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JAPAN

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Japan picture
Japan biography
JAPAN were formed in 1974 in Lewisham, southeast London, by school friends David Batt (David Sylvian, vocals) and Anthony Michaelides (Mick Karn, bass), and Batt's younger brother, Steve (Steve Jansen, drums). A year later, they were joined by David and Mick's old schoolmate Richard Barbieri on keyboards, and by guitarist Rob Dean, who had responded to an advertisement in the music magazine "Melody Maker"

After a few years spent rehearsing and playing live in Britain and Germany, the band were signed by German recording company Hansa-Ariola. Their debut album, "Adolescent Sex", was released in 1978, as was its follow up, "Obscure Alternatives". At that time, JAPAN'sound was still noticeably influenced by acts such as DAVID BOWIE and ROXY MUSIC, which caused them to be dismissed by the British music press as unfashionable at a time when punk and new wave acts held sway.

Their third album, "Quiet Life", released in 1979, heralded a change in the musical direction of the band, with Barbieri's synthetisers becoming much more prominent. This was the last album for Hansa-Ariola, as the band were then signed by Virgin. Their last two studio albums, "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" (1980) and "The Tin Drum" (1981) were released with the British label, and brought JAPAN some long-awaited success. In particular, "The Tin Drum" reached #12 in the UK album charts.

During that period, Japanese multi-instrumentalist Ryuichi Sakamoto became an unofficial member of the band; in the following years, he continued his collaboration with David Sylvian. In "The Tin Drum", the band's sound became increasingly more sophisticated, blending Western electronics with traditional Far Eastern sounds, and enhanced by Sylvian's haunting baritone voice. However, personal conflicts also escalated, leading first to Rob Dean's departure in 1980, and finally to the band's demise at the end of 1982, after a series of sold-out concerts at London Hammersmith Odeon, which resulted in the live album "Oil on Canvas" (1983). The band's last-ever performance took place in December 1982 in Nagoya, Japan. Ironically, "Oil on Canvas" became the band's best-selling album, charting at #5 in the UK.

After the split, the band members went on to work on various solo projects. The most successful of them has been singer David Sylvian, who has released numerous solo albums over the years. The original members got together again in 1990 under the new name of RAIN TREE CROW, and release...
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Buy JAPAN Music


