B'z is one of those rare bands who comes along once a generation and completely changes the scope of music. Formed in 1988 by two very talented musicians, B'z has become the rock and roll icons of a country not well known for its music throughout the world. With this page we hope to start something that will change this. Currently, Kohshi Inaba and Tak Matsumoto are their premiere band in Japan, authoring an impressive catalogue of music over the past 10 years. Their great strength is in the fact that they can change and adapt to the trends in a country that loves to incorporate anything into its own culture.
In the mid 1980's after having a successful career in many bands in Japan, including TMN, Tak Matsumoto looked to stretch out and make it on his own, trying to launch a solo career. At this time however, solo guitar work was not very popular. Even though his first solo album, Thousand Wave was fairly well received, Tak did not get the acclaim to go on his own and forge a long lasting career. This changed at a talent contest in 1987, and by a young mathematics teacher and aspiring musician from Okayama Prefecture.
Kohshi Inaba had recorded a demo tape to sell to record companies, and had entered the talent contest that Tak just happened to be at. Inaba could play several instruments, but Tak was most impressed at his voice and his vocal range, being the perfect complement for his searing metal guitar work. Tak and Inaba met after the show and decided to try recording a demo together. They decided to record "Let It Be" by the Beatles, and it was recorded acoustically with Tak on guitar, and Inaba on vocals. It wasn't stellar, but it made the two think that forming together would be beneficial. B'z was born, and the two young men went looking for a record contract, and signed with BMG Japan early in 1988.
The band released their first self-titled album later on in 1988, and released their first single, "Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite", which sold quite a few copies. "Off the Lock", a full length album, and "Bad Communication", a mini-album was released in 1989. The follow-up single, "Kimi no Nakade Odoritai" sold well, and B'z was firmly established in Japanese music. Their first number one single "Taiyo no Komachi Angel" was off of the "Breakthrough" album released in 1990. Ever since, every B'z single has reached number one, a Japanese music sales record.
"RISKY" was released in late 1990, and made B'z a national phenomenon. "Easy Come, Easy Go" was their biggest single to date, and when the time came for the RISKY tour in early 1991, they were selling out stadiums all over Japan. "In the Life" was released in 1991, and spawned the release of "ALONE", a rock ballad which included some of the most emotive performances of their career to date. "Mou Ichiro Kiss Shita Katta" was a song that was never released as a single, but has become very popular, and was on this album as well.
In 1992, the tide came in for B'z. With the release of "RUN", the most aggressive full out rock and roll album to date, B'z became one of the premiere acts in Japanese Pop and Rock. They successfully crossed over from the dance pop with which they started their career, and became apart of the rock mainstream. Songs like "RUN" and "ZERO" helped to broaden their audience, and the overall tone of the album spelled out the things to come, as the harder edged B'z emerged.
In late 1992, B'z recorded a mini-album called "Friends". The CD's style was vastly different than any of their previous efforts, being more Jazz influenced, and a lot softer. A standout on this CD is "Itsuka no Merry Christmas", the acoustic work on this track is exemplary, and the lyrics are simply beautiful. This was also a time for B'z to show that they could be more diverse than what people had pegged them out to be.
After touring for RUN, B'z embarked on the recording of their most ambitious album to date. The recording took 7 months and produced "The 7th Blues", a guitar lovers dream. Inaba also showed a more aggressive tone to his lyrics in songs like "Don't Leave Me", "JAP THE RIPPER", and "Sweet Lil' Devil." Also on this album were ballads like "Akai Kawa", "Haru", and the best acoustic performance of Tak's career, "Lady Navigation." This also showed that Kohshi's writing talent could be lent to English lyrics as well, in songs like "Slave to the Night" and in Lady Navigation. A song that exemplified the album was "Mou Karimakka", as song written in Kansai dialect. This song is full blues, with Tak sounding like Eric Clapton at his finest.
After another successful tour, B'z began recording "LOOSE", a return to the pop-influenced records of the past, but retaining the hard rock sound. A few surprises could be found on this CD, like "Love Phantom", a song influenced by, you guessed it.........Phantom of the Opera! This song is amazing stylistically and lyrically, unfortunately, it loses something in the translation. "love me, I love you" was a massive hit with B'z fans, and no wonder......the music is very well produced. Tak shows off some more of his acoustic chops in "BIG", and shows he's content just pickin' the day away.
While the sales were big for LOOSE, they were about to be eclipsed by their last studio album to date, "Survive", which was released after the "BUZZ" tour of 1995, and a brief hiatus. This album featured the best all out rock they have ever done. With the first song "DEEP KISS", to songs like "Liar! Liar!" and "FIREBALL" (Tak plays bass on this one!), Survive was the hardest album in their repertoire.
In 1998, B'z released "Pleasure" and "Treasure", a collection of their greatest hits and fan favorites. 1998 also marked a milestone for B'z as they and their fans celebrated their 10th anniversary, an achievement for all of Japanese rock. From 1988 with only dreams, to 1998 where they were selling out stadiums in Japan and all over Asia, B'z has stood the test of time, and shown that dedication, musical virtuosity, and raw talent will carry you far.
This page is dedicated to showing Americans and the rest of the world what they have been missing. While Japanese is a difficult language to learn, music IS universal. B'z is a band that if known in the rest of the world could be considered as great as Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, or Aerosmith. Trust us, take little time to get to know B'z, you won't be disappointed........
Dave found a very interesting article online.