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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final studio album from Japan
This reissue of Tin Drum- Japan's most popular LP featuring surprise hit single Ghosts comes with a wonderful 24-page booklet, a deluxe appearance and various photos, including some from Steve Jansen. It also comes with an additional disc comprising The Art of Parties session- two alternate take of TAOP plus Life Without Buildings, as well as the single version of...
Published on 25 July 2003 by Jason Parkes

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A curate's thousand year old egg
Leaving the cover art aside, this electronically processed, Chinese-themed concept album was a decidedly out-there thing to release in 1981. As with Japan's two previous albums, it had a huge (and questionable) influence on the next five years of electronic pop in Britain and abroad. Oddball and magnificent "Ghosts" clearly had an influence on, say, later Talk Talk;...
Published on 20 Mar 2009 by King Pendrawr


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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final studio album from Japan, 25 July 2003
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tin Drum: Remastered (Audio CD)
This reissue of Tin Drum- Japan's most popular LP featuring surprise hit single Ghosts comes with a wonderful 24-page booklet, a deluxe appearance and various photos, including some from Steve Jansen. It also comes with an additional disc comprising The Art of Parties session- two alternate take of TAOP plus Life Without Buildings, as well as the single version of Ghosts.
The album itself is still wonderful, though the Japan sound was pretty much defined on Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980)- here the music is oriental, as the lyrics were influenced by a collection of photos of Communist China (according to the Black Vinyl, White Powder memoir of Simon Napier Bell, then manager of Japan). The Art of Parties gets straight to the point- a clipped sythetic sound that might have been Roxy Music if they hadn't embraced MOR. Talking Drum is even better- an underrated Japan track which has the same electronic-country feel of My New Career; this seagues into the Top Five hit single Ghosts. Who'd believe that a minimal electronic piece indebted to John Cage and Henrik Ibsen would be their biggest hit? As with 1980's Burning Bridges, Nightporter & Taking Islands in Africa, Sylvian dispenses with the band- notably Mick Karn's fretless bass. This might seem absurd, but Sylvian was going for the song, rather than adhering to the band formula- this was Sylvian's year zero and the pathway to his interesting solo career (see tracks like Bamboo Music, Backwaters & The Stigma of Childhood to see where this lead; also 1999's Godman referred to this!). The light comes back in with the Jansen/Sylvian-composed Canton- wonderful world music that fails to explain why any of this lot weren't employed to provide a film soundtrack...Still Life in Mobile Homes (er, title?) remains rather too indebted to Yellow Magic Orchestra- possibly the least track here. Visions of China sees Jansen and Sylvian create another lovely pop song- something that Sylvian would veer away from (though Jansen's 1987 album with Barbieri as The Dolphin Brothers (?????) would see the not dissimilar Shining). Mick Karn's distinctive fretless bass fares as well on Sons of Pioneers- a vast opaque song with sinister undertones; finally the brilliant Cantonese Boy concludes the album. This is the apex of their obssession with Japan and the Far East- "Cantonese Boy/bang your tin drum!"- it's a fantastic pop song that I wish someone NOW would cover: Mao's revolution set to 80s synths and sequencers?
Tin Drum is just one of the many great reissues of Japan/Sylvian material surfacing from Virgin- as great a reminder as the recent Blemish is, that Sylvian was and remains a major talent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last word, 11 April 2006
This review is from: Tin Drum: Remastered (Audio CD)
Firstly, let's clear this up:
Quoted: "Richard Barbieri's fretless bass playing"
Au contraire! Mr Barbieri was the synth-head who really did the business here, the bass work being down to the great Mick Karn.
Put simply, this is one of THE albums of the eighties. Both the musicianship, the creativity and the overall production of Tin Drum are high watermarks for anyone wanting to write an album that's as classic, imaginative, modern and accessible as anyone would wish. They'd spent what felt to be an eternity inching towards the songs here but the road had been paved by both Quiet Life (1979) and the excellent Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980). Indeed, the years 79-81 were intensely creative for Japan and they became huge just before this, their swansong, was released.
