Only in Japan’s hyper-cyclical music industry can a band record three albums in two years and qualify for a retrospective album.
Even if Do As Infinity stuck to releasing a singles collection at this point, it would still fill a good hour of music.
Of course, retrospectives are tricky propositions — how does a band lure its most rabid fans to purchase songs they already own? Since the advent of compact disc technology, the answer is clear — bonus tracks with new songs, live recordings and rarities.
Do the Best is an apt title, not just for the quality of songwriting on the album but for what it offers fans and casual admirers alike.
Two new songs, “Hi no Ataru Sakamichi” and “nice & easy”, attempt to lure completists who need to own every single Do As Infinity song on the planet.
Released as a single, “Hi no Ataru Sakamichi” doesn’t offer anything the band hasn’t done before. The chrous almost follows the same contour as “Tooku Made”.
“nice & easy”, on the other hand, traffics in the effortless hard rock-pop Van Tomiko and company have mastered in the past three years. Not very many bands can dress up a blatant hook with grunge-y guitars.
More interesting are the live tracks which conclude the album. In the studio, Do As Infinity is totally fleshed out, complete with overdubbed guitars, vocals and an arsenal of keyboards.
The “Great Tour Band” songs, in contrast, are stripped down and practically unplugged. It’s Do As Infinity thinking they’re the Police circa 1978.
And these live versions give the songs new identities. “Tangerine Dream” turned from melancholy ballad to slow rocker with guts. “Bookenshatachi” transformed from studio experiment to red-hot jam. By contrast, “We are.” went from corny jumped-up jazz to a more suitable, wintery vibe.
Even the laid back reading of “Welcome!” manages to maintain the song’s original vibrancy.
Do the Best is rounded out by two album tracks, which is a curious choice given all the b-sides Do As Infinity could have tossed in those slots instead. “135” is a good song, but one of their best? That goes to “Raven”.
Despite its seemingly pre-mature release, Do the Best is a satisfying album. The live tracks alone are worth the effort for fans.
Avex Trax decided to copy-protect Do the Best in an effort to prevent fans from sharing the CD on file trading networks.
Allow me to disclose that I found all four live tracks and both new songs easily on said networks. After ripping the rest of the songs from the Do As Infinity CDs I already own, I pieced together my own copy of Do the Best.
I usually buy the CDs reviewed on this site, and I do intend to purchase a legitimate copy of Do the Best in the future. For review purposes, I went to the Internet.