Wednesday, March 20, 2013

1982: The lives we've led for years

I'm quite enjoying that Classic Pop magazine, aimed squarely at the likes of me. It seems to have got over its 'Well it was the Eighties!' wackiness and has stopped apologising for the excesses, over-production, style and general silliness of the decade and is doing what it should be doing: embracing and celebrating the best and worst of the era that only rivals the Sixties as being top for pop. 

I was pleased to see a piece on Japan, pre-Tin Drum, turn-of-the-Eighties Japan, but Japan nonetheless, which stirs up so many memories. I've blogged about Ghosts and All Tomorrow's Parties before, but you can never have enough Japan, right?

By this time in 1982 I'd played Tin Drum to death. On the very day we waved my parents off at what was then Eastleigh Airport, basically a load of sheds with planes only flying to the Channel Islands and near continent, my Aunt and Uncle, with whom I was to live with for the next six months, took me straight into town where I was determined to track down and buy the record that would never be off my turntable for almost the whole year until The Hurting came along.

Not that I was a huge Japan fan up to that point, but I'd found the thumping, fragmented Visions Of China intriguing and the album was getting rave reviews from all my peers, so I had to make it mine. Good choice. And as I've mentioned before, I immediately snapped up their entire back catalogue.

So when Ghosts, surely the oddest single ever to make the Top Ten, was a hit, I was sort of thrilled, but also annoyed in that teenage I-was-there-first-and-therefore-I-own-them way that it was reaching the masses. Even Radio Bahrain had it on heavy rotation when I visited that Easter.  So I was relieved when Cantonese Boy didn't light up the charts and then it was all kind of over except for that re-release of I Second That Emotion. Japan were mine again. But by 1983 I don't think I really listened to that album again until the Noughties came along and I put it on my ipod. I was blown away all over again.

A lot of people think Tin Drum hasn't stood the test of time. I disagree. Lyrically it's pretty daft, and you could say it's sort of samey in places, but it's unique in it's fusion of east meet west and its sparse production gives me chills. It's no folly. It's a classic, but it may be that it's so tied in my memories.

Anyway, as I flick my hair over my eye and put on my bow tie, let's listen to this again and remember just how great it was. (Doesn't seem to be an official video on YouTube).


  1. I was a massive fan of Japan. Went to see them at Lancaster University in 1982. My cousin and his girlfriend took me, not that they liked Japan at all, but they knew I did and there was no way I could go alone. We went to Pizzaland before hand and who should walk in half way through? Only Mick bloomin' Karn and a friend. I begged a waitress to borrow her order pad and pen and braved it over to ask for his autograph. He was lovely to me and the autograph became the centre piece of my Japan entire bedroom wall collage, further I still sign my name as he wrote it, I copied it so much! Was so sad to hear about his death last year, he was incredibly talented.

  2. Good heavens, Mick Karn in Pizzland - what a coup! Imagine that now - impossible.

    I still love pretty much the entire Japan back catalogue (even though the first two poodle-rock albums are really pretty ragged.). I still admire the way David Sylvian reinvented himself, from shy suburban lower middle-class boy to cultured aesthete. And he's maintained his privacy and dignity on the way. Quite a feat.