So what are the songs like? They're great! Although not great in number, the songs are finely turned-out and Japan creatively were firing on all cylinders which is ironic considering the tensions that existed between Sylvian and Karn at the time, Karn losing his partner to his former best friend as the album was being written.
There isn't a weak track here: all three of the singles (the intensely-atmospheric 'Ghosts', the wry 'Visions Of China' and the sublime 'Cantonese Boy') are here but album tracks such as 'Talking Drum' are of an equally high standard. It's like a tailor setting out to design a handfull of brilliantly-designed, classic-yet-modern suits and excelling at the task, incorporating subtle features whilst the overall cut and style turns heads everywhere they were worn.
Someone once described Japan's latter output as 'bonzai music' as in 'small and beautiful' but it's a lot more besides. This was Japan's effective farewell, although they reunited in 1992 to record the Rain Tree Crow album. Tin Drum was really their final word and it's a masterpiece. Buy it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final stage of Japan's evolution, 29 April 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Tin Drum: Remastered (Audio CD)
Japan's "Tin Drum" remains one of the great albums of the early eighties,and it brings back many fond memories to this listener. This new Virginremaster is a real treat, with nicely cleaned up sound quality, greatpackaging with some very arty new photographs in a separate companionbooklet and the bonus "Art of Parties" EP containing the four other tracksput out around the time of the album. My only gripe about this, nice asthe EP is, is that it would have all fitted onto a single disc, whichsaves a lot of fiddling about on the train to work.
Enough grumbling - the music is superb and sounds as fresh today as it didthen, as Japan move on from the excellent "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" albumto take in Eastern themes, most notably in "Visions of China", "Canton"and the superb "Cantonese Boy". The atmospheric "Ghosts" is surely one ofthe strongest singles of the decade, paving the way for David Sylvian'smore ambitious solo works, but all of the tracks on "Tin Drum" are verystrong. The Art of Parties remix single is also particularly fine, and itis nice to see this on CD properly at last. They'd come along way sincethe proto-garage of their early albums.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tin drum, 24 Oct 2008
This review is from: Tin Drum (Audio CD)
Tin Drum was the band's one and only masterpiece. This is cutting edge stuff, merging world music influences with modern technology to create a remarkably distinctive blend of music . African rhythms, oriental melodies,pulsing synths, and Mick Karn's elastic basslines, cohere, to form an album that is refreshing,primal,and hypnotic.'Talking drum' is dominated by a remarkably bouncy,fluid bassline, 'Still life in mobile homes' is a striking, fast paced opener, dominated by staccato oriental synths and interesting samples, and 'Visions of China' is possibly 'Tin drum's most accessible song, Jansen's hypnotic drumming embellished by Karn's compelling bass.
There's danceability,ambience,and eerie atmospherics aplenty here.'Ghosts' is pure poetry and a spartan classic,that actually reached the top 10. 'Sons of Pioneers', another spartan litany of Burundi drumming and virtuoso bass playing, marks itself out as the best song, alongside 'Canton', the most overtly 'oriental' song of the album and a definite classic. Mesmerising.The lilting, marimba laden 'Cantonese Boy' is probably the most beautiful 'dance' song, and was another unlikely hit. No doubt about it, the band's glammed up image was at odds with their ambitious music. but they were purveying art here, make no mistake.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm turning japanese, 7 May 2008
By 
Mr. M. E. Watts "KILLERWATTS" (PORTSMOUTH UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tin Drum (Audio CD)
Being a big Lewis taylor fan I recently bought his american-produced album "Stoned" and the last track on the album (which is not listed in the sleeve notes and on all my equipment won't play unless you press play at what seems like the end of the album) there was a song named "ghosts" which is my all time favourite song by Lewis. Imagine my surprise when my fiancee showed me some old vinyl records that she had as a teenager and 'lo and behold there was a track called Ghosts on an EP by Japan so I just had to play it and, yes you've guessed it, one and the same! I was never a fan of Japan when they were current as I dismissed them as being a bunch of pretentious poseurs, an opinion based primarily on their appearance, but now I have mellowed with age I really like this album finding it refreshingly different to current genres with such strong atmosphere and totally original musicality. Despite other bands of that era not being being to my taste this is now one of my favourite albums.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thelast of the New Romatics, 22 Feb 2010
By 
P. Frizelle (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tin Drum (Audio CD)
The band debuted on record with the 1978 album Adolescent Sex and followed up with Obscure Alternatives. Both albums sold well in Japan (where the band's name helped them to gain a devoted cult following) However in their native Britain those albums were largely ignored. Though influenced by artists such as the New York Dolls, Roxy Music and David Bowie, both albums were widely dismissed by the British music press as being distinctly outmoded at a time when punk and New Wave bands were in ascendence. Their third album, 1979's Quiet Life, heralded a significant change in musical style from the earlier largely guitar-based music to a more electronic sound, Their final two studio albums, Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980) and Tin Drum (1981), were released on the Virgin label, and continued to expand their audience as the band refined its new sound and, somewhat unintentionally, became associated with the early-1980s New Romantic movement.

