I will be the first person to admit that I like his music. Toke (as his friends, including his mother call him) is quite the character. The perfect entertainer, great music combined with great storytelling. These are must have qualities for the touring troubadour.

Today marks the release of Tokyo’s fifth CD in six years, which is an aggressive schedule by anyone’s estimation. Over the years I have followed many musicians careers and the results are usually very predictable. They start their recording careers strong, the first CD contains the very best of their song catalog, CD number two is also usually quite strong, consuming the ‘best of the rest’. CD number three is weak, hastily put together, and disappointing. And so the tale unfolds.

Toke is the rare musician that bucks the trend. Each release seems to gets stronger and stronger, and more assertive. It was a couple of months ago that I got wind of the upcoming release of Tokyo’s Fifth, and I was skeptical that Toke could keep up the pace. It was going to be hard to beat Who Was That Man. (you can listen to Tokyo Rosenthal’s great lead into The Librarian here).

Well Toke has proved me wrong, Tokyo’s Fifth is indeed even better! 10 glorious tracks, 9 of which are brand spanking new (more on that 10th track in a moment).

I love all of the tracks, but there is one that, at least to me, that stands above the others. I suspect that Toke agrees. What Did I Used To Be, is a biting look at our modern world. A good guess would be that the ‘suits’ at the record company agreed, because there is a video that goes with the track.

But do not misunderstand me, many of the other tracks are deserving of the same treatment, This Ship Will Sail is a great example.

OK, what about the one track that is a cover? To the best of my knowledge Toke does not do covers very often, in fact I cannot recall one on any of his prior releases (but I could be wrong), I specialize in being wrong 

Well ‘cover’ is the wrong word! Maybe it would be more accurate to say reinvention of a song. There are two ways to approach a previously recorded song, You can dress, act, and sound like the original musician. One only has to take a vacation in Las Vegas to meet Elvis, he can marry you, serenade you, and even parachute with you!

I have to admit that I am not generally a big fan of the Beatles, but there again I had never heard Helter Skelter played in an Americana style! It is very different from the original.

I give Toke very high marks for Tokyo’s Fifth.

To order your own copy, use the Amazon link above.

Simon Barrett

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