I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Crystal King -- Dai Tokai (大都会)

One of the more memorable songs of the late 70s with that dramatic piano intro and then the high blast by co-lead vocal by Masayuki Tanaka(田中昌之). The other lead vocal, Monsieur Yoshizaki(ムッシュ吉崎) (yup that was his stage name), took on the low parts and also shared the lead on "Dai Tokai"(The Big City).

There was something very anthemic and lyrical as to how this song was arranged. And certainly with Tanaka giving his Freddie Mercury best, there's a hint of Queen in there, too. The lyrics, which were written by Tanaka, use the big city as more of a framing device for how people need to struggle their way through life. Guitarist Michio Yamashita(山下三智夫)was the composer.

"Dai Tokai" was Crystal King's debut single in November 1979 but the band had actually been around since 1971, performing at the military base and disco clubs in Sasebo on the island of Kyushu. Then in 1979, at the international Yamaha Music Festival in Tokyo, Crystal King performed "Dai Tokai"(which, according to the YMF's website, was titled "In the City of Strangers") and won a Grand Prix prize. Canyon Records picked up on that victory and signed Crystal King up to have the song released officially as a single. It broke the Top 10 within a month of its release, and hit the No. 1 spot and stayed there for 6 weeks. It became the 3rd-ranking song of 1980 and the band even got its ticket into the Kohaku in that same year. All told, the song sold over 1.5 million records.

The city that was being sung about, though, wasn't Tokyo, but the city of Fukuoka. Crystal King is still around today although Masayuki Tanaka can't quite hit the stratospheric notes anymore.


  1. Oh!

    I love this. I actually came across Dai Tokai when Gaki no Tsukai had another episode making a parody of an old music show (I dunno the name but I know Hiromi Go appeared in it a lot).

    I was amazed with Tanaka's vocal range. It was amazing!!! And his face didn't change at all when he hit the high notes.

    Too bad he couldn't sing as he did before. :(

    1. Hello, Yuie-chan.

      Yep, this is one of the musical touchstones of that era for me. That first bellow at the intro is iconic.

      Indeed, it is too bad that Tanaka can't really sing like he did before. He wouldn't be the only one. I just heard the lead singer of 70s band Godiego on the most recent episode of "Uta Kon" singing "Beautiful Name" and I'm sorry to say it wasn't the most beautiful performance.

    2. Hey J-Canuck,

      Oh, that's so sad. :(

      At least we can still replay these old classics.

  2. This song is one of my favorite of all time, and also, i really like this band, They have a lot of great songs!!!

    1. Hi, Chau 98.

      Thanks for your comments. I only know this one by Crystal King. Do you have any other recommendations?

    2. Of course!!
      The song Shinkiro (蜃気楼) is another hit song.
      Asueno Tabidachi (明日への旅立ち), Passion-Lady and Ceccile (セシル) are also, popular songs of Crystal King.
      If you know anime, you probably recognize the songs "Ai wo torimodose" (OPENING) and "Yuria...Eienni" (ENDING) from Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no ken)

    3. Ahhhh, yes. How could I forget "Hokuto no Ken"? :)

  3. This is one of my favorite J-Rock songs. So epic, and Mr. Tanaka’s voice is so astounding. No, he can’t hit ’em like he used to, but then, who can anymore? Maybe Yma Sumac, who I believe was in her 90s when she finally died, was performing right up until the end and still hitting those stratospheric bird-chirp notes.

    As I don’t really read Japanese apart from a few katakana/hiragana characters, I had to memorize the cover image to the single and hope it turned up at the record store. That’s also how copies of “Musobana,” “Hananusubito” and “Tabidachi no uta” found their way to my collection (Rather surprised that the latter has still not turned up on this blog, frankly).

    1. Hi, Mike.

      "Dai Tokai" is also one of my musical touchstones of my early years getting into Japanese popular music.

      The reason that I haven't written about "Tabidachi no Uta" is that I haven't heard of it before. Can you tell me who the singer behind it is?

  4. Masayuki Tanaka can't sing high notes because of an accident ocurrided in 1989 :'(
    Also, Crystal King broke in 1998 and since 2004, Monsieur Yoshizaki have a soloist project with the band's name.
    Tanaka-san and Monsieur are still active separated.


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