Japanese Reunions

Three rock groups who made it big during Japan’s “band boom” of the late ’80s and early ’90s have reformed in the past few months.

The trend is seen by music writers as having been jump-started by the rash of classic rock reunions overseas since the turn of the millennium.

Some in the record industry, in fact, are saying it is just the thing to stimulate the moribund Japanese rock scene.

The bands are Unicorn, led by singer-songwriter Tamio Okuda who for the past decade-and-a-half has been one of Japan’s most successful writer-producers; Jun Sky Walkers, an arena act that broke up in 1997; and Barbee Boys, whose boy-girl vocal combination became a template for a lot of Japanese rock in the ’90s.

The band boom represented a rare period in Japanese pop music, since it was created from the ground up.

Indie bands cultivated their respective fan bases before gaining the attention of the major record companies. Late-night television played a big part.

In Japan, major artists tend to be cultivated by major labels and talent agencies. Thus, industry people think these reunions will not only attract old fans but also younger people who look to them as pioneers of today’s indie rock.