A Very Brief And Incomplete History Of Live Hard Rock/Metal albums recorded in Japan.
As we hit the 50th anniversary of Heavy Metal this year (2020), as Managing Editor of Metal-Rules.com, one of my goals is to try to add more editorial content and technical information so people can use MR not only as a source of entertainment but reliable information as well. In our 30,000+ pages of content, we have written almost 14,000 CD reviews, 500+ book reviews, 400+ DVD reviews. Over 25 years we have conducted over 2000 interviews, and our international staff have reviewed over 1700 concerts and festivals world-wide.
We are also celebrating our 25th year as a website so to add even more value for our readers I would like to add a series of articles about various facets of Heavy Metal. Every year, I am increasingly happy to discover more and more authors, books, on-line publications, scholars and academic studies scouring our massive archives, citing and sharing our work.
Therefore, my modest goal is to continue to make Metal-Rules a resource and repository on a variety of (hopefully!) interesting topics and not just a shallow dumping ground of regurgitated press-releases, click-bait, pop-up ads, political posturing, countless lists and rankings of albums, and endless industry gossip. There are plenty of good sites that already do that well and they are all enjoyable in their own way.
Each feature in this series is named after a Metal band, album, song title or lyric. Feel free to go back and read the other articles in this series.
Mar 2020- Read All About It (Canadian Metal magazines)
April 2020- Gathered In Their Masses (American Supergoups)
May 2020- A Tribute to The Past (Tribute albums)
June 2020- Reborn In Blasphemy (Re-recorded albums)
July 2020-Still The Orchestra Plays (Metal bands and orchestras)
If you have any suggestions, comments or ideas for future articles, please let me know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
If you want to skip the long article, you can just scroll down and look at the list of bands!
-August 24, 2020 Added Cinderella
-February 13, 2021 Added Alcatrazz (x3) Arch Enemy (x2), Dave Meniketti, Devin Townsend, Fair Warning (x3), G3, Lionsheart, Night Ranger (x4), Praying Mantis, Pink Cream 69, Sleeze Beez, Talisman, Thunder, Trixter, UFO (x2), Wig Wam
This month is a little lighter in terms of topic and mood. Some of my previous examinations of various Metal phenomena were a bit more detailed. This one doesn’t need too much explanation but let’s have a quick look.
How many live albums have been recorded in Japan?
Of course this figure keeps changing. If you include all the Asian bands , especially those from Japan, like Loudness for an obvious example, you have a significantly higher number. For our purposes I have focused on bands that are NOT from Japan who make the trek to the land of the rising sun. (Yes, I knew I had to fit that cliche phrase in somewhere. I got it out the way early) So how many albums? The number maybe be as high as 150. I’ve covered maybe about 75 of them to give you a strong sample. At least two dozen of the 150 albums are called LIVE IN JAPAN, or at very least carry that as a sub-title.
If you factor in size, location and population, here may very well be more live albums by non-domestic (i.e., non-Japanese) bands recorded in Japan than any other nation. What does that mean? Well, you have a ton of non-Japanese bands recording live albums in that nation but very few Japanese bands recording live albums in say, Belgium for example. In the US you have a ton of US bands who record live albums in their own backyard. So for a foreign (i.e., non-Japanese) band to record in Japan, the number is oddly higher than we might expect based on how far away it is to travel there.
Why record a live album in Japan?
There are several good reasons why so many bands record live albums in Japan.
-Size: It’s small enough and cities are close enough together that a band can spend one week and hit five major cities and do a tour and have a travel day at each end. Play a gig, hit the (nice) hotel, grab a bullet train in the morning, and you are in the next city in a few hours!
-Population: These cites have millions of people so on any given Tuesday you can get several hundred (or even thousand) fans to a gig. There are at least a dozen cities with over a million people in Japan in an area about the size of Montana, Germany or Newfoundland!
-Technology: I’m not a gear guy but apparently the gear is top-notch which is important because when the band is flying to Japan they aren’t bringing all their gear so they have to rely on local providers and it is high tech stuff!
-Venues: There are many, clean and well-organized venues which legendary appeal (like the Budokan, Club Cittta or Tokyo Dome) that have only grown in stature in the Metal community of the years,
-Promotion/Organization: The promoters treat visitors very well as part of the legendary hospitality. Who hasn’t heard the name Mr. Udo (the infamous Japanese promoter) in liner notes on any number of live in Japan albums? The media is very pro-Metal as well. Gigs are promoted properly. They are events.
-Fans: Japanese fans are legendary for their treatment of visitors, not necessarily for insane drunken antics, but fervent worship including the tradition of cool homemade gifts and following bands from gig to gig.