Tin Drum in particular is one of the most innovative albums of the 1980s, with its startlingly original fusion of occidental and oriental sounds. With personality conflicts leading to rising tensions between band members, Tin Drum was to be the band's final studio album. The group's final UK performance came in November 1982, culminating in a six-night sell-out stint at London's Hammersmith Odeon. Tin Drum remains Japan's most Eastern-influenced album. It's all there in the song titles of course. This, their final effort, showed the band really becoming what they'd always wanted to be all through their career: An art-rock band, with aspirations towards the musicianly end of what pop could aspire to. Ironically as the band disintegrated following this release, they finally shook off the sub-Roxy Music/glam goth associations that had hampered them in earlier years. Tin Drum is, in places wonderfully minimalist and exotically esoteric. On top of this Sylvian's voice had matured beyond the aforementioned Ferry-lite comparisons. His mournful deep-throated trills suited songs that explored lost love and the fascination with all things Eastern. As with fellow so-called new romantics, Duran Duran, these boys almost straddled the line marked 'muso', yet avoided crassness with the simple application of taste. Tin Drum has no flashy waste or needless bombast, just evocative skill that remains fresh to this day.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lavish re-issue from the 80's..., 11 Nov 2003
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tin Drum: Remastered (Audio CD)
This is the kinda of re-issue that I don't mind paying extra for,not only does it come in a seperate box with an alternative cover shot, inside the box comes the orginal album which is now wearing a digi-pack cover and best of all a seperate bonus disc of extra tracks, the cover of the bonus C.D. recreates the orginal photos used to make up the fold-out cover of the The Art of Parties single.
Japans album "Tin Drum" stood out from other albums at the time as the lead singer "David Sylvain" was doing a "Scott Walker" "Bryan Ferry""Nick Drake" with little hints of "David Bowie" cira "Station to Station" type of singing, this was the type of vocals prefected in their previous release "Gentlemen prefer Polarids". Another element that made these tracks on this album stand out was the use of melcholy sounding violin provided by sometime "Hawkwind" player "Simon House".
The extra tracks include "The Art of Parties"(single version)Life without Buildings"(B-side to the Art of Parties single)another version of the "TAoP"(live)and the single version of "Ghosts" great to hear this again.
The inclusion of a 24 page book of rare photographs(which has another version of the orginal cover on it's cover)most of which were shot in the recording studio during the albums recording session is another great touch .
This re-issue also boasts better sound than the version of this album that was available on C.D. before(superb job of re-jigging the sound by "Tony Cousins again), with it's greater feeling of depth, tracks such as like "Ghosts" are no longer buried with backgroud hiss, yes you can hear the full length keyboard introduction to the song now. All the tracks now benifit from this,especailly "Visions of China" which has "Mick Karn's" fretless bass now jumping out of the speakers along with "Steve Jansens" percussion which sounds very impressive indeed, all in all a better audio experience than before, if you are a fan this re-issue is not to be missed...
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final Japan album..., 28 May 2006
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tin Drum (Audio CD)
This reissue of 'Tin Drum' - Japan's most popular LP - featuring surprise hit single 'Ghosts' comes in a budget priced form (rather than the wonderful 24-page booklet, deluxe appearance set released a few years ago).