Gentlemen Take Polaroids (Half Speed Master)Gentlemen Take Polaroids (Half Speed Master)
Virgin Int'L 2018
$46.01
Tin Drum (Half Speed Master)Tin Drum (Half Speed Master)
Virgin Int'L 2018
$46.01
Tin DrumTin Drum
Remastered
Caroline World Service 2007
$3.95
Quiet LifeQuiet Life
Extra tracks · Remastered
Sony Bmg Europe 2006
$5.97
$8.63 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
DOOBIE BROTHERS "Take Me In Your Arms" EX/EX JAPAN 7" w/ PICTURE USD $11.98 Buy It Now
CSN&Y / deja-vu Japan issue LP w/obi, insert, USD $38.00 Buy It Now
Avril Lavigne When You're Gone Japan CD new obi BVCP-29926 Japanese Girlfriend USD $29.99 Buy It Now
The World Ruler by Nightmare (Japan) (CD, Mar-2007, Vap) USD $17.99 Buy It Now
MANIC STREET PREACHERS-CD BOOTLEG-LIVE EUROPE 1992+LIVE JAPAN 1992-CD COPY-M/M USD $6.27 Buy It Now
LIGHTNING STRIKES 2015 JAPAN CD by LOUDNESS - Akira Takasaki - NEW USD $29.95 Buy It Now
?FREESP?RICHARD CLAYDERMAN?DANCE DANCE DANCE?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD NM?VICP-61266 USD $24.00 Buy It Now
ELO JAPAN LP OBI JAPANESE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA ELDORADO JEFF LYNNE USD $39.99 Buy It Now
Shocking Blue : Venus / Hot Sand ; JAPAN Polydor 7 inch 45 with Picture Sleeve USD $1.99 [0 bids]
McFadden & Whitehead f. Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now (Japan Sony Music CD) NEW SS USD $29.90 Buy It Now
Shocking Blue : Sally Was A Good Girl / Aklaska Country ; JAPAN Polydor 7"45 PS USD $1.99 [1 bids]
SH82:8/12P08 DAVID SYLVIAN & JAPAN 2 PAGE ARTICLE & PICTURES USD $6.60 Buy It Now
GIRL - Live at the Exposition Hall Osaka Japan - CD ** like New ** USD $40.00 Buy It Now
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Delta Blues [New CD] Japanese Mini-Lp Sleeve, Japan USD $26.23 Buy It Now
The Steps - Step By Step (UHQCD) [New CD] Japan - Import USD $19.08 Buy It Now
Cervello - Live In Tokyo 2017 [New CD] Japanese Mini-Lp Sleeve, Shm CD, Japan - USD $32.00 Buy It Now
Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac [New CD] Expanded Version, Rmst, SHM CD, Japan - I USD $26.14 Buy It Now
?OST BARK TO THE SUN LP JAPAN Action TV Katsuo Ohno Psych Funk Breaks LISTEN MP3 USD $24.99 Buy It Now
?FREESHIP?YUHKI KURAMOTO?PIANO CONSOLATION?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD NM?CRCI-20582 USD $18.00 Buy It Now
Sh82/31/3p40 Japan : Ghosts Songwords USD $5.28 Buy It Now
Sh8325/5P49 JAPAN : OIL ON CANVAS VISEO ADVERT 11X4" (WHSMITH) USD $5.28 Buy It Now
Dizzy Gillespie - Groovin High [New CD] Japan - Import USD $17.04 Buy It Now
?FREESHIPPING?VA?COOK ISLANDS?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD NM?PCCY-01659 USD $30.00 Buy It Now
Chick : Hangin' Out / Chick ( Everybody Say ) ; Japan Atlantic 7"45 Pic. Sleeve USD $1.99 [0 bids]
BBMak ?- Sooner Or Later VICP-60913 JAPAN CD OBI M-3105 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Sherree Ford-Payne ?- Sherree Ford-Payne PICP-3004 JAPAN CD OBI M-2713 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Lama?- Modanica KSCL-2166-7 JAPAN CD+DVD M-4062 USD $6.99 [0 bids]
Malibu ?- Robo-Sapiens PCCY-01828 JAPAN CD OBI M-2927 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Patti Smith Group ?- Easter BVCA-7396 JAPAN CD M-3098 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Rick Astley ?- She Wants To Dance With Me R10D-105 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3004 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Daughters ?- Daughters DYMC-116 JAPAN CD OBI M-2890 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
DJ Oji ?- Spiritual Journey NWR-2015 JAPAN CD OBI M-2844 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Queen ?- Somebody To Love TODP-2254 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3050 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
Madonna ?- Like A Prayer 10P3-6112 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3032 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
Rod Stewart ?- Leave Virginia Alone WPDR-3025 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3006 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Simply Red ?- Something Got Me Started WMD5-4079 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3009 USD $14.99 [0 bids]
Destino?- One Life (Una Vida) DLCP-2033 JAPAN CD OBI M-3121 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Mest ?- Mest WPCR-11646 JAPAN CD OBI M-2849 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Carpenters ?- Top Of The World PODM-1061 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3022 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Audio Active ?- Happy Happer BRC-4 JAPAN CD OBI M-2870 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
In Stereo ?- Death Before EMO TBWS 1010J JAPAN CD OBI M-2857 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Susan Cadogan ?- Soulful Reggae VICP-64070 JAPAN MINI LP CD OBI M-3075 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Thriller U ?- Youth CTCR-14079 JAPAN CD OBI M-3113 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Boøwy ?- Boøwy TOCT-26493 JAPAN MINI LP CD OBI M-3079 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
The Kinks ?- Low Budget VICP-70012 JAPAN MINI LP SHM-CD OBI M-3077 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Sade ?- Kiss Of Life ESDA 7121 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3045 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
b-flower ?- Paint My Soul AGCA-10020 JAPAN CD M-3296 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Queen ?- Killer Queen TODP-2252 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3051 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
Queen ?- We Are The Champions TODP-2256 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3047 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
