SEE BELOW TO ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW!

Tak Matsumoto Group TMG 1 Vermillion Records
BMCV-8010
Produced By: Tak Matsumoto

Running Time: 58.17

Release Date: Out Now

Released: JP

Musical Style: Hard Rock

Links: TMG
99%
Songs: 98%
Sound: 100%
Tak Matsumoto is a very popular and well respected guitarist from Japan. His band B'z are stadium fillers at home and even abroad when the Japanese population file out to see the guys.
This is a very high profile side-project for Tak and the musicians involved were hand picked to bring the best out of him and in turn everyone involved.
Vocalist and songwriter Eric Martin, bass player, songwriter and backing vocalist Jack Blades and drummers Brian Tichy and Cindy Blackman are the backbone of the band behind guitarist Tak.
What can I say The mix of these characters coming together has been well chosen. The guys have nailed their objective.
I love this album every single thing about it. This is a great if not the best example of classic hard rock, updated to a modern and contemporary feel.
In a year where both Eric Martin and Jack Blades have released their own albums that have featured updated styles and productions, it has taken this paring to bring out their very best and nail that updated sound so strived for. The production is so tight it's perfectly mixed and evenly balanced.
The songs were written by Tak, Eric and Jack, with Tak responsible for all music and Jack and Eric brining in their own lyrics and melodies.
They are just brilliant songs. The album has the vibrancy of the character of each performer's personality and songwriting style, yet combined reach new heights.
There's Eric's classic trademark vocal harmonies and knack of turning a simple lyric into a vocal hook; there's Tak's hard edged and inspired guitar riffing, combined with a killer rhythm section, with Jack Blades adding further texture with some great backing vocals and his own quirky songwriting.
Track By Track:
Oh Japan ~Our Time Is Now sets the tone a slightly tuned down, dark and certainly heavy guitar tone from Tak rides over the song, which is more or less a straight forward melodic hard rocker with an interesting structure that flows from verse to bridge to chorus and back. Drum loops and a piano passage add extra texture to an already cool song. But the star is Eric Martin, this sees him really in his element howling like he hasn't since the first Mr. Big album.
The second track Everything Passes Away proves this is going to be an interesting album. Featuring more production effects as an intro, this song explodes into a heavy rock monster with Eric singing his lung out and Jack Blades adding several lines intermittently. The vocal lines come thick and fast and the guitar is so sonically heavy it is guaranteed to rock your world. A killer chorus with both Jack and Eric singing sends the track right over the top. You have to wonder if this isn't what Eric was born to sing.
Kings For A Day features yet another cool intro which again bursts into a sonic blast of classy hard rock. There's a free flowing verse which runs into an effects filled bridge which leads to a simple but hard rocking chorus.
I Know You By Heart is a complex guitar driven tune with a mellow, moody verse with Eric sounding perfect. Jack adds harmony vocals in a bridge that leads into a choppy and very catchy chorus. Tak plays some fine soloing over the already powerful rhythm guitar riffs. Another highly original and entertaining track.
I Wish You Were Here is a monster pure and simple! This is glorious uptempo hard rock with a slightly tongue in cheek twist, some cheeky lyrics and one of the best choruses of the album. This is set to be the second single from the album and I can see why. This is classic Mr. Big in style, just heavier and groovier and is one of the most commercial straight ahead rockers of the album.
There's no time to rest here though, the tempo is only increased with The Greatest Show On Earth kicking right in. Another absolute monster. This is another all time classic stomping hard rocker, with a killer hook and some fine harmonies easily one of the best of Eric's career and one of the best of the year.
Signs Of Life doesn't let up on the tempo, this is another great hard rocker with a cool chorus and a certain swagger that Aerosmith would be proud display.
Red, White And Bullet Blues changes the pace a little. This is a darker, slower and heavier number, with a massive guitar sound. The chorus is just as intense and is one of the heaviest numbers I have heard either Jack or Eric involved with.
Trapped was the B-Side to the initial single Oh Japan and is a more straight forward rocker with a strong chorus.
My Alibi is a little different than the rest of the album. This features a funky guitar riff over an uptempo rhythm section. The chorus is very mainstream rather commercial considering the rest of the material and almost wouldn't suit the song if it wasn't done to perfection (as it is).
Wonderland gets things rocking in a big way again. This is a more classic hard rock sounding song, with a terrific guitar riff and a very melodic vocal harmony. The chorus slows the tempo a little and features some more great lyrics courtesy of Eric and long time partner Andre Pessis.
Like My Alibi, Train, Train is the band's chance to diversify again. This is a slow, bluesy rocker with a 70's swagger. Very laid back, but it still rocks and the chorus picks up the tempo a little.
Two Of A Kind is the album's only ballad of any description! This is a mid-tempo rock ballad with a bluesy edge. It features a big chorus, with plenty of harmony vocals and some heavier guitar work. A very commercial song, in a hard rock skin.
Never Good-Bye features a very curious intro, but then rocks out just as the majority of the album. After the last couple of tracks, a rocker was needed to close out the album and this does the job in fine style. It takes a few listens to get into, but the track is as strong as the rest of the album and the chorus is another memorable moment.
The Bonus DVD features video clips for the two tracks Oh Japan and I Wish You Were Here.
The Bottom Line
With no European or American release in sight jump online and order this from anywhere now! Each day without this gem is a day of rock and rolling missed.
I was looking forward to this, but had no idea it would be this good and am really surprised how quickly and how well the band gelled and how good the quality of songs are. There is just enough experimentation and production tricks to keep things really interesting, while never getting too cleaver or out of line with where the guys roots lay.
This is a perfect slice of contemporary hard rock, with a super heavy and in your face production that updates the sound, melodies and style to 2004, while keeping the best elements of the classic debut's from Mr. Big and Damn Yankees.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
TMG 1

