Monday, June 18, 2007

Soundtrack: Suzuki Seijun's BRANDED TO KILL (aka. 鈴木清順の殺しの烙印)

Master avant garde Nikkatsu action director Suzuki Seijun blew my mind when I first saw BRANDED TO KILL. We're talking about a movie that is so progressive and radical in its storytelling and filmmaking that it famously got Suzuki fired from his contract directing position at the Nikkatsu Company (日活株式会社 Nikkatsu kabushikigaisha).

Because there has been SO much written about the film online, I'm not going to go into it. (For those of you who do not know about the film, check out Tzadik label owner and experimental Jazz musician extraordinaire John Zorn's liner notes for the Criterion Collection edition, here.)

That said, for any fan of 1960s Japanese film, you know veteran Yamamoto Naozumi's soundtrack to this film: the famous opening theme song, the 'cool cat' be-bop jazz riffs, the squealing horn blurps, and general ingestion, appropriation and reinterpretation of classic film noir jazz cues. It's amazing stuff and, without question, Suzuki owes a part of BRANDED TO KILL's success to this score. But up until now, there had been no release which attempted to put Yamamoto's score together on one release.

Back in February of this year, Japanese company Think Records finally released the definitive soundtrack for this classic on its Cine Jazz sub-label, along with several other Suzuki Seijun film soundtracks (here and here). The release, while pricey (as all Japanese CDs are...) at ¥2,800, is well worth it.

Here's the track listing:

1. "Killing Blues (theme song)" 殺しのブルース (主題歌) "Koroshi no bubrūsu (shudaika)"
2. "Scotch and Hardboiled Rice Part 1" スコッチとハードボイルド米pt1 "Sukocchi to haado boirudo kome paato wan"
3. "Scotch and Hardboiled Rice Part 2" スコッチとハードボイルド米pt2 "Sukocchi to haado boirudo kome paato tsū"
4. "A Corpse in the Backseat" 死体バックシート "Shitai bakku shiito"
5. "The Hanada Bop" ハナダ・バップ "Hanada bappu"
6. "Flame On Part 1" フレーム・オンpt1 "Fureimu on paato wan"
7. "Flame On Part 2" フレーム・オンpt2 "Fureimu on paato tsū"
8. "Manhater Part 1" 男嫌いpt1 "Otokogirai paato wan"
9. "Manhater Part 2" 男嫌いpt2 "Otokogirai paato tsū"
10. "Washing the Rice" 米を研げ "Kome o toge"
11. "The Devil's Job" 悪魔の仕事 "Akuma no shigoto"
12. "Beastly Lovers" 野獣同士 (けだものどうし) "Yajū dōshi (Kedamono dōshi)"
13. "The Butterfly's Stinger Part 1" 蝶の毒針pt1 "Chō no dokushin paato wan"
14. "The Butterfly's Stinger Part 2" 蝶の毒針pt2 "Chō no dokushin paato tsū"
15. "Hanada's Stinger Part 1" ハナダの針pt1 "Hanada no hari paato wan"
16. "Hanada's Stinger Part 2" ハナダの針pt2 "Hanada no hari paato tsū"
17. "The Goodbye Look" サヨナラの外観 "Sayonara no gaikan"
18. "Napoleon Brandy" ナポレオンのブランデー "Naporeon no burandei"
19. "Killing Blues (humming version)" 殺しのブルース (humming vers.)"Koroshi no bubrūsu (hamingu baajon)"
20. "Breakwater Shootout" 防波堤の撃合い "Bouhatei no uchiai"
21. "Killer's Bossa Nova" 殺し屋のボサノバ "Koroshiya no bosa noba"
22. "Something's Up" 何かが起る "Nanika ga koru"
23. "Beast Needs Beast" 獣は獣のように "Kedamono wa kedamono noyōni"
24. "Number One's Cry" ナンバーワンの叫び "Nanbaa wan no sakebi"
25. "Destiny on the Tape Recorder" テープレコーダーは運命の轍 "Teipu rekōdaa wa unmei no wadachi"
26. "Killing Blues (ending theme)" (Atsushi Yamatoya) 殺しのブルース (エンディングテーマ)(大和屋竺) "Koroshi no burūsu (endingu teima)" (Yamatoya Atsushi)
27. "Title (karaoke version)" タイトル (カラオケ vers.) "Taitoru (karaoke baajon)"
28. "Ending (karaoke version)" エンディング (カラオケ vers.) "Endingu (karaoke baajon)"
29. "Title (sans serif version)" タイトル (セリフなし vers.) "Taitoru (serifu nashi baajon)"