The Kinks ?- Low Budget VICP-70012 JAPAN MINI LP SHM-CD OBI M-3070 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Claudia Claudia ?- Relaxin' KYAL-9002 JAPAN CD OBI M-2873 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Billy Joel ?- The River Of Dreams SRDS 8258 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3027 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Krystal Meyers ?- Make Some Noise BVCP-25138 JAPAN CD OBI M-2754 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Fumiya Tanaka-Singles <1995-1999> JAPAN CD M-4143 USD $8.99 [0 bids]
Meja ?- How Crazy Are You? ESDA 7166 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-2986 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Queen ?- Crazy Little Thing Called Love TODP-2257 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3056 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
Boys Air Choir ?- Believe VICP-60144 JAPAN CD OBI M-3131 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Tommy 16 ?- Rocking Big Buddha OMCX-2001 JAPAN CD OBI M-2837 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Queen ?- Radio Ga Ga TODP-2260 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3054 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
Queen ?- I Want To Break Free TODP-2261 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3052 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
Chara ?- The Singles Re-Mixed ESCB 1678 JAPAN DJ PROMO CD M-4168 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
Darlene Love ?- All Alone On Christmas BVDA-56 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-2984 USD $14.99 [0 bids]
Billy Joel ?- Honesty / Root Beer Rag CSDS 8174 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-2997 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Queen ?- Another One Bites The Dust TODP-2258 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3048 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
Queensrÿche ?- The Warning TOCP-7607 JAPAN CD M-2962 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Shanice ?- I Love Your Smile PODT-1001 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3040 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
TonyMatterhornVs.PinkPantherVs.RickyTrooper?-WhoIsMr.Mental?JAPAN 4CD OBI M-3173 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Roger Powell ?- Air Pocket VICP-63734 JAPAN MINI LP CD OBI M-3083 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Pandora ?- One Of Us / Don't You Know MVDM-59 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3029 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
The Beatles ?- Let It Be XP10-2072 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-2991 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Ebony Alleyne ?- Never Look Back KCCD-293 JAPAN CD OBI M-2889 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Billy Joel ?- Honesty / Root Beer Rag CSDS 8174 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-2996 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Dave Edmunds ?- Information BVCM-35289 JAPAN MINI LP CD OBI M-3074 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Kraak & Smaak ?- Plastic People TRCP-36 JAPAN CD OBI M-2872 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Sounds Of Blackness-Remix Collection:Journey OfTheDrum POCM-1134 JAPAN CD M-3299 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
GLINT BEAT-THE ALFEE TOCT-95103 JAPAN MINI LP SHM-CD OBI M-3078 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Eric Clapton ?- Lonely Stranger WPDP-6315 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3015 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Pushim ?- Colors KSC2 393 JAPAN CD OBI M-2901 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Michael Bolton- Go The Distance SRDS 8327 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3017 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Carole King ?- Really Rosie MHCP 262 JAPAN CD OBI M-3125 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Various ?- Havana Jam 2 SRCS 9161-62 JAPAN 2CD M-3090 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Lost In Space-Original Motion Picture Soundtrack ESCA 7335 JAPAN CD OBI M-2850 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Jet- Get Born WPZR-30056/7 JAPAN CD+DVD M-2967 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Blaque Ivory- I Do SRCS 8975 JAPAN DJ PROMO CD OBI M-3134 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Marc Dupré ?- Revenir À Toi MQMCD-2377 JAPAN CD M-2908 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Youssou N'Dour ?- Joko (From Village To Town) ESCA 8105 JAPAN CD M-2921 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Silje?- How Can I Stop Loving You TODP-2395 JAPAN 3"/3INCH CD M-3044 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Earth, Wind & Fire ?- Live in Velfarre CTCR-18063 JAPAN CD M-2937 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Daryl Hall & John Oates ?- Daryl Hall & John Oates BVCM-37286 JAPAN CD M-3091 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
COLOURS OF GROOVE III-GREEN DOLPHIN BSCP-30091 JAPAN CD M-4059 USD $2.99 [0 bids]
Boss Hog ?- Boss Hog MVCG-187 JAPAN CD OBI M-2718 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
Bob Sinclar ?- III PUCY-5003 JAPAN CD OBI M-2843 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
kradness KRAD PARADOX CD w/Photobook Sleeve Case Limited Edition from Japan New USD $13.01 Buy It Now
CODE OF SILENCE - DARK SKIES OVER BABYLON +2, Japan CD +OBI 2013 RBNCD-1117 NEW USD $20.00 Buy It Now
?FREESHIPPING?SONISKY?DEDICATE?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD NM?PCD-93855 USD $20.00 Buy It Now
MI-KE Omoide-no G.S. Kujukuri-hama JAPAN CD BVCR-2305 1991 USD $46.55 Buy It Now
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Zingalamaduni JAPAN CD TOCP-8288 1994 NEW USD $47.39 Buy It Now
MODERN JAZZ QUARTET: Concorde LP (Japan, reissue, insert) Jazz USD $25.00 Buy It Now
?FRSP?KAZUO YAMADA?FAURE / MAHLER SYM.NO.8?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD NEW?SICC-957/5 USD $24.00 Buy It Now
LAVA I Say A Little Prayer JAPAN LP Record JLAVA-0002 2003 USD $38.97 Buy It Now

