CAROL 1829-2 Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Produced by John Punter
Released on October 1980
UK CHART POSITION #45
Find it at GEMM
CAROL 1829-2 cover
[high resolution scan]

K ronomyth 4.0:ICH BIN EINE ROXY MUSE. Japan circa Gentlemen is Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and Roxy’s final trilogy (Manifesto, Flesh, Avalon) rolled together, a continuation of Quiet Life on a new label (Virgin) and a slow building of commercial steam like a train bound for strange destinations. Ultravox, Gary Numan, eventually even Icehouse garnered more attention for making the same cold romantic music less artfully, while Japan didn’t come into vogue until they were on the outs. Gentlemen featured a solid octet of slick art rock including such classic cuts as the title track, “Swing” and “Taking Islands In Africa” (the latter co-written with YMO’s Ryuichi Sakamoto). The nods to Bowie and Bryan are sometimes closer to obeisance (“Burning Bridges,” for example, which is clearly modeled after “Warszawa”), and yet for every borrowed artifice (the decadent saxophone, the world-weary romanticism) Japan expands the dialogue with their own vocabulary (Mick Karn’s fretless bass, the vaguely Oriental keyboards). In fact, Quiet Life and Gentlemen Take Polaroids were almost as influential as Manifesto and Low, being felt in the music that followed from Gary Numan, Ultravox, Icehouse, Duran Duran and many others. The exoticism and technical sophistication that Japan brought to their music effectively raised the bar from imitation to interpretation, approximation to expansion. If we’re to chart the development of new romantic music from the late 70s music of Bowie and Roxy, Japan’s third and fourth albums are early and important points to plot. Of interest, the original version of the elpee planned to include a track called “Some Kind of Fool,” which was pulled in favor of “Burning Bridges” at the last moment; early copies of the album still reference the original track. In the 1990s, Caroline quietly released an expanded CD version of Gentlemen that included two instrumentals written by Richard Barbieri (“The Experience of Swimming”) and Rob Dean (“The Width of a Room”) that first appeared on the double-single release of “Gentlemen Take Polaroids.”

TRACK LISTING

  1. GENTLEMEN TAKE POLAROIDS    7:06
  2. SWING    6:25
  3. BURNING BRIDGES    5:20
  4. (CD bonus track*) THE EXPERIENCE OF SWIMMING    (Richard Barbieri)    4:06
  5. MY NEW CAREER    3:54
  6. METHODS OF DANCE    6:53
  7. AIN'T THAT PECULIAR    (William Robinson/Warren Moore/Marvin Tarplin/Robert Rodgers)    4:40
  8. NIGHTPORTER    6:57
  9. (CD bonus track*) THE WIDTH OF A ROOM    (Rob Dean)    3:15
  10. TAKING ISLANDS IN AFRICA    (Ryuichi Sakamoto/David Sylvian)    5:15

    JPN CD reissue bonus tracks
  11. THE EXPERIENCE OF SWIMMING
  12. THE WIDTH OF A ROOM
  13. TAKING ISLANDS IN AFRICA (STEVE NYE REMIX)

    All songs written by David Sylvian unless noted

CREDITS

RICHARD BARBIERI --
ROB DEAN --
STEVE JANSEN --
MICK KARN --
DAVID SYLVIAN --
John Punter -- engineer, mixing
Nigel Walker -- engineer
Colin Fairley -- engineer
Steve Prestage -- engineer
Stuart Mcleod -- front cover photo
Nicola Tyson -- back cover photo

return to JAPAN discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK October 1980 Virgin LP/CS V/TCV-2180  
CAN 1980 Virgin LP VL-2208  
GER 1980 Virgin LP 202 968-320  
JPN 1980 Virgin LP VIP-6969  
UK 1984 Virgin LP OVED-138  
UK/FRA 1984 Virgin CD CDV-2180  
US 1992 Caroline/Blue Plate CDX CAROL 1829-2 w. bonus tracks*
UK May 29, 2006 Virgin CDX 63057-2 digital remaster w. bonus tracks*
JPN July 2, 2008 EMI CDX VJCP-68872 digital remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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