-Exotic factor: Let’s face it, Japan has a unique and interest culture and history. It is an ‘exotic’ place to visit for many Europeans and North and South Americans. The language, the food, culture, and so forth. Back from 1970 to say…1995 when the internet really started to become revenant and accessible, bands had to go in ‘blind’ as it were, with little knowledge. It was exciting exotic, strange and fun to go to play concerts in Japan! Today everything you could want to see or learn about Japan is instantly available on-line. You could use, Google Streetview, for example and go look at the venue your band was going to pay at if you wanted. However, despite the technology of today, Japan still retains a bit of a sense of mystery and history making it a desired place for Metal bands to play.
Metal Factor: The fact that so many legendary live albums and tours in the early days of Metal been recorded in Japan, many bands want to taste just a little part of that history. If you are going to go all that way, why not record a concert? BAND X -Live In Tokyo!! it has a bit more cache than BAND X-Live in Montana!! (No offence to the good people of Montana.) This metallic novelty factor may have slightly diminished over time. As I mentioned Japan is losing some of it’s exotic appeal and newer younger bands may not be as influenced to want to go to play there just because Deep Purple, Judas Priest or Iron Maiden recorded iconic live albums there. Compare this to playing in a parking lot in the summer in Texas for an OzzFest stop, where a younger generations favoured live albums may have stemmed from. Overall, it is still a feather in a bands cap to play in Japan.
So let’s sum it all up. You have large, well-organized, hi-tech population who love Metal and in five days you cover the whole country with short distances between shows and where fans and promoters treat you very well. Why wouldn’t you go there to tour?
The Venues: (listed by size/capacity)
This is a bit interesting. Many of the halls had the same name in Japan. For example the Kosei Nankin Halls were public event places that existed in many cities. These halls (according to wikipedia!) were supported by pension and/or welfare funds. So the Japanese did not seem to have the same tradition of naming their concert venues after people or corporate sponsors like in other nations.
Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo. (Capacity: 500) The first of a series of four successful Rock clubs in various cities in Japan.
Club Citta, Tokyo: (Capacity: 1300) One of the more legendary underground venues for Metal in the 80’s and 90’s with a couple dozen bands recording live albums there.
Sun Hall Plaza, Tokyo (Capacity: 2222) A popular venue attached to a huge hotel.
Budokan, Tokyo: (Capacity 14,000) The Nippon Budokan (aka Martial Arts Hall in English) is probably Tokyo’s most famous venue, kind of like their version of Madison Square Gardens in NYC, the Forum in L.A. or Massey Hall in Toronto.
Tokyo Dome (Capacity: 55, 000) The big stadium.
Design and Layout and general observations.
Like most of the essays in this series I’m just listing them chronologically by release date (not concert date) and then alphabetically by band. My focus is largely on non-Japanese bands recording live albums in Japan. I’m mostly talking CD’s but I might thrown in a notable DVD/LaserDisc/DVD/Blu-Ray if applicable. Feel free to read Appendix A for a brief list Japanese bands that have recorded a live album in their home country.
There seems to be a pretty even spread of bands from various nations that recorded a live album in Japan. I’ve noted that some smaller bands in Australia for example, can make the trip and record an album because it is a bit closer and cheaper, to get to Japan, whereas a band of comparable stature, history and sales from North American, might not be able to make the trip for logistical reasons.
Live in Japan albums seem to be spread over time pretty evenly, a one or two every year but there was a surge of live in Japan albums from 1990-1995, a few dozen appeared on the market, (maybe flights were cheap back then) and even small to mid-level bands were touring the nation before the rise of grunge changed what many Metal bands were doing and/or capable of. The turn of the century saw quite a few get released, about ten in 1999 alone.
Where possible I’ve tried to include the location and date of the concert that was recorded. Keep in mind that often live albums are spread over several shows and even doctored, but I’ll try to mention that when relevant. Also note: the year the Live album was released may not be the year the concert was actually recorded and not all the songs on the live album maybe have been from Japan. Bands sometimes mix songs into a set-list that pulls from various countries. I’ve tried to focus on live albums that are predominantly recorded in Japan, let’s say, arbitrarily…50% of the songs on the album?
I’m not sweating the details too much of territory of release. Some of these albums have three or four different record labels and releases dates for the big three markets (Europe, Asia, North America).
I’m not including the countless ‘digital-only’ / fan-club only/ bootleg albums. There are too many of those to count. The ones I’m focusing on are are official, legitimate live albums.
It is easy to note the abundance of Japanese imagery , or at least what a traditional westernized concept of Japanese imagery, (stylized fonts, samurai, geisha, swords, rising suns etc) on ‘Live in Japan’ albums. What else are you going to put on your live in Japan album, a kangaroo, a cowboy or a polar bear? I’m surprised the iconic Mount Fuji is not depicted more often on album covers, maybe that is not socially acceptable or something.
Lastly, I own most of these live albums but even so, not all of these dates may be 100% accurate. If you are a true fan and notice a mistake or omission, please feel free to contact me so we may fix it and credit given! Thank you!
Please enjoy this feature!
LED ZEPPELIN (Honourable mention)
Led Zeppelin had performed and recorded a live in Japan album in September, 1971 but legend has it the shows were wiped out due to poor audio quality.
