Japanese Music: B’z (ビーズ)

B’z (ビーズ, Bi-zu) is a Japanese rock duo, consisting of guitarist, composer and producer Takahiro “Tak” Matsumoto (松本孝弘, Matsumoto Takahiro) and Koshi Inaba (稲葉浩志, Inaba Koushi) as vocalist and lyricist.

B’z is one of the best-selling music artists in the world, the best-selling in their native Japan, having released 46 consecutive No. 1 singles, 25 No. 1 albums and sold more than 80 million records worldwide.

On 21 September 1988, B’z made their debut with their first album, B’z, and single, “Dakara Sono Te Wo Hanashite (だからその手を離して)”. Their music was very much a product of its times, with synthesizers and samplers sharing equal time with Matsumoto’s guitar, producing an experimental sound, very different from their well-known hard rock sound of today.

With the goal of gathering enough material to play for at least 90 minutes, the two concentrated on recording and raising the quality of their music. Their efforts resulted in a second album, Off the Lock, released on 21 May 1989. With this second album came their first series of live performances, known better to their fans as “Live-Gym”. “Live-Gym No. 00” started in Nagoya, continuing into Osaka, and finished in Tokyo. Tickets were sold out on the day they became available. On 21 October, their first mini album, Bad Communication was released. The title track was a blend of rock and dance music, and is still a classic played during their “Live-Gyms.” It charted for 163 weeks on the Oricon Charts.

In 13 June 1990, their single “Taiyō no Komachi Angel” was released and peaked at No. 1 on the Oricon Chart. Every single since that release has debuted at No. 1 on the Oricon charts. Their first music video, Film Risky, was recorded in New York and London within 4 weeks, and was released on 16 December. With a barrage of releases, 1990 came to be the busiest year for B’z.

In the summer of 1992, the “Pleasure ’92-Time” tour took place with 12 performances in 3 major cities. The arena-class tour had amazing features such as a huge lighting set, called the “Starfish”, and seats that rotated 360 degrees. 28 October marked the release of their sixth album, Run, and proved to be more hard rock oriented than the previous.

In 1999, B’z started by busily promoting their recent singles and their tenth album Brotherhood, which was released on 14 July. The album’s track “Giri Giri Chop (Version 51)” was recorded by the support of Mr. Big drummer Pat Torpey and its bassist Billy Sheehan. On 28 August and 29, they played in the Yokohama International Stadium. B’z concert was the first to be held in this stadium and gathered a stunning 140,000 people in just two days. Although the second day at Yokohama experienced heavy rain, the tour ended successfully. Shortly afterward, B’z started recording again and continued to do so throughout the rest of the year without rest.

While B’z started recording as soon as the year 2002 started, Tak finished his solo albums. which were released simultaneously: Dragon From The West which consists of hard rock tunes, and Hana, which includes more melodic and Asian-influenced tunes. B’z finished their recording in the middle of May, and started rehearsal in Tokyo for the Live-Gym tour that year, as well as performing with Aerosmith on the stage of FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan Official Concert International Day, at Tokyo Stadium on 27 June.

(So many successful tours, album and single releases took place that it gets really long, so I’ll go straight to the present days!)

At the beginning of November 2012, rumors stated that the band would prepare a 25th anniversary tour, release a new album and release a new video. Then, on November 21, 2012 on the official website, on the eve of their 25th anniversary, they announced 3 new home videos of unreleased live material and which are B’z LIVE-GYM 2008 -ACTION-, B’z LIVE-GYM 2005 -CIRCLE OF ROCK- and B’z LIVE-GYM 2001 -ELEVEN- announced for Jan. 30, Feb. 27 and March 27, 2013 respectively.

In the following June, B’z would release two Best Of Albums, one with titles from 1988 to 1998, and another one englobing the 1999-2012 period.

Enjoy some of their clips below!


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