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Now Bow Wow is a great band in a bunch of ways and styles – they have great band members that know how to have fun and do what they want to do well. Their members are talented and I have yet to hear a serious slump in their quality, which I hope never happens. They aren’t the most popular band in the world, but more musicians than you know can cite these guys and their leader Kyoji Yamamoto as big influences. This compilation sums up their ‘70s output decently with varied tracks, but leaves out some key songs that happen to be my favorites. Nonetheless, it’s a standard compilation that’s alright for starting out, but I’d recommend just starting from the beginning.
Most of the songs on here are from the first three albums, which are the best ones to get into, I think. Like I mentioned, though, they (whoever was in charge of this) left off key songs that the band is known for: “James In My Casket,” “Silver Lightning,” and “Must Say Adieu.” These songs are from the first, second, and third albums; they are the best early Bow Wow songs with more variety between the three of them than any of the songs already on here. The first is a Hendrix-inspired epic with a lot of passionate atmosphere, the second is a heavy metal extravaganza with a monstrous solo trade-off, and the third mixes the bass and guitars to make a rodeo of a bridge, as well. These three are very outstanding tracks that would win any hard rock / heavy metal fan’s heart if they heard it.
As for Bow Wow, their early years were traditional heavy metal / hard rock with a Japanese jovial twist. At the heaviest they sounded like ‘70s Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, while at the lightest they sound like the poppiest form of The Beatles; you get both of these styles on here to some degree. Leader Yamamoto’s young vocals were low cleans with a heavy Japanese accent, but he’ll shout and sing more aggressively when the song calls for it. Much of what is featured here doesn’t have him doing anymore than his normal singing, but it isn’t that essential for you to get used to. Yamamoto’s guitar skills precede his status, as he is well known for his shredding and soloing abilities in the music world; with his sidekick Saitou, they rip, twist, roar, shred, and harmonize exquisitely with flare and charisma with each album. Only by the later ’70 / early ’80s material does the band really begin to soften up, and thus the two guitarists mellow out.
Bass support by Sano has always helped the guitarists with booms of slick grooviness. Sano has his carefree style that leaves its mark while the guitars excite and fight, and it doesn’t separate itself illegitimately. By this I mean Bow Wow’s music consists of four instruments and the vocals, with the bass never losing sight of its job by remaining on duty right beside the guitars instead of being drowned under it just playing the rhythm. Sano’s highlight moment is on the song “Must Say Adieu” previously mentioned, where he literally starts the epic bridge and characterizes the song’s rhythm. The drumming from Niimi at first doesn’t show a whole lot about the drum kit cat (the guy playing drums – kit cat), but slowly with each album Niimi shows incredibly progress from consistent, light playing to blazing rolls, cymbal / snare artillery crashes, and sonic boom double bass.
Bow Wow’s heavy metal / hard rock mix has stayed relatively consistent at the core, and by the time this compilation was released, they were still releasing albums every year with changes never far behind. Their fun, evoking music can be good for parties, social gatherings, video games, movies, anything. Their material can get addicting and I can guarantee at least one of their songs will get you hook. My summary should give a good indication at the band’s overall sound, which is dispersed through this compilation and more effective than just stating what every song sounds like. Starting here or at the beginning, don’t let it be too late to check this band out.