Hi everyone. A short J!-ENT article on the return of Do As Infinity. Also, photos from their performance at Yoyogi Park on Sept. 30th. Enjoy!
Tomiko Van’s fourth CD single is not so much experimental as it is more of a return to the rock roots that she is known for (when she was with Do As Infinity). But overall, it’s a solid solo CD single from Tomiko and a single worth checking out!
ARTIST: Tomiko Van
CD SINGLE: Tokyo Biyori
LABEL: avex trax
CATALOG #: AVCD-31276/B
RELEASE DATE: June 18, 2008
BUY THIS CD SINGLE from:
- Hum a Tune
- 東京日和 (Instrumental)
- message. (Instrumental)
- 東京日和 (Music Clip)
Tomiko Van, the lead vocalist of Do As Infinity who focused on a solo and acting career right after the band broke up.
And now she’s back with her fourth single “Tokyo Biyori” (Tokyo Weather) composed by Kazuo Zaitsu of the legendary Japanese rock band Tulip, while the coupling track “Message.” features Van’s first composition on an album. While the third track is a cover of the ORIGINAL LOVE song “Hum a Tune”.
For “Tokyo Biyori”, the single is an acoustic guitar and percussion-driven, mild rock track. While “Message.” is a more upbeat rock track with a touch of guitar and actually is my favorite song on the entire CD.
The third coupling track “Hum a Tune” is a cover of ORIGINAL LOVE’s hit. But what made the original such a hit is how it utilized a mid-eastern feel to the music and it was that music that really enhanced the overall song. Especially coming from the band. Tomiko’s cover is a more rock-driven track and it’s a pretty solid cover, it’s just that the original’s charm was because it was unexpected. But for the most part, it’s a pretty good cover and a welcomed track to the overall single. The remaining two tracks are the instrumentals for “Tokyo Biyori” and “Message.”.
This “Tokyo Biyori” single version that I am reviewing is a version that comes with a DVD and the music features Tomiko walking through the neighborhood and singing “Tokyo Biyori”.
As for the CD insert, you get lyrics and production credits.
Overall, Tomiko’s fourth single is good. For me, I’m still trying to get over that hump of being used to a musical style from when she was a member of Do As Infinity but for the most part, it’s great to hear her experimenting with different sounds. ”Tokyo Biyori” is actually a more rock sound and close to her DAI-style of work, but for the most part, if you are a fan of Tomiko Van, this single is worth checking out!
BUY THIS CD SINGLE:
“Tomiko Van’s second cover album takes on popular hits from bands such as Spitz and TULIP and artists such as Fukuyama Masaharu, Makihara Noriyuki and Ozaki Yutaka. A little rock and a little jazz combined with Tomiko’s beautiful vocals. ”
ARTIST: Van Tomiko
ALBUM: VOICE 2 ~cover lovers rock~
LABEL: avex trax
CATALOG #: AVCD-23569/B
RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2008
- Cherry (Originally performed by Spitz, 1996)
- Boku wa koko ni iru (Originally performed by Yamazaki Masayoshi, 1998)
- You’re the Only… (Originally performed by Ono Masatoshi, 1992)
- Sakura (dokushou) (Originally performed by Moriyama Naotaro, 2003)
- IT’S ONLY LOVE (Originally performed by Fukuyama Masaharu, 1994)
- Tooku tooku (originally performed by Makihara Noriyuki)
- OH MY LITTLE GIRL (originally performed by Ozaki Yutaka, 1985)
- Seishun no Kage (Originally performed by TULIP, 1972)
- ZOO (originally performed by The Echoes/Also, performed by Hasui Shuka (Kanno Miho)
- Aisubeki Hito yo (Originally performed by The Kaleidoscope, 2001)
- OH PRETTY WOMAN (originally performed by Roy Orbison)
DVD: Region 2, 4:3, Duration: 6 minutes
- Cherry [MUSIC CLIP]
- TV SPOT/PHOTO Gallery
Tomiko Van returns with her second cover album featuring a pretty awesome compilation of popular rock ballads from the last four decades.
Moving past her Do As Infinity roots, Tomiko Van has been busy with acting in musicals and continuing her passion for rock music and more or less taking on musical challenges.
For “Voice 2 ~covers lovers rock~”, Tomiko continues to use more of a jazz/rock style of approach as the first cover album. If anything, the songs have a different musical arrangement but still compliments the originals in her vocal performance.