Recorded in 1971 at Hibiya Park, Tokyo
Could this be the very first sighting of a live hard rock album in Japan? Perhaps the first but pales in significance to Deep Purple’s Made In Japan which came out a year later. First released in December of 1971, this has been reissued many times under different names.
DEEP PURPLE-Made In Japan
(Purple Records, 1972)
Recorded in Tokyo and Osaka between Aug 15th and 18th, 1972.
Another first for Deep Purple. It is hard to overstate the importance of this live album in launching Japan’s Metal/Rock culture. There is a scene in filmmaker San Dunn’s 2008 documentary Global Metal where he visits a Heavy Metal bar called Blackmore’s in Japan and marvels at the drunken, middle-aged, businessmen doing karaoke and doing air-guitar to Highway Star! This is over 40 years after the album came out and it still holds sway. I think this is where the phrase ‘Big In Japan’ really stemmed from. There are over 300 pressings/versions of this album, according to Discogs with various alternate titles and covers.
Recorded in 1971 at Hibiya Park, Tokyo
Could this be the very first sighting of a live hard rock album in Japan?
KISS (Honourable Mention)
In 1977 Kiss played in Japan for the first time in their career. In February they played at the Budokan in Tokyo for four sold out nights breaking a record previously set by the Beatles. The tour got a lot of hype and publicity. Kiss had already enticed the Japanese fans with the cover art of HOTTER THAN HELL (see above) and the Kabuki style make-up endured them even more. Originally, ALIVE II was intended to be recorded in Japan but in the end only a couple of songs from the Japanese shows made it to vinyl. Why this tour was not captured for a full Double Live album we will never know. Regardless, Kiss remains one of the earliest Hard Rock/Metal bands to play in Japan. This legendary tour was also mentioned in Dunn’s aforementioned documentary.
Some tracks recorded at the Budokan in Tokyo in December 1976
This one is a bit of a mess but legendary nonetheless. Four of the six tracks spread over two albums, were recorded in Japan.
DEEP PURPLE-Last Concert In Japan
Recorded on December 15th, 1975 at the Budokan in Tokyo.
A Tommy Bolin era album, the title proved to be completely incorrect over time. This was only part of the show released as a single album. When Deep Purple got the rights back to some of their catalogue this was reissued in 2001 as THIS TIME AROUND LIVE IN TOKYO (2001, Purple Records). There are many, many Deep Purple Records recorded in Japan, many of them reissued years later by third-party companies, and for this article I’m only going to focus on a few of the bigger, more legitimate ones in my mind.
Recorded on April 24 & 27, 1978 at Sun Plaza Hall in Nagano, Tokyo.
One of the bands most beloved live albums and the only one with Uli Jon Roth on guitar.
JUDAS PRIEST-Unleashed In The East (Live In Japan)
Recorded on Feb 10 at Kosei Nankin Hall, Tokyo and on Feb 15 at Sun Plaza Hall in Nagano, Tokyo.
Quite a lot has been written about this album over the years. How live was it and what was the true track-listing, as different versions are floating around with incomplete or songs out of sequence. It is a mix of a couple of live shows, but regardless many still feel this is one of Priest’s best live albums to date. Could this be the first Metal album to be called Live In Japan? Hint: To read the ‘Japanese’ script at the bottom, turn your vinyl sideways , one quarter rotation to the right…or just turn your head and read top to bottom…
IRON MAIDEN -Maiden Japan
Recorded on May 23, 1981 at Kosei Nenkin Hall in Nagoya.
In my opinion one of the most clever live album titles of all time. At four songs (or five depending or your territory) way too short. To the best of my knowledge the band has never formally issued the whole concert but there are many bootleg versions of the whole show floating around.
MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP-One Night At Budokan
Recorded on August 12th, 1981 at the Budokan, Tokyo
This one helped esatablish Japan’s long-standing love affair with Michael Schenker.
LOUDNESS-Live Aloud Live Loudness in Tokyo
Recorded on September 24, 1983 at Sun Plaza Hall in Nagano, Tokyo.
The band’s first live album of about a dozen to date. This one actually got released in other nations besides Japan, unlike most of their ‘domestic-only’ Live albums. This was before their break through in the rest of the world.
ALCATRAZZ-Live Sentence No Parole From Rock ‘n Roll
Recorded on September 28, 1984 at Sun Plaza Hall in Nagano, Tokyo.
Japan’s love affair with Rainbow carried over to Graham Bonnet and his new band. This one is a bit premature coming after only one studio which did have a song about Japan on it, likely endearing it the Japanese even more. Add Mr. Yngwie J. Malmsteen on guitar and you have a recipe for instant success cementing the life-long ‘legendary in Japan’ status for both of them. A reformed Alcatraz (sans Yngwie) revisited Japan and produced another live album in 2018. This album has been reissued many times in many formats , titles and cover art.
QUEENSRYCHE-Live In Tokyo (Honourable mention)
Date of recording unknown.
