Akira Ifukube's Film Music 50th Anniversary Toho Movie Music File‏
International Title
Music By: Akira Ifukube
Record Label: VAP
Running Time: 70:25/68:35 Discs: 2
Release: October 1997 CD Number: VPCD-81223/4
Anthony Romero
In 1997 VAP released an ambitious compilation to celebrate Akira Ifukube's, then, 50 year career doing soundtracks for Toho. This two disc set commemorates the occasion with selections from 41 different Toho movies, focusing on the main titles but also mixing in a few other cues as well. The set features both Ifukube's best known work and also some of his more obscure for the company. For people with an interest in either, the set has enough of both to be a compelling release.

The set starts off with a good choice in the form of Snow Trail (1947), which was Ifukube's first soundtrack of his career, not just for Toho. It then jumps ahead to the classic Godzilla (1954) and interweaves between the well known and his more rare work. The first disc has the normal suspects like Rodan (1956) and Varan (1958), but one is likely more interested in the lesser known scores so let's dive into how that fares. In terms of the standout, it's the drum heavy piece for the "Main Title" of Whistle in My Heart (1959), before it starts into a more awkward vocal portion. The second cue from the film, "Letter from Taniguchi", is far more soothing with piano work. Skipping ahead, Different Sons (1961) also has a great main title, starting off with something that sounds more upbeat before also turning into a soothing piano melody. The disc ends with a selection from Chushingura (1962). The "Raid" theme from this movie will probably be of particular interest, as it would be eventually adapted to become the extended Godzilla theme for the Heisei film series.

The second disc is, in contrast to the first, dominated by the better known work. It shows how much Ifukube's career had become defined by his working relationship with Ishiro Honda and his science fiction films. This disc is a more enjoyable listen than the first, but loses out on having the rare material that makes the set standout in the first place. In terms of the obscure work that does shine, the disc contains the very excellent and exotic main title for The Adventure of Taklamkan (1966), a score which really deserves a full release some day. It then goes into the upbeat "The Attack of the Black Pirates" cue from that same film, which was used in the trailer for Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973). The disc ends with some selections from Love and Faith (1978), the only film on this set which Toho released but didn't produce. The music for this film is an interesting case as it sounds far more robust, thanks to the fact the material is in stereo for this particular film.

As for the set as a whole, its well packaged and designed. It makes a few mistakes, such as incorrectly stating that Rodan (1956) was made in 1957 and that one of the Different Sons (1961) tracks were in stereo instead of both tracks from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). Speaking of, the set heavily touts the "Mono and Stereo" aspect, although in truth the entire set is mono except four tracks which belong to King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and Love and Faith (1978).

Now I don't generally mention audio quality on a soundtrack unless I have something to complain about or compare it to... in this case, it's the former. While the set as a whole is great, there are two tracks which are less than stellar. This includes the first track from Snow Trail (1947) and also the track from Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972). Both of these tracks are taken from source, which results in a very damaged sounding track for Snow Trail (1947) and a poorly presented track from Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) that also features sound effects. The former is understandable because of its age, but the latter is puzzling given that it's not like the score, stock or not, was lost as Toshiba already released it.

Overall, it's a far from complete filmography, but does provide the most thorough sampling of the composer's work for Toho. It's a very full set and walks a fine line from being enjoyable and also a study on the composer's long career at Japan's most famous film studio. In 2007, following the composer's passing, Toho Music attempted a similar release (AI-1914-1/2) and while both contain rare music, both also contain contents not found on each other. Hopefully a few more of these "obscure" films from the composer will see full soundtrack releases someday, but all considering this set will likely contain some exclusive content for the foreseeable future.
Rating: Star Rating
    Disc 1
    Snow Trail (1947)
  1. Main Title (M1)

    Godzilla (1954)
  2. Main Title (M1)
  3. Ending (M23)

    Rainy Night Duel (1956)
  4. Main Title (M1)

    A Will o' the Wisp (1956)
  5. Main Title (M1)

    The Good Couple (1956)
  6. Main Title (M1)

    Rodan (1956)
  7. Main Title (M1)
  8. Get Rodan (M15)

    Yagyu Confidential (1957)
  9. Main Title (M1)

    The Detested (1957)
  10. Main Title (M1)

    The Last Pursuit (1957)
  11. Main Title (M1)

    Downtown (1957)
  12. Main Title (M1)

    The Mysterians (1957)
  13. Main Title (M1-T2 + M1-T3)
  14. Markalite FAHP (M17)

    Ninjitsu (1958)
  15. Main Title (M1)

    A Bridge For Us Alone (1958)
  16. Main Title (M1)

    Varan (1958)
  17. Main Title (M1-T5)
  18. Varan vs. the Patrol Boat Uranami (M13)

    Big Boss (1959)
  19. Main Title (M1 + M2)

    Whistle in My Heart (1959)
  20. Main Title (M1)
  21. Letter from Taniguchi (M23)

    Samurai Saga (1959)
  22. Main Title (M1)

    The Three Treasures (1959)
  23. Main Title
  24. Off to War (M4)

    Battle in Outer Space (1959)
  25. Main Title (M2)
  26. Great War in Space (M32)

    Daredevil in the Castle (1961)
  27. Main Title (M2)
  28. The Kanto Forces Attack (M29)

    Different Sons (1961)
  29. Main Title (M1)

    King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
  30. Main Title (M1)
  31. The Plan to Transport King Kong (M27)

    Chushingura (1962)
  32. Main Title (M1)
  33. Raid (M38)
    Disc 2
    Atragon (1963)
  1. Main Title (M3)
  2. Tokyo Bay and the Undersea Battleship (M27)

    Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
  3. Main Title (M1)
  4. Reflection of the Little Beauty (M6)

    Dogora (1964)
  5. Main Title (M2-T2)
  6. The Natural Enemy of Dogora (M14-T2)

    Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
  7. Main Title (M1)
  8. The Kurobe Valley Theme (M5)

    Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965)
  9. Main Title (M1)
  10. U-Boat Sunk (M3)

    Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
  11. Main Title (M1)

    The Adventure of Taklamkan (1966)
  12. Main Title (M1)
  13. The Attack of the Black Pirates (M8)

    The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
  14. Main Title (M1)
  15. The L Strategy March (M12-T2)

    King Kong Escapes (1967)
  16. Main Title (M1)
  17. Tokyo Tower Showdown (M25A)

    Destroy All Monsters (1968)
  18. Toho Logo - Main Title (M1)
  19. Fire Dragon Pursuit (M28)

    Challenged Youth (1968)
  20. Opening - Main Title (M1)
  21. Proposal (M18)

    Latitude Zero (1969)
  22. Main Title (M1-T2)
  23. Latitude Zero Utopia (M16)

    Space Amoeba (1970)
  24. Main Title (M1)

    Will to Conquer (1970)
  25. Main Title (M1)

    Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
  26. Main Title (M1)

    Sandakan No. 8 (1974)
  27. Main Title (M1)
  28. Osaki's Recollections (M2)

    Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
  29. Main Title (M1)
  30. Katsura's Memory (M9)

    Love and Faith (1978)
  31. Main Title (M1)
  32. Rush of Tears (M16)