Line Up
Eric Martin: Vocals
Tak Matsumoto: Guitar
Brian Tichy, Cindy Blackman, Chris Frazier: Drums
Jack Blades: Bass

Essential for fans of:
Eric Martin & Jack Blades
Tak Matsumoto
Mr. Big - Mr. Big & Lean Into It
Damn Yankees - Damn Yankees
Track Listing
Oh Japan - Our Time Is Now*
Everything Passes Away*
Kings For A Day*
I Know You By Heart
I Wish You Were Here*
The Greatest Show On Earth*
Signs Of Life*
Red, White And Bullet Blues
Trapped
My Alibi
Wonderland*
Train, Train
Two Of A Kind
Never Good-Bye
--*Best Tracks


01/12/05: Distortion - Distance@Rockmail.it
Rating: 98
I.....KNOW.....YOU.......BY......HEART.......

terrific song, terrific album, terrific in every way.

the japanese mood is included and you'll feel that "SOMETHING" that was missing in all the other bands.

BUY THIS OR DIE!

08/05/05: craig - craigquinlan@hotmail.com
Rating: 100
this cd smokes .I was late getting it because i live in Canada but since i have gotten it it has not left my cd player.the whole band just sounds incredible vox guitar bass drums everything are unbeliable.there isn't a weak track to be found.it was worth the high price that i paid for it.I would recommend this cd for anyone who enjoys good old-fashioned kick butt music.

26/02/05: Mark - mark@wyse583.freeserve.co.uk
Rating: 95
Eric Martin is a world-class singer in my view, (millions of record sales with Mr. Big would support this claim I believe). Anyway, back to the album........ This is superb rock music and Mr. Matsumoto is a really top-notch guitar player. It is almost impossible to single out tracks here as every single track has something to offer, but my personal fave is The Greatest Show On Earth - a follow-up please!!!

05/01/05: Ted - tedsmith17@hotmail.com
Rating: 100
If you haven't bought this CD by now you are missing out on a classic! I guarantee you will not find a single bad review of this CD. It's an absolute gem! Each song is brilliant with no fillers. I hope there's a TMG II.