This has never really been formally issued as a Live album but actually came out on LaserDisc in Japan at the time which was pretty damn high-tech and cool for a band that barely had one album and EP out. It would be nice to get on DVD, my old VHS copy is pretty worn out by now.
ACCEPT-Kaizoku-Ban (Live In Japan)
Recorded on September 19th, 1985 in the Festival Hall in Osaka.
There is a bit of trivia on this one. Why the band/label decided to release this live EP (Kaizoku-Ban translates as ‘bootleg’) instead of a full album makes no sense. The full concert was released in a couple of versions (single and double versions ) five years later with alternate art and the grammatically painful title of STAYING A LIFE. Alternate versions called LIVE IN JAPAN exist.
SILVER MOUNTAIN-Hibiya Live In Japan ’85
(1986, Far East Metal Syndicate)
Recorded on October 10, 1985 at Hibiya Yagai Ongaku-Do.
Likely the first Swedish Hard rock/Metal band to release in live in Japan album. The Johansson brothers were not in the band by this point.
LOUDNESS 8186 LIVE
Recorded April 3 and 4, 1986, at Yoyogi Olympic Pool Stadium in Tokyo.
This Asian market only Double Live album sees the band arguably the height of their popularity with the classic line-up. It is bizarre that it did not get an international release until almost 25 years later.
DOKKEN-Beast From The East
Recorded in various cities in April 1988
This was the nail in the coffin for the classic Dokken line-up. Deep trivia time. Various alternate track lists exist and alternates album covers. In an almost unique situation the cassette had more tracks than the CD at the time which was limited to 76 minutes for a single CD. Released a year later in Japan as a Double CD. (see above) Went Gold in the US, not bad numbers for a live album.
MR. BIG-Live! Raw Like Sushi!
These guys are the epitome of ‘Big In Japan’ and pun is fully intended. Mr. Big has so many albums and EP’s recorded live in Japan they deserve their own Appendix. Check Appendix ‘B’ for Big (in Japan) if you care. (I do, I love these guys!)
NIGHT RANGER-Live In Japan
Recorded in 1988.
Another ‘Big In Japan’ band with four live albums recorded there to date.
GAMMA RAY-Heading For The East
Recorded on November 11, 1990 at Shibuya Kokaido Hall in Tokyo.
Another LaserDisc/VHS only deal until 2003 when it made it onto DVD. A quarter of a century after that tour (2015) the band finally (!) saw fit to release the album properly, this time with alternate cover art. Technically their first live album now?
LAAZ ROCKIT-Taste Of Rebellion-Live In Citta
(1992, Pony Canyon)
Recorded on May 18, 1992 at Club Citta
A little bit of a rarity this Japanese-only Live album. I love the band but it boggles my mind they were popular enough to play in Japan.
RIOT IN JAPAN LIVE!!
Recorded in June 1990, in Osaka and Tokyo
Riot’s first of three (to date) albums recorded in Japan. This one was made for the Asian market only at first, until long-time Riot supporters Metal Blade Records, re-issued it in 1999 with alternate art and title. It has been said before but I can’t help but think that Riot’s fortune might have been better if they didn’t have the seal mascot. I don’t even know what the album art is for the original, some sort of weird, nondescript, robot-dude, but it is still better than the seal.
TNT-Three Nights In Tokyo
Recorded on Aug 24, 25 and 27, 1992
The band at arguably the height of their power, with a not an unimpressive three night stand in Tokyo. Maybe the first Metal band from Norway to record a live album in Japan? It’s a punchy little live album, a bit of a rarity.
UFO-Lights Out In Tokyo-Live
Recorded on June 20th, 1992 at Club Citta, Kawasaki, Japan
20 years later we get another Live in Japan album. Low key in terms of presentation but rock solid.
VICIOUS RUMORS-Plug In And Hang On-Live In Tokyo
Recorded on February 13th, 1992 at Club Citta, Tokyo
This short but sweet live album is the bands first and sees them at a career high point.
BLIND GUARDIAN-Tokyo Tales
Recorded on Dec 4th at Kosei Nankin Hall, Tokyo and on Dec 6th at at NHK Hall, Tokyo
One of my favourite live albums of all time. Nothing but speed! The band was on tour with Iced Earth and cemented the friendship between Hansi Kursch and Jon Schaffer for future collaborations.
HEAVENS GATE-Live For Sale !
Recorded on February 28, 1993 in Club Citta
Recorded at the height of their power. They recorded two more albums that had stylistic changes before breaking up.
PINK CREAM 69 -Size It Up-Live In Japan
Recorded on January 31st, 1992 at Club Citta, Kawasaki, Japan.
Interesting one. This live show for the ‘One Size Fits all’ Tour was only released on VHS and Laserdisc! Fans like me hope that one day it will cone out on CD.
VIPER-Maniacs In Japan
(1993, Massacre Records)
Recorded on June 18th, 1993 at Club Citta
First Metal band from Brazil to record live in Japan. By this time vocalist Andre Matos had left and gone to Angra and this single live album capped the end of the bands Power Metal era.
