Sunday, 27 January 2013

Desert Island Discs 60 Tin Drum by Japan

60 Tin Drum by Japan 1981

I was blissfully unaware of their dodgy New York Dolls lite past, all I knew was the achingly cool imagery that Smash Hits hoovered up. I'm still not sure there has been a more left of centre hit than this

Many an oxfam was raided to try and find shirts with small collars , etc. I loved the whole look so much so that the lp cover stayed on my wall in my room at poly 9 years after it had first been released and long after a time when far eastern imagery was being used by every graphic designer going.

The lp really didn't sound like anything else around at the time and was about as far from the flat fens as you could get.  There was a bit of Bowie , a bit of Roxy but by adding in some eastern influence they had moved well away from the sound of the previous lp  Gentlemen Take Polaroids that was by and large an homage to these 2 acts.

At the other extreme to Ghosts was the dance song that you couldn't dance to

The other worldliness of Sylvian's Ferry, Bowie croon married to Richard Barbieri's other wordly keyboards, driven along by Karn and Jansen's rhythm section. It was weird enough to feel special but catchy enough to hang onto.... and more importantly for Spaldingvyou felt the 4 of them wouldn't be seen dead on either a motorbike or a scooter.

For me the track that sums up Tin Drum ended up causing my record to wear out is this one. Again who knows what it is all about , a load of nonsense probably but for once that is not the point

Sons of Pioneers - Japan

 You can buy Tin Drum here


  1. This album was the gateway to his brilliant early solo stuff. I'd have put my money on this dating badly; what to I know?

  2. I'm old enough to remember Japan's trash/glam origins, which creeped me out so much that they fell off my radar. It wasn't until I came across the 'Let The Happiness In' posting on COS that I took notice of Sylvian's genius. Unfortunately, watching the clips here I'm still not connecting with the exotic weirdness of Japan, unlike the "Bees" solo albums...

    #60 - DOOBIE BROTHERS - The Captain & Me (1973)

    You'll have to humour the old guy here with this memento... As a lad in '73 this one would have been at the top of my list. The diverse styles (folk/rock/blues/country/classical), crack musicianship and crisp production really make for a special album. After 40 years still sounds fantastic; listening now & wondering why I have it down here at # 60. Of course, the hit-singles were the jangle-rock of 'Long Train Running' & 'China Grove' but I love the deeper tracks like Dark Eyed Cajun Woman, Clear As he Driven Snow and especially 'South City Midnight Lady,' a romantic country/folk tinged ballad that builds to a euphoric crescendo with Skunk Baxter's stunning pedal steel inter-playing with strings, keyboards and lead guitars that always gives me chills. Even the lyrics are good...

    Up all night I could not sleep,
    The whiskey that I drank was cheap,
    With shaking hands I went and I lit up my last cigarette.
    Well the sun came, the night had fled,
    And sleepy eyed I reached my bed,
    I saw you sleepy dreaming there all covered and warm...

    South City Midnight Lady (studio):
    Long Train Running:
    Dark Eyed Cajun Woman:
    South City Midnight Lady (jazzy live version):

    PS: Thanks for indulging me. Sorry Dave, for cluttering up your space...

  3. No shame with The Doobies TT. Some fine guitar antics and any band with a member named 'Skunk' is welcome around ours' anytime... as long as they stay in the kitchen...

  4. Skunk was actually still a member of Steely Dan at this point, a band that the Doobies swapped out players with. Including Michael Macdonald, who year's after this LP, dragged the Doobie's into MOR blandness...

  5. Tin Drum is certainly the album where Sylvan asserted himself. Having put his past behind him - in sound and in influence, Sylvian got down to directing the action from a new point of view. Tin Drum's beauty was also fracturous to the band itself. Of course legend, well documented, tells us there were forces of a more personal nature pulling at the glue holding Japan together, but they were very much a musical unit taking pop and world music and turning it on it's side with amazing success.
    As for dancing to The Art of Parties or even say, Talking Drum, I think if you had the staccato moves of say Bryan Ferry, dancing to these tracks would make perfect sense...

  6. All the previous Japan albums had been the learning curve to this masterpiece. They'd got everything right. Sylvians croon , the look, the music and even the album cover and let's not forget the timing of it's release when the new romantic movement was at it's peak. I know I'm in the minority here but I think this is David Sylvians career high point.
    # 60 The Associates - Sulk. Another man with an incredible voice.

  7. Hi Trev - it is difficult for lps that are so personal - as well as being locke dto a time and place they also seem timeless. I had a rude awkening when I played soem whipper snapper at work echo and the bunnymen's crocodiles (which at the time was being ripped off all over the place) and asked if he thought it sounded dated , he paused looked at me and said "very"!

    Hi Tim I've got to admit if you'd mentioned the doobie brothers to me I would have put them in a pidgen hole labelled boring american mor! Whilst not my cup of tea I can see the tracks you have posted show me as bing the audio version of blinkered!

    Hi Echo - you've not seen my Bryan Ferry shuffle

    Phil - Sulk is a reat lp - have you read eh excellent book the glamour chase about the Billy's career


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