B'z - The 7th Blus
Review by Dave
Rating - ****
This album was the first instance in Tak and Kohshi's career that the started to write songs with more of a blues feel. It is also the first one that they started to mix styles of music. Truly the jewel of my collection, this is an album that I have no qualms about using a Visa to get...I wanted this 2 CD set since I first heard about it when I became a B'z fan. It has been a favorite of mine...in fact was my most favorite until Brotherhood was released.
You might wonder why it only has 4 stars...well, that is because a lot of this album is still very pop oriented, and even more so than most of their albums...but the talent and heart exuded from this labour of love shows that B'z really took their time in the development of this CD set. As always, the production by Tak is amazing.
LOVE IS DEAD (Rating: *****)
This song has always been a favorite of mine since the day I bought this album. The interesting thing about this piece is the mixing and blending of musical styles in ONE song. Tak, Masao and Kohshi have had this process nailed down for many years since this CD was released, but this was the first time that it was used and to great effect.
The song starts of with the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra filling in with the horn section, and Tak's normal distortion-laden power chord intro, giving it a 'ska' feel...as it moves into the chorus, it sounds more like a normal B'z songs, as the horns are blended into the background, and become more of a back drop. The instrumental break is where this song really shines...it starts with more of a jazz feel, as the orchestra moves away from the ska style playing, and the saxophone becomes more apparent. Tak breaks in with a Wes Montgomery-influenced chord progression, and mixes in a little Eddie-style tapping...and then back to the broken jazz chords...then blows your mind with a full tilt metal solo! The bridge after the solo brings it back to a jazz style feel, before going back to the rock style chrorus...the best thing about this song is that is that it is done SEAMLESSLY
Odekake Shimasho (Rating: ***)
This song always feels thin, as the main guitar in the prduction is a Strat...with a little bit of Telecaster. It's a good pop song, but not my taste. To Kohshi's credit, he keeps up with a very high key range for the song, and does it very well.
Miseinen (Rating: ***)
More of a laid back feel for this song, and the guitar tone is more sophisticated. The bridge has a nice panning effect on the guitar which has a lot of processing to it, and a lot of keyboard work. The chorus is done well, and written pretty well. The solo is amazing, but does not save this song. A nice little bit of wah-wah at the end of the song as well as the sitar is nice. The mixing of Kohshi's voice is exemplary in this track.
Yami no Ame (Rating: ****)
I always love the acoustic intro to this song, and we get a taste of some of the blues feel to this song. Koshi's singing is very soulful in this track. I like the feel of this song, but that really is about it. The solo is very good as always, and gives it some life. The feeling it exudes is worth the 4 starts alone.
My Sad Love (Rating: ***)
I don't understand why people like this song so much...the words are catchy to Kohshi's credit, but I never really liked this one.
Queen of Madrid (Rating: ****)
From the title, I expected an acoustic, classical style piece, but it swings in a totally different direction. The guitar is processed nicely, and the overall tone of the song is great, and is not disappointing at all, and the mixing of guitar processing in the song is very good. Kohshi's key is very low in this song, and doesn't break out of it at all, and doesn't showboat at all. The solo is very nice mixing a little neo-classical progression at the beginning, but Tak brings it back to the blues feel. A great piece all the way around
Himitsu na Futari (Rating: **)
It's certainly no 'secret' that this song really sucks! The thinness of the guitar tone combined with a lacklustre preformance by the band...with the exception of Tak's 'neverending' solo makes this one totally 'craptastic'! Never have been a fan of the psuedo-pop sound that exudes from this song.
Strings of my Soul (Rating: ****)
Another great solo piece by Tak...definately blends well with the name of this album. While not blues, it does have a very bluesy feel to it, and Tak manages to mix in a little fireworks at the end of the song. Overall one of the best musical performances on the album.
Akai Kawa (Rating: *****)
Barring the overly long, but brilliantly produced orchestrated section at the beginning of the song, this song is very sad sounding, and the performances by Tak and Koshi are simply brilliant. The guitar breaks in this song are simply heart wrenching, and the singing from Kohshi is heartfelt and greatly inspired. The solo of this song is one that grabs you by the hand and takes you on a journey, and the ending solo is probably the one that will make you choke up the first time you hear it. I have been told that the words to this song are as equally well written as the music.
