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Japan (Rock): Tin Drum

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (12/25/03, p.112) - Included in Rolling Stone's "Top 10 Reissues of 2003" - "...This sublime 1981 album features the decade's most unlikely Top Ten U.K. hit: 'Ghosts'..."

Album Notes

Japan: David Sylvian (vocals, guitar, keyboards, programming, tapes); Richard Barbieri (keyboards, programming, tapes); Mick Karn (fretless bass, African flute, dida); Steve Jansen (drums, percussion, programming).

Additional personnel: Yuka Fujii (vocals); Simon House (violin).

TIN DRUM, Japan's fifth studio album, appeared with a cover photograph of a perfectly coifed David Sylvian eating rice from a bowl in a bare room, while a peeling poster of Mao looked on. This image was obviously very deliberately created, and the music on this, their last studio album as Japan, is no less carefully presented. TIN DRUM has been said to be their most "Oriental" album, but it also has equally prevalent Middle Eastern influences, especially in regards to Steve Jansen's percussion. All told, it is probably the band's best single record.

"The Art of Parties" opens the album with synthesizers twittering around Mick Karn's extraordinary bass guitar. "Talking Drum" features a flute straight from a snake charmer's stall. "Canton' is a propulsive, Asian-flavored instrumental. Arguably, the album's best track is "Still Life in Mobile Homes," a strange keyboard and drum-led song that features Karn at his most inventive. "Visions of China" adds some funk to the beat, while "Sons of Pioneers" is a spectacular drum and bass-driven track that is achingly atmospheric. This is a classic--if you own one Japan album, TIN DRUM ought to be it.


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