The first track “Cherry” originally sung by Spitz has the same similar rock feel as the original, while the second track “ Boku wa koko ni iru” by Yamazaki Masayoshi was an awesome song then, but gets a nice jazz touch.
A lot of the tracks are similar to the first two in that they compliment the song with just a little deviation arrangement-wise but still remaining faithful to the originals and Tomiko does a great job vocally.
Songs such as “You’re the Only…”, “Sakura”, “IT’S ONLY LOVE” and “Seishun no Kage” each exhibit that beautiful musical feeling of the originals with little deviation from the originals and does a great job. Her cover of “You’re the Only…” was very well done and the arrangement and the crisp electric guitars really came through and definitely an awesome cover. ”
“Sakura” was a beautiful slow ballad where the acoustic guitar is the main instrument and definitely with Tomiko’s vocals was one of the winning tracks on this album.
Songs that get a different interpretation that stuck out that I didn’t quite enjoy as much would be the jazz interpretation of the Ozaki hit “OH MY LITTLE GIRL” and possibly that is because Ozaki’s rendition was always painfully sweet that it is purely a style that makes it very difficult for anyone to cover.
But giving credit to Tomiko’s performance of the song, she does a great job singing it and the jazz arrangement is quite fine.
A song that I wanted to hear her interpretation was the song “ZOO” from the drama “Ai wo Kudasai” and sung originally by the Echos and Hasui Shuka (the character of the drama, performed by Kanno Miho). I always enjoyed the Hasui version a lot and Tomiko’s version is a bit faster and curious if her love for the music of U2 filtered musically through this song.
If there was any song that I would not expect to be on this album was a cover of the Roy Orbison song “Pretty Woman”. It’s not bad, her pronunciation is fine with the only problem of woman being sung as “woh-man”. But knowing Tomiko Van’s style of wanting to take on challenges, it doesn’t surprise me that she wanted to take on a classic rock hit and do a cover of it.
As for the DVD, the DVD features the music clip of the popular Spitz song “Cherry”. The video features Tomiko Van riding in a bus holding an old school Polaroid camera. She starts singing “Cherry”, then a guitarist in the bust starts playing the acoustic guitar to her song and then everyone in the bus starts singing along.
The DVD also features the commercials for “VOICE 2″ and commercial for the first “VOICE” cover album.
Also, included on the DVD is a photo gallery taken by a photographer (and possibly a few by Tomiko) during the filming of “Cherry”.
The CD insert booklet features the lyrics to the song and photos of Tomiko Van from her filming of “Cherry”.
This is the second cover album by an Avex female artist in the past three months covering hits from male performers. Shimatani Hitomi’s cover album showed her versions of her favorite songs and now we have Tomiko Van’s second cover album.
And both have a similarity that the music on this album would appeal more for a mature audience than younger listeners.
I know many Japanese listeners are finicky and if they want “Cherry”, they would listen to Spitz. If they want “OH MY LITTLE GIRL”, they would listen to Ozaki Yutaka. Not many are too keen on cover songs.
And that is a challenge that these artists face in Japan (especially sales-wise). Especially for an artist like Tomiko Van.
Too many people are familiar with her work with Do As Infinity and want more of that rock sound and not jazz/rock covers. And in over a year, the last two releases from Tomiko Van are the two cover albums and no original CD singles or albums since Nov. 2006 (Yumeji).
So, as many have waited for an original song, I pretty much have kept things in stride and take her cover albums as the latest experimentation challenge and latest work.
For those who have read interviews with Tomiko Van, she’s an artist that likes to challenge herself and in 2007, it was all about acting and challenging herself musically via these cover albums.
Personally, I enjoyed this album because it was done well. The arrangement doesn’t stray to far from the originals and some just sound fabulous. Tomiko’s vocals definitely compliments and gives a nod to the original songs and suffice to say, cover albums are not going to be for everyone.
Her last original release was “Yumeji” back in November 2006, so I can understand fans getting a little worked up that there is no original release yet (note: She will be releasing an original CD single on June 2008 titled “Tokyo Byori”) but cover albums.
But this album is a very well done cover album. I enjoyed it much more over the first and the song selection, there was no way for it to be bad because they are all chart topping hits. Although, I do question the addition of “OH PRETTY WOMAN” but I chalk that up to Van’s nature of wanting a challenge of singing an English rock song.
A cool cover album that Tomiko Vans fans should not feel disappointed to have in their music collection.