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JAPAN

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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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


Quiet LifeQuiet Life
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Sony Bmg Europe 2006
Audio CD$6.03
$6.02 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Guitar No Shirabe Soundtrack - Various (CD - Japan issue) New & Sealed USD $9.34 Buy It Now
JOHN LEYTON Japan JET-1016 1961 Ex 7"45 JOHNNY REMEMBER ME USD $29.99 Buy It Now
?FS?CAROLE KING?WELCOME HOME?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE MINI LP CD NEW?VICP-63992 USD $24.00 Buy It Now
DAVID SYLVIAN of JAPAN Japan 1999 CD DEAD BEES ON A CAKE USD $10.00 Buy It Now
HOUND DOG: Roll Over Tour Tokyo LP (Japan, w/ booklet, insert, obi) Rock USD $30.00 Buy It Now
?FS?CAROLE KING?THE LIVING ROOM TOUR?JAPAN SAMPLE MINI LP CD NEW?VICP-63999/400 USD $30.00 Buy It Now
New You Only Live Once Wataru Hatano YURI on ICE ED CD DVD Japan F/S EYCA-11243 USD $40.00 Buy It Now
?FS?CAROLE KING?TOUCH THE SKY?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE MINI LP CD NEW?VICP-63993 USD $24.00 Buy It Now
THE WHO - TOMMY - MFSL - MADE IN JAPAN - GOLD CD - UDCD 533 USD $19.99 [1 bids]
Twisted Tower Dire - Netherworlds Japan Bonus USD $22.49 Buy It Now
PAUL McCARTNEY Tug Of War JAPAN MINI LP CD 2000 GENUINE PAPER SLEEVE MEGA RARE! USD $89.00 Buy It Now
Mono (Japan) and Pelican split 12 inch vinyl. Super Rare. Post Rock/Metal. USD $46.76 Buy It Now
?FS?CAROLE KING?SIMPLE THINGS?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE MINI LP CD NEW?VICP-63991 USD $24.00 Buy It Now
VIRUS Materials CD 1990 MEGA RARE OOP SPEED/THRASH ORIG 1st PRESS EXTASY JAPAN!! USD $79.99 Buy It Now
Peter Green Splinter Group Japan CD USD $19.99 Buy It Now
Legion of the Damned - Sons of the Jackal JAPAN Bonus USD $14.39 Buy It Now
Legion of the Damned - Feel the Blade JAPAN Bonus USD $14.39 Buy It Now
?FS?THE FLAMING LIPS?OCZY MLODY+1?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD EX?WPCR-17626 USD $24.00 Buy It Now
?FS?THE STRYPES?SPITTING IMAGE+2?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD EX?UICR-1130 USD $20.00 Buy It Now
JOHN LENNON: Menlove Avenue (EXTREMELY RARE 2000 JAPAN PROMO CD TOCP-65531) USD $82.97 Buy It Now
?FS?SPITZ?CYCLE HITS 1991-2017 SAMPLER?JAPAN MEGA RARE PROMO CD NM?SPC-2542 USD $30.00 Buy It Now
ERIC BURDON-MIRAGE-JAPAN CD F56 USD $25.50 Buy It Now
?FS?MANSUN.?SPECIAL RADIO SAMPLER 2000?JAPAN PROMO CD NM?PCD-2308 USD $60.00 Buy It Now
MANHATTAN JAZZ QUINTET Japan 1998 NM CD+Obi AIRE ON THE G STRING TECW-25658 USD $79.99 Buy It Now
Cozy Powell - Over the Top Japan cd Jack Bruce Gary Moore Bedlam Phenomena ELP USD $16.34 Buy It Now
?FS?BILLY CHILDS+?MAP TO THE TREASURE?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE BSCD2 NEW?SICP-30657 USD $22.00 Buy It Now
?FS?SERIOUS BLACK?AS DAYLIGHT BREAKS+4?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD NM?IUCP-16213 USD $24.00 Buy It Now
The Rolling Stones 5x5 12" Vinyl EP Mono M JAPAN release OBI strip w/insert RARE USD $27.95 Buy It Now
