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Japan's first album - Adolescent Sex

Discussion in 'music' started by foxwelljsly, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Keep Music Vile

    Well, I couldn't really start a thread just called 'Japan - Adolescent Sex', could I?

    I marvel at this album every time I hear it. A wonderful mix of the polish of Steely Dan and the punk raunch of the New York Dolls, it's one of my very favourite rock albums and sounds like it's by a different band to their later efforts. And it's been utterly disowned by it's principal creator David Sylvian. Pretty sure the infinitely inferior Duran Duran and their ilk wouldn't exist were it not for this LP, either.

    One thing I've always wondered though, it is so staggeringly polished and well played for a debut effort, were there significant contributions from any session musicians on this LP? Or were they really that shit hot straight out of the trap?
  2. guey

    guey pfm Member

    I saw them live around that time, and they were a really good live act; so I'd guess they were indeed shit hot even then.
    Oddly, I heard Television for the first time in aaaaaages on Monday (the DJ before us at Spiritland played it), and it still sounds ace.
  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I get the impression that Sylvian has all but disowned all of Japan's work! I can't understand why, they were an amazing band IMO, and stronger than his solo work IMO (no weak links in Japan; all were superb musicians and played together so well). For me they really hit their stride on Quiet Life, that being the point they just nailed that unique sound of theirs, but Adolescent Sex is a good album too. I only bought it and the follow-up Obscure Alternatives fairly recently when buying Japan's back catalogue on CD (I had Quiet Life, Gentlemen Take Polaroids, Tin Drum and Oil On Canvas on vinyl from way back). A different thing, but still great, I must dig them out for a spin.

    One that often gets overlooked is the Rain Tree Crow album, which is a Japan reunion album in all but name. It is stuningly good, a fabulous recording too.
  4. fay spook

    fay spook pfm Member

    Her indoors was mates with the late great Mick Karn at that time. She loves the first 2 albums as much as I'm meh about them. Life in Tokyo into Quiet Life are where they hit it for me.

    I asked her indoors if there were many session musicians and she says no. Also Mick Karn was quite a multi-instrumentalist. Biased but why not? I think they kept a regular guitarist for the first 2 albums.

    There was some influence from Simon Napier Bell on their sound for these. He had been out of the country and got it wrong. That's probably behind some of the disowning.

    It does them no harm being local lads to me.
  5. manicatel

    manicatel pfm Member

    When you listen to their album Assemblage, you can hear their musical style develop from their early "raunchiness" & syncopated rhythms through to their better known new romantic stance.
    Quite a journey of development relative to most other pop acts, & certainly leagues ahead of the Flock of Spandau Durannies.
    Talk Talk likewise could hold their heads high along with Japan as the best of that era.
  6. oneills

    oneills pfm Member

    I always sat and listened to " Nightporter " when i needed to calm down and chill
  7. spengenuk

    spengenuk pfm Member

    Japan are one of my all time favourites. They progressively made better music with each album. Tin Drum is fabulous.
    Just had a look on the David Sylvian website and he has a new collaborative CD out next week but IMO it's been years since he made music that has interested me.
  8. AV8

    AV8 pfm Member

    Playing now, a great choice & wonderful piece of music.

    Tin Drum next sat here in darkness apart from a glowing candle, a mood calmer.
  9. RickyC6

    RickyC6 Infuriate the frog-men

    Tin Drum is one of my all time favourite albums. Stunning piece of work fusing eastern influences with modern western music. And all sung and played beautifully. Not played AS in years. Will fix that this weekend.
  10. irons1965

    irons1965 pfm Member

    Gentlemen Take Polaroids and it's accompanying singles were the ones for me - I loved Width Of A Room instrumental from the Polaroids double 7".
  11. RickyC6

    RickyC6 Infuriate the frog-men

    That's also on the Canadian 12" of The Art Of Parties. They were one of those bands whose timeline got a bit messed up as their popularity grew and older stuff got reissued.
  12. Jonathan Ribee

    Jonathan Ribee Unavailable at present

    Maybe this is the reason for the disowning. A sort of, oh dear - what we did led to this! :) Imagine Nietzsche looking at the ruins of Europe in 1946 and saying "OK, I was massively mis- and selectively quoted, but maybe if I hadn't said these things in the first place?"