As with many Japanese special editions, this CD comes in a folded digipack/box that reveals an old TEAC tape reel. Lift that up and the CD also has a TEAC reel printed on its face. Beneath that is a folded poster about typical Japanese one-sheet sized, for BRANDED TO KILL, which includes the graphic you can see to the left. The back side of the poster has the original press kit, track sheet and an original essay. The poster is of high quality and is definitely frame-able.

The low-down: The score is well worth your time especially if you're a fan of Suzuki's films-- and in particular this one-- which many consider to be his masterpiece. Available via Amazon Japan.


Anonymous said...

well, i've kind of been through a phase recently where certain soundtracks have stuck in my mind, and i've ended up buying a few. oddly, this one jumped out at me not that long back (that picture.... hmmmm) and it had me searching around a little more.

these soundtrack discs do seem to go out of print fairly quickly, but i would love to know more about these aspects of films - there one called 'style to kill' which looks good, one or two connected to fukasaku's 'battles without honor or humanity' and one for nakata's docu on pinku eiga that are in my mind right now. are there others you can steer me to or fill me in on? those hotwax ones too - if i didn't spend so much spare cash on DVDs i would probably have caught those magazines and CDs... if only.

oh, and i'm sure there's lots of accompanying aspects that don't get covered by those of us stuck in a non-japanese way of talking. would love to hear about things like film books, magazines, theatres, unsung heroes, studios, designers of posters, cultural contexts, genres, merchandise, online stores, japanese film blogs, all kinds and every kind of things that would improve the picture...


Nicholas Rucka said...

Hi logboy,

Yeah, the BRANDED TO KILL soundtrack is really great. The fact that it is finally available as a whole is welcome after searching for it for so many years.

There's been a trend over the last couple of years in Japan where they've been doing 'omnibus' CDs of various soundtracks. The TOKYO DRIFTER theme is still only available that way and that was the same for BRANDED TO KILL. So it's nice that some of this stuff is coming out.

But you're right, the CDs come out in small runs and once they sell out, then that's it.

I do have "STYLE TO KILL", which was really an accompanyment to a whole Suzuki retro that was done a while back. I managed to track down the STYLE TO KILL book too. The disc is pretty good-- old Nikkatsu stuff, and I'll probably do a write-up on it in the future.

I also have two different FUKASAKU film collection-- or to be precise, one JINGI (NAKI TATAKAI and NO HAKABA and all of the rest) collection and a TOEI Action collection. Those will definitely be reviewed here soon.

Thanks, too, for the suggestions. I'll dig into some of the more esoteric Japanese only film and content stuff in the future. There's an endless supply of stuff out there!


Anonymous said...

there's a huge supply of things you'll need to start covering... throw away your life, lock up your woman (with her permission) and get typing.

primarily, other than what i list above, i would like to see gaps filled and links made to films from various known (and unknown) directors work... capsule overviews, pictures, uploaded youtube trailers, all things linked in from other peoples reviews, in order to do capsule pieces on things that are going untouched, unlicensed. japanese language skills would be advantageous for the scene - and unfortunately lots of people that do speak both english and japanese (and love the films) are tied up with more fee-paying stuff... :)


Nicholas Rucka said...

Hi logboy,

Thanks again for the suggestions. I definitely have a 'to-do' list for this site, which includes a lot of reviews and write-ups of obscure-- or generally unknown content from Japan (this includes a bit of 1970s Japanese crime TV!!). But lest we forget, an additional aim of this blog is to also promote my own film stuff. And yeah... time is always tight. But doing this is something I like.

Anonymous said...

yep, of course. its yours. nobody elses. just suggestions. thats all. suggestions.


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing nobody has it uploaded to a host on here?

Awesome news, though, as late as I am reading it. Now all we need is the Tokyo Drifter soundtrack so I can stop hearing that theme song in my head.

tripmaster said...
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