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- Age Rating: All
- Released By: Tofu Records
- MSRP: 23.98
- Aspect Ratio: TOF005
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
X (Japan): Best CD
By Lauren Goodnight
June 25, 2004
Release Date: February 24, 2004
X (Japan): Best CD
What They Say
© Tofu Records
X (JAPAN) is one of Japan's best known and most popular groups ever formed. They were pioneers of the "Visual Kei" or Visual-Type movement in Japan which involves heavy make-up and amazing on-stage dress, they have sold over 5 million records world-wide, and are said to have influenced every Japanese metal band since the 1980's!
Due to many hardships and tragedies, they no longer are together - but with this DVD/CD set - you'll be able to listen to some of greatest music Japan has to offer!
CD TRACK LISTING
WEEK END (LIVE)
DVD TRACK LISTING
Say AnythingThe Review!
I love this disc's presentation. It might be the only thing I love about this disc. The disc is presented with a DVD containing 8 tracks in a DVD case. The name of the band and the title of the work are presented on the cover in white text, with red and white text on both the back and the spine. The back is a simple tracklisting of the CD and the DVD. The wraparound cover shows off a simple, pretty picture of desiccated Japanese cedar pods in a reddish tint.
The booklet included with this release is black with white and red text. Romaji lyrics are provided for all 12 tracks, but no translations in the presentation. Translations are provided by Tofu Records at:
No credits are listed.
It?s a basic presentation that I have no major issues with. The issues I have with this come at deeper level and just keep going.Music Review:
X [Japan] BEST is the American release of X-Japan StarBox, a limited edition work compiled and released in 1999 that showcases the groundbreaking band's early work, specifically from the years 1988-1991. Of course, one must take into consideration that X-Japan was around for 6 more years, when Yoshiki, the truly outstanding drummer, quit the band in 1997. In 1998, Hide, the shockingly original and extremely energetic lead guitarist, died in a possible-suicide, truly closing the door on X-Japan forever. A great deal of very successful (all went to #1 in Japan) and influential songs were released by the band between 1991 and 1997, and the omission of these tracks on anything called "BEST" is insulting. I could sit here and list everything this disc lacks, and the review would go on for days. However, I'm going to look at this as StarBox and not as anything entitled "BEST". That way, I can give you a more balanced and unbiased review. As an anime fan, and as a music fan, I recommend their later works, encompassed by many singles collections as well as the albums Art of Life and Dahlia. Almost ever track on Dahlia was released as a single between the making of Art of Life and the end of the band's career, and almost every single was a raging success (those #1s I was talking about earlier). The only track here that anime fans will recognize is X, used prominently in the animated trailer for the CLAMP title of the same name.
X-Japan was known for their particular take on the Visual Kei movement, which started in the 1980s and focused on big hair, theatrical makeup, and big rock sound. It was both a spin-off and an homage to the Western hair metal fad. X-Japan's style influenced so many of today's Visual-style bands that I cannot name them all here. . .and their evolution from hair metal and power ballads in the early 1990s to a more slick, pretty band was also extremely influential and is a big part of the looks you see now emerging in Japanese pop-rock. I talk about fashion, but the music was extremely powerful as well, entrenching a certain kind of male vocal styling into Japanese rock. Somewhere between a scream and a croon, there's Toshi, the lead singer, taking you on a ride. And now, your track reviews. I'll share the three best and the two worst.
This track starts softly and explodes into the sound a fury that expresses the band during this time period perfectly. A good opening to the disc and an excellent show of Toshi's younger voice. Kurenai feels like a cross between Kiss and top-notch speed metal. The intricate guitar pass in the middle of this track is fun and really kind of funny too. . .especially if you grew up in the 1980s, watching all of the insane hair bands dance about in tights, destroying the ozone with their AquaNet Super Hold. The hook at the end is contagious. Yoshiki shows his mettle as a metal composer here.
7. Love Replica
Give me a waltz, and I am in heaven. This is eerily foreboding. . .Malice Mizer and others would sound like this over a decade later. Hide's guitarwork flirts in a sultry way with a French female voice-over. Hide wrote this song, and it haunts, just the way Hide haunts many of us musicians.
11. X (LIVE)
The inclusion of this song is necessary to any introduction to the band. Many American otaku identify this song directly with the band, and it might be the only one by them that they know. It fits CLAMP's X perfectly; but when you take it out of the theater and put it live on stage with a truly whipped-up audience screaming "X!" over and over, this tune of stripping down and believing in both pain and yourself, becomes a magical moment. This early hit for the band beautifully shows what broke traditional Japanese teenage musical tastes and behavior, influencing a whole generation. You are X, we are X. There is a lull in the end of the track, and then the band decides to work the audience even more with another round of the powerful chorus and another guitar solo. The band's stamina and spirit show here to their fullest.
I was also tempted to put the fragile ballad "Say Anything" here, as it shows the maturation of the band and many of the band's trademark stylings, from the use of piano and the pleasant touches of English (NOT Engrish!) to a hook that wrenches out the listener's heart. As a song, it outstrips Love Replica, but Love Replica shows the wide variation that X-Japan was capable of better than "Say Anything".
2. Joker (LIVE)
Toshii opens this track by revving up the audience in classic rock-band style. I've never liked this track, and I like it less live. Its fast and bouncy, like a hard-rock Megumi Hayashibara-sings-late-1950's bubblegum rock. However, the quality of the sound here is VERY nice, with just enough audience noise so that you know its live. It?s the song that turns me off, not the quality.
This goes nowhere useful. It just seems superfluous here, especially when placed after Love Replica, a much more successful instrumental-style track. I got bored, and this band was never boring.
In summary, this is a good introduction to one of the most influential bands in Japanese musical history. The DVD is a waste of time, other than to give faces to names and show the various ways in which this band builds upon the shoulders of American rockers. If this release had even one of their later hits, I could agree in calling it "BEST". It, however, doesn't give that sweet gift to the listener, and that puts serious black marks against it in my book. Call it 'StarBox'. C all it 'YAY! For X-Japan!' Just don't call it "BEST" because its far from it. For the die-hard fans, this is a good buy for the DVD, and for the eager new J-rock fans, this is a good way to get acquainted with the roots of the music you're coming to love. But see if you can't pick up 'Dahlia' too, just for my sake.
Kurenai ,JOKER (LIVE),BLUE BLOOD ,ENDLESS RAIN ,Miscast ,Celebration ,Love Replica ,XCLAMATION ,WEEK END (LIVE) ,Silent Jealousy ,X (LIVE) ,Say Anything
This CD is released as part of a bundle combination with the DVD. As of this writing it is not available separately.