More places to buy JAPAN music online Buy JAPAN & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

JAPAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JAPAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.16 | 30 ratings
Adolescent Sex
1978
2.39 | 32 ratings
Obscure Alternatives
1978
3.20 | 53 ratings
Quiet Life
1979
3.16 | 80 ratings
Gentlemen Take Polaroids
1980
3.16 | 76 ratings
Tin Drum
1981

JAPAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.41 | 38 ratings
Oil on Canvas
1983

JAPAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.43 | 9 ratings
The Very Best Of Japan
2006

JAPAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.54 | 9 ratings
Assemblage
1981
4.06 | 17 ratings
Exorcising Ghosts
1984
1.88 | 8 ratings
In Vogue
1996
2.36 | 6 ratings
The Very Best of Japan
2006

JAPAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.09 | 4 ratings
Nightporter
1982

JAPAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gentlemen Take Polaroids  by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.16 | 80 ratings

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Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Japan Prog Related

Review by RossJWarren

5 stars Some of the reviews here are an absolute disgrace. Japan's last two LP's are certinly progressive music in the full sense of the word, maybe not to everyone's taste but they deserve a fair listen and review. Gentleman is by far my favorite recording by this wonderfully different band. Maybe their early glam rock efforts were indeed on the weak side but this recording is an absolute masterpiece. Had Japan stayed together they may well have been as big as bands like the Pink Floyd. The melodies are strong and the musicianship is very good indeed. Karn's bass playing is still unique, and added to the vocals give the overall sound a slightly woozy edge. This is what roxy music could have sounded like had Eno not been forced out so early on. Japan were never new romantics, their look and sound predated that movement, but they certinly helped give rise to bands like Duran Duran, who sound like a pale imitation of Japan at their very best.

Such a unique pair of recordings make Gentlemen and Tin drum essential additions to any well rounded prog rock collection. As for the haters one wonders if they listened to the recordings at all. 5 Stars without any hesitation.

 Nightporter by JAPAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1982
4.09 | 4 ratings

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Nightporter
Japan Prog Related

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I can't say that JAPAN has ever been among my favourite bands. Their clinically synthetic sound is often lacking life & emotion and many songs are just boring, artificial and monotonous. A good example actually comes as the B-side of this non-album single from the latest phase of the band's career, before the frontman DAVID SYLVIAN started a solo career (that has produced a lot of much better music than he made with Japan, in my opinion). Also worth mentioning is the keyboard player Richard Barbieri's membership in Porcupine Tree plus his own projects, e.g. teaming up with Marillion's Stve Hogarth. But back to this single. 'Ain't That Peculiar' is just one of those dead boring Japan tracks. I listened to it from YouTube and have no interest whatsoever to hear it ever again.

