
  10. Deception in a Vision
  11. Beauty and the Wolfman
  12. Lynching Days
  13. Rage & Detestation
  14. Wolf Parade (vocal: Jiro Sugita, composer: Fumiko Okada)
  15. Big Fight
  16. Rightful Defense
  17. Women Turn the Wolfman
  18. For Forbidden Love
  19. Rape
  20. Wolf Law
  21. Bond of Wolf & Woman
  22. Transformation
  23. Humans are Heretics!
  24. Wolfman's Tragic Rage
  25. The Roar Goes Across The Mountains


    Composer: Yuji Ono

    Dir: Susumu Kodama
    Scr: Shuichi Nagahara (GODZILLA '84)
    Str: Shin Kishida (Lone Wolf series, Bloodsucking series)
    Yusaku Matsuda (CREST OF THE WOLF)
    Hirako Shiro

    1979. 72m.

  26. Toho Logo
  27. Main Title ~ Titles
  28. Volunteer Detective, Sho Toshibu
  29. Interview Test
  30. Set Up Screw Mansion!
  31. Chase
  32. Car Wrapped in Flames
  33. Bandaged Arm
  34. Sho & Maiko at the Coffee Shop
  35. Sho is Invited to the Umakatsu Residence
  36. Screw Mansion Forest
  37. Ozato Kaoru Assassination
  38. After Ozato Kaoru's Death
  39. Masao's Hard Luck Story
  40. Death Invitation of the Tea-carrying Doll
  41. Sho's Reasoning ~ To Kanazawa
  42. Truth Hidden in Ancient Records
  43. To the Cave
  44. Kuramasa Do's Assassin
  45. Masao's Impulse ~ Two People in the Cave
  46. Escape
  47. Temptation in the Cave
  48. Shadow of the Mechanical Doll
  49. To the Depths of the Cave
  50. Two People in the Yellow Dusk
  51. End Titles