GLENN HUGHES-Burning Japan Live
Recorded on May 24th & 25th at Club Citta, Tokyo
Glenn Hughes’ god-like status in Japan remains undiminished. Where else would he record his first live solo album?
SAVATAGE-Japan Live ’94
Recorded November 12, 1994 at Club Citta, Tokyo
Savage’s long-waited first live album was a bit underwhelming in terms of presentation.
RAVEN-Destroy All Monsters-Live In Japan
(1995, Fresh Fruit)
Recorded on May 13,1995 at Club Citta, Tokyo
I know that Raven’s first live album, LIVE AT THE INFERNO (1983) gets all the glory but this under-looked live album is just white hot. They should have put a bit more effort into the cover.
SLEEZE BEEZ-Live In Tokyo
(1995, Red Bullet)
Recorded on March 13th, 1995 at Club Citta
Even after getting dropped from a major label they had enough demand to make the trip.
X-JAPAN-On The Verge Of Destruction
(1995, Ki-oon Records)
Recorded on Jan 7th, 1992 at The Tokyo Dome
Man, someone needs to write a book on this band. This is their first stand-alone live album (a double) following at least a dozen live videos of some sort. On January 7th, 1992 the band performed another sold-out show at the Tokyo Dome during a three night stand. Let me put that in perspective. The Tokyo Dome holds 55,000 people. Now, I’m not suggesting that 160,000 + people (55,000 x 3 = 165,000) were all original, unique, paying customers every night, but even if half of them went a couple or three times that is at least 75,000 people saw the band that week. In 1997, they sold out the Tokyo Dome (again) for a five night stand. They have sold out the Tokyo Dome 18 times before breaking up. Other big names who had played the Tokyo Dome? Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson, U2, Guns’ N Roses etc… Big in Japan indeed!
THE ALMIGHTY-Crank And Deceit-Live In Japan
Recorded on April 15th, 1996
A bit of a rare one, Japanese only, this live album captured the band at the tail-end of the first phase of their career.
HAREM SCAREM-Live In Japan
Probably the first Canadian hard rock band to record a live album in Japan. In an oddly parallel situation to Mr. Big, Harem Scarem found huge success in Asia, not so much at home, and have any number of live releases in Japan.
PRAYING MANTIS-Captured Alive In Tokyo City
(1996, Canyon International)
Recorded on November 11th and 12th at Club Citta, Kawasaki, Japan .
ROYAL HUNT 1996
Recorded on May 31st at Gotand U Port, Tokyo and on June 4th at IMP Hall in Osaka.
This Danish band also found a stronghold in Japan with many EP’s and various Asian-only releases.
NIGHT RANGER-Live In Japan ’97
Recorded on April 8th, 1997 at Akasaka Blitz, Tokyo.
This one is a hot mess of ugly re-issues and licensing deals. There are no less than seven different versions of this concert on CD , all with slightly different titles and album art. Collect them all! The original art and title are depicted. (See Appendix C for all the variations)
WHITESNAKE-Starkers In Tokyo
Recorded on July 15th, 1997 in Tokyo
David Coverdale loves Japan and Japan loves David Coverdale. There is that Deep Purple thing again. This is the first of no less than four live albums that Whitesnake recorded in Japan. Whitesnake’s first live in Japan album, (but second live album overall) was an oddly subdued, intimate, invite only, acoustic concert. Starkers means ‘naked’ in English slang, hence the clever title.
FAIR WARNING-Live And More
Recorded in June 1997 at the Shibuya Kokaido, Tokyo
Along with Pretty Maids, Royal Hunt, Dokken, Night Ranger and a handful of other similar melodic bands, Fair Warning was pretty popular over there as well. First of three live in Japan albums!
METAL CHURCH-Live In Japan
(1998, BlackHearts Records)
Recorded in Japan in 1995
A bit of a holy grail for collectors, this CD has sold as high as $1000.00 USD on Discogs! This is the bands second live album and features Mike Howe on vocals but is plagued with pretty poor sound quality.
NAPALM DEATH-Bootlegged In Japan
Recorded on August 5th, 1996 in Liquid Rooms, Tokyo
Released to combat various bootlegs of the show.
(1998, Metal Blade)
Recorded on January 31st, 1998 at Club Citta, Tokyo
As with much of Riot’s long and confusing discography, multiple versions exist with different track listing and album art for various territories.
VADER-Live In Japan
(1998, System Shock)
Recorded on August 31, 1998 at Club Quattro, Tokyo
One of the very first Death Metal bands and first Polish bands to record live in Japan.
CHILDREN OF BODOM-Tokyo Warhearts-Live in Japan 1999
Recorded on July 10 & 11 at Club Citta, Tokyo
COB make the trip to Japan fairly early on, only two albums deep. Guitarist Alexi Laiho and maybe even to a greater extent keyboardist Janne Warmen both become a newer generation of hero for the younger audience. Ten years later, Warmen would name his fifth solo album ‘Japanese Hospitality!’