But there's something so fantastic about music world: one doesn't have to give a damn about a band/artist in general in order to love a song or two by them/him/her. If I'm deeply moved by a song of someone whom I couldn't care less about as an artist, I'd still let myself fully enjoy that song and simply ignore the rest of the output if it leaves me cold. 'Nightporter' is such case for me. Not necessarily the ONLY Japan song that I like, but by far the best, the one that touches me the deepest. It woud be placed quite high on my list of all-time favourite pop songs.

The song is slow, elegant, nocturnally atmospheric and beautifully melancholic. The rather minimalistic arrangement is dominated by piano, and there's a notable resemblance to the piano music of ERIK SATIE ('Gymnopedies' and such), one of the most unique figures in the world of classical music. I'm not certain if the melody is directly borrowed from a Satie piece. And Sylvian, the vocalist, pours his soul into this tune that is best suited for the late night moments when everyone's tired and it's time to depart or go to sleep. In fact, a couple of times I have played 'Nightporter' at the end of friend gatherings. Greetings to whom this concerns! - How about listening to some more of Japan, Matti? Naah, no thanks, it's so boring.

 Gentlemen Take Polaroids  by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.16 | 80 ratings

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Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Japan Prog Related

Review by Cylli Kat

4 stars Granted, this is prog RELATED. Not straightforward prog. But this is a well crafted album brimming with the proggy basslines of the late Mick Karn, the smooth vocals of David Sylvian (n' Batt), the solid drumming of David's brother Steve Janse, as well as the synth craftings of future Porcupine Tree member Richard Barbieri. I have extremely fond memories associated with this album and its follow-up Tin Drum. So I have a mixed approach to this rating: I love the album and give it 5 stars. BUT it is not exactly prog, so for the sake of those who want a "prog" rating would have to give it 3 stars. Conclusion, 4 stars. Your mileage may vary...
 Quiet Life by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.20 | 53 ratings

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Quiet Life
Japan Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Japan's more electronic "Roxy Music meets Ultravox" (Ultrarox?) sound starts to really take root on Quiet Life. Velvet Underground covers are always a gamble, particularly considering how exceptional the original material in question is, but they're able to work in a really nice take on All Tomorrow's Parties here which is one of those rare cases where a cover version is able to capture the stately melancholy of the original, and it's particularly impressive how it perfectly fits the ethereal atmosphere of the rest of the album. Richard Barbieri's synthesiser work coupled with David Sylvian's best Bryan Ferry posing creates some archetypal New Romantic material.
 Gentlemen Take Polaroids  by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.16 | 80 ratings

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Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Japan Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Japan greeted the arrival of the 1980s with Gentlemen Take Polariods, an album balanced finely between gorgeously crafted New Romantic pop and more esoteric art rock building on the quieter moments of Bowie's Heroes and Low. Some tracks contain echoes of each other - Swing and Taking Islands In Africa borrow lyrics from each other but give them a very different feel with the former being one of the poppier numbers on the album and the latter being a curious closing number. More immediately accessible than the subsequent Tin Drum, this may well be the best place to jump into the world of Japan.
 Oil on Canvas  by JAPAN album cover Live, 1983
3.41 | 38 ratings

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Oil on Canvas
Japan Prog Related

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Oil on Canvas" is a live album release by UK art pop act Japan. The album was released through Virgin Records in June 1983. The original version was released as a double vinyl version. It´s the highest charting album by the band although it was released several months after the band split-up. "Oil on Canvas" was recorded during Japan´s final UK performances in November 1982 at the six-night sold out stint of concerts at the Hammersmith Odeon. "Oil on Canvas" is not exclusively a live album though as the band have chosen to include some new instrumental studio recordings on the album too.

