The Record Room / The Rubber Room / Archives / 04-25-2008 / Japan, "Gentlemen Take Polaroids"

Topie: Japan, "Gentlemen Take Polaroids"
March 31st, 2008 01:14 PM
Jon http://www.sendspace.com/file/qun9es

I don't even really know what to say about this album. Technically, when the history of rock is writ, Japan get lumped in with the other New Romantic bands like Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Talk Talk. But like Talk Talk, they had grander ambitions than wearing makeup and making people in fey discos dance a lot. Like a cross between Roxy Music or "Low"-era Bowie and the synth-heavy, diseffected New Wave of Gary Numan with a bit of Joy Division's major depressive tendencies thrown in (and a touch of goth to boot -- just a touch!) Japan were a New Wave band awash with emotion AND style.

"Gentlemen Take Polaroids" is, for my money, their best. "Tin Drum," its followup, would flirt with Eastern modalities (courtesy the presence of Yellow Magic Orchestra's Riuichi Sakamoto) and contain their best known hit "Ghosts," but "Gentlemen" is where lots of the music you heard in the next three or four years came from. Influential? Hell yes.

But unlike Simon Le Bon, who stole everything he had from Japan (and good on 'im for doing it), David Sylvian imbues everything he sings with the sadness of a Nick Drake (see: his solo career for even further Drake-isms).

Listen with an open mind.
March 31st, 2008 01:24 PM
Summ-a-Briz OK, I'll bite. Not a fan of the Duran though. I recognize that Duran Duran are making alot of choices in their productions. I just don't like the choices.
March 31st, 2008 01:28 PM
IanWagner Thanks, Jon!
March 31st, 2008 01:36 PM
Jon
Quote:
Summ-a-Briz wrote:
OK, I'll bite. Not a fan of the Duran though. I recognize that Duran Duran are making alot of choices in their productions. I just don't like the choices.


I'll argue for Duran Duran later, when I post "Notorious" and attempt to argue that it's the logical heir to Roxy's "Avalon."
March 31st, 2008 01:40 PM
IanWagner
Quote:
Jon wrote:


I'll argue for Duran Duran later, when I post "Notorious" and attempt to argue that it's the logical heir to Roxy's "Avalon."


Even I'll admit Skin Trade is a stunning song.
March 31st, 2008 01:43 PM
Summ-a-Briz well, 3 songs in and your descripition sounds just about right. Not hearing the Drake factor, but Roxy is the most evident influence, with a little Joy Division sure. It's a real headscratcher. Like Creature Cantina music. Who was the audience for this stuff?
March 31st, 2008 02:43 PM
Jon
Quote:
Summ-a-Briz wrote:
well, 3 songs in and your descripition sounds just about right. Not hearing the Drake factor, but Roxy is the most evident influence, with a little Joy Division sure. It's a real headscratcher. Like Creature Cantina music. Who was the audience for this stuff?


You, thirty years ago!

I dunno, intelligent music listeners who liked synthesizers but also David Bowie, probably. There were a lot of those folks back in the day, esp. in England. Also, you CAN dance to a lot of the stuff on there, so I'm sure club kids listened as well. Nick Rhodes sure stole David Sylvian's look, with the multi-hued hair and the makeup.
March 31st, 2008 03:00 PM
Jon You'd hear the Drake factor more if you listened to Sylvian's solo album "Secrets of the Beehive," THEN went back and relistened to this.
March 31st, 2008 04:55 PM
hope chest "notorious" is THE SHIT. i could go on and on about duran duran - i've always been quite fond of them.

japan was an incredible live band. i totally agree with the comment about drake via "secrets of the beehive" then this being an easier way to read it.

now i'm gonna put on "notorious" VERY fucking loud and go garden.
March 31st, 2008 05:35 PM
Jon
Quote:
hope chest wrote:
"notorious" is THE SHIT. i could go on and on about duran duran - i've always been quite fond of them.

japan was an incredible live band. i totally agree with the comment about drake via "secrets of the beehive" then this being an easier way to read it.

now i'm gonna put on "notorious" VERY fucking loud and go garden.


Hey, if you like "Notorious" (indeed, THE SHIT, Nile Rodgers made 'em sound best), listen to this one. Honest. You'll dig.
March 31st, 2008 06:46 PM
hope chest
Quote:
Jon wrote:


Hey, if you like "Notorious" (indeed, THE SHIT, Nile Rodgers made 'em sound best), listen to this one. Honest. You'll dig.


no worries, mate, i've heard it - this is an old, tried and trued fave. this is freshman year, kate and i snogging behind the gym, and listening to this on the bus home. i adore this album for the music and the memories attached. i haven't, however, heard this in ages and it is downloaded and queued.

TOTALLY agree about that nile rogers comment. john taylor once said that duran duran was a cross between the monkees and chic - having him at the helm was the perfect choice.