WILD ROAD (Rating:***)
Don't Leave Me (Rating: *****)
Another amazing track...simply one of many on this album. The blues harp gives it the sad feeling from the first minute. The apreggiated guitar in the first verse is prefectly executed and blends well with Kohshi's frustrated feeling to his voice. The drums are excellent, and are a standout as well...gotta love Jun Aoyama!!!! Tak's fills in the second verse are perfect. The horns bring a little life into the track at the second chorus. The bridge is great, and Tak opens up in the solo...really lays it out there with as much heart and soul as you can get. Kohshi's words are so melacholy in this song...as he expresses his misgivings about the relationship and his frustration at the ending of the romance...simply poetry in motion. A great track all the way around.
Sweet Lil' Devil (Rating: ****)
The panned sitar at the beginning is unique, and breaks into a distortion laden intro. The synchopation between Tak's guitar and Konshi's voice is exemplary during the verses. The song is very well produced, but loses steam toward the end.
The Border (Rating: ***)
A different style from most B'z songs, but very well executed. Not a favorite, and not a lot to mention here.
JAP THE RIPPER (Rating: *****)
I really don't like the term 'butt-rock', but this could be considered so...from the bombastic feel, the name of the track, the 'over the top' singing, and acrobatic style of guitar playing. The riff is great, and Tak's playing on this track is just amazing...and it has always been a favorite since I purchased "BUZZ the Movie".....the way Tak...uses his shoulder to puch Kohshi out of the way to play an abosolutely blistering solo!!!!! This song is simply great.
SLAVE TO THE NIGHT (Rating: ****)
An English track, and very well produced. It is a rewrite of "Heart mo Nureru Number" off of their first album "B'z", and is a very well written song, barring the hacking of English grammar in some parts. The guitar takes a back seat in this one as Kohshi turns it on full tilt with some great singing. The overall feel to this song is definatley Jazz inspired, and this more towards Kohshi's style of music. The great intro is Tak's true to the real version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing", which he later sang as a part of his solo on the "Live Ripper" tour in support of this album.
Haru (Rating: ****)(Rating: ****)
A very sweet sounding song, and some great performances all the way around on this track. Not a lot to say about it other than the quality of the singing and music is amazing on this song.
Yaburenu Yume wo Hikizutte (Rating: *****)
A truly amazing track...the translated words do not give it justice. I simply love this track so much...the playing and performances by ALL band members set it apart. The solo is simply fantastic, and so much harder than we are used to hearing from Tak...fast and furious and well executed. The instumental at the end of the song is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long though.
Lady Navigation (Rating: *****)
This song rivals "Itsuka no Merry Christmas" as the best acoustic performance of Tak's career. The song has been translated into English, and is the same lyrics from the "MARS" Mini-Album in 1991. A definate Jazz feel to this track, and the tempo is slow and lilting. Kohshi shows off his vocal range quite a bit on this track, and we get some background vocals from Yuichi Ikusawa...a well known Jazz singer. The piano in this song is just great, and Jun and Masao play well off of each other on this track. Tak's acoustic solo makes other players look like a slouch...it is over a minute long and is full of the bluesy feel that this album is known for, and there are lots of acrobatics musically from him a the end. The long dramatic pause after the solo gives you a chance to break back into the original tempo. The last minute and a half of the song is mostly instrumental, and full of improvisational singing by Kohshi and Yuichi. A simply amazing piece of music.
Mou Karimakka (Rating: ****)
A blues song...in Japanese!!!! And well written and played...probably never thought you would here that!!!! It is written in Kansai dialect, so most foreign speakers of Japanese will never know the true meaning of the lyrics,as well as most Japanese....kind of funny I thought! Tak lights it up all over this song, and Kohshi belts out some amazing notes in this one as well.
farewell song (Rating: ***)
While well written, this song is merely a knockoff of "Hey Jude" from the Beatles....and nearly as long. Not that I don't like the song...it's just I never liked the Beatles...overhyped 'musicians' who while contributed to the world of music, were never very accomplished technically as many other great groups. The orchestration is great on this track, but the length of this song makes it very hard to listen to for long. Kohshi's lyrics are very good on this track, and Tak gets a little magic in there with the solo, but I give this song an average rating...and it is not a very good way to end an album in my opinion.
The accomplishments musically cannot be outweighed by some of the absolutely horrible tracks on this album. There is a lot of controversy about this album in terms of it's musical work, as there are borrowings from Van Halen, Guns 'N Roses, Mr. Big, the Beatles, and Aerosmith as far as riffs and things. The testament to Tak and Koshi and their talent is that they can take elements of other songs and make them into something unique and special in their own right. This double album is superb, and make the notion that double albums are the epitome of pomposity simply irrelevant. All of the songs...while some varying in quality, were very well written and executed. This set is a must have for any diehard B'z fan, as it displays the talent of Tak and Kohshi to the fullest.