Full disclaimer: I was only able to get through about 2/3 of the 51 minutes of this album. Marty Friedman is the kind of guitar player I really hate. He can put his chops up against anyone, but it’s all wasted on flash rather than performances with substance. Tokyo Jukebox 3 is even more frustrating, because there are hints of a better Marty Friedman hidden inside.
The album opens with a prime example. He barely hides his love of Brian May on “Makenaide” while showing that he doesn’t get what makes May so great. There are some great melodic lines with that same gritty tone that is as big a part of Queen as Freddie’s voice, but Friedman lets control slip away in both his playing and the overall arrangement. It’s beyond busy. Calling it messy is generous. In all but the album’s most constrained moments, Friedman puts his technical skill in the service of the player over the song and most tracks end up seeming like portions of songs pasted loosely together. Oddly enough, like his previous Tokyo Jukebox releases, these are, allegedly at least, covers of Japanese songs arranged and performed by Friedman, but his knack for turning everything into a ridiculous opportunity to show off strips away any sense that these are songs at all.
Friedman needs to control his head more and his heart less. He could be great, but his commitment to his guitar parts over songs coupled with his complete failure to create coherent arrangements makes this record unlistenable. This should not be a surprise to anyone who’s heard Friedman’s solo work. His records always feel like he needs someone to act as the grownup in the room and just say, “No.”
Released: April 16, 2021