REVIEW: Loudness – Live-Loud-Alive – Loudness in Tokyo (1983)

LOUDNESS – Live-Loud-Alive – Loudess in Tokyo (1983 Columbia)

Like many classic rock bands, Loudness waited three studio albums before going double live.  The Birthday EveDevil Soldier and The Law of Devil’s Land were ripe and ready for live album immortality.  English is minimal, but you don’t need a Japanese dictionary to enjoy the metal within Live-Loud-Alive.  It is the most galvanized of the metal; Loudness’ integrity uncompromised, with Akira Takasaki in lead shred mode.

With a double length album so early in Loudness’ career, they played plenty of non-album material to fill it.  And it’s good!

Opening with a recording of Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War” the band rip right into the riff for “In the Mirror”.  That guitar sounds so classic, you’ll be questioning which Scorpions or Metallica album it’s from.  A heavy chug named “Road Racer” (originally a non-album Loudness single) is paired with one of Minoru Niihara’s most melodic lead vocals.  Only the thick and shimmery (probably embellished) chorus is in English.   On guitar, Akira Takasaki’s solo sounds like he is re-entering the atmosphere after an alien/robot conference in space.  “I Was the Sun” has a slower beat, pounding sheet metal into lethal form, with an elementary riff.  Ordinary as the riff may be, it isn’t the highlight this time.  The chorus takes center stage.  The first side of the original vinyl ended on “Fly Away”, a mammoth of a song mixing the delicate and the heavy.

“Black Wall” opens on what sounds like bass synth, but Akira soon takes command with a melancholy and precise guitar pattern.  Then, like any good Sabbath song, he breaks into a completely different lick, just as catchy.  An instrumental track from Akira’s solo album follows, including a wicked drum solo by Munetaka Higuchi.  This side of the record blows out with “Mr. Yesman”, a complex track like “2112” crossed with “Children of the Damned”.

On side three, a new song is previewed:  “Exploder”, a Van Halen-like guitar instrumental destined for album #4.  This transitions into another instrumental called “Heavenward”, similar to Akira’s solo work.  It’s all just good music that flows track intro track.  Guitar shrieks tell us that “Loudness” is next, a brilliant mid-tempo rocker of radio-ready nature.  It sounds like vintage, early 80s Scorpions.  Another killer riff in “Sleepless Night” brings the side to a solid close.

“Speed” does what it says.  That’s no surprise.  What may be surprising is the quality of the non-album B-side “Shinkiro”.  This cool track has some great melodic twists and an absolutely brilliant and varied Akira solo.  One of his best!  From volume-knob twists to full-on speed, it’s brilliant.  The only way to end it is by going back to the beginning, and “Burning Love”, the first non-album single by the band.  It’s a blistering way to go out.

Though not singing primarily in English yet, their musical influences were clearly the same ones from North America and Europe that we know and love too.  While you may not recognize the songs, many will sound familiar because they draw from the same pool.  It’s the best of early Loudness, void of commercial ambition.  While you do lose the ability to sing along, you can at least slam to the riffs.  One can hear why this album is held in such high esteem by the faithful.  It sounds like an experience.

4/5 stars

13 comments

  1. Back in 1985, I read about Loudness in Hit Parade. I went out and bought the cassette of Thunder in the East at my local record store. I loved it, and went looking for more. The store had import copies of The Birthday Eve, Devil Soldier, Disillusion (English version with the abstract Samurai cover) and Live Loud Alive. I bought them all. They were LPS and I had already moved on to tapes, but I bought them anyway. Disillusion and the live album were my favorites.

    In that pre-internet time, I was confused about why Live Loud Alive had so many non-album songs, but I liked most of them, especially Fly Away and Shinkiro. I loved how Mars led into In the Mirror. Years later, I got an import CD of Live Loud Alive, and wws very disappointed that the Holst intro was not there! Perhaps it has been restored to later pressings.

    I love how the album is pure metal, not dumbed down for the American audience (said as an American), or for the hair metal crowd (even though I love Hurricane Eyes). I’ve known Live Loud Alive very well for 35 years, but I agree, it’s definitely worth getting to know, for those unfamiliar with it 🤘🍻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mars is on this CD — can confirm! They must have added it back in at some point.

      I love Hurricane Eyes too — great album. In fact I like most of the Loudness I’ve heard — even Masaki!

      Great story and great comment, thanks for sharing! I wish I had access to those old Loudness albums when I was a kid but better late than never.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. just remembered that when I was a teen a clothing store here had a t-shirt that looked like the cover of thunder in the east. So I just had to get it. Had forgotten about that.

        Liked by 1 person

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