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Japan - Obscure Alternatives CD (album) cover




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2.47 | 47 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

Second album from a relatively passable band, which concerns progheads for mostly two reasons: guitarist/singer (and only songwriter) David Sylvain and his future Fripp collabs, and keyboardist Richard Barbieri, who will find a way into Procupine Tree in the late 90's. As a typical late 70's glam rock band (although in terms of look they were more trendy than shocking ala Sparks or Tubes, but took an effeminate poseur stance ala NY Dolls) and bordering on post-punk, the photos on the sleeve gives you an idea of the musical direction taken: none at all, really!! Clearly with this band shot, Sylvain distances itself from his band mates, but there is indeed a real group behind him.

Musically their first three albums are more anything-goes as we get some semi-Bowie tracks (the opening track and Deviation), some reggae songs (Rhodesia is actually quite interesting for a first few listens with its addictive keyboard layer, but doesn't escape its boring fate, while the title track is also reggae-ish), some very riffy tracks (Love Is Infectious is a strong guitar-lead rocker), and some have interesting interplay: Suburban Berlin's keys (Barbieri) and bass (Karn's fretless) works are indeed interesting. Easily the album's highlight is the closing The Tenant (where bassist Karn gets on the sax horn) a nearly instrumental ambient-like with its slow intro and semi-Frippian guitar line.

The remastered version comes with a series of track from this album recorded in Tokyo (over which I won't bother) and a CD-Rom video clip. While hardly a prog album, it turns out that OA might just be the group's better effort and roughly half the tracks on it are susceptible to interest the progheads.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |


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