It´s not like it´s something you notice though as the live tracks are rather sterile and more or less sound like they were recorded in a studio too. Audience noise is very sparse and low in the mix, which doesn´t exactly enhance the feeling that you´re listening to a live recording. When that is said the live versions of the tracks are different from the original studio versions and "Oil on Canvas" is still a good quality release even though a more "live" sound, to my ears, would have boosted the listening experience. Most tracks are from "Tin Drum (1981)", which is natural enough as it was the latest studio album at the time and they toured in support of that album, when recording "Oil on Canvas", but there are tracks from other albums too.

Not surprisingly the musicianship is on a high level. David Sylvian delivers sensitive and melancholic vocals and the keyboards by Richard Barbieri are adventurous and well played. It´s the rythm section of bassist Mick Karn and drummer Steve Jansen that take the prize though. Especially Mick Karn plays some incredible bass lines. This might be some sort of artsy pop music upon initial listens, but dig a little deeper and you´ll learn how sophisticated it actually is underneath. Session guitarist/keyboardist Masami Tsuchiya helps the soundscape to be more full and layered.

Overall "Oil on Canvas" is an enjoyable release by Japan. In terms of being a vibrant live album it fails a bit, but somehow it´s still an interesting and engaging listen. The detailed and clear sound production might have something to do with it, but the high level musicianship and of course the generally high quality of the compositions are great assets too. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

 Tin Drum  by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.16 | 76 ratings

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Tin Drum
Japan Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Japan's Tin Drum has a fragile, brittle sound to it which demands a few listens before it sinks in. Even when David Sylvian gets into a groove and things seem on the verge of starting to rock, as on Cantonese Boy, the sparse aesthetic keeps things buttoned down and restrained. An acquired taste, but I can't deny that it's an interesting one. At points it teeters on the verge of being culturally appropriative, but the band always find a way to put their own eccentric twist on things. With a China obsession reminiscent of Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), this is one of the weirder and less approachable releases of the synthpop era and I can't say I blame people who find it isn't to their taste.
 Gentlemen Take Polaroids  by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.16 | 80 ratings

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Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Japan Prog Related

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Jeez!, this one really has set the cat amongst the pigeons in the Archives. I can fully understand the aloofness most proggers take with regards to the merit of this 'pop' album. Personally, it's one of my all time favourite albums and if you don't like that, then what the hell is it doing here in the first place? Am I supposed to give this a low rating because I Iove it to bits but it appears on the 'Prog Archives'?

Superb fretless bass by the now deceased Mick Karn, enigmatic wobbly vocals by Sylvian, waves of synths by Barbieri , piano by Ryuchi Sakamoto and good solid offbeat drumming by Steve Jansen make this one of the best 80's albums full stop.

It's smooth in the way 'Roxy Music' were in the same era. Japan, however had something far more inventive about them that set them apart from all contemporaries. Über cool, mature for their age and downright sauve without even trying. This is the album that Duran Duran clearly worshipped before they hit the big time. You've only got to look at Nick Rhodes stupid painted face.

Mick Karn's bass is the driving force behind the entire album. Particularly on the first two tacks where it pumps and bleeps like Jaco Pastorius from 'Weather Report'.

Truthfuly I can't write a review of this album without mentioning Bowie's "Low' from '76 which clearly influenced a lot here from side two of that album.

Awash with wonderful electronics, echoey instruments and clear track separation between sounds, this is a superbly clear recording which flows beautifully into my favourite tune of all time... 'Nightporter'. Stunningly beautiful and melancholic. Ryuichi Sakamoto of YMO and his piano makes this utterly gorgeous. Quite simply the best song I've ever heard. These are not small words - In '99 I held a party on New Years Eve where everyone had to bring along their favourite song of all time where it was played after a speech about it's merits. This still stands true today.

'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' is spacious and wide in sound, where everyone gets to play their instruments without any rush and is full of waves of cold keyboards.

The masterful 'Taking Islands in Africa' is a gem in it's own right with Barbierie's proto sequencer coming to the fore. There was only so much New Romanticism could offer, but Japan pushed the boat out so much further than any other band of their time. It's hard to believe that anyone could progress and change so rapidly within the space of 3 years, considering their '78 New York Dolls efforts.