THE PARACHUTE CLUB Small Victories 1986 JAPAN RCA CD Rock Pop USD $13.29 Buy It Now
(CD) RICK DERRINGER - All American Boy / Japan Import / SRCS 6185 USD $29.99 Buy It Now
?FS?GEORGIE FAME?MOD CLASSICS 1964-1966?JAPAN RARE CD NM?PCD-17338 USD $20.00 Buy It Now
NILSSON CD COLLECTION ~ JAPAN COLLECTION ~ NILSSON SCHMILSSON USD $640.00 Buy It Now
Savoy Brown - Shake Down 1967 Japan mini lp cd Tramp Groundhogs Kim Simmonds USD $44.35 Buy It Now
Oleta Adams - Circle of One Japan Single Remix cd OBI PHCR-8011 Tears for Fears USD $18.67 Buy It Now
The Rolling Stones 12" Vinyl EP Mono MINT JAPAN release OBI strip w/insert RARE USD $23.95 Buy It Now
LISTEN OST SHARIVAN BGM LP MICHIAKI WATANABE JAPAN FUNK BREAKS CQ-7081 EX USD $24.99 Buy It Now
LISTEN OST JUSPION BGM LP MICHIAKI WATANABE JAPAN FUNK BREAKS OBI CQ-7229 EX USD $29.99 Buy It Now
Sly & The Family Stone Japan Eight Mini LP CD in Promo Bonus Box Paper Sleeve USD $249.99 Buy It Now
This Is Love Psychedelico (CD, Promo Hacktone ) Made in Japan - Disc Only USD $6.30 Buy It Now
Blur Tender Japan Promo only 6 Tracks Vinyl LP Gorillaz Damon Brit Pop Coxon USD $169.99 Buy It Now
Japan Live - Cluster Compact Disc USD $22.64 Buy It Now
Japan Live - Cluster LP USD $28.15 Buy It Now
?FS?ROBERT PLANT/ALISON KRAUSS?RAISING SAND?JAPAN RARE CD NM?UCCU-1162 USD $20.00 Buy It Now
GREEN DAY-DOOKIE-JAPAN MINI LP SHM-CD LTD F50 USD $36.41 Buy It Now
LISTEN OST SEIBU KEISATSU BY HORNET JAPAN ONLY FUNK & BREAKS LP GM-157 USD $17.99 Buy It Now
COLOSSEUM-LOT OF 3 CD-JAPAN BLUE SPEC MINI LP CD SET 389 USD $134.50 Buy It Now
?FS?THE CITY?NOW THAT EVERYTHING'S BEEN SAID?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD NEW?MHCP-255 USD $20.00 Buy It Now
JOHNNY BURNETTE Japan LIB-15 Red Wax 1962 Ex 7"45 BALLAD OF THE ONE EYED JACKS USD $19.99 Buy It Now
TRANSGRESSOR Ether For Scapegoat 2LP (ORANGE) japan death metal anatomia autopsy USD $27.98 Buy It Now
John Lennon Yoko Ono Milk and Honey Japan Mini LP sealed USD $19.99 Buy It Now
ROGER WATERS "Music From The Body" NM/EX RARE 1970 JAPAN orig.1st edition USD $50.00 Buy It Now
BARBRA-STREISAND Japan 1981 NM LP+Obi EMOTION USD $24.99 Buy It Now
(CD) TOOTS THIELEMANS - The Brasil Project / Japan Import / BVCP-221 USD $29.99 Buy It Now
NEW ORDER Japan 2006 NM CD+Obi WAITING FOR THE SIRENS' CALL +Bonus 3 Trax USD $19.99 Buy It Now
IBIS Sun Supreme mini LP CD Japan,sealed,Italian prog USD $35.00 Buy It Now
Black Sabbath Heaven And Hell 2 SHM MINI LP CD JAPAN UICY-94472-73 USD $97.89 Buy It Now
Y&T: Down For The Count LP (Japan, small toc, slight cover wear) Rock & Pop USD $10.00 Buy It Now
MICHAEL FORTUNATI Japan 1988 Song sheet NM Tall NM 3" CD Single DANSE AVEC MOI USD $49.99 Buy It Now
KRAFTWERK Japan 1981 Original EMS-91030 NM LP+Obi COMPUTER WORLD Ultra clean USD $69.99 Buy It Now
?FS?DNCE?SWAAY 5 TRACK SAMPLER?JAPAN MEGA RARE PROMO CD-R NM? USD $20.00 Buy It Now
ESOTERIC SACD ESSE-90046 Karajan Conducts Wagner OBI included JAPAN IMPORT USD $137.59 Buy It Now
JUMBO Vietato ai minori di 18 ani? mini LP CD, sealed,Japan,Italian prog USD $35.00 Buy It Now
BILL HOLMAN: In A Jazz Orbit LP (Japan re, insert, sm wobc, sl cw) Jazz USD $20.00 Buy It Now
