Anybody who has spent 10 seconds glancing at this site knows one thing: I love Japanese imports!
Every music collector has his or her own priorities. Today, many fans prioritise vinyl, be it original pressings, reissues or both. Some like elaborate packaging; the bigger and bolder the better! My needs are pretty simple. I want all the songs, and I’ll buy however many physical editions it takes to get them all. That means that, over the years, I have purchased hundreds of Japanese CDs. They almost always have bonus tracks, and some of those bonus tracks never see the light of day again on any other releases. Those are the best kind!
There are two great sources for Japanese imports.
- CD Japan, my main store for new releases. I have Whitesnake incoming!
It is Discogs that is responsible for today’s content. If you’re a music collector unfamiliar with Discogs, you need to change that right away.
A few weeks ago, one of my favourite lesser known metal bands called Leatherwolf was celebrating the 30th anniversary of their third album, 1989’s Street Ready. (Probably their best album, but that’s unimportant.) Someone on social media was showing off their most prized Leatherwolf collectible: A Japanese import CD of Street Ready, with a bonus track unreleased anywhere else! Out of print for almost 30 years, that’s a rarity if I ever saw one. Plus it has that feature that is like catnip to me: an unreleased bonus track. In this case, it was a track called “Alone in the Night”, and I wanted it. It’s rare that I go 30 years without even knowing about a song.
After a few weeks of researching, I decided to pull the trigger. A Discogs seller had a copy in excellent condition for about $50, which I realized was about the cheapest it gets in the condition I want. Its only flaw was a missing obi strip (the little piece of paper along the spine) which you sometimes have to accept you’ll never get. The main thing was that bonus track. I was happy with the seller’s 100% rating so I put it in my cart.
That’s when Discogs showed its evil side.
A message popped up, telling me that just in case I wanted to combine shipping, this seller had 81 other items from my wishlist.
81 items. All Japanese CDs.
I spent the next few minutes frantically adding items to my cart, deleting them, adding them again, and then finally deciding on dollar amount I was willing to splurge. I even gave it another few days to clear my head before I clicked “buy”. This is what I ended up with.
LEATHERWOLF – Street Ready. Bonus track: “Alone in the Night”.
Now some lucky soul can be gifted my original US compact disc, because this is my new treasure. I loved this album as a teenager, and I still like it today. There is some well written metal here, and now I have 11 tracks instead of 10. I still can’t believe I didn’t know about “Alone in the Night” all this time. If I knew that back in 1989, this CD would have been on my holy grail list long ago.
EXTREME – “Hip Today” CD single. Bonus track “Kid Ego” (live).
I screwed up. I already had a UK single for “Hip Today”; one of those “part one of a two disc set sold separately” deals. However, for whatever reason, I never ripped it to my computer. I never even played it! When I did a quick search, I couldn’t find “Kid Ego” in my files so I assumed I needed it. I do not, but that’s OK. This CD was only $11 because the seller listed it with no obi strip. Turns out the obi strip is tucked inside, so that’s a win.
TENACIOUS D – The Pick of Destiny. Bonus tracks “Kong”, “Training Medley”.
Two extra songs to be found here. This album had more bonus tracks elsewhere, on non-physical (download only) versions. Now I have all the physical tracks, at least. “Training Medley” was already in the collection on a CD single for “P.O.D.”, but “Kong” was completely unknown until now. Even our resident Tenacious D expert, Uncle Meat, has never heard it before. (For the record, the other two bonus tracks are “Rock Your Socks” from the iTunes pre-order, and “It’s Late” which you can download if you buy the vinyl. Vinyl wishlisted.) Tenacious D collectables are usually very expensive. Their single “Jazz” (which I am missing) goes for roughly $100. I paid $26 for The Pick of Destiny.
QUIET RIOT – Alive and Well. Bonus track: “The Wait”.
20 years ago, the classic Metal Health lineup of Quiet Riot reunited for a new album. Alive and Well was a mix of new songs and re-recordings, but they could have just released a 10 song CD instead, had they included “The Wait”. It’s puzzling how songs are chosen to be obscure bonus tracks on rare editions. “The Wait” is a ballad, very much like old Quiet Riot, and a frickin’ great one too. Had it been included, Alive and Well could have been a well balanced 10 song album, and “The Wait” might have been the best one. At one point Amazon were asking $100 for this CD. I was delighted to score it for just $22. Perhaps it was cheap because it was listed as missing the obi strip. It’s there and looks great! Now my Quiet Riot collection is one song closer to being complete.
THE SWORD – Apocryphon. Bonus tracks: the same five from the deluxe edition, plus “Hammer of Heaven”.
This album has been frustrating for me. There are two versions, one with 10 tracks and one with 15. Because there’s no track listing on the back cover, I’ve never taken a chance on it. I didn’t want to bring it home only to find it’s the 10 track version. I’ve wanted this album ever since “Cloak of Feathers” made it to number 15 on the 2017 Sausagefest countdown. The only thing better than a confirmed 15 track edition? A CD with 16 tracks! Japan received “Hammer of Heaven”, which was a standalone single in 2012. It’s a boogie as heavy as plutonium! This would be its only CD release! Obi is intact, for just $25. (I’m still going to want the single for “Hammer of Heaven” since it had a live B-side of “Ebethron” not included here.)
Not a bad little spending spree. Most of these Japanese imports were pretty affordable. It seems like I spent a lot of money for just a handful of songs, but such is the quest.