25/11/04: Craig Bishop - bisho72@optusnet.com.au
Rating: 99
It's going to be a tough decision between this and the new TESLA CD for album of the year! This cd just keeps getting better with each listen. I don't think Eric Martin has sung this good since LEAN INTO IT (Mr.Big.) This album is proof of what he can achieve with some intelligent songwriting and classy musicians. Jack Blades adds some depth to the vocals too! There are some killer arrangements on this CD and Tak doesn't go over the top with his guitar playing either. If you didn't know all of the players on here, you'd swear this was a tight band that has been together for years. Had to take off one point for the chorus on Two Of A Kind (the rest of the song is awesome) as it is not up to par with the rest of the album.
This is how a SUPERGROUP should sound.... others take note!

03/11/04: ken ahl - kahl1212@hotmail.com
Rating: 99
the cd of the year. hands down! eric martin has never sounded better. and what can i say about taks playing,just amazing.thanks andrew for turning me on to this group.

08/10/04: Tahir Bise - tahirbise@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
This album is pure class a pure rock album that is extreamly well produced.This is by far one of the best releases in years and a must to people who love hard rock played how it should be..If this album had radio air play it would feature top ten singles like.."Oh Japan Our Time Is Now"..

27/09/04: Scott - now1@sbcglobal.net
Rating: 98
I thought this was pretty good after 1 listen. After 2 I think it's great. Excellent rock album. That's all there is to it!

10/09/04: Dave - negaijin@yahoo.com
Rating: 100
Everyone...Tak Matsumoto IS the MAN...he has been the man for the past 10 years, but because of the American music industry bias, you didn't know this...until now.

I have been a fan of B'z for nearly 8 years, and have been collecting their albums as well as Tak and Kohshi's solo stuff rabidly for a LONG time. I was blessed to be able to see B'z play live in Seattle here, and it was the culmination of 7 years of waiting for these guys to play here.

Tak makes most guitarists look silly with his melodic sensibilities, his phrasing, he attention to melody and substance over showboating. He is the thinking man's Eddie Van Halen. He can shake vibrato that will make your head spin, and do it with so much emotion that you clasp your heart in melancholy. I love this man's mastery of the instrument.

As for TMG I. it is a solid album, and I believe it will be strong enough to break the Asian bigotry that has been going on for some time. Eric Martin is a stronger vocalist than I thought, and Jack Blades always is a treat to hear. The songs are solid, and the musicality is MUCH better than ANYTHING you will here this side of the pond. I can only hope that Steve gets some better distribution with Favored Nations and starts promoting this album to the radio stations. I'm about to send a copy to KISW here...show them what REAL musicianship is.

09/09/04: AndyC - andyc1167@yahoo.co.uk
Rating: 95
I got this last week with a load of other cd's I had ordered. This one is on constant play in my car. AWESOME.

Eric Martin wails like he hasn't done since Mr Big (not a critiscism I love the two solo albums) Jack Blades is present and influential but you don't rally notice he's there...which is a compliment by the way. Its Taks guitar work that does it for me....every riff, hook, melody and solo is PERFECT.

This means every single song is that...a song and they are all killers. Perfectly marrying classic hard rock with modern influences....open your mind, open your ears and just wallow in the sheer brilliance of it all....

08/09/04: LeFreak - tonemnster@aol.com
Rating: 89
I'm just listening to TMG 1 now & I'm giving my first impression of the cd---without yet allowing the opportunity for it to grow on me, as I can hear it will. I was recently turned onto Tak Matsumoto's playing via his exquisite "Hana" release in the US on Steve Vai's Favored Nations label. I was immediately impressed with his ability to write captivating & beautiful melodies, combining a light jazzy sound, replete with a sort of Larry Carlton style tone, with some nice blues, but never losing the delicate Asian sound. Amazing release, which has led me to buying whatever I can find on this interesting guitarist from the Orient. Having heard "Hana," I was very curious to hear what this guy would sound like in a rock context, with some overdrive & some chops.

