Birthday Present
International Title
 Birthday Present
Music By: Fukuyama Masaharu
Record Label: BMG
Running Time: 21:48/47:07 Discs: 2
Release: October 1995 CD Number: BVCR-8021/2
Anthony Romero
Released right after its lead signer, Fukuyama Masaharu, struck it big for the first time, this two disc soundtrack set is more than eager to capitalize on Masaharu's fame. In fact, beyond the obi strip (the piece of thick paper that adorns the edge of the CD case), it makes no other mention of it being a soundtrack at all, or to the 1995 film it is based on save a small glimpse of the movie's logo on the back of the booklet. The rest of the rather thick insert book includes more information on artist Masaharu and his "all star friends", each of whom contribute in some form to the contents of the second disc in this set, although Masaharu did all of the compositions.

The dilemma BMG has with this release though, despite what impression they try to create, is that Masaharu only did two songs for the movie. So how does one make sure that those who purchased his albums will also take interest in this? The answer? Give those two songs their own disc, which also includes karaoke versions but only amounts to a miniscule 22 minutes regardless. In a sense, this does give the illusion that more of his vocal work is present, as the "instrumental" tracks are all subjected to the second disc. In a bid to stretch out the vocal tracks as much as possible, though, the company also had Ray Ohara remix Masaharu's songs. The best part of these has to be the titles, which seem to be a random selection of English words, such as the ever classic "African Ambient Startrek Techno Refresh Mix".

As for the music itself, it's not bad, although not memorable either. The "instrumental" stuff is sadly very forgettable, due solely to the fact that its all re-recorded "karaoke" versions of Masaharu's work and just doesn't stand up as well as a fresh orchestrated piece would. As for the songs, they aren't bad, and Masaharu deserves credit for being able to stretch a song out for nearly seven minutes without it getting boring. Oddly, I found that I liked the remix for "Love" and "Message" by Ray Ohara the most.

Overall, if one likes Masaharu's work, this might be a decent set to pick up. I really flip-flopped on the score too, but decided on a low "2" due to the amount of repetition here brought on by five different versions of "Love" and three versions each of "Message" and "Rain on Main Street", while I was also disappointed in the presentation as at 68 minutes total this could have fit on a single disc easily, without any reason to place the content on two except to jack up the price. The rating might be a little low I will admit, as Ohara's remix for "Love" is especially nice, but I could really only see this set appealing to people who are already fans of Masaharu.
Rating: Star Rating
    Disc 1
  1. Rain on Main Street ('95 Style)
  2. Love ('95 Style)
  3. Rain on Main Street ('95 Style) Original Karaoke
  4. Love ('95 Style) Original Karaoke
    Disc 2
  1. Message (Instrumental)
    By: Amii Ozaki
  2. Girl (Instrumental)
    By: Amii Ozaki
  3. Love - Dans la Rue (Instrumental)
    By: Megumi Maruo
  4. Merry Go-Round (Instrumental)
    By: Makoto Saito
  5. Message - African Ambient Startrek Techno Refresh Mix
    By: Ray Ohara
  6. Love - Ethnic Ambient Neo Japanesque Techno Refresh Mix
    By: Ray Ohara & Hideki Matsutake
  7. Rain on Main Street (Insutrumental)
    By: Motohiro Tomita
  8. Wanting this Moment to be a Long Dream (Insutrumental)
    By: Motohiro Tomita
  9. Love (Insutrumental)
    By: Motohiro Tomita
  10. Message - From his Friends All Stars (Insutrumental)