Song of the Day: Tank by The Seatbelts (written by Yoko Kanno )


Stop everything you’re doing and listen this.

Oh yes, they are awesome!

Tank!” is the opening song for the popular anime series Cowboy Bebop. The song, written by Yoko Kanno and performed by Seatbelts, has an extensive alto saxophone solo played by Masato Honda, as well as a fill part at the end. The song is a big band jazz piece in a Latin infused hard bop style with a rhythm portion that combines a double bass and bongo drums.

“Tank!” is primarily an instrumental piece, though it does feature some spoken male vocals (provided by long-time collaborator with Kanno, Tim Jensen) in the introductory portion of the song, thematically jazz in style. The vocal portion provides a lead-in to the instrumental portion, and its final lyrics, “I think it’s time to blow this scene. Get everybody and the stuff together. Ok, three, two, one let’s jam,” signal the beginning bursts of the majority, purely instrumental end of the song.

It has been featured on the soundtracks to the series and as the original opening theme it is somewhat iconic, one of several popular pieces which are still closely associated with the Bebopseries. It has also been occasionally used as background music for some international commercials, such as a preview for My Own Worst Enemy.

A piano cover of “Tank!” appears on GAME, the debut charity album of Piano Squall.

The name of the band, according to the fictional description given in the anime series Cowboy Bebop, derives from how the performers wear seatbelts to be safe while they play hardcore jam sessions.

The band performed the whole soundtrack of the anime series Cowboy Bebop and produced a total of seven albums and one live DVD. Their style is very diverse and ranges from straightforwardbig band jazz, blues, acoustic ballads, hard rock, country, funk to electronic, hip-hop and experimental compositions/elements.

Since the band was focused mostly on instrumental work, Seatbelts had no lead singer. However, Steve Conte (from The Contes and Crown Jewels) and Mai Yamane participated and sang on many of their songs. The lyrics of these songs were written mainly by Tim Jensen and Yoko Kanno herself. Singers Soichiro Otsuka and Gabriela Robin (rumored to be a pseudonym for Kanno) were responsible for the backing vocals on songs such as “Blue”.

After a few years on hiatus, Seatbelts regrouped in 2004 to perform the soundtrack for the second Cowboy Bebop video game, which is currently available in Japan. They all disbanded once they released the last album.

Many of the members of Seatbelts have also worked with Kanno and with each other on other projects as well, and some have even gone on to compose their own work. For example, guitaristTsuneo Imahori also played guitar on the soundtracks for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Wolf’s Rain (both of which were composed by Kanno), as well as composing the soundtracks for Trigun and Gungrave.

Many international musicians of some renown have appeared as guests on the Cowboy Bebop albums, and are sometimes credited as members of Seatbelts.

Musicians of Seatbelts

Japanese musicians

  • Drums: Yasuo Sano, Akira Sotoyama
  • Bass: Hitoshi Watanabe, Maki Kitada, Suzuki Bakabon
  • Guitar: Tsuneo Imahori, Masayoshi Furukawa
  • Percussion: Mataro Misawa, Ikuo Kakehashi, Yoichi Okabe
  • Trumpet: Koji Nishimura, Koshio Araki, Yusuke Hayashi, Akio Terashima
  • Trombone: Yoichi Murata, Satoshi Kawano, Hideaki Nakaji, Yoshiaka Hashimoto, Masanori Hirohara, Junko Yamashiro
  • Saxophone: Masato Honda, Shigeo Fuchino, Masakuni Takeno, Takuo Yamamoto, Osamu Koike, Naruyoshi Kikuchi
  • Flute: Hideyo Takakuwa, Kazuhiro Iwasa, Mika Hayashi
  • Tuba: Kiyoshi Sato
  • Ukulele: Ryan Boughter
  • Harmonica: Nobuo Yagi, Ryuichiro Senoh
  • Strings: Masatsugu Shinozaki
  • Synthesizer: Keishi Urata
  • Producer/Composer/Arranger/Keyboards/Noises/Voices/Mood Setting: Yoko Kanno
  • Recording & Mixing: Masashi Yabuhara

New York musicians

  • Drums: Jim Mussen, Bobby Previte, Tony Reedus
  • Guitar: Stuw Cutler
  • Piano : Mark Soskin
  • Bass: Booker King
  • Trumpet: Steven Bernstein
  • Trombone: Josh Roseman
  • Soprano Saxophone: Steve Wilson
  • Alto Saxophone: Bob Debellis
  • Tenor Saxophone: Paul Shapiro
  • Baritone Saxophone: Jim Hartog
  • Djembe: Mike Wimberly, Jonh McDowell
  • Harmonica: Bill Lynas
  • Chorus: Paule McWilliams, Nicki Richards, Sharon Bryant-Gallwey, Lisa Fischer
  • Recording & Mixing: Rudy Van Gelder

Paris musicians

  • Guitar: Pierre Bensusan
  • Percussion and Voices: Sydney Thiam, Michel Reman, David Mirandon, Philippe Drai, Phillipe Nalry, Thierry Boucou
  • Recording & Mixing: Christophe Dupouy

Guest vocalists

  • Carla Vallet
  • Tim Jensen
  • Mai Yamane
  • Steve Conte
  • Masaaki Endoh
  • Gabriela Robin
  • Masayoshi Furukawa
  • Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch
  • SYDNEY with Sister R
  • Emily Bindiger
  • Jerzy Knetig
  • Aoi Tada
  • Raj Ramayya
  • Hassan Bohmide
  • Scott Matthew
  • Reynada Hill
  • Soichiro Otsuka
  • Ilaria Graziano
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