Very good cd, although I don't think it sounds like older Mr. Big, & definately NOT like either Damn Yankees release. I like his solo material on "Hana" & on other releases from Japan I'm now hearing better. He's got some nice chops, but he's much stronger in the phrasing department, like when he goes for the Eastern flavors on a track like "The Greatest Show On Earth," which is, thus far, my favorite track on the cd. He needs more hooks, which this song has. He shouldn't hold back from capitalizing on the Asian sound, mixed w/blues phrasing & a touch of faster chops. The song is catchy, melodic, interesting...even attention-grabbing. In fact, the album startes getting really interesting from track 6 onward. "Signs Of Life" is also retro-cool, with a hooky, catchy, melodic, stylish, classy vibe. Great feel, with quasi-sitar tone, which lends a little Zeppelin vibe, along with some nice harmonizer in the solo. Nice pseudo-funk rock stylings on tunes like "Trapped" & "My Alibi." I don't know what it is with the hard rock guitar tones in Japan (voltage?), but "Wonderland" has a riff that has the same tone as classic Akira Takasaki & the main riff would fit right in on any Loudness release, although the verses are more modern in style...like new Harem Scarem. "Two Of A Kind" draws influences from Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," which is cool, although the style has been done so many times before. The chorus brings it around to a more arena-style big ballad sound. Nice guitar phrasing. The last track, "Never Good-bye" is a stronger ballad with more balls, featuring a neat effect; possibly Digitech Whammy? Very cool song though. As I said, I think the cd gets stronger from track 6 onward, from which point, it's a damn good cd, & if the first 5 tracks were of the same level of quality, this album could easily make it to 95%.

I still think TNT "My Religion" is THE release of the year, with Ayreon, Jorn, Grand Illusion, & the new Richie Kotzen following right in its tracks. As I said, this is first listen, first impression, & I know that it will grow on me, as I can hear all the potential. I'm also enjoying his releases as a solo artist in Japan, where most all vocals are in Japanese, but music is a universal language &, as a guitarist, I'm more involved with listening to the guitar rhythms, riffs, phrasing, effects, chops, etc. Jack Blades & Eric Martin are both very capable vocalists, although not on my Top 10 list...they sing WAY better than me!!! :)

I would recommend the cd as a worthy buy to finish up the summer releases...& fans of latter day Mr. Big will enjoy.

01/09/04: Bob Myron - pearlplayer1@cox.net
Rating: 100
All it took was one listen......without a doubt one of the best hard rock cd's this year.....Tak just smokes on this as well as Jack Blades...drummers Brian Tichey and Cindy Blackman...and Eric Martin just excells here...no doubt one the most underated rock singers ever......production is great...songs are great....you can't miss with this purchase even if it is a bit on the high $$ side.....

28/08/04: MARSHALL FAULK - rams2000champs@yahoo.com
Rating: 94
This record is very good. Not worthy of a 99. I love the killer guitar playing offered up by Tak...the problem I have is that often when he lays down a killer riff or hook he changes the pace. Perhaps the term Im looking for is 'over arranged'. Im also not a big Eric Martin fan and would have enjoyed another voice on the record(Joe Lynn Turner perhaps?) a bit more. Im not saying he sucks...just not a voice I wanna hear for 60 minutes or more. Tak Matsumoto is among the finest players on the planet and his playing alone merits a solid 90+. This record displays some of the most blistering guitar solos heard in recent recording history. Definately one of the better records for 2004.

25/08/04: Evandro Souza - evrsouza@hotmail.com
Rating: 100
I think this is the best CD of the year, Great hardrock... i listened this cd a lot of times, and everytime i listen this CD, i think its better ...
purchase this CD faster you can ...