FIREHOUSE-Bring ‘Em Out Live
Recorded on April 22nd, 1999 at Umeda Heat Beat, in Osaka.
Scoff if you must but Firehouse actually sustained their career with heavy support from Asia including multiple Asian tours all through the 90’s when most of the contemporaries faltered. This was their first live album.
PAUL GILBERT-Beehive Live
Recorded on April 4th & 5th, 1999 at Shibuya On Air East, Tokyo
Spun-off from the enormous popularity of Mr. Big, while the band was on hiatus, guitarist Paul Gilbert wasted no time before returning and recording his first live solo album.
ARCH ENEMY-Burning Japan Live
(Toy’s Factory, 2000)
Recorded in late October and early November, 1999 in Tokyo.
The Japanese embraced Arch Enemy quite early on and they reciprocated with this Japanese only live album.
DEVIN TOWNSEND -Official Bootleg 2000
(Hevy Devy Records , 2000)
Recorded in Japan.
One of the earlier and rarer Devin release on his own indie label.
THUNDER-Open The Window-Close The Door-Live In Japan
Recording information unknown
IN FLAMES-The Tokyo Showdown Live in Japan 2000
(2001, Nuclear Blast)
Recorded In November 2000 in Tokyo
Some feel, myself included that this live album nicely earmarked the end of the first phase of the band before their stylistic change. I know people who have not bought anything by the band since.
MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP-The Michael Schenker Story Live
Recorded on March 19th, at the Nagano Sun Plaza, Tokyo
A pretty big three-hour, career spanning concert captured on night five of a five night stand, celebrating 25 years.
THE HAUNTED-Live Rounds In Tokyo
(2001, Earache Records)
Recorded on November 16th, 2000 at Akasaka Blitz, Tokyo
HUGHES/TURNER PROJECT-Live In Tokyo
Recorded on May 17th and 19th at Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo.
By now you can guess that anything ex-Deep Purple or ex-Rainbow is winner for Japanese fans and promoters. This short-lived project had only one album out before going to Japan where the shows were faithfully captured. You can probably also guess the track-list was pretty much exclusively Deep Purple and Rainbow songs. Easy money in the bank!
LIONSHEART-Rising Sons-Live In Japan 1993
Recorded on July 9th, in Osaka.
Steve Grimmet’s band after Grim Reaper. This sat in the vault for a decade!
NIGHT RANGER-Live In Japan
Recording info unknown
This is the band’s third and lesser known live album. I hate bands that have the same album title for two different releases. This Live In Japan is different than the 1990 Live In Japan.
OZZY-Live at Budokan
Recorded February 15th, 2002 at Budokan Hall, Tokyo,
Ozzy’s solo live albums have all been just slightly off the mark. The first one was old Sabbath stuff only (long story) , the next was TRIBUTE , which was decent, then a live EP for some reason, then that weird Double Live box-set thing which wasn’t very contemporary in terms of set list because it was supposedly his farewell tour. So in my mind this is the first really decent live Ozzy solo album. The production values are white-hot captured on the Down To Earth tour.
RACER X-Official Bootleg Snowball Of Doom 2
Not too much is known about this Double Live except it was a soundboard bootleg thing but still got released on a major label! Paul Gilbert still holds sway in Japan!
RING OF FIRE-Burning Live In Tokyo 2002
Recorded on February 21st, 2002 at Shibuya, Tokyo
This all-star American project featuring ex-Yngwie belter Mark Boals on vocals, makes the trip over worthwhile.
SONATA ARCTICA-Songs Of Silence-Live In Tokyo
Recorded on April 4th, 2001 in Tokyo.
Another speedy European Power Metal band that found big success in Japan almost immediately. This, their first live album coming hot on the heels of only two studio albums. This also has a pretty cool alternate cover art for the Japanese market as well.
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN-Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor Live with the New Japan Philharmonic.
(2002, Canyon International)
Recorded on June 17th, 2001
Yngwie makes an appearance with a bit of cross-over from last months essay on symphonic/orchestral albums. This was his first live in Japan album.
DOKKEN-Japan Live ’95
Recorded in 1995 at the Kosei Nankin Hall in Tokyo
This live album sat in the vaults for quite a few years. It was the first ‘classic’ line-up union tour but it was also a bit underwhelming sonically and in terms of presentation.
DAVE MENIKETTI-Live in Japan!
(2003, Cutting Edge)
Recorded on January 31, 2003, at Club Citta, Kawasaki.
It is a testament to the fans of Hard rock/ Metal and guitar hero that an artist like Meniketti (ex-Y&T) can do a gig , record a show and release a live in Japan album.
PRETTY MAIDS-Alive At Least
Recorded in March 2001 in Osaka and Tokyo.
Another band with a perhaps surprisingly strong following in Japan, this is the bands first (of two) live albums in Japan.
