Life (Reviewed by Bogie):
Life by Japan, released December 1979, HANSA.
Quiet Life (4:52)
Fall In Love With Me (4:37)
In Vogue (6:36)
All Tomorrow's Parties (5:43)
The Other Side Of Life (7:29)
I can still
recall the initial hesitation when it came to Japan. When you're in your
early teens, who wants their girlfriend looking at pictures of "The
most beautiful man in rock n' roll" (singer David Sylvian)? The look
is effiminate, the music even seems androgynous. But in the calmer views
of old age the true impact of Japan is much more evident.
some say (and I agree to an extent) that Quiet Life is the album that
David Bowie should have made as a follow-up to Heroes. It is definitely
that good. There is a very special feeling about this album from beginning
to end. There are almost funk beats and basslines cavorting below unique
keyboard sounds and David Sylvian's soothing croon.
the transformation from punk rock to new wave/new romantic/blitz it is
often taken for granted that this just sort of happened. Well it didn't.
Bands like Japan and The Cure provided the bridge from raw punk to the
newer sounds of the early 80s. Japan themselves were never even a punk
band. More a cross of Hot Chocolate and Roxy Music in their early days.
Perhaps with a bit more of an edge.
track Quiet Life ranks with Wire's Ahead as one of the most unique and
impressive songs of the entire 80s. The guitar and synthesizers are crisp
and clear. Mick Karn's fretless bass never rests through the track and
throughout the rest of the album for that matter. Karn's playing is one
of the outstanding qualities of the entire record.
Velvet Underground's All Tomorrow's Parties became a standard practice
for many newer bands through the 80s and even 90s. This version is unique
rather than a mere salutation to Lou Reed, John Cale, et al. Synths and
bass merging beautifully with the Sylvian drone blending in more as an
instrument than a storytelling voice. I prefer this version even to Nick
Cave and the Bad Seeds.
As was always
the way with Japan records, the content here is populated with ghostly
imagery and stark visions. Halloween, Alien and the powerful finale The
Other Side Of Life evoke the personal desolation that suits this music
you could remember
to wave a sign of life
album Adolescent Sex was released in March of 1978. Their last album of
new material was Tin Drum, released in November of 1981. And yet in such
a short time they were able to compile a steady list of successes with
tracks like Gentlemen Take Polaroids, Life In Tokyo and Nightporter. Still,
with huge success in Japan and Europe, Japan was never able to crack the
North American market in terms of true commercial success. Which is ironic
seeing as how influential they were on bands that would sell millions
in Canada and the U.S.
In his 1988
book Starmakers and Svengalis: The History of British Pop Management,
Johnny Rogan quotes Simon Napier-Bell (Japan's manager) as saying: "They
were so well known it was extraordinary. They'd single-handedly created
the New Romantics who were having hits all around them. Duran Duran dressed
like Japan and even begged the group to produce them, then they went off
and made a sensible commercial hit record. Japan could not do that."
to this review by xistenza): I love the song "Quiet
Life"!! This is "classic" new wave at it's best. Great