24/08/04: Horacio - duchiver@msn.com
Rating: 100
When I bought this cd it was not avalaible in Europe and I was told that it would not be. The clerk at the store knew that I liked Eric Martin and Jack Blades and said that he thought I would dig it but you know, "its an expensive cd as it has no distribution here". I thought lets give it a try. I like a lot every project Eric Martin and Jack Blades are involved in so I paid and brought the CD to my office. I gave it a quick spin in my computers CD player there and said to my self "its a great album but a 10?" Well man, I listened to it again at home and yes, this album is a 10, a perfect 10. The production, the sound quality, the guitars, the melodies, the vocals... its touching the perfection. Just listen to it and then played another artist album with the "normal production nowadays"... TMGs cd is one of those you need to get and listen to from time to time to remember the strength, the power, and the passion that melodic hard rock can show.

18/08/04: Don Watson - manton11@comcast.net
Rating: 95
Everyone else gave perfect reviews for this great CD so I won't add much, just that TMG 1 is also on my list for cd of the year! TNT and music like this deserves much more promotion than they are given!!

16/08/04: Eric - canoe7879@yahoo.com
Rating: 100
With the possible exception of the upcoming Judas Priest and Soul Sirkus albums, this is by far the best cd of 2004.

I bought the cd about a month ago while I was on a business trip to Fukuoka, Japan. The whole cd smokes from beginning to end. Even Oh Japan! Highlights: Trapped, Everything Passes Away, My Alibi (the beginning reminds me of David Coverdale's Celebration song)and Never Goodbye.

Get this cd. Pay the import fee. Find it on eBay. But don't think I'll sell my copy. It's too good for eBay!

14/08/04: Jay Gilbert - admz57@sigecom.net
Rating: 99
WOW what an excellant cd! Beg,Borrow,Steal,Download it,whatever,i don't care how you get this cd but just get it. This has to be the album of the year! This cd gets better and better with each listen.This is the stuff rock radio should be playing.HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED well worth the import price.

06/08/04: John Ferguson - jonferg@nortelnetworks.com
Rating: 100
This is quite simply magnificent! A combination of Mr. Big and Damn Yankees at their hard rockin' best and every song a winner. A lot of people thought that albums of this quality were a thing of the past, but TMG proves them all wrong. Never sounding dated or contrived, Matsumoto, Martin and Blades have delivered a true classic.

06/08/04: Freddy De Keyzer - freddydekeyzer@hotmail.com
Rating: 89
This is indeed a very good and cool pure, classic hardrock release ! Recommended stuff ! The only minor point (but's that pure my opinion) is the voice of Eric. O.K. , he sings better than ever before, but I've never been a fan of the man ! With a more class singer this could have been a timeless classic.
Now it's a very good record !, no less, no more !

03/08/04: Steve Mascoli - stephen.j.mascoli@espn.com
Rating: 100
What a great record! Classic Hard Rock with a new twist. Andrew's review nailed it! If someone in the US doesn't sign these guys to a distribution deal, there is no hope for this type of music here.

01/08/04: Ian Thirkill - thirkilli@aol.com
Rating: 99
"Oh Japan our time is now", well if this doesn't get released in Europe or the USA then our time for classic rock music has gone. Killed by the boy bands and other pretty boy/girl "entertainers ?".McNeice has never been so accurate.It's close to perfect, but like previous reveiwers have commented it takes a few listens to get into. Absolutely fu**ing brilliant

27/07/04: Daniel - nm@junkmail.de
Rating: 88
this album is a REALLY good one - that's for sure. but does it really deserve a rating of 90+?! IMO: no. maybe the album will grow on me a bit but from things i could read an these sites, I expected WAY more...

24/07/04: MelodicMan - arbarbieri@bol.com.br
Rating: 99
Awesome!! This album is exactly what fans of melodic hard rock were waiting for. I will wait for Danny Vaughn's From The Inside, but this is the pole position for album of the year. The only reason i don't give this a 100% rating is because i didn't like the track The Greatest Show On Earth as much as andy liked it. Highly recommended, buy it at any cost, specially if you miss early Mr.Big like i do...

17/07/04: FRANCES MILLER - FAM1942
Rating: 0
COOL

17/07/04: zaxon - zukui_1984@yahoo.com
Rating: 99
Great Hard Rock Album,Dude!!!actually it's not surprised me if this Album was with Rating 99%.i have a few solo Album from Mr.Tak Matsumoto(but just Instrumental,so like Steve Vai-you should hear it-Guitar Hero from Japan).or maybe you should hear his group "B'z"-from 80's,even they album with Japanese Langeuage,but the Music just almost like TMG 1.i recommended to hear his B'z & Solo ALbum .