TERROR 2000-Slaughter In Japan Live 2003
(2003, Scarlet Records)
DREAM THEATER-Live At Budokan
Recorded on April 26th, 2004 at Budokan, Tokyo
It’s no shock we get a big triple live album from the band that likes to go big. The band has also released a number of live in Japan albums as part of their long running and popular, Ytse Jam Official bootleg series.
DUNGEON-Under The Rising Sun-Live In Japan
(2004, Modern Music)
Recorded in May, 2003 at Club Citta, Tokyo
Originally a DVD only this ultra-rare piece was eventually released as a bonus disc on one of their later studio albums. The Australian Power Metal band captured their tour on video for a nice documentary as well.
TALISMAN-Life & 5 Out Of 5
Recorded in Nagoya in 1993
A semi-ill-fated show in Japan and a collapsed deal with Zero Records meant this live album sat on the shelf for years. It was finally reissued as bonus tracks on the 10th anniversary reissue of the Life album.
TIME REQUIEM-Unleashed In Japan
(2004, Regain Records)
Recorded in February of 2003
Pretty obscure. More speedy melodic Euro stuff finding a fan base.
GWAR-Live From Mt. Fuji.
Recorded…OK…yes, I know they didn’t actually record this in Japan.
G3-Live In Tokyo
Recorded on May 8th, 2005, at The Forum in Tokyo.
Guitar gods ripping it up in a place where this is still a big deal.
LOCK UP-Play Fast Or Die-Live In Japan
(2005, Toy’s Factory)
Recorded on June 28th, 2002 at Club Quattro, Tokyo.
It’s quite rare to see Death metal live albums in japan and this is another pretty obscure, Japanese-only live album.
STORMWARRIOR-At Foreign Shores-Live In Japan
(2006, Remedy Records)
Recorded in 2005 in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo.
These vikings had enough clout to make the invasion.
WHITESNAKE-Live…In The Shadow Of The Blues
Recorded on May 6th, 2006 at Zepp Fukuoka, Fukuoka.
The second of four live albums recorded in Japan. This one was the big comeback tour after a decade of inactivity.
WIG WAM-Live In Tokyo
(2007, Voices Of Wonder)
Recorded on February 26, 2007 at Shibuya, Tokyo
Surprising amount of quick success from this Norwegian glam throw-back sees the band touring Japan in support of their second album.
ARCH ENEMY-Tyrants Of The Rising Sun-Live In Japan
(2008, Century Media)
Recorded in Tokyo on March 9, 2008
The bands second of three Live in Japan albums. The alternate cover is depicted.
Recorded on January 9 th 2004 at Club Quatto, Osaka.
Japan’s underground scene is actually quite extensive despite the more Euro melodic/speedy bands getting the attention, so it is not surprising a grind band like Nasum could play some club gigs there.
NIGHT RANGER-Rockin’ Shibuya 2007
Recorded on June 15th, 2007 at Shibuya Lemon Hall, Tokyo
A nice big double live album.
TRIXTER-Alive In Japan
(2008, Mojo Vegas)
Recording info unknown
Indie release after the band reformed.
Recorded on December 31st , 1990 at The Tokyo Dome.
This one seems like a pure contractual obligation album complete with budget packaging, dull cover and awkward title. Interesting to note that Cinderella had enough pull to play the 55, 000 seat Tokyo Dome on New Year’s Eve no less! That doesn’t mean the venue was full but the promoter must have been confident enough in the bands draw to book the place.
ALCATRAZZ-Disturbing The Peace Tour-Live In Japan
Recorded on October 10, 1984 at Tokyo Kosei Nenkin Kaikan
Another band that was the epitome of Big In Japan. Various live albums pop up once in a while, I don’t know how formal or authorized they are.
FAIR WARNING-Talking Ain’t Enough-Live In Tokyo
Recorded on October 18th, 2009 at Loudpark and January 22, 2010 in Wel City, Tokyo
Two shows in Japan for a nice double Live album. Second of three Live in Japan albums to date.
ARCH ENEMY-Astro Khaos 2012-Official Live Bootleg
(2012, Trooper Entertainment)
Recorded on April 19 and 20th, 2012
A lesser known, live in Japan album that was only released in Japan.
HIBRIA-Blinded By Tokyo-Live In Japan
Recorded in 2011 in Osaka.
A relatively uncommon example of a Brazilian band touring Japan. This young Power Metal band took advantage and recorded a nice live album and DVD.
VAN HALEN-Tokyo Dome-Live In Concert
(2013, Warner Bros)
Recorded on June 21st, 2013 at, yep, the Tokyo Dome
Legend has it that the label wanted a live album for the reunion tour. The Van Halen brothers didn’t care to sift through the mountain of tapes so they left it in the hands of Roth. Roth, living in Japan at the time, naturally picked his hometown show. Critics and fans were underwhelmed with the sound quality, Roth’s vocal delivery, and generally disappointed with what could have been (and should have been) the exclamation point on their career. The boring cover art and odd title that doesn’t roll off the tongue, diminishes this even more. Van Halen’s live album output has been pretty poor and this one didn’t help.
