5 out of 5
Label: Avex Trax
Produced by: Various (?)
Yes, I own quite a few Seiko Oomori CDs, but I’m guilty of buying J-Pop in bulk, so it takes me a while to get around to listening to it. That means I have a few of Seiko’s albums sitting there, waiting to be obsessed over, just as I have her other EPs / albums / singles, and to fill in the gaps in my music-desiring brain that are helpfully papered over by this 3-disc retrospective of the artist’s career to this point.
3 CDs, 14 or 15 tracks each, is a lot of music for a single artist, especially to listen to in one go. I was amazed in several ways by the set, but to link to the previous paragraph, for compilations like this, I tend to expect my ears to gravitate towards the tracks with which I’m familiar, and the other songs less-so, until I visit them in their original album orientation. Just the nature of things: I generally find that songs work best when found in their intended sequencing, and that “weaker” songs can be propped up by that experience, whereas separated out on a comp, they may remain weaker. But this is me forgetting that I’ve dang enjoyed the heck out of almost every Seiko song I’ve heard, and so to my pleasant surprise, even the songs that I didn’t know offhand on this set became new favorites, to the extent of already becoming familiar with them, since I’ve been listening to this thing for hours and days in a row. That’s the other big surprise: how untiring it is, and damn good it is the whole way through. Now I’m doubly excited to re-experience the songs on album, whenever I get around to it.
Until then, though, this is really a prime example of how these collections should be done: each disc is individually mindful of sequencing, and it is very much an overview, not a greatest hits; we step through every variation of Seiko’s style, and pulling from all sources – early acoustic stuff, singles, and the albums. Each disc tends to start off with some very accessible, recognizable pop singles, and then goes off-map to bop between everything else, going from quiet to loud and fast to slow in well-paced waves. That’s certainly part of the relistenability: Seiko already has genre variations within her career, but it’s nice that the track order embraces it without feeling scattershot.
I’m not savvy enough at reading Japanese or sifting through youtube videos to figure out how many of these songs are actual singles, for those who don’t own the albums; all I know is that every song from a disc I’ve listened to previously I recognized… but perhaps that’s again just a testament to Oomori’s consistency. I also can’t say whether or not there’s any new material on the set. I did try to look up the songs, and I believe I found them all on other previously released stuff, but that’s not a guarantee. Regardless, the quality of the music plus that convenience factor – a one-stop (or three stop, I suppose if you’re working with physical discs) for all of this insanely good material is absolutely worth a double dip, especially in how it brings new context to some tracks that may’ve otherwise gotten lost in the shuffle. And certainly for those looking for a single Seiko disc to buy, I would splurge on this one. You’re covered.