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Friday, Feb. 27, 2009



Beat Crusaders "Very Best Crusaders"

Rock music in Japan tends to treat a band's move to a major label as a kind of year-zero moment, by which all their previous material is airbrushed from existence like disgraced Politburo members from old Soviet photographs. It's tempting to see this best-of compilation by Japanese punk-pop group Beat Crusaders in that light, excluding, as it does, all material released before the band's move to Sony subsidiary DefSTAR.

News photo

Licensing issues and the fact that a similarly-titled compilation covering their indie years already exists are probably more likely reasons. But this compilation would nevertheless have benefited from some of the band's rough-edged early material to balance out the more slickly produced recent tracks. Digging around, "Cum on Feel the Noize" unfortunately isn't a cover of Slade, and "I Can See Clearly Now" unfortunately is a cover of Jimmy Cliff. Elsewhere, "Japanese Girl" is as infectious and catchy a tune as you could ask for, and a good ambassador of the band's positive, summery attitude. Beat Crusaders have endeared themselves to fans through the incorporation of synthesizers into their upbeat, melodic punk sound, and it's often the moments where they play to this strength that are their best, as on the disco-styled B-side "Bang! Bang!"

By drawing from the group's reserves of album tracks and B-sides to fill out its 23 songs, "Very Best Crusaders" succeeds in adding some variation, but ultimately the similarity of so much of the band's music makes the inclusion of many of these tracks seem redundant.

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