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    JAPAN ~ The Joke

    Being a Sylvian fan (or a fan of anything as opposed to a slightly enthusiastic follower of something) reminds me of that famous Tony Hancock line in The Rebel:

    Girl with long black hair, black eyeliner and pale complexion (in real life Nanette Newman): 'I'm an existentialist. All my friends are existentialists'.

    Hancock: 'Well it's company for you, dear'.

    That is one funny film. I didn't find it that funny first time round but watching it again it will make you (I hate to use it but here goes) lol ('lol' should always be 'lots of love' in my book). The film really takes apart the absurdities of art in a way I haven't seen quite so skilfully anywhere else. It's done with the precision of the finest Swiss clockmaker or the scalpel of the greatest surgeon.

    It's no wonder Johnny Rotten (or John Lydon to his friends) collected many of the paintings used in the film.

    Being a fan of anything means you inhabit the same world as someone else who sees the same world as you but understands nothing the same way as you do. It's like the difference between the female and the male species on a dating site who use the same words but don't speak the same language:

    Female: 'The kind of guy I would be interested in would be honest and funny above anything else, but also someone I could have an intelligent conversation with - a man with a touch of class. Refined, mature and with a certain panache. Likes going to art galleries and the theatre. Knows his Rimbaud from his 50 Shades of Grey. If you would want to talk metaphysics then I'm your gal...'

    Male Response: 'Top tits!'

    Cary Grant (Hugh's dad) is really giving online dating a bad name.


    Japan - It's Official: One of the most important bands of all time:

    In my local Sainsbury's the other day trying to be distracted from my usual battles:

    Sainsbury's: 'Do you want a bag?'
    Me: Look down at my trolley. Full to bursting with family sized sweet packs without a family in sight. Plus toilet rolls, cans of fatness etc etc. 'What do you think?' I reply.
    Sainsbury's: 'Ok, that'll be 5p'.
    Me: 'You know what. I think I'll carry it'.

    I turned to their book section and one book caught my eye, 1001: Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (the one with the Joy Division cover). Flicking through I was pleasantly surprised to find one of Japan's albums there but it wasn't the one I expected. Not the masterpiece that was Tin Drum or even Gentlemen Take Polaroids but Quiet Life. The review and section on the album was interesting to say the least, especially wondering outloud whether the fretless bass had ever been more sexy sounding that it was played by the long fingers of Mick Karn. When you think about it, where have you heard sound a sound like that?

    So there you have it. An album important enough to feature but then a total re-evaluation of their work and influence has long been overdue for many years. They are beyond the Duran Durans, Spandau Ballets & Talk Talks (though Talk Talk were good, really good) of the era - they are timeless.

    And it opens up the question of just what they would have achieved had they stayed together for another five years or so. The Rain Tree Crow project nearly a decade after hinted at what might of be and to me that is one of the most rewarding albums ever released.

    They have been compared to The Yardbirds in terms of their influence but I don't think you can compare them to anyone. They are unique - sure, many bands have been influenced by them but none have used that influence to make anything as remotely as compelling. The total immersion into the culture of the Far East with Tin Drum has never been approached by anyone from the West, I think. Japan is China to many of us because of this album. Building our visions of China and all that.

    Japan: where art and poetry collided for once in our lifetimes.





    David Sylvian Cds

    David Sylvian Dvds @ amazon.com (direct link)

    David Sylvian Books @ amazon.com (direct link)




    The Joke

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