By Shelley Pallis.
I confess, I didn’t really remember anything from the soundtrack to Wicked City until this album turned up on the in-tray. In my defence, it has been more than 20 years since I saw it. Whereas there are snatches of Masamichi Amano’s score from Return of the Overfiend that I can still hum 20 years later on, Osamu Shoji’s soundtrack for Wicked City might as well be from a film I had never seen before, although it all soon came back to me.
His directives for the iconic movie were plainly to be a little bit spooky, although the music he has delivered remains oddly upbeat. There are moments in “Awakening”, a poppy little sting, where I thought it might suddenly segue into the theme from Bewitched. “Wicked Beast”, meanwhile, has a chill-out, lounge-jazz theme that belies its title. Other notes on the soundtrack are oddly prophetic of the theme from The X-Files, which would similarly take synthesisers into the thriller soundtrack world a few years later.
Doubtless for reasons to do with the tangle of rights, neither of the two songs from the original anime are on this vinyl version. So if you wanted to hear “It’s Not Easy”, a snog-and-shuffle number right out of a school disco, or “Hold Me in the Shadows”, evocative of a last-ditch beer-goggle salaryman serenade in a late-night hostess bar, neither of them are present. Instead, the vinyl release winningly curates the very best of Osamu Shoji’s music, dropping some of the super-short stings from the complete soundtrack, as well as the irritatingly jaunty comic-relief “Giuseppe Mayart”, which stuck out like a sore thumb anyway. The result is a carefully curated disc that truly preserves the best of the Wicked City score, while discarding much of the filler.
Wicked City, the original soundtrack by Osamu Shoji, is distributed in the UK by Anime Limited.