    If so, I'd suggest that David Sylvian should adopt the model of history that shows the pop trivialisation of the tenants of New Romanticism was an inevitable movement. And that it would have occurred independently of any individuals (or bands) actions. We cannot blame Gavrilo Princip for WWI. Nor can we blame Japan for The Reflex. Or the cultural devastation it caused.

    (Tin Drum does it for me too)
  13. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    Oil on canvas, excellent live album, I never considered Japan to be a part of the New Romantics:More glam, in the vein of early Roxy Music.
  14. guey

    guey pfm Member

    Dug that out for the first time in years last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
  15. Jonathan Ribee

    Jonathan Ribee Unavailable at present

    The live version of ghosts on Oil on Canvas is one of my favourite tracks. Ever.

    Oddly it came as an extra CD in the remastered box set of Tin Drum a few years ago. That reissue is quite a nice object d'art in itself.
  16. fay spook

    fay spook pfm Member

    Agreed but only for the first half of their career. I haven't got a sound bite for the second half- I'm sure that signifies something
  17. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    For me there is a disconnect between their music and image, the latter pretty much inventing 'new romantic', but the music was way, way too good for that genre and stands as its own thing. It is far easier to say what later bands sound like Japan than find anything earlier that Japan sound like. Most bands are lucky to have one real character sound/one innovator, Japan had a totally unique bassist, drummer, keyboard player and vocalist, and not a bad guitar player either! I find it baffling that they are largely overlooked these days. It is a huge shame they didn't last longer as whilst Sylvian would no doubt argue his songwriting developed over later years I don't think he ever found a band as organic and dialed-in as Japan to work with. I like much of his solo stuff (there is a lot I've still yet to hear), but with things like the wonderful Gone To Earth etc I'm definitely missing Karn, Barbieri and Jansen as a whole unit (two of them play on a couple of tracks).
  18. Ragaman

    Ragaman pfm Member

    This is a superb album, I play it regularly, I enjoy the later stuff but this where my heart lies with Japan.
  19. datay

    datay pfm Member

    Japan are my favourite band (ever since playing my older stepbrother's 12 of Life in Tokyo to death and progressing from there aged around 13 in 1984, so I never saw them live but caught Sylvian at Manchester Apollo in about 1988/89), but it's eye(/ear)-opening to listen to Out of the Blue off Country Life (a lyric on Gentlemen Take Polaroids, of course) and much of Manifesto to hear very very clear precedents for the Quiet Life/Polaroids sound. Seriously have a listen to the opening of Out of the Blue - from what, 1974?

    While no one would call either Country Life or Manifesto "glam", the point that Japan are not new romantic is fair, but that Duran Duran are a poppier pastiche of Japan is indisputable, down to their look, poor old Nick Rhodes continued with the David Sylvian Polaroids look well until...now..? You have to hand it to Duran though - they weren't manufactured, had stratospheric success and I'm not ashamed to say I loved many of their songs then and now. Plus Rio will get people going at a party in a way that, sadly, Methods of Dance will draw a blank :(

    They even copied the po-faced existential Euro-art Japan of Nightporter - with e.g. The Chauffeur (love the ham-fisted stab at finding a profession with similar metaphoric potential, B&H and Carling vs. Gitanes and Ricard).

    It's daft that Sylvian disowned the early Japan, because as the OP was inspired to write, Adolescent Sex is great. But, like Duran after them, unabashed pastiche - of the New York Dolls (ahem, Sylvain Sylvain), down to the look. In the service of something new and nothing wrong with it, it's not as if too many other were influenced by the Dolls (BBC OGWT Simpering Bob Harris: "mock rock").

    And to the playing - some bands just gel don't they? All from Catford area, two brothers, into same music, probably jammed for hours (clocking up Gladwell's 10,000 in their teens), singular purpose. But the era of "non-musicians" produced many incredible units, e.g. Magazine.
  20. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs frequently wrong.

    Good to see positive vibes about Japan.

    Named my son Jansen after Steve. Fairly big fan.

    I like all the albums re Japan, but not so much Sylvian on his own. Quite enjoyed Mick Karns first solo album, he also did some cool fretless work with Kate Bush (Good to hear as Micks style comes through)

    Tin Drum & Polaroids float my boat most of late. There is a 7" & 12" single version of Art Of Parties which is a million times better than the L.P. version - sounds v different.

    Sylvian & Sakamoto did some good tunes as well (Steve Jansen on the drums, excellent)

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