?FS?NEU!?NEU! 2?JAPAN MEGA RARE MINI LP CD NM?PCD-93528 USD $32.00 Buy It Now
AEROSMITH-GET A GRIP-JAPAN SHM-CD D50 USD $31.23 Buy It Now
CREAM*BARBEQUE 67*1-CD SET*ERIC CLAPTON*JAPAN MOONCHILD*OOP*NOT TARANTURA USD $24.99 Buy It Now
CANDLEVOX Japan 1995 PROMO Brand New Sealed CD+Obi LUCY USD $29.99 Buy It Now
SACD "Jeff Beck Group" Rough And Ready Limited Edition JAPAN ver. hybrid 5.1ch USD $79.50 Buy It Now
RUNAWAYS - CHERRY BOMB 7" EP 1977 Japan Press Mercury Joan Jett Ramones PUNK LP USD $39.99 Buy It Now
JOHN LENNON Double Fantasy JAPAN 1986 1st Press CD 32XD-447 W/Sticker Obi USD $39.00 Buy It Now
TANTRA-2TITLES-JAPAN SHM-CD MINI LP CD SET 213 USD $73.99 Buy It Now
Firehouse by Firehouse (CD, Sep-1990, Sony Music Japan) USD $15.00 Buy It Now
Def Leppard: On Through the Night (SHM-CD, Dec-2011, Universal Music, Japan) USD $20.00 Buy It Now
Bon Jovi: Bounce, Misunderstood (CD, Nov-2002, Universal/Island, Japan) USD $14.99 Buy It Now
Harem Scarem - Last Live in Japan (CD, Aug-2010, Wounded Bird) USD $6.99 Buy It Now
EUROPE - Best of Europe (CD, 1990, Victor Japan) USD $29.99 Buy It Now
JUMBO s/t mini LP CD, sealed,Japan,Italian prog USD $35.00 Buy It Now
?FS?BOBBY POWELL?IN TIME?JAPAN RARE SAMPLE CD NEW?PCD-20244 USD $24.00 Buy It Now
Sviatoslav Richter: Schubert Sonatas Nos.13 &14, Tokyo Recital 1979, Japan-CD USD $7.15 [0 bids]
USD $9.86 Buy It Now
LISTEN BREAD & BUTTER "PINK SHADOW" JAPAN BOOGIE OBI TATSURO YAMASHITA ALR-25003 USD $24.99 Buy It Now
LISTEN TATSURO YAMASHITA FT. MINAKO YOSHIDA JAPAN BOOGIE DISCO RAL-8803 LP EX USD $24.99 Buy It Now
Japan, Oil on Canvas, original CD Virgin CDVD 2513 USD $2.00 [0 bids]
AEROSMITH-ROCKS-JAPAN BLU-SPEC CD2 D73 USD $32.27 Buy It Now
?FS?THE ASSOCIATION?THE COMPLETE SINGLES 1966-1971 2CD?JAPAN CD NEW?MSIG-0802/3 USD $30.00 Buy It Now
(CD) Akaimasuku [Japan Import] / Potemkin / J-Pop USD $25.00 Buy It Now
GENE VINCENT Japan Only SEALED MINT CD SPECIAL COLLECTION USD $29.99 Buy It Now
BARBRA-STREISAND Japan 1981 NM LP+Obi MEMORIES USD $24.99 Buy It Now
Sealed FRANK SINATRA: Self Titled LP CAPITOL RECORDS ECS-90107 Japan USD $20.99 Buy It Now
The Koto Music of Japan LP Nonesuch Explorer Series 72005 John Trotta Art Cover USD $10.00 Buy It Now
FOO FIGHTERS-SONIC HIGHWAYS-JAPAN CD Ltd/Ed D73 USD $31.76 Buy It Now
Isabelle Antena Hoping For Love CD Japan Les Disques Du Crepuscule Sylvain Fasy USD $0.99 [2 bids]
Rodrigo y Gabriela - This Is Rod & Gab EP [New CD] Japan - Import USD $30.00 Buy It Now
One Ok Rock - Et Cetera [New CD] Japan - Import USD $11.44 Buy It Now
Exile On Main Street-Rolling Stones (Platinum SHM-CD, OOP, Mini-LP, LTD, Japan) USD $74.95 Buy It Now
Peabo Bryson Super Hits (Japan edition, Sony Music CD) NEW SS USD $19.90 Buy It Now
GERRY MULLIGAN: I Want To Live! Soundtrack LP (Japan re, few foxing spots oc) USD $20.00 Buy It Now
THE KINKS Japan Only SEALED MINT CD SPECIAL COLLECTION USD $39.99 Buy It Now
Hold Your Fire by Rush (CD, Jun-2009, WEA Japan) mini LP SHM CD mint USD $39.90 Buy It Now
MANHATTAN JAZZ QUINTET Japan 1996 NM CD+Obi LA FIESTA TECW-25345 USD $79.99 Buy It Now
RICK ASTLEY Japan 1988 Tall NM 3" CD Single MY ARMS KEEP MISSING YOU USD $49.99 Buy It Now

