Reliving the Height of Japan’s Superlative Visual Rock Band
X [Japan] fans can add one more to their collection with Tofu Record’s "Best" DVD & CD set of the visual glam metal band’s early career highlights packaged with concert footage, melodramatic music videos and chart-topping hits.
Infamous for their gargantuan manes, shocking cosmetics and bizarre androgyny, X [Japan] stand as the most revered Japanese rock band to date. This DVD & CD collection, made available in the U.S. for the first time by Tofu Records, is a somewhat modest version of Sony Records’ comprehensive B.O.X. (Best of X [Japan]) package released in 1996. The DVD, intermingled with a series of nostalgic flashbacks, captures the most exciting live moments of these iconic legends during their peak in the early ‘90s with Toshi on vocals, Yoshiki on drums and piano, the late Hide and Pata on guitar, and Heath on bass. The live videos are most likely performances from their Rose & Blood Tour (1989-1990) and Violence in Jealousy Tour (1991) though no details are provided.
Rather than subtitling the DVD, Tofu Records includes a Romanized lyric booklet to sing (or rather scream) along to. The DVD also features a few of X [Japan]’s original music videos, displaying their melodramatic theatrics of non-graphic wrist slicing, goth cross-dressing and, of course, Yoshiki’s long-stem rose fetish. However, both the CD and DVD contain a limited selection of tracks and footage, the majority of which are off of the band’s earlier albums, Blue Blood (1989) and Jealousy (1991), ranging from speed/thrash metal to romantically tragic ballads driven by the classically trained pianist/song-writer, Yoshiki. It’s a minimal but fairly representative selection of X [Japan]’s most remembered songs during their heyday as mega rock stars who successfully replicated the glam rock + hair metal hybrid that crossed over from namely England and then America, most popularized by western contemporaries such as Kiss, Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Mötley Crüe, Poison and Guns 'N Roses.
However, X [Japan] was an entity of its own in Japan. No other Japanese rock or metal band has come close to X [Japan]’s overwhelming popularity, given that they were the pioneers that established what ended up to be a fleeting genre known to fans as “Visual Kei” (aka “Visual Rock”). Nonetheless, this fusion of metal, punk and gothic aesthetics ignited at least two generations of followers with its shocking visual appeal temporarily inspiring Japanese bands like Malice Mizer and Dir En Grey. X [Japan] eventually transformed their image by cutting their hair, an event that caused an emotional uproar among fans who either mimicked their act or lamented for days.
“Visual Kei” as a genre has more or less expired since the late ‘90s. The music that derived from the scene has transformed and visual bands have generally subdued their appearance. This further justifies why X [Japan] are a one of a kind phenomenon that cannot be cloned with make up, screeching guitars and tanks of hairspray. As shown in this “Best” collection, they are sacred entities to the world of Japanese rock – the ones who started it all and ended just in time to establish a legacy bigger than their once towering hair.
The X [Japan] Best DVD & CD collection can be purchased at: www.tofurecords.com.
DVD/CD: X [Japan] Best
Running Time: 56 min.
DVD Track Listing
CD Track Listing
Week End (live)
Date Posted: 2/20/2004