B'z The Best "Pleasure"
|B'z The Best "Pleasure"|
|Compilation album by B'z|
|Released||May 5, 1998|
B'z The Best "Pleasure" is the first compilation album by B'z, released on May 5, 1998. It would be the first official album of the sort to be released by the band, pooling together twelve number one hits amongst its fourteen tracks—all of which were released between 1990 and 1998. As is the case with all of the band's compilation works, each song included has been digitally remastered prior to being added to the track listing. After moving nearly three million physical units in its first week on sale, B'z The Best "Pleasure" would set numerous records and has remained the second best-selling music release in the history of Japanese music for two decades. A sequel album, B'z The Best "Treasure", would see release in the fall during the week of their tenth anniversary on the music scene and featured tracks individually selected by fans.
Staff members and executives at the band's record company had been suggesting a compilation album since sometime in 1996, but one never came to fruition due to the members' adamant position that it was not yet time for such a release. Their hand was soon forced, however, when an unofficial compilation entitled Flash Back -B'z Early Special Titles- was published by their former record label. The release was carried out to capitalize on their popularity and was published explicitly without the band's permission. The unofficial album gathered tracks from their self-titled debut album, their second album OFF THE LOCK, third album BREAK THROUGH, and first mini album BAD COMMUNICATION. As a result of the master recordings remaining under the previous label's control, tracks from the aforementioned releases were ineligible for inclusion here. B'z at last relented and signed off on what would become B'z The Best "Pleasure" as a countermeasure that conveniently overlapped with their tenth anniversary year. Its release would also come one day shy of the ten year anniversary of the band's formation on May 19, 1988, the day in which Koshi Inaba and Tak Matsumoto first met.
As of now, the contents of the album has seen it be supplanted in the B'z catalogue by numerous subsequent compilations, including B'z The Best "ULTRA Pleasure" in 2008 and B'z The Best XXV 1988-1998 in 2013. Only one track, the English version of 1989 mini album title song "BAD COMMUNICATION" found here as "Bad Communication E.Style" remains uncollected on other compilation works. This version was, however, included on the 2002 Korea-only mini album DEVIL.
Upon release, B'z The Best "Pleasure" proved a landmark moment in the history of Japanese music. Not only was it the top selling album of the week of its release in which it moved 2,709,530 copies, the compilation would also be the top selling for the month of May as well. At the time, B'z The Best "Pleasure" quickly became the highest-selling musical release in Japanese history after garnering 5,136,000 in total sales. This would garner it a 5x Million certification from the Recording Industry Association of Japan. It remains the second highest-selling of all time, following only pop artist Hikaru Utada's First Love released in the spring of 1999.
Originally, the album was announced with the title B'z GOLDEN BEST in accordance with a common moniker used for other Japanese artists' best of compilations. The initial track listing for the GOLDEN BEST album was only going to be comprised of singles released between 1992's "ZERO" and 1997's "Liar! Liar!". With this announcement came fan criticism regarding the exclusion of certain favorites. To address this, two additional songs were added: their fourth and first non-album single "BE THERE" as well as their first number one hit "Taiyou no Komachi Angel". At this point, the title was changed to the more B'z-specific B'z The Best "Pleasure" in accordance with their "Pleasure" LIVE-GYM tours. Additionally, to answer fan calls regarding missing songs they felt strongly should be included, the band announced an unprecedented project: a fan-selected compilation entitled B'z The Best "Treasure" to follow in the fall. The album would allow fans to mail in votes for tracks not included on "Pleasure" and would extend to singles, B-sides, and album tracks.
Fan response to the idea of a B'z compilation was so strong that the 1998 single "Samayoeru Aoi Dangan"—which originally was not intended for inclusion—was added at the last minute per immense demand. The single had only been released one month earlier and was added so late in production that the promotional seals affixed to the first run of packaging initially was marketed, in English, as "Including Super 13 Mega-Hit Tracks" with an additional seal added to mention the recent single. Later printings corrected this issue with a more cohesive seal. Because all but one of the songs was a single, the cover and packaging still claim "13 Mega-Hit Tracks" despite fourteen songs being included.
