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.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

TM NETWORK -- Love Train

My first memories of the 80s/90s band TM NETWORK originated from a "Music Station" episode that a former student had been kind enough to tape for me when she returned to her home country for a visit. Naoto Kine, Takashi Utsunomiya and Tetsuya Komuro (木根尚登・宇都宮隆・小室哲哉)had quite the hair (their styling must have been placed down under "Set Construction" in the band's financial statements) and the song they performed (I have long forgotten the title) reminded me of supergroup ASIA's "Heat of the Moment" with that mix of techno and rock.

Then some years later as I was wrapping up my first stint in Japan, I was watching one of those Camellia Diamond commercials which have always had the knack to use some pretty darn cool music, and one of the 1991 ads had TM NETWORK's "Love Train" as the supermodel Linda Evangelista (from St. Catherines, Ontario, may I add) looked happily at buffalo....for some reason that only the Japanese knew. My first impressions of the song were that: 1) it was completely different from The O'Jays "Love Train" of 1973, and 2) it sounded a bit like B'z-ish rock. In any case, it was time to part with my yen.

Written and composed by future 90s J-Pop Svengali Komuro, when I bought the CD single and heard the entire piece, I also thought that there was also a bit of Europe's "The Final Countdown" thrown in as well. I'm not sure if Komuro had been channeling some of that 80s Western pop-rock when he created TM NETWORK's 25th single (May 1991), but apparently it was the first time he made it with karaoke in mind. And as for the title, his thought processes followed a word association game starting from the title "Day Tripper" which gave rise to "trip" which in turn moved to some sort of moving vehicle and finally to "train". No word from J-Wiki whether Komuro had heard of The O'Jays.

The above video has the band taking a slightly more techno take on "Love Train" here. The single hit the top spot on Oricon and eventually sold nearly 540,000 copies, and ended the year at 17th place on the annual charts. The song would also find its way onto TM NETWORK's 8th album, "EXPO" which was released in September 1993. It also hit No. 1 and sold about 890,000 copies.

Personally, though, I think "Get Wild" is still my favourite TM NETWORK song.

Oops, sorry Mr. Utsunomiya!

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