Anime Soundtrack Review: Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1

Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1 is a 17-track CD that includes the opening theme song, as well as 16 of the musical pieces from the anime. The music is performed by Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts.

Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1
Publisher: Victor Entertainment
Release Date: May 21, 1998

The disc opens with “Tank!,” the iconic opening theme song for the Cowboy Bebop anime series. It’s thematically jazz in style, and it’s very catchy. As soon as you hear it, you instantly recognize what this song is. It’s a perfect opening song for the CD.

The seventh track on the CD is “Space Lion,” the song which was used as the ending theme in the episode, “Jupiter Jazz Part II.” It’s the longest song on the CD, but it’s just as recognizable to fans of Cowboy Bebop as “Tank!” is. It’s primarily an instrumental piece, but it’s very much on the melancholy side.

The fourth track is “Bad Dog No Biscuits,” and it’s a very catchy track. Apparently, it opens with a cover of Tom Waits’ “Midtown” before going into its own interpretation. To me, it’s one of the more memorable tracks on this CD, alongside “Tank!” and “Space Lion.”

“Rush” wears its jazz influence on its sleeve. That’s not a bad thing, though, since I have an appreciation for jazz music. To be honest, this is something I could hear on a jazz radio station, like the one I was a DJ at back when I was in college. While it may not be as catchy as “Tank!” or “Bad Dog No Biscuits,” it’s still a great song.

“Spokey Dokey” has a strong emphasis on the harmonica, which fits in with the “cowboy” portion of the anime’s title. This is another piece of music that sounds familiar to viewers of Cowboy Bebop when they hear it.

“Cat Blues” brings the disc back more toward the jazz side of the musical score. There’s a good arrangement here, and you can’t help but bop along with the song as it plays.

“Cosmos” is one of the slower songs on the disc. While it’s more on the jazz side, it’s not the upbeat jazz that appeared earlier on the soundtrack. For the sequencing of the disc, this is in a good spot, because the five previous tracks were all upbeat numbers. This, along with the next track, “Space Lion,” help to slow down the tempo and let the listener take a break musically by hearing something a little different.

“Waltz for Zizi” immediately follows after “Space Lion,” and it stays in the slower side. Is it just me, or does part of the music almost sound like “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”?

“Piano Black” starts picking the pace of the music back up, right around the time I was starting to get a little tired of all the slow material back-to-back. “Pot City” is more of midtempo jazz number, with a strong focus on horns.

“Too Good Too Bad” is a more uptempo number, and it also has a strong emphasis on the horn section. While I can’t place where exactly I remember hearing this, it sounds very familiar to me.

“Car 24” is a more playful song, and it sounds like something that was intended for a more lighthearted scene. “The Egg and I” is also a more playful number, and I can’t help but move along to it as I listen to it.

“Felt Tip Pen” has a bit more of a country and western feel to it when compared to most of the songs included on this soundtrack CD. But since some of the show has a bit of a “wild west” feel to it, it shouldn’t be surprising to occasionally have a piece of score music more in this vein.

“Rain” is a song with lyrics that are sung by Steve Conte. This is a case where I believe the Japanese singer’s version was included in the anime. But this version is still very well done, and Conte has the voice to pull this off. The liner notes for the CD have the lyrics for this song printed in them.

“Digging My Potato” is another song with a heavier focus on the harmonica, and it’s more on the slower side. The CD concludes with “Memory,” which is probably the piece of music you hear the most in the series outside of “Tank!” This slower song almost sounds like you’re listening to a music box, and it’s a piece you hear right at the beginning of the first episode. You also hear it during important moments of introspection. The version of it here is specifically used when referring to Spike Spiegel’s past.

I have a strong admiration for Yoko Kanno’s work, and this CD highlights just how versatile of a composer she is. I can’t say that any of the songs included in this release are weaker than any of the others. The sequencing decisions that were made help to make this soundtrack an enjoyable listen, and it sounds like the songs flow naturally from one to the next.

If you’re a fan of Cowboy Bebop, I would highly encourage you to add Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1 to your music collection if you haven’t already.

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