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109) Japan Tin Drum

I reckon I got properly into music when I was about thirteen and was a bloody know it all. I remember coming home on the bus after just buying Psychocandy, meeting a guy from school who had No Jacket Required and grinning, what an arse I was. If he had bought a Japan album, I would have kept quiet because I had never heard of them and seemingly, I was a music expert, did I say I was an arse.

Japan had split in 1982, I know I would not have liked this album back then as if it was not punk or all guitars I was not interested.

Guitarist Rob Dean had quit which meant that the band were moving away from the guitar with beautiful electronic music, mixed with traditional instruments and Sylvian’s vocals perfectly blending and enhancing the songs.

The album is only eight tracks long, the hit Ghosts is minimal, bassist Mick Karn is not even on it, and over synths Sylvian delivers a perfect deadpan vocal, a bizarre but brilliant hit. Opener The Art of Parties and Talking Drum show great bass and innovative drums from Karn and Steve Jansen as does the excellent Still Life In Mobile Homes and Sons of Pioneers. Each of these songs has a unique backing that makes for multiple listens as all four members are at the top of their game.

Visions of China is a song that has you tapping a pencil or bouncing out a beat with your hand, its monumental in music and words.

The albums closes with Cantonese Boy, to me the most pop moment on the record, and a perfect ending.

In summary, I was an arse back then (to emphasise), like what you like, do not dismiss something until you have at least listened to it. Japan Tin Drum did not register with fourteen-year-old me, fifty-two-year-old me finds it magical.


GIVE IT A STREAM: Visions of China

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