As if all this wasn't enough, if you buy the cd you get the brilliant 'Experience of Swimming' as a bonus. A Richard Barbieri masterpiece, a keyboard driven slab of doom using beautiful sounds that were virtually unheard in those days of long past.

One of my 5 albums of all time.

 Gentlemen Take Polaroids  by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.16 | 80 ratings

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Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Japan Prog Related

Review by EricBliss

5 stars These reviews on here are ridiculous.

I would hardly consider Gentlemen Take Polaroids a prog album, but that doesn't mean it's not a brilliant POP album.

I purchased the album on a whim this year and was beyond surprised by what I heard. I expected some catchy Duran Duran-style pop, expected to maybe like half of it. Not the case.

This is some seriously smooth and classy 80's music, I hate even calling it "pop" because it's not terribly accessable. It did take a few listens before it clicked with me.

The synthesizer work is atmospheric, icy and sounds like it came from another planet, Mr. Barbeiri may not be the most technical player but the atmosphere he creates is otherworldly and intriguing. Steve Jansen is a solid, almost mechanical drummer, and Mick Karn's fretless bass work is easily the most appealing element in this band, with basslines that purr and growl with a presence that really gives things an interesting flavor. Though he never resorts to flash his parts are always unique. Then there's David Sylvians sexy, understated baritone which strongly remind one of Bowie and Bryan Ferry, the epitome of cool with a look to match, singing lyrics that are vague enough that they could be about anything you wanted them to. I've heard few male singers in my life that just melt me but this guy manages to do it, and typcially I prefer much higher ranges.

Things get off to a great start with the title track, a great slab of atmospheric 80's pop with a chorus that won't leave your head anytime soon. There's no way to deny the greatness of the amazing fretless bass work in "Swing." I don't see how any prog fan can't get into the head-spinning timings of "Methods of Dance" which ironically ends up being one of the least danceable items on this record. This track has some of the most inventive use of 4/4 time I've ever heard, and a beautiful chorus iced off with a beautifully haunting female vocal line.

The record also has a ridiculously awesome cover of the old soul tune "Ain't That Pecular" that is so far-removed from the original that I didn't even recognize it until I had heard it many times. Peculiar indeed, a seasickeningly out of tune koto plays a vaguely eastern sounding melody at random times, and even features a meandering recorder part, in unison harmony with itself of course. Take that, Gentle Giant. This one's a riot.

Then there's what may be the runaway track on the album which is the drumless waltz "Nightporter," a dark and devastatingly beautiful track. The simple, yet effective minor-key piano riff gets things off to a great start, and gradually Sylvians vocals, muted synth strings, and a lovely oboe line make appearances, and through its 7 minutes builds itself slowly up and down and gradually reaches a cathartic climax, with Syvian wordlessly singing the melody of the chorus at the end. The album ends on a high note with the uplifting "Taking Islands In Africa."

I've played the album at least 50 times in the last couple months and can wholeheartedly say it's flawless start to finish and I don't say that about many albums at all. I simply cannot tire of listening to it. I dont see how any prog fans who appreciate pop music couldn't enjoy it, after all Japan meant business as evidenced by their stylish appearance and deadly serious tone to the record. Let's not forget Mick Karn's awesome fretless bass playing. Keep an open mind and give it a spin or several. :-D

 Gentlemen Take Polaroids  by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.16 | 80 ratings

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Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Japan Prog Related

Review by madcaplaughsagain

3 stars Mellotron Storm, are you serious? You know coming to think of it, I can't be arsed to make a sensible well thought out comment to your moronic drivel. You have to understand that personal taste should not enter in to an objective review, understand? Didn't think so. This album is of its time, and is actually very good. There you are, how more comprehensive a review do you want? It gets 3 stars rather than 4 or 5, because it is not prog rock! Um well it isn't see. No more than Kanye West is prog rock, but he is very very good, just not prog rock.
Thanks to Raff for the artist addition.

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