on 15 December 2005
Originally released in 1980,This was a bresk through album from a band who were still finding their creative feet. When I hear the intro to the title track with that sequenced synth, I get goose bumps every time. It has a fug about this album, covered in ciggy smoke and deep in side itself. Sylvian letting out some fantastic moments of soul and depair and really letting lose from their previous two albums, from a time when bands could develop a bit more, into this, I think a classic of it's time. I think its fair to say that Duran Duran were listening to this and claimed large chunks of its production style and refrain for their Planet earth.this album. Tracks like halloween, fall in love with me, other side of life show what they all could and would individually acheive, some cracking dramatic synth, fretless bass momnets that would have alan partrage air bass playing all night.
on 15 November 2006
Describing music is difficult, but if you like early Eno (e.g. "Music For Films", "Another Green World") Roxy Music's "For your Pleasure" or David Bowie's "Heroes" there is a good chance you'll love this album. It is beautifully played and put together; the production is top grade. The music is haunting and warm. These guys were some of the top musicicans of the time, yet most dismissed them as a glam pop rock outfit that arrived too late. They weren't at all. This album and its predecessor "Obscure Alternatives" go together well. They each have a different feel, "Quite Life" is slicker and less cold than "Obscure Alternatives", but there is a musical connection between the two that lets you see their progression as musicians. Highly recommended.
on 5 July 2012
This was the beginning of a sound that all the members of this seminal band took in various directions over the next 30 years.
It was the birth of the signature Karn bass sound, it was when Sylvian discovered "that" voice and put it to good use (yes, he had made tentative steps earlier, but this was the fork in the road)
It heralded Richard B`s use of soundscapes, something he is still the master of in Porcipine Tree and Jansen`s wonderful drum sound (I can recognise his snare anywhere)
Sadly Rob dean, who developed a signature sound that Sylvian later copied, disappeared off the radar after Gentlemen.
The triple vinyl is perhaps a little OTT , but it is superb quality, with the same artwork as my worn out 1983 copy bought in a long dead "record" store.
It stands up I think better than Japan`s two other studio albums all these years later simply as it sounds fresh.
I love Gentlemen take polaroids and Tin drum but if you are a new explorer of Japan, this is a good start.
If you love vinyl, this is a very high quality release, though for goodness sake Amazon, charge a more realistic price.
Buy from burningshed, or one of the marketplace sellers.
on 3 May 2004
Finally the best Japan album is now available as a remastered CD with some bonus tracks.
For me, this was the best Japan album easily outshining all of their other output.
The band really were on top form with this album after two so-so (commercially speaking) efforts previously.
This album came at a time when Japan were under pressure to deliver from both their management and label who wanted chart success. This album has these tensions and more written all over it, fantastic lyrics allied with fantastic song arrangements, this is altogether a timeless album.
I've had the vinyl version since its release in 1979 and finally a remastered version finds its way onto CD to replace my creaking, cracking vinyl version!
The bonus tracks are a little superfluous adding nothing of real value to the original release, after all the album was pretty much perfect first time out.
That said the remixes sound sharper than the original versions so perhaps its good to hear them again.
This CD brings back so many memories of a great gig at London's Lyceum on this albums release. The sound system packed up, Japan off stage for 1/2 an hour, came back on to rip the place up and then a long walk home due to missing last tube home!!
Quiet Life, is the quintiessential Japan album.
on 8 January 2002
When I bought 'QL' on vinyl when it was first released, it quite simply blew my mind. I'd heard nothing like Mick Karn's basslines or Steve Jansen's drumming (Surely the most under-rated rhythm section in Rock?). Although the Japan of 'QL' fused many influences (Roxy, Bowie, Euro synth-disco, jazz sax etc), their overall sound was unique. 'QL' changed my (musical) life forever.
