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Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids CD (album) cover




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3.17 | 96 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 238

"Gentlemen Take Polaroids" is the fourth studio album of Japan and was released in 1980. It continued in the same vein of their previous third album, "Quiet Life", using the combination of the electronic elements with the traditional musical elements. The final result was an album with a more sophisticated and atmospheric ambient than its predecessor. The album was well received by the critics and it was said if Brian Eno, rather than Bryan Ferry, had rerouted the original direction of Roxy Music, this might well have been the final result. It was their last album with their guitarist Rob Dean.

"Gentlemen Take Polaroids" has eight tracks. All songs were written by David Sylvian except "Ain't That Peculiar" which was written by Smokey Robinson, Warren "Pete" Moore, Marvin Tarplin and Robert Rogers and "Taking Islands In Africa" which was written by David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto. The first track is the title track "Gentlemen Take Polaroids". It was released as a single before the initial release of the album. It's an excellent song to open the album that sounds very much to the new sound of the 80's. This song was probably one of the songs that most influenced the new wave music. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The second track "Swing" is a very good song with great synthesizer work and with nice saxophone work. This is a song with an astounding showcase between Mike Karn and Steve Jansen. By the other hand, the vocal performance of David Sylvian is very intense and precise. The third track "Burning Bridges" is an excellent track that reminds me "Subterraneans", a track from the great eleventh studio album of David Bowie "Low", released in 1977. This is a song with a very special atmospheric musical moment that can't fail to remember us Brian Eno and the Berlin trilogy of David Bowie. It has also great saxophone work. The fourth track "My New Career" is also an excellent track, which has, in my humble opinion, some influences from world music. This is a song with a very solid beat, great synthesizer performance and the vocal work is also great. The fifth track "Methods Of Dance" was used as the B side of their 12" single version of "Nightporter" released in 1982. This is a song with an entirely new rhythm provided by a truly amazing performance of Mick Karn and Steve Jansen. It's an excellent song with a great instrumental section. The final result is superb and make of it on one of the best tracks on the album. The sixth track "Ain't That Peculiar" was also released as the B side of their 7" single version of "Nightporter", released also in 1982. It's a good Smokey Robinson cover song with an intricate sound. The beat on the song is prominent and the synthesizers and the vocals sound nice and enjoyable. However, this is my less favourite song on the album. The seventh track "Nightporter" was remixed and released as a single in 1982, just after the band announced that they were splitting. It was edited in the 7" version and also in the full-length 12" remix version. The song was influenced by the musical work of the French classical composer Erik Satie, particularly by his piece of music "Gymnopedies". It's a very beautiful track and an excellent example of melancholic music and dark musical ambient. This is one of the highlights of the album. The eighth and last track "Taking Islands In Africa" re-appeared as the B side of their single track "Visions of China", released in 1981, and taken from their next and last studio album "Tin Drum". This is also a very good track with a great beat, nice synthesizers and an enjoyable vocal work. It represents an excellent way to finish this album.

Conclusion: I know Japan since 1980, and "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" was my first album from them, and I know the album since it was released. Japan is a very curious and interesting band and they're, in a certain way, a unique and special band. Japan is, in my humble opinion, a band with clear and deep musical influences from Roxy Music and David Bowie. That is particularly noticed on the vocals of David Sylvian, which are very close to the vocals of Bryan Ferry, and the androgynous and provocative look of Sylvian was very close to the visual of David Bowie. By the other hand, the musical influences of Roxy Music and David Bowie aren't strange, because we all know that both had a very strong influence in the new wave music, and despite Japan being not a truly new wave band, they have, for me, some musical influences from that musical movement. In relation to "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" I always loved this album. This is an excellent album very cohesive and very well balanced without weak points. Its music is very modern and has great quality and the performance of all members is absolutely fantastic and irreproachable. I particularly like of the musical relationship between Sylvian and Karn. Mike Karn played a bass sound very powerful and unique, and soon he became one of my favourite bassists. R.I.P. Mike. This album also represents the beginning of the musical partnership between Sylvian and the Japanese keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, before and after Japan split. Concluding, "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" is one of the albums that deeply divide the opinions of prog fans. This is the kind of albums that or we can love or hate. And sincerely, definitely I belong to the first group, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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