ura E ~Complete B-side Melodies~

by spellcheck on August 25, 2006 · 3 comments · AddThis

ZONE backstage at 'ZONE FINAL IN BUDOKAN ~Kokoro wo Komete Arigatou~
ZONE backstage at 'ZONE FINAL IN BUDOKAN ~Kokoro wo Komete Arigatou~
Title: “ura E ~Complete B-side Melodies~”
Artist: ZONE
Release Date: April 18, 2006
First Press: Bonus 28 page booklet
Record Label: Sony Records

Nearly 1 year after the official disbandment of bandoru group ZONE, an official website notice stated that a poll was up for fans to select three of their favorite non-single tracks from their discography. From the poll results, “ura E ~Complete B-side Melodies~” was born. Full of album and b-side tracks hand-picked by the most dedicated ZONE fans themselves, “ura E” was meant as a supplement to the original compilation, “E ~Complete A-side Singles~”. (“Ura”, which means “the other side”, is normally a term used in album titles in this manner, to indicate a compilation of songs other than single tracks.) The first press version offered a bonus 28 page booklet of pictures of the rehearsal and behind-the-scenes happenings from their final concert, “ZONE FINAL IN NIHON BUDOKAN ~Kokoro wo Komete Arigatou~”.

 

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1. “fortune”

The introductory track of “ura E” is a fast-paced, energetic one. However, because it was originally the b-side of the “GOOD DAYS” single, this song was made to properly compliment and balance its a-side, so it’s not overflowing with hyper energy. It’s one of those songs for when you’re feeling a little quirky and want to dance around the house (but not in an out-of-control, “break grandma’s favorite vase and make the cats hide under the furniture” kind of way). The harmonizing vocals add a certain tone of warmth to the melody, and it’s definitely the right touch for this track. It’s a good song to wake up to if you’re anticipating a good day, because it puts you in the right mood to face whatever’s ahead.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

2. “mind”

Next up is “mind”, from the “Boku no Tegami” single. This song was used for shampoo commercials way back in the day, which featured the members of ZONE in the flesh. This upbeat song doesn’t have as much energy as the first, but still manages to compliment your happy moods. The highlight of the song is in the bridge, when the members of the band shout, “TAKAYO, MAIKO, MIYU, MIZUHO, ZONE!” This is an all right song; the only faults I can really find with it are overusage of bells, and repetition of lyrics (i.e. “sono ki ni blah blah, sono ki de blah blah, sono ki wa blah blah”, etc.).

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

3. “Kaze wa Hajimaru Bashou”

From their first album, “Z”, this song is a good reminder of way back when, when some of the members at times had trouble properly hitting the notes. x.x Most of the chorus is sung in a higher register, which doesn’t sound quite right when there’s more than one person singing at once. This song has always been on my “tracks to skip over” list because the singing simply gives me a headache. In my opinion, this track never properly started the first album off, but that’s besides the point; it doesn’t quite fit as the third track either. It’s simply not that great.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

4. “Aika”

The introduction of this song sounds very relaxing, with something that sounds like a flute and the wind blowing. The lyrics kick off with MAIKO singing the opening lines, followed by MIYU, who leads us into a instrumental break and finally the first verse. The song as a whole has a very mature sound, something that should be expected, given it was the third track of their final single, “Egao Biyori”. By the second half of the second chorus, however, it’s easy to get tired of the arrangement of the verses. The same musical lines are sung over and over again, and it becomes increasingly difficult to listen to. Still, despite that, this is easily one of the best songs on this album, in my opinion.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

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5. “Once Again”

Once the b-side of “glory colors ~Kaze no Tobira~”, this song “Once Again” (hehehe…x.x;;) reminds us how happy-go-lucky ZONE sounded. This lovely song’s lyrics (“In those eyes of yours, there isn’t anything left to come true/Truly God exists; for our love was born”) have a certain fantastic aspect to them. I think it’s what makes a ZONE love song different from a regular love song. It’s a cute song but I wouldn’t exactly call it a cutesy song, since it was from one of their more mature eras. Overall, it’s quite an enjoyable song, with touches of flute and bells throughout the melody that make it pretty unique among their discography.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

6. “JET”

From way back in 2002, “JET” was coupled with “Yume no Kakera…” Like its a-side, the main problem this track faces can be none other than horrible vocalizations. This track lacks something that makes it stand out. Like “Kaze wa Hajimaru Bashou”, a small problem with vocals becomes the focus of the song, so much that it almost feels like those notes grate against the inside of your skull. There’s really not a lot that’s special about this song.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

ZONE
'Egao Biyori' PV shooting

 

7. “GO!”