Most of the tracks on this release are already widely available on the plethora of Ariola/Hansa era Japan compilations- but it still becomes an essential purchase. I personally prefer to listen to these tracks as originally intended, i.e in their original sequence and album format (in my opinion pre- and post- 'QL' Japan don't mix too well). Standout tracks are 'Despair', 'Fall in love with me', '(The) Other Side of Life' (definite article strangely missing from the track listing on my copy) and 'Quiet Life' itself. The latter two were licensed by Virgin for the later 'Exorcising Ghosts' compilation. 'Quiet Life' (the album) is where David Sylvian took his first steps to greatness.
Of the four 'bonus' tracks, the 12" versions of 'QL' and 'ATP' add little, but the 12" version of the classic 'Life in Tokyo' and former b-side, 'A Foreign Place' are essential. In fact, this release only lacks 'I second that emotion' and 'European Son' (both inessential in my opinion) to be a comprehensive review of post-guitar, pre-Virgin Japan.
Add to this the faithful reproduction of the orignal LP's photographs on the CD booklet and the absolute bargain price, this becomes an essential purchase for anyone with an interest in 80's music. Steve S.
on 6 April 2009
Was it really 30 years ago. In a short,slick move David Sylvian and his fellow cohorts created New Romantic music from the ashes of glam and the ennui of disco. Commentators often focus on Tin Drum as Japan's masterwork, but it was this album that spawned a 1000 imitators. Other than the innovation, what sets it apart is some clever musicianship - particularly Barbieri's keyboards and Karn's bass - some glorious poetry in the tracks (Despair, Other Side of Life)and some cracking tunes. Quiet Life and Halloween are the dance hall classics, while In-Vogue, Alien and Fall in Love with Me capture and bottle the zeitgeist that was to come. The only disappointment is the unimaginative choice of extra tracks. 7" mixes of Life in Tokyo and European Son would really have enhanced the album (six stars?), instead of which some unnecessary extended versions and an average b-side dissipate the quality.
on 25 May 2009
David Sylvian's elfin image, moving through the mist, sets the sensuous mood for Quiet Life.
These songs shimmer and smoulder from the stereo. The title track and "Life In Tokyo" with thoughtful lyrics, and hypnotic keyboards, touch popular appeal. This leaves the remainder in the weirdly beautiful 'alternative' category. "Alien" and the epic "Other Side Of Life" drift into other realms. "All Tommorow's Parties" oozes like a transmission from a strange, sun-scorched planet. "In vogue", "Despair" and "Fall In Love With Me" feature tortured bass and saxaphone , and whirling, weaving synths.
Finally, "A Foreign Place" sets the precedent for later albums with an experimental, oriental theme.
As a whole we are transported back to the early eighties, blending new-wave and new-romantic, in a band who were hidden behind the hot parade of the times.
on 5 June 2003
Quiet Life (originally released in late-1979) was a defining moment in Japan's history. The glam-punk experiements of their two initial albums were thankfully ditched in favour of an entirely new sound, unique to themselves, yet perhaps owing a little to the likes of Roxy Music and the then-fashionable European electro-disco scene.
Quiet Life was recently recompiled (in 2001) to incorporate several 12" versions of several album tracks, including All Tommorrow's Parties and Qiuet Life (superior to the 7" version album-opener), plus the B-side of the Quiet Life single, A Foreign Place. These are fairly needless additions (although they are OK in themselves) and do not improve the album in any way, as the incorporation of the superior 7" single version of Life In Tokyo and perhaps the Motown cover I Second That Emotion would have been a good idea, making the revised album sound like a truly fluidic and completed product (both these tracks in their 7" single versions would've made for a five-star album).
Minor gripes aside, the music speaks for itself, and with the likes of the brilliant 'Other Side of Life' and the breakneck bass/sax/synth-driven 'Halloween' onboard (plus of course the Top 20 hit Quiet Life), these tracks are worth the asking price alone. If only the Other Side of Life could've been shortened by a couple of minutes it would've made a classic single in itself.