The album itself is still wonderful, though the Japan sound was pretty much defined on 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' (1980)- here the music is oriental, as the lyrics were influenced by a collection of photos of Communist China (according to the 'Black Vinyl, White Powder' memoir of Simon Napier Bell, then manager of Japan). 'The Art of Parties' gets straight to the point- a clipped sythetic sound that might have been Roxy Music if they hadn't embraced MOR. 'Talking Drum' is even better- an underrated Japan track which has the same electronic-country feel of 'My New Career'; this seagues into the Top Five hit single 'Ghosts'. Who'd believe that a minimal electronic piece indebted to John Cage and Henrik Ibsen would be their biggest hit? As with 1980's Burning Bridges, Nightporter & Taking Islands in Africa, Sylvian dispenses with the band- notably Mick Karn's fretless bass. This might seem absurd, but Sylvian was going for the song, rather than adhering to the band formula- this was Sylvian's year zero and the pathway to his interesting solo career (see tracks like 'Bamboo Music', 'Backwaters' & 'Late Night Shopping' to see where this lead; also 1999's 'Godman' referred to this!). The light comes back in with the Jansen/Sylvian-composed 'Canton'- wonderful world music that fails to explain why any of this lot weren't employed to provide a film soundtrack...

'Still Life in Mobile Homes' (er, title?) remains rather too indebted to Yellow Magic Orchestra- possibly the least track here. 'Visions of China' sees Jansen and Sylvian create another lovely pop song- something that Sylvian would veer away from (though Jansen's 1987 album with Barbieri as The Dolphin Brothers (?????) would see the not dissimilar 'Shining'). Mick Karn's distinctive fretless bass fares as well on 'Sons of Pioneers'- a vast opaque song with sinister undertones (though I prefer the live version from 'Oil on Canvas.' Finally, the brilliant 'Cantonese Boy' concludes the album. This is the apex of their obssession with Japan and the Far East- "Cantonese Boy/bang your tin drum!"- it's a fantastic pop song that I wish someone NOW would cover: Mao's revolution set to 80s synths and sequencers?

'Tin Drum' is just one of the many great budget priced reissues of Japan/Sylvian material surfacing from Virgin- as great a reminder as the recent 'Snow Borne Sorrow' is, that Sylvian was and remains a major talent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Japan 'Tin Drum', 5 Mar 2010
By 
R. Downe "st.robski" (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tin Drum (Audio CD)
'Tin Drum' is what's referred to as a 'landmark' album released in 1981, and still sounding as good now as it did then. I played to a friend recently who said it sounded 'really 80's' ( a compliment in this instance!) and I told her it's because this album IS the 80's. One listen confirms the fact that Japan's ideas have been 'borrowed' by other bands ever since, and explains why all the individual members are still highly regarded as cutting edge musicians in their own right, whereas A Flock of Seagulls probably aren't. The sounds, the songs and the musicianship are all first rate, and the overall effect unique. It IS pop music, but not like any you've heard before, the oriental twist no doubt influenced by their collaborations with the sublime Yellow Magic Orchestra, but it's definitely their own thing. All the songs are great, and of course the surprise minimalist hit 'Ghosts' is worth the entry price alone. Also worth noting is the fact that this remaster has been very well produced and is recommended if you used to own it on vinyl.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Syvian's brilliant call-up for the Red Army, 15 Aug 2000
This review is from: Tin Drum (Audio CD)
David Sylvian's obsession with Communist China is brought to the fore on this remarkable, if short, fifth and final studio album from Japan. The musical style is very-much of the Orient, perfectly fused with Mick Karn's unique bass sound, Steve Jansen's tight-percussion and Sylvian's fluid vocals.
There are some great moments here, from the classic singles Ghosts and Visions Of China, to the quirky pop of Cantonese Boy and the brilliant Still Life In Mobile Homes.
If you omit a couple of duff moments such as The Art Of Parties and the monotonous, over-indulgent Sons Of Pioneers, you're left with a unique album which was a far cry from the New Romantic image within which they were pigeonholed.
Overall, this is one of the defining albums of the early-1980's and is one of those albums that will just never age. Highly recommended.
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