Remember the 1986 Omega Tribe?

 “Reiko... you rock ya body so funky girl…”

One of the musical bands in Japan's 1980s music history is Omega Tribe, focusing on soft rock and city pop. It saw a resurgence of popularity, especially with the new and older audience and that led to them making a comeback concert.

Led by producer Koichi Fujita, there were five versions of the band going all the way to the 1990s, with the ones led by Kiyotaka Sugiyama and Carlos Toshiki being the more prominent ones with the latter being famous for having American singer, Joey McCoy.

During their height, their voices and songs are considered incredibly performed and methodical. Today, they are forgotten with many of the members going their separate ways. The 1986 version of the band especially had many fans filled with fond memories. This came with the impending disbandment of the prior band led by Kiyotaka and so, Fujita was looking for a lead vocalist for members who wanted to stay in the band. Soon, Japanese Brazilian vocalist Carlos Toshiki joined the band. Previously, he was working as a dishwasher while unsuccessfully trying to get into the music business. The producer was impressed by his talents, and Toshiki was invited to VAP's studio without being aware that he was heading for an audition. He was told to sing a song made by the prior band and so he chose to sing "Futari no Natsu Monogatari". That instantly made him get the role of the lead vocalist.

The band made its debut with "Kimi wa 1000%" and Navigator which became instant hits with the former charting at No. 6 on the Oricon chart while the latter reached No. 2 on the charts and sold 433,590 copies. The band was granted a Japan Gold Disc Award for their song, Navigator in 1987, but all is not well. Due to one of their band members, Mitsuya Kurokawa, ill health, the band had to be restructured following Kurokawa's departure and so the band was renamed: Carlos Toshiki & Omega Tribe

The next band iteration was aided by Americans like Marty Bracey and Wornell Jones. At this time, the band recruited Joey McCoy, the only Black American, who was working with the band as a backing vocalist, but his voice was impressive and was well-liked by the production team. Hence, he comes on board as the fourth member of the band and that made the band unique. Four months later, the band released "Reiko," performed by McCoy, on November 10, 1988, which itself was iconic due to featuring more Western influence and a stronger synth-pop style. They also released an English version, with Jerry Hey aiding with the arrangement for both the English and the Japanese versions. The original Japanese version peaked at No. 15 and that become their last popular song as they began to decline at the start of the new decade. Many fans were starting to detest the band's change from their typical soft rock and city pop sound to the fresh style that they were putting out in the 90s. There was also inconsistency between singles and albums that made many fans dislike their newly released songs. Inarguably, their final success would be performing for the film production “Hana no Furu Gogo” which at that time grossed 300 million yen and enabled the lead actress to be nominated for the 13th Japan Academy Award for Best Actress. Three of the band's songs were used in this film.

After performing "Kimi wa 1000%" on Music Station on December 14, 1990, the band announced they would disband. Following their final performance at Nissin Power Station on March 16, 1991, the band broke up. On April 10, 1991, The Graduate Live was released as a live album of one of the performances at Shibuya Public Hall.

Brand New Omega Tribe was Fujita's fourth and final attempt to restructure Omega Tribe, but this failed.

Many members of Carlos Toshiki & Omega Tribe would go on their separate ways. Carlos Toshiki would continue his music career as a solo artist before returning to Brazil to become a restaurant operator. Shinji Takashima and Toshitsugu Nishihara would organize the band "DOME" with Satoshi Mikami, Seiichi Sakauchi, and Michihisa Ikeda, but that failed as well after the release of their first album. Joey McCoy would continue to perform but he disappeared from the music industry. He later moved to Hawaii.

Like any country, Japan has no exceptions for talented bands and individuals, often some going unrecognized or forgotten to obscurities such as singers Yui Saito or Kyouzou Nishioka. Although some of these singers have their cult following or fan bases which continued to increase significantly with the popularization of the City Pop genre. Due to the song "Plastic Love" by Mariya Takeuchi, the genre saw a resurgence internationally in 2017 and enabled older, unknown songs to be dug up and enjoyed by a modern audience. It is this resurgence that allowed 80s singers to have their songs another chance like with the song "Stay with Me" by the deceased Miki Matsubara.


Popular posts from this blog

Minato-ku Girl Phenomenon Revealed

Exploring the Honour Culture of Japan

Gachi Meaning Explained