Released: 2004, Frontiers Records / Atenzia Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Tak Matsumoto is the bandleader for the Japanese rock band B’Z where Tak is the guitarist, songwriter and producer. In Japan is Tak a guitar hero. B’Z is the best selling band in Japan and over there the band has sold over 80 million copies. That has made B’Z the biggest band in Japan. I have never heard of them.
During late 2003 started Tak a new band which he chose to call Tak Matsumoto Group and with him he has Jake (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) on bass, Eric (Mr. Big) on vocals, Brian (Foreigner, Slash’s Snakepit, Pride & Glory) on drums and Cindy (Lenny Kravitz) also on drums. When it’s time for the live shows it’s Chris Frazier who handles the drums. Which songs the individual drummers play on I don’t know.
The first CD single, OH JAPAN (OUR TIME IS NOW), was released in Japan in March 2004. The album climbed the chart when it came and in July it was planned for the band to go out on the road in Japan. Now it’s time for this super group to conquer Europe.
I would describe the music as somewhat harder melodic hard rock combined with ordinary melodic hard rock. As usual, they have added some ballads on the album as well. The music has a blues sense in certain parts. I’m not a fan of Mr. Big, but musically these two bands have similarities. The Mr. Big similarities grow bigger when you consider that the former Mr. Big singer sings here. Jack is also listed as vocalist but I don’t know in which songs because I can only hear Eric’s voice.
Tak produced the album himself and he managed to combine the melodic hard rock from the 80’s with an updated soundscape for the 21st century. Tak has done a brilliant production.
This supergroup has added 14 tracks on their album that kicks off with the songs “Oh Japan (Our Time Is Now)”, “I Wish You Were Here”, “Signs Of Life”, “Trapped” and “Never Goodbye”. All these songs include melodic hard rock elements and heavy guitar tunes by Tak. Eric plays the biggest part in the soundscape and one thing’s for sure, he hasn’t lost any of his amazing vocal skills.
These songs are very radio friendly and have very catchy hooks and melodies. “Everything Passes Away”, “King’s For A Day” and “Wonderland” are some very guitar based harder melodic hard rock tracks with guitars and lead vocals in main focus. There are a lot of tempo changes and the choruses are extremely sing a long friendly.
“I Know You By Heart”, “Red, White & Bullet Blues” and “Two Of A Kind” follow. The first song is an up-tempo ballad where Eric has the chance to show off his lead vocals. The second song has a heavy intro with only guitars and nothing more. After the intro Tak kicks off the music with his riffing guitar before the tempo slows down to a more mellow speed. Also this track borders to being an up-tempo ballad. The third song is also close to a ballad but this one has a bluesier approach and Tak delivers a heavy guitar solo in the middle oft he song.
“The Greatest Show On Earth” and “My Alibi” are up next. The first song has an intro that sounds just like Japanese folk music. It hits off with disco drums before it turn into a melodic rock track. Tak does some really sharp guitar here and there through the song before the disco drums return in the choruses. The second song sounds really bluesy with Tak on the blues guitar. These two songs fall out of the framework of how this album sounds in general.
Even though Tak Matsumoto Group have big musical similarities with Mr. Big they sound exceptionally good. I have nothing major to complain about except for the two very odd songs at the end of the album and for the large amount of songs. Maybe they could have cut the song down to about 10 or 11. Otherwise this album contains well played melodic hard rock combined with ordinary melodic hard rock.
The band has a singer that takes the material to a higher level and a guitarist/band leader that knows exactly what he’s doing. They have also managed to write songs that instantly stick to your brain. I have listened to this excellent album for a while now and in fact it’s just growing more and more each time I hear it. Even the cover is stylish and clean and brings Japan to mind. This album really has the potential to be one of the best melodic hard rock albums of 2004 without a doubt.