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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


It's been a couple of months since I've covered a BEST compilation, and this time will be the first time that I've covered a second BEST compilation by any singer or band. The honour here falls on that pop group which automatically heralds the hot season, TUBE. I'm writing this here on the day before summer's official arrival but in Japan, it's already June 21st so the timing couldn't be better.

"TUBEst II" was released on shelves in April 1996, about 6.5 years following the release of "TUBEst" in December 1989. As such, the album covers the period of TUBE's singles in the early 1990s.

Now, a bit of a confession here from me. And I would like to preface things by bringing up a couple of famous sayings: "Familiarity breeds contempt" and "You can get too much of a good thing". I'm not sure when I bought "TUBEst II"; perhaps when it was first put into the CD stores. But I listened to it once....and that was it. It was returned to my shelf and there it sat for 22 years...except for one time that I took it out to be photographed as a thumbnail picture. I actually put the CD itself into the stereo for the first time yesterday since Bill Clinton was POTUS!

For TUBE fans, perhaps my confession would come across as the equivalent of approaching lead vocalist Nobuteru Maeda(前田亘輝)and slapping him with a huge red snapper. But to be honest, and I again reference those sayings in the above paragraph, after listening to "TUBEst II", I just thought I was getting too much TUBE music. It just seemed as if the band had been releasing singles once every few months and as you know, TUBE is all about the summer sound. I guess I finally got tired.

In any case, I will let you know the conclusion of my estrangement from The Boys of Summer after focusing on some of the tracks. For now, allow me to introduce the lineup.

1. Ah--Natsu Yasumi (あ~夏休み)
2. Shonan My Love(湘南My Love)
3. Sayonara Yesterday(さよならイエスタデイ)
4. Natsu da ne (夏だね)
5. Glass no Memories(ガラスのメモリーズ)
6. Natsu wo Machikirenakute(夏を待ちきれなくて)
7. Datte Natsu janai(だって夏じゃない)
8. Natsu wo Dakishimete (夏を抱きしめて)
9. Koi Shite Mucho(恋してムーチョ)
10. Melodies & Memories
11. Yuzurenai Natsu(ゆずれない夏)
12. Ano Natsu wo Sagashite (あの夏を探して)

Bonus Tracks
13. Shonan Bon Odori(湘南盆踊り)
14. Yõ Yõ Yõ
15. Umi e Ikou(海へ行こう)

All of the tracks were written by Nobuteru Maeda and composed by TUBE guitarist Michiya Haruhata(春畑道哉).

First off, I will begin with "Glass no Memories" (Glass Memories), TUBE's 15th single from July 1992. It's actually close to the middle of the order but I wanted to start here since this is the song that I most remember from "TUBEst II" because of that keyboard flourish. Also, it's perhaps the first time that I ever heard of a TUBE song that sounded like it originated in a place other than the familiar beaches of Shonan. Maeda and the guys may have decided to high-tail it to Acapulco for their muse.

"Glass no Memories" peaked at No. 5 on Oricon and was the 23rd-ranked single for 1992.

Speaking of Shonan, there is "Shonan My Love", a love letter to the place where the band members had spent their salad days. I have to admit that on hearing this again, the nostalgia nerves were pressed although I would hardly ever consider myself a lover of sea and surf. This was TUBE's 12th single from May 1991 which reached No. 7 on the weekly charts and finished the year at No. 64, going Gold.

"Natsu wo Machikirenakute" (Can't Wait For Summer) takes things nearly into B'z land with the guitars and power. Dusting off the disc after so long and listening to the album, I have to say that this particular single was the one that got me thinking "Perhaps I was a tad too harsh in my assessment". For the lack of a better way to express things, it comes off as being rather cool and dramatic as Maeda sings about making a broken relationship right again. TUBE's 16th single came out in May 1993 and hit No. 1, becoming the 33rd-ranked single and going Double Platinum. This was also the single that got the band their first invitation to NHK's Kohaku Utagassen that year.

TUBE's 19th single "Koi Shite Mucho" (Fall In Love A Lot) from July 1994 takes things back overseas for some spicy salsa. I wonder if Orquesta de la Luz and TUBE ever collaborated during one of the latter's concerts. In any case, this also broke the Top 10 by reaching No. 6 and becoming the 71st-ranked single of the year. Looking at all this concert footage, I wonder if I did miss out by not only not catching Kome Kome Club(米米クラブ)but also TUBE.

My final part here is the reason that I have also put up the enka label for TUBE, strangely enough. I could only find the Apple excerpt as a decent sample, but I just had to include the Bonus Track known as "Shonan Bon Odori". Just a traditional festival dance the TUBE treatment, but it does make a wonderful example of Japanese musical kismet. "Shonan Bon Odori" was the coupling song for the above-mentioned "Glass no Memories". Nice way to take it back to Japan.

"TUBEst II" did even better than the inaugural BEST album by peaking at No. 3 and becoming the 19th-ranked album of 1996. It even broke the millions barrier. It was good listening to all of the tracks this time around, and I can provide yet another expression "Absence makes the heart grow fonder". All I needed was some time away (perhaps not as long as 22 years) to appreciate the good times of summer Japanese pop again. Perhaps this could even get me to try out some of TUBE's more recent fare...yep, they're still going!

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