WHITESNAKE-Made In Japan
Recorded on October 15th 2011 at the Saitama Super Arena, Tokyo, Japan.
The bands third live album record in Japan was at Japan’s biggest Metal festival, Loudpark.
DEEP PURPLE-..To The Rising Sun In Tokyo
Recorded on April 12th, 2014 at the Budokan, Tokyo
An interesting curio and a clever bit of marketing and packaging. The band released not one but two Double Live albums on the same day! Titled collectively, FROM THE SETTING SUN (In Wacken) …TO THE SETTING SUN (In Tokyo) this pair of Double Live albums captured the band on the NOW WHAT? tour cycle. I’ve included the Wacken album photo just for reference and fun.
WHITESNAKE-Live in ’84-Back To The Bone
Recorded between August 4th and 12th 1984 at the Super Rock Festival.
By 2018, the band is essentially doing an extended victory lap at this point, raiding the vaults and having released no less than six Double Live albums in seven years. The fourth Whitesnake live album that was recorded in Japan has some historical significance. As the title suggests his was recorded in 1984 on the Slide It In tour cycle as part of a big tour package with Anvil, Bon Jovi, MSG, and Scorpions that hit several cites for a week.
RAINBOW-Live In Japan
(2015, Eagle Records)
Recorded on March 14th, 1984 at the Budokan, Tokyo.
Rainbow, like Deep Purple has a ton of live stuff in the archives that gets periodically released. This one got dug out of the vaults 30 years later. Joe Lynn Turner on vocals.
SECRET SPHERE-One Night In Tokyo
Recorded on January 12th, 2015 at the WildSide Club, Tokyo.
There is still enough demand in Japan for this Italian Euro Prog power band to make a one-night stand.
RAZOR-LIVE! OSAKA SAIKU
(2016, High Roller Records)
Recorded on February 11 & 12, 2011 at Esaka Muse, Osaka.
I didn’t really see this one coming. The Canadian thrashers first output in 19 years is a live album! If you are going to play in Japan, you might as well record it! Haiku roughly translated means working or workmanship ..so ‘Working in Osaka’
ALCATRAZZ-Parole Denied-Tokyo 2017
Recorded in March of 2017 in Tokyo
The band’s triumphant reformation and return to Japan . This excitement lead to yet another reissue of Live Sentence.
DOKKEN-Return to The East Live.
Recorded on October 8th, 2016 in Tokyo at LoudPark
Dokken’s third live album recorded in Japan is another classic line-up reunion album. This one is a bit of a weird mix of the gig in Japan and a theater warm up show in the US. The band, in a refreshing bit of honesty, fully admit that they do these occasional live reunion gigs overseas for a huge payday.
RIOT-LIVE IN JAPAN 2018
(2019, AFM Records)
A third live album by Riot recorded in their stronghold of Japan. Todd Michael Hall on vocals for this tour.
FAIR WARNING-Two Nights to Remember
Recorded live on April 22nd and 23rd 2017 at Club Citta, Kawasaki, Tokyo.
The title days it all, a double header in the famed Club Citta.
PRETTY MAIDS-Maid In Japan- Future World Live 30th Anniversary
Recorded on tour in 2018
Another clever album title, with a little tip of the hat to Iron Maiden, the band played their iconic Future world album in it’s entirety.
APPENDIX A: Live At Home: Japanese bands that have recorded live albums in Japan.
APPENDIX B: (Mr.) Big In Japan. A deep dive into the colourful world of Mr. Big’s extensive catalogue of live in Japan releases. The band has a few other live albums that were not recorded in Japan but of course were widely released over there.
Live! Raw Like Sushi!
Raw Like Sushi II!
Live and Kickin’
(1992, A Vision)
At The Hard Rock Live
Live At Budokan
(2002, East West)
Farewell Live In Japan
(2002, Udo Artists)
Back to Budokan
(2009, Frontiers Records)
Live From The Living Room (One Acoustic Night)
(2012, Frontiers Records)
Recorded at the legendary Toho Studio (think Godzilla movies) soundstage.
Raw Like Sushi 100: Live In Japan 100th Anniversary
(2012 WHD Entertainment)
Commemorating the bands 100th concert in Japan
Raw Like Sushi 113 Sendai Official Bootleg
(2015, Wowow Entertainment)
Raw Like Sushi 114
(2015, Wowow Entertainment)
A five CD/ three DVD box-set collecting the Raw Like Sushi series.
APPENDIX C: Too Much Is Never Enough. The Night Ranger album Rock in Japan ’97, has been issued six times with alternate titles and art.
Rock In Japan ’97
Rock In Japan Greatest Hits Live
Rock In Japan
Best Of Night Ranger Live
(2005, Twin Pack)
Tokyo Blitz Greatest Hits Live In Japan
Greatest Hits Live In Japan
Big In Japan
(2013, Collectors Dream)
Domo Origato! Thank you for reading!