2004 saw the release of Cowboy Bebop: Tank! The Best!, which was one of the soundtrack CDs released for Cowboy Bebop. The album artwork includes drawings of several of the characters from Cowboy Bebop, and the CD booklet contains a lot of "fake" information for the songs. The song information is written in such a way that it would be true for the Cowboy Bebop universe, but not for the real world.
All the music on the disc was composed and arranged by Yoko Kanno, and the music was performed by The Seatbelts. For the songs with lyrics, words were written by three different lyricists. Tim Jensen wrote the words for "Don't Bother None [TV Edit]," "No Reply," "Blue," and "Gotta Knock a Little Harder." Illaria Graziano wrote the words for "Einstein Groovin'" and "Pearls." Raju Ramayya wrote the words for "Cosmic Dare (Pretty With a Pistol)."
The CD opens with "Tank! [TV Stretch]," which is basically an extended version of the Cowboy Bebop theme song. Next is "What Planet is This," which is an upbeat jazz number that prominently features guitar and saxophone; the song only features one line of vocal repeated throughout it ("What planet is this"). The third song is the synth-heavy "Cosmic Dare (Pretty With a Pistol)," which features vocals by Reynada Hill; this song appeared in Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. We return to the jazz sound with "Diamonds," which is a slow, soft piano piece featuring vocals by Illaria Graziano. Rounding out the first half of the disc are "Donít Bother None [TV Edit]" (featuring Mai Yamane on vocals) and "Piano Black" (a jazz instrumental).
The second half of the CD opens with "Mushroom Hunting," a jazz track featuring brass and drums; Taliva-Donna Cumberbatch provides the vocals. "Mushroom Hunting" appeared in the episode, "Mushroom Samba." Suddenly, the disc shifts gears with "No Reply," a rock track featuring vocals by Steve Conte, who is obviously trying to mimic the vocal style of U2's Bono. The disc shifts gears again with "Blue," a slow song featuring synthesizers and guitar; vocals are provided by Mai Yamane, Soichiro Otsuka, and Gabriela Robin. This is followed by "Einstein Groovin'," a mid-tempo song with an obvious disco influence; Illaria Graziano provides the vocals, which appear to be in Spanish. Illaria Graziano's vocals also appear on the next song, "Pearls" (a slow, piano ballad with a jazz influence). "Gotta Knock a Little Harder," the final song on the CD, is a midtempo rock song featuring guitar; Mai Yamane provides the vocals. "Gotta Knock a Little Harder" is a perfect closing track for the CD; this is also the closing theme for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.
The disc was sequenced in such a way that most of the up-tempo numbers appeared on the first half of the CD, and most of the mid-tempos and ballads appeared on the second half. I believe this sequencing weakens the overall CD, and makes the first half of the CD stronger than the second. I was very interested in the CD when I started listening to it, but by the time I hit the last three songs, I was starting to fall asleep. Perhaps if the up-tempo songs and the slower songs were mixed together a little more, the CD would have been a little stronger.
Cowboy Bebop: Tank! The Best! isn't a bad CD at all. However, when you're listening to it, you might either want to program the songs in a different order, or have your CD player randomly choose the order in which the songs are played.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of this CD through the King County Library System.
What Planet Is This
Don't Bother None
Gotta Knock a Little Harder