This track features MIZUHO, the drummer, on vocals, as her solo song from the “O” album. It’s upbeat and somewhat silly, with just the right amount of genki to fit her personality. An ascending and descending piano melody give this song a slight swing feel, but still remaining true to the ZONE sound. It’s no surprise that this track made the cut in the poll for the track list, as this enjoyable upbeat song has been a fan favorite for some time.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

8. “Like”

“Like” comes from their third album, “N”. It has a sound similar to “Once Again”, in that you can think about that certain someone you’re crushing on while listening to it (as if the title wasn’t enough of an indicator, eh?). Besides being sweet, the melody is a little repetitive, but it’s not that bad. It has that trademark bells and guitars ZONE sound, and it’s kind of poppy. It’s good girl rock. :)

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

9. “Kuusou to Genjitsu no Yoake”

“Kuusou” was spawned by the “Shiroi Hana” single, and it starts of with a hard rock sound, but don’t let that fool you. The chorus has personality, and it’s a little sillier than you’d expect due to the synthesizers in the background. This is another good song for jumping around the house when you feel good because the energy flows consistently throughout the entire track. It’s a much rockier than the previous track, but that makes it all the more enjoyable. “Kuusou” is a song that’s often overlooked, but it’s definitely worth a listen or two.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

10. “ROCKING”

“ROCKING”, or track number 3 from “N”, is TOMOKA’s solo song. It has a darker sound than the 9th track but it’s certainly no “Akashi”, thanks to the lines of bells throughout the chorus. The lyrics of the song are deeply poetic, with lines such as: “The uneasiness continues to worsen; please erase the weak, shallow and cold emotions/As you get drawn into my world/I scream ‘I love you’ every day and night, everyday continuously/Always, the song inside me, even now, won’t stop resounding” . It’s a good song to put in to balance out the “happy lalala iei WOOHOO!!!” and “I love youuuuu”, to fill in the blanks. What I mean by that is, it provides a bit of edge to the album and makes it sound a little more well-rounded, with a wide variety of different types of songs.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

11. “For Tomorrow”

Somehow hearing this song near the middle part of the album always confuses me, because it seems like it would make more sense at the end. However, this mid-tempo track is a good song for those days when you take your shiny, fancy iPod out to your car and plug it in with the connector thingy and go for a ride (or a CD player or something for those of us who are poor…or don’t have a license TT.TT). This song dates back to when TAKAYO was still the leader of this bandoru, and her vocals dominate this song, which is good because they’re perfect for the melody. She gives it a very positive sound, with choruses topped off with a “wowoooo yeaaah” as a perfect touch. It’s a nice song; however, not a good choice for repetitive listens, as the melody will get tiring.

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

ZONE
Backstage at the final performance

 

12. “Sae Zuri”

Aah, “Sae Zuri”. This is another favorite of mine, because the arrangement is so laid-back. It’s always been so soothing to the ears, and it doesn’t get old easily. It was one of the standout tracks of “O”, and definitely deserves a spot on this compilation of memorable non-single songs. There’s a certain something in the background that I couldn’t really name, which sounds somewhere between the tone of strings and a flute, that provides the backbone for the melody and carries it along for the entire ride. Add the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar and the sounds of birds, and you, my friend, have just bought yourself a one way ticket to Relaxation City.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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13. “H-A-N-A-B-I ~Kimi ga Ita Natsu~ (Ocean Version)”

This “Ocean Version” was made to fit along with the original version of “H-A-N-A-B-I” when its single was released. There were individual member versions, but this version is the compilation of all the solos. It’s a lot slower than the original, but to me this version is better because it doesn’t sound as rushed and messy. Of the few instruments featured in the arrangement, the guitar and keyboard stand out the most. The instrumentation in the bridge is replaced by an instrument solo that gives it the “island” feel. The only thing this song could possibly be missing is the sound of waves rolling in and out, to gently lull the listener to sleep. But still, it’s pretty close to perfection.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

14. “ARUBAMU”

After a relaxing journey through “Sae Zuri” and the Ocean Version of “H-A-N-A-B-I”, “ARUBAMU” slowly brings us to a fuller sound. I wouldn’t call it as relaxing as the first two but it still has a nice sound. Its lyrics scream nostalgia…I mean, it’s about a photo album, for crying out loud! This song sounds like the same old ZONE, with rock instruments and a lyrical part in the background holding it together. There’s a little piano in the verses that’s a nice touch but overall this song is just ok. It doesn’t have much of a “WOW!” factor but it’s still an all right listen every now and then.

