J-Pop Sunday – Access

Goodness me, the 90’s were awful weren’t they? I’m sat here trying to find a nice photo of 90’s Japanese pop duo Access and finding a photo that doesn’t make them look ridiculously camp is proving an extremely difficult task. Even the photos taken after their 2002 reunion are a tad awful: The pair now look as though they’re trying to deny the fact that they’ve aged to themselves. I suppose it suits them though. They are a little bit awful: Something of a guilty pleasure. However, Access – like wearing Hawaiian shirts or dipping chocolate brownies into a chicken tikka masala – are definitely something I’d recommend once in a while.

I went for an early camp photo in the end.

Quick guide:
Act Name: Access (Sometimes stylised as “AXS”)
Daisuke Asakura (浅倉大介): Composer, keyboardist & producer. He’s the blonde one. Eventually he discovered a young man named Takanori Nishikawa – but that’s a story for another day.
Hiroyuki Takami (貴水博之): Vocalist. His real name is Hiroyuki Fukuda and according to Google he has carried out work as a professional camera assistant on a number of US films and television series. Never trust Google.
Years Active: 1992-1995, 2002-Present
Genre: Pop
Kaito’s Choice Tracks: “Yume Wo Mitai Kara” (夢を見たいから /”Because I Want to See Dreams”) (1994), White Lights (2003), Doubt & Trust (2007)

The duo launched Access in 1992 after Hiroyuki spent some time working as a guest vocalist for an earlier project of Daisuke’s. Together they (somehow) managed to take Japan by storm, releasing three albums in three years before splitting in 1995 to work on various other projects. However the story of Access didn’t end there! In 2002 the pair reunited: Picking up exactly where they left off – including the dubious fashion sense. The pair continues to delight us with their music to this very day. And I’m pretty sure their main fan-base today are the same – now middle-aged – ladies who liked them in the 90’s.

“Yume wo Mitai Kara” brings the keytars, cheese & a smiling crowd of children to the party.

“Yume wo Mitai Kara” is such a happy song and the video is delightfully cheesy. I think it captures early Access quite well, as such I had to share it. Keytars, Engrish, a generic message of hope/encouragement and a chorus anyone can single along to providing they know that one line combine to create something great. Plus, it means I don’t have to scare you with some of the early 90’s CGI that appears in many of their other early music videos. “Misty Heartbreak” is the worst offender of that crime. (Don’t worry; I’ll spare you the horror.)

While I could spent the entirety of your time focusing on Access’ early works and their embarrassing charm, I feel we should move swiftly on to modern day Access. We’ll skip ahead to 2003, and chill out with “White Lights”. While only ever released as an album track, “White Lights” stands out to me on the Access back catalogue. Relaxed in the main melody, yet busy with the keyboard riff and harmonised vocals in the background, I think it’s a great track to listen to while wandering around town on a sunny day.

“While “White Lights” may be relaxing that album cover has me worried that Daisuke is about to punch me.

Judging by the crowd at this live performance of “Doubt & Trust” I think I was right about the earlier “long-time fan-base” comment. (Strobe Warning, people!)

“Doubt & Trust” was the first Access song that I stumbled across – a good while ago. (And by “Stumbled Across” I actually mean “Got thrown my way by the lady who is now my editor”.) It was the piano riff at the start that caught my attention. That combined with the cheesy Japanese blokes performing caused me to investigate their back catalogue. To normal people Access’ back catalogue would cause them to run a mile in the opposite direction, but for myself it meant that later that evening a 3CD compilation album was on its way to me from the far-east. I have never regretted that decision and I doubt I ever will.

Yes, the 90’s were terrible, and Access don’t exactly prove that statement to be in any way wrong. But if the 90’s created Access then I suppose it means that something good came out of that decade. Well, that, the Super Nintendo and the fall of communism in Europe, I guess.

Until next time!

More Access:
Official Website (Japanese): http://www.access-web.jp/
Official Twitter (Japanese): https://twitter.com/access_official

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