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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)

2.14 | 26 ratings
Adolescent Sex
1978
2.35 | 28 ratings
Obscure Alternatives
1978
3.19 | 49 ratings
Quiet Life
1979
3.09 | 75 ratings
Gentlemen Take Polaroids
1980
3.15 | 73 ratings
Tin Drum
1981

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

3.39 | 35 ratings
Oil on Canvas
1983

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

2.44 | 8 ratings
The Very Best Of Japan
2006

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

2.56 | 8 ratings
Assemblage
1981
4.06 | 16 ratings
Exorcising Ghosts
1984
1.94 | 7 ratings
In Vogue
1996
2.38 | 5 ratings
The Very Best of Japan
2006

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

4.05 | 2 ratings
Nightporter
1982

JAPAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nightporter by JAPAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1982
4.05 | 2 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
3.09 | 75 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
3.19 | 49 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
3.09 | 75 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
3.39 | 35 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. Itīs the highest charting album by the band although it was released several months after the band split-up. "Oil on Canvas" was recorded during Japanīs 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.

Itīs not like itīs 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 doesnīt exactly enhance the feeling that youīre 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. Itīs 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 youīll 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 itīs 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
3.15 | 73 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
3.09 | 75 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
3.09 | 75 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
3.09 | 75 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.
 Gentlemen Take Polaroids  by JAPAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.09 | 75 ratings

BUY
Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Japan Prog Related

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I found "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" to be a very interesting and intriguing listen. While you can hear that this album must have influenced the New Wave style that was about to hit, this isn't that melodic or catchy.There's nothing on here that I could see as even remotely being considered a hit single.Yet that 80's vibe is here with those synths and guitar sounds especially, but also the electronic sounding beat. I've never been a huge fan of Sylvian's vocals but he keeps it fairly laid back and reserved which for me is a good thing.The bass and sax from Mick Karn is impressive to say the least. And of course Barbieri on synths and Jansen on guitar are always top notch. Interesting too to see the songs average in at almost 6 minutes. So yes this is intriguing with that flavour of new Wave and Pop yet stretching it out in that Brian Eno style. An interesting mix.There's no doubt that this was an influencial album, and as others have mentioned TALK TALK comes to mind first.

"Gentelmen Take Polaroids" is one of my favourites. Sure everything hints at the eighties style of music that was about to open the door (this was released in 1980) but I like it ! "Swing" kicks in at 30 seconds and vocals arrive a minute in. Sax in this one too. Nice. I like the synths after 4 1/2 minutes. "Burning Bridges" sounds like Electronic-Prog and the synths get loud after 1 1/2 minutes. Sax follows and we don't get vocals until after 4 1/2 minutes. "My New Career" has a solid beat with synths as the vocals join in. Sax before 1 1/2 minutes when the vocals stop briefly. "Methods Of Dance" has a beat as the sax plays over top then the tempo picks up and the vocals join in. Excellent sound after 1 1/2 minutes. I like the instrumental section after 4 minutes as well.This is one of the best tracks on here.

"Ain't That Peculiar" is actually a Marvin Gaye cover. Lots of intricate sounds with vocals.The beat is prominant and the synths slowly pulse. "Nightporter" has this laid back piano as the vocals join in. It does get fuller and I like the vocal melodies after 6 minutes. "Taking Islands In Africa" opens with a beat as synths then vocals join in. Love the track "The Experience Of Swimming" a definite top three although I understand that this and "The Width Of A Room" are bonus tracks. Both are instrumentals and they both are fantastic !

3.5 stars but i'm bumping it up. I can appreciate all the 1 and 2 star ratings.This is Prog- Related and as such a target for those who are into Progressive music only. But like Tom Ozric, UMUR and Bonnek I think this was fairly unique in it's day and influential, and have rated it accordingly.

Thanks to Raff for the artist addition.

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