The initial shipment of the album was 2,800,000 copies, but this was not enough as the album was considered "sold out" immediately upon release. Over 3,500,000 total copies would be shipped in the release window when including those sent to answer back orders from the first week. After two months on shelves, it was announced that B'z The Best "Pleasure" was now officially the best-selling album in Japanese history. This record would later go to Hikaru Utada's First Love the next year. However, not only did the album finish first for album sales in the year 1998 with its sister album B'z The Best "Treasure" ranking second, it is also the top-selling album by male artists, the second best-selling album of any kind in Japanese history, and the best-selling compilation album to date.
Footage of B'z visiting the disc pressing factory in Sendai was highlighted in later home videos. One hundred discs were randomly signed by the band out of the millions being produced and included in shipments to prefectures all over Japan. However, due to their general resistance to releasing such a compilation—especially under the circumstances—they did not stage grandiose promotion appearances for the release of the album. In fact, they made no appearances for its release. Prior to the release of B'z The Best "Pleasure", B'z had decided not to promote the compilation personally and instead committed themselves to producing new songs and music. Their next single "HOME" had already been planned and would be released just two months after the album when expectations were at their highest. It was only after the first week sales were so immense, having shattered virtually every record in the process, that they appeared on CDTV in a brief segment to comment on the humbling response.
While the band did not promote the album themselves, the record company undertook an immediate and substantial promotional campaign. Several commercials utilizing previous LIVE-GYM footage and various music videos from the past were aired on television, while busses in Tokyo were sponsored by the album and pushing its release. In fact, entire walls on buildings in Tokyo were redressed in certain parts of the city in anticipation of the album. A then-groundbreaking campaign was also carried out in which city trains were fully dressed in gold as "B'z Gold Trains", which was an unprecedented move at the time. This led to near-constant coverage on television and in newspapers. The band later credited the promotional staff with the massive success of B'z The Best "Pleasure" and joked that they hoped they would put that much energy into the next studio album as well. Indeed, the hype was so immense that posters advertising the album were being stolen en masse with fans taking them as collectibles—a matter lamented by staff members in a later Be With! issue due to them having difficulty keeping up.
Later, with regard to both of the year's compilations, Tak explained their hesitance to release a best of at the time: "For us, the idea of a 'best album' is a retrospective one because they are usually issued by those who are finished with their activities." Both he and Koshi were not enthusiastic about the album as a result, but they had vastly underestimated demand. With the millions of units sold, the band admitted they were surprised that the public wanted such a work to such an extent. There was no doubt that the success changed their outlook going forward, with Tak stating he "started to feel a sense of crisis after seeing what sort of sales [the best albums] had generated. That's why I think [the next album] Brotherhood went in a hard direction." Though the band had a less than positive outlook on the album prior, when asked again for their fifteenth anniversary in a 2003 magazine interview, Tak recanted:
|“||It's been five years since then, and it's true that a lot of people came to discover our music from those best albums, so I've come to think it was never wrong to release those albums when we did.||”|
★ First time collected in a compilation in original form
※ Alternative version from source song
Hadashi no Megami ★
Ai no Mama ni Wagamama ni
Taiyou no Komachi Angel ★
BE THERE ★
|An English version of "BAD COMMUNICATION" collected from WICKED BEAT mini album for the first time, but shortened from original 7:23 runtime to 4:18. As one of their most popular songs in its Japanese incarnation, the band no doubt would have preferred to include the original version here. However, as a result of having left their former label BMG, they were unable to include tracks from their first three albums or first mini album due to the master recordings being retained by BMG at the time. This conflict resulted in the unauthorized release Flash Back -B'z Early Special Titles- one year prior. This shortened version of the English edition was later included on 2002's Korea-only mini album DEVIL.|
Samayoeru Aoi Dangan ★
|No.||Cover||Compilation||Physical Copies Sold||Chart Positions||Certification|
B'z The Best "Pleasure"