The cover imagery is very much of its age, predating the New Romantic movement by a good year or so, although Japan were a relatively publicity-shy band who concentrated on their music rather than the style-conscious vagueries of 'the Movement', prefering the studio to clubland, which was left to the likes of their musically inferior contemporaries Spandau Ballet, Visage and Duran Duran etc (Talk Talk had a similar attitude). Having conquered the UK and much of Europe (and they were unsurprisingly massive in Japan too), they sadly split in late-1982, on the verge of their global breakthrough, with Sylvian wishing to pursue a solo (and far less commercial) career, much to the huge disappointment of Jansen, Karn and Barbieri who were clearly predicting greater things for this magnificently original band.
on 24 October 2001
If you are curious about the sound of Japan? This album will satisfy and let you know all you ever needed to know about a band who were ahead of there time. This was the album that spelt the end of Ariola Hansa but what a way to end. The music produced from this album is the defining transition from what Japan were to what Japan became. The pivital Jigsaw piece in the puzzle. Don't hesitate you must buy this album and if your hairs on your neck do not stand up it means you dead!
on 30 September 2011
The history of bands, and particularly ones you've idolised as an impressionable adolescent growing up, can be tricky pursuits when trying to piece together the story, and so it proves here. In retrospect people who loved, liked or had only just heard of Japan remember this album as a breakthrough because it contains therein, for some, the group's still defining moment, the title track (though it only ever became a moderate top 20 hit). In fact, Quiet Life could have been exactly what David Sylvian and the rest of the band retreated into if it hadn't been for the perseverance of their original record company Hansa for whom this was the last album though not quite the last recordings. Japan moved to Virgin, and in one fell swoop almost single-handedly invented cool, introverted, electronic dance rock the like of which took its influence from Roxy Music (Ferry's sophisticated rhythms and Eno's later ambient doodling) with the unsurpassed Gentlemen Take Polaroids, by far their best record. Quiet Life in fact disappeared into obscurity in 1979. It was revived by the Hansa compilation Assemblage and the old company's determination to re-release just about every worthy single they could find (and there were some "classics" in there) while Japan grew ever more cool thanks to their promotion by hip DJs such as David 'Kid' Jensen on early evening Radio 1. Hence Quiet Life the song only became a hit two years after the album's original release by which time Japan and Virgin were already putting out The Art of Parties and Visions of China which paved the way for real mainstream recognition with late 1981's Tin Drum. So why does the history matter? Because Quiet Life was a change of tack of sorts and gave Sylvian the confidence to mould the band's sound into something which could feel familiar but was in fact utterly different at the time from any of their contemporaries. It was also, and here's the retrospect, a template that sounds more repetitive now than any of us thought at the time. It wasn't just that Japan clung to an 8-song structure for all their albums; it was that they largely assembled them in similar ways. The brilliant Fall in Love with Me here is a facsimile for Swing from Gentlemen... The Other Side of Life offers up comparisons with Nightporter, In Vogue has all the cool, alluring, veneer of My New Career. For the past 25 years fans have wondered why Sylvian hasn't reproduced more of the superb, "conventional" song-writing that made his name, but that has only flitted into view intermittently on great records like Brilliant Trees and Songs from the Beehive. Well the clues to that question are here. The songs are technically layered and often very complex, the inspiration even at this stage comes more from Satie and moody Eno than it does from say Kraftwerk or the Human League, both competitors and influences. The reason people ultimately misremember the influence and impact of Quiet Life is because when you listen to it now, there's no way it should or could come from 1979; it seems totally out of the place. That was its brilliance but also stark truth; Sylvian only had 25-30 songs of this quality to work with and they featured on roughly four and a half Japan/solo records. Quiet Life was the start and finish of Japan in other words and bands that can change the game so bewilderingly as this deserve recognition for their art and influence. Thus Quiet Life was a record that defined its band as well as one that marked a sea change in British music during the 1980s.