Rating: ★★★½☆

 

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15. “Tabidachi…”

Of all the songs on this compilation album, this song probably holds the most meaning for most ZONE fans as it was the bonus track of the limited edition of “E ~Complete A-side Singles~”, released soon after the announcement of ZONE’s disbandment. Among my favorite songs ever, it’s extremely difficult to pick apart something negative that stands out in this song. It’s a perfect song to choose to end a career on, as the lyrics are truly uplifting: “Without being confused and without giving up/I’ll believe in myself and walk onward/If we’re a little tired and feel like breaking down/Then we’ll walk carefree”. It gives a sense of “this isn’t the end, as long as we all continue walking along through life”. Everything about this song was wonderfully written, and I couldn’t have asked for more, except maybe, well, an instrumental because the music is so pretty. (The bonus disc that was included in the limited edition package featured member solo versions of the song, similar in design to that of “H-A-N-A-B-I ~Kimi ga Ita Natsu~”, plus the full version, the version featured on this album. There was no instrumental. Also interesting to note about the solo versions is that each member wrote the last song of the line in each of their respective versions.) I’m so thrilled it was included in this album, as it’s a very enjoyable song for times when you’re happy, times when you’re sad and need a pick-me-up, or just when you’re chilling out and want to listen to ZONE.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

 

16. “Isshou ni Itakatta”

The song that wraps it all up, “Isshou” comes from the “Hitoshizuku” single. I can see why it was chosen to accompany the latter because of the lyrical theme and the style of the arrangement. As a track on this album though, it’s somewhat weak, especially when you consider the fact that it comes right after “Tabidachi…”, which is such a strong composition. The introduction of the song is particularly weak, and it’s almost as if the composer of the song couldn’t come up with anything else that sounded better. Otherwise, this song is chocked full of the usual, guitars and drums, and a touch of a flutey sounding thing. It’s a little choppy sounding. Overall, it’s an ok song.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

This album is a mixture of various hits and misses, with a handful of “meh” thrown in between. It’s nice that the fans were allowed to vote on the track list, but I would have loved to have seen songs such as “Bible”, “BeaM”, and “+ . – . × . ÷” in exchange for some of the more mediocre songs. In addition, the arrangement of the track list didn’t make sense to me at times, such as the slew of slow songs at the end of the CD, with a well-balanced beginning and middle. Also, it would have been more ideal to end with “Tabidachi…”, but I suppose there are reasons for the track list being the way it is. Because it was selected in a poll, the producers had to arrange the order of the tracks with what they were given, and being that “Tabidachi…” was technically the last track of “E”, it probably would seem redundant to do it again. On a somewhat different topic, however, it’s blatantly obvious that this album was only put together for one reason: money; especially considering that it was released around the same time as a collection of “never before released” ZONE footage on DVD. Posthumous compilations such as this one always give me that kind of feeling, being that the artist probably had little or no say in it at all.

That aside, this is a good album overall to summarize ZONE’s career, and it probably does a better job at that than the original singles compilation. It has something from around every era, and a representative of every musical style ZONE ventured into. There most definitely isn’t a shortage of material; as you can see, it makes for a very lengthy review too. It’s an entertaining listen, definitely worth a try, after you finish “E”, of course. ;)

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

 

'ura E ~Complete B-side Melodies' cover

  1. fortune
  2. mind
  3. Kaze wa Hajimaru Bashou
  4. Aika
  5. Once Again
  6. JET
  7. GO!
  8. Like
  9. Kuusou to Genjitsu no Yoake
  10. ROCKING
  11. For Tomorrow
  12. Sae Zuri
  13. H-A-N-A-B-I ~Kimi ga Ita Natsu~ (Ocean Version)
  14. Arubamu
  15. Tabidachi…
  16. Isshou ni Itakatta

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

imaninja UNITED STATES June 29, 2007 at 1:02 pm

im so glad i downloaded the Ura E.

to me, “Album” really stood out. i guess it became one of my favorites along with True Blue and Secret Base.

i think that it was a good idea to end Ura E with Issho ni Itakatta because it sums up all their feelings.

part of the song “I had wanted to be with you forever/Even now, still my tears won’t dry”

its saying that they will really miss each other.

Reply

kai May 25, 2007 at 10:42 am

hitoshizuki & secret base still the 1 im in love with =/, do agree with ya on the song ‘Mind’, when the individual shouts their name, man so CutE~

sae zuri, when makio solo in e final tour still lingers in my head, so swt, nt forgetting miyu’s powerfully vocal on shiroi hana and mizuho’s energetic performance on Daibakuhatsu No.1 (if i do recalled corrrectly)

miyu now persuing a solo carrer, and makio leading a band MARIA ! hopefully like the song ‘tabidachi’, this isnt the end of ZONE, from Z to NO.1!

oh yea, gd review ! =]

Reply

Megumi August 26, 2006 at 8:54 pm

Thank-you Spellcheck! I really loved this review. It’s a shame that I’ve become a fan just then. I won’t be able to look forward to any releases, but thank-you very much!

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