14/07/04: AOR Guru - aorguru@online.no
Rating: 100
After downloading the samples I had to order this. I managed to get hold on the limited edition with a bonus DVD. This is the greatest release in melodic hard rock the last 10 years (at least). Songs like "Signs Of Life", "Everything Passes Away" and the single "Oh Japan" are outstanding tracks... well the rest is also as outstanding as these.
This release are essential for fans of Damn Yankees and early Mr. Big. If this album never get released outside of Japan it would be a shame.
Andrew, you did a mistake by rating this gem with only 99%!

14/07/04: Paul - Psimpson925@aol.com
Rating: 100
I bought the first CD that only had two songs w/Kareoki versions, (I would need more than lessons, tea and ice packs to wail like Eric, lol) I was way looking forward to the rest of the CD to be released. I was not disappointed. It was better than I expected and the perfect blend of rock with a soul. The music was great, song writing first class and being a singing was amazing. I think Andrew nailed it in his original review, this is "a perfect slice of contemporary hard rock". It brings out the best of what each has accompished to this point, yet is completly new and fresh... I haven't stopped listening to it or talking about it..... If I could catch a show in Japan I would, this is an amazing band and one of the best CD's I've ever heard. I hope they tour here and I hope this CD gets the attention it deserves! It truly deserves the "classic" rating!

13/07/04: Bill - billmett@comcast.net
Rating: 97
LIVING IN THE US I AM FORTUNATE TO HAVE HAD THIS CD FOR NEARLY 3 WEEKS NOW AND WITH EACH DAY I SEEM TO LIKE IT EVEN MORE. ON FIRST LISTEN I WAS A BIT DISAPPOINTED. I AM A HUGH ERIC MARTIN FAN AND I MUST ADMIT I LOVE HIS WIMPY WITH BALLS VOCALS ON EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES. I WASN'T TOO IMPRESSED WITH THE SINGLE "OH JAPAN" ESPECIALLY THE PRICE I PAID A FEW MONTHS AGO BUT I STILL LOOKED FORWARD TO THE DISC FOR THE ERIC MARTIN FACTOR. AFTER HEARING IT A TIME OR TWO I ACTUALLY SAID THIS SUCKS AND THOUGHT THE BEST TRACK WAS THE SING ALONG BONUS TRACK NEVER GOOD-BYE AN ERIC MARTIN CLASSIC IF THERE EVER WAS ONE THEN SOMETHING HIT ME AND I REALLY LISTENED TO THE CD AND BOY DID IT GROW ON ME. WITH EACH LISTEN I FIND MORE AND MORE HIDDEN MELODIES AND HOOKS DARKER AND A BIT MOODY BUT CATCHY AS HELL. EVERYTHING PASSES AWAY, I KNOW YOU BY HEART, NEVER GOOD-BYE, THE GREATEST SHOW, WONDERLAND THE LIST GOES ON! THIS CD ROCKS AND IS ESSENTIAL!! THIS IS MY FIRST EXAMPLE OF TAK'S PLAYING. ALTHOUGH EXTREMELY SOLID I REALLY EXPECTED MORE FLASH ESPECIALLY SINCE THE GROUP IS HIS BABY! HOPEFULLY THIS IS NOT JUST A ONE SHOT DEAL AS I THINK SOME REALLY COOL STUFF CAN COME OUT OF THIS IN THE FUTURE! ONE LAST NOTE, I'M NOT SURE WHAT THE REGION CODE OR WHATEVER IS ON THE DVD, BUT IT PLAYS FINE FOR ME USING MY EL CHEAPO DVD HERE IN THE STATES! GRAB THIS CD NOW!!


ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW! (Ratings out of 100)
Name:

E-mail:

Rating:

Comment: