Personnel includes: Van Dyke Parks (vocals, bass); Danny Hutton, Mari Iijima, Julie Christensen, Kathy Dalton, Arnold McCuller, Lisa Popeil, Syd Straw, Terry Evans, Bobby King, Willie Green (vocals); Dennis Budimer, Brian Otto (guitar); Osamu Kitajima (koto, biwa); Masakazu Yoshizawa (shakuhachi); Buel Neidlinger (bass); Akira Tana (drums); Mike Watts (synthesizer programming); Hiromitsu Karada (narimono).
Recorded at Evergreen Studios, Burbank, California on March 20, 22 & 24, 1989.
In much the same way that Van Dyke Parks' DISCOVER AMERICA afforded a sort of glimpse of America as seen through a variety of topical calypso songs, TOKYO ROSE lets us imagine we are seeing ourselves through a Japanese perspective (and vise versa). This time, however the suite of songs are all composed by Parks (with the exception of the koto-infused version of "America"). The topics touch on such things as anti-American sentiments, trade issues and baseball, but largely it's a celebration of the beauty of Japan--its people, values, landscapes, and flowers.
As with all of Parks' albums, the lyrical concepts and structures don't keep one from simply gliding on the delightful sonic beauty of it all. There is a slew of well-chosen guest vocalists on board this time (including Syd Straw and one-time Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton). Richly scored and orchestrated, this is an album of subtle charms that unfolds on repeated listenings.