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A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 Double CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Feb. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Virgin Catalogue
  • ASIN: B006TX276C
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,923 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Ghosts
  2. Bamboo Houses
  3. Bamboo Music
  4. Forbidden Colours
  5. Red Guitar
  6. The Ink In The Well
  7. Pulling Punches
  8. Taking The Veil
  9. Silver Moon
  10. Let The Happiness In
  11. Orpheus
  12. Waterfront
  13. Pop Song
  14. Blackwater
  15. Every Colour You Are
  16. Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II) Returning To The Womb

Disc: 2

  1. Jean The Birdman
  2. Alphabet Angel
  3. I Surrender
  4. Darkest Dreaming
  5. A Fire In The Forest
  6. The Only Daughter
  7. Late Night Shopping
  8. Wonderful World
  9. The Banality Of Evil
  10. Darkest Birds
  11. Snow White In Appalachia
  12. Small Metal Gods
  13. I Should Not Dare
  14. Manafon
  15. Where's Your Gravity?

Product Description

Product Description

A Victim of Stars picks the best from David Sylvian's 30-year musical career, from '80s pop-funk via jazz in the 90s to the 2000s leaning to electronica. This compilation of the former Japan front man's greatest hits also includes a newly recorded single, "Where's Your Gravity?".

BBC Review

Scott Walker and Mike Patton aside, was there ever a Top of the Pops regular as thrillingly un-pop as David Sylvian? Even the fact he ended up there seems almost accidental; after all, when Japan emerged at the height of punk, they were all high art and preposterous glamour – a kind of Proxy Music, if you will, with the erstwhile Mr Batt as their Ferry-cum-Bowie – and if New Romantic hadn't happened they'd've been little more than a cultish footnote.

Not, mind you, that that would've stopped Sylvian ploughing the furrow spotlit by this retrospective, since him claiming to be captain commerciality would've been spurious at best. Take the opener here, Japan's ostensible swansong and zenith Ghosts: even in the eclectic landscape of 1982, its melancholic miasma, arcane synthalia and otherly distress calls made it a striking top five hit, while heard again here it might as well be from another universe to anything that's passed for pop in years. Indeed, as CD one here illustrates magnificently, he'd enjoy continued popular success with numerous aloof, oblique records that skipped unsettlingly between several overlapping melodies, the lachrymosely filmic Forbidden Colours being the most celebrated, with the puzzling Red Guitar remaining a standout.

In fact, it was only when he actually did start borrowing from the zeitgeist, all none-more-80s sax and Pino Palladino-style basslines, that he began to suffer, leading to the genuinely futurist and liberatingly atonal Pop Song, after which cavalierness sets thoroughly in, as dramatically showcased on the second disc, where we get toes dipped in improv waters, the deliciously unwieldy glory of The Banality of Evil, the 10-years-early invention of James Blake (hello, A Fire in the Forest!) and his adieu to top 40 life I Surrender, which is a nine-minute slice of Sade-ian sophisti-pop with separate flute and trumpet solos taken from the album Dead Bees on a Cake. It would be, wouldn't it?

Yes, it's a ridiculous, sometimes patchy affair, but that feels entirely apposite. After all, this is Exhibits A through Z and beyond in the case for Sylvian as practically the male Kate Bush, and, amid the rampant self-satisfaction evidenced by the BRIT Awards, it's a timely reminder that, at its best, the mainstream's been able to accommodate many kinds of magic.

--Iain Moffatt

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I saw Japan open for Blue Oyster Cult in 1978. The Cult crowd treated them with derision, frankly, but I thought they were pretty good, in a sleazy rock way. Of course, they gradually worked on what they did, and re-invented themselves as a more thoughtful and considered band. When David Sylvian launched his solo career with 'Brilliant Trees', I bought it, played it a few times and filed it. It didn't engage me. Then, for some reason, I was browsing the Amazon site, and saw this compilation. I thought I'd check it out - the modest outlay made me think it was worth a punt. I am awfully glad I did, frankly; A double set of interesting, truly absorbing music that puts a value on texture, atmosphere and melody rather than trying to chase a 'hit'. I love the way that Sylvian will experiment with different styles and let his creativity explore new sounds. It's not an instant record necessarily, and being a compilation, it can shift gears alarmingly - but delightfully so. I am keen to make up for the thirty years I have missed in Sylvian's career since I rather summarily dismissed 'Brilliant Trees' but digging deeper into his recorded works.
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Heartache occasionally overwhelmed me when I was young, for the usual reasons. Overcome by the sudden stop which the loss of her forced on me, nothing could address the torpor. David Sylvian's Brilliant Trees album came to dwell there with me, offering company, not advice. His music did not provide a way out, but a way in, to the recesses of bleak sadness. Gently leading you through the cavernous depths of your stasis, it helped you feel sorry for yourself with a thoroughness that was calm, not angry. Since calmness listens, while anger transmits, a single epiphany resulted: you were no longer alone. And once your heart experienced the constructive epiphany of companionship, even the remote kind provided by a stranger's songs, a light went on; you began to query the possibility of a way out. We are all carpet crawlers; we all have to get in to get out. 25 years on, with substantial emotional success in the bag, I chanced upon this album and listened to it in the car and was powerfully reminded of the acute sensitivity of my pain, something vital, which made me smile. Brilliant Trees gave me more insight into how I felt than anything I've chanced upon since, helping my heart to acknowledge, which then invited my head to explore, so buy that album first. But buy this one too, for Forbidden Colours, an old friend, and the lyrics on Orpheus, a fresh acquaintance. These fires never stop.
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Well, I realise my review won't be one of those popular reviews that gets heaps of 'helpful' ticks.

So, please bear with me for one moment while I reassure you that I bought this compilation because I think this is exceptional, astounding music. And although there are a couple of track choices on this selection that I think are misguided, the music itself is not the problem, but the audio quality is.

Briefly, the two tracks I think represent wasted opportunities are, ironically, the two 'hits': Ghosts and Forbidden Colours. To be honest I am not sure why Ghosts needs to be included in any David Sylvian release - sure, it's a corker, but it's a Japan track, hence once again on this comp we get the 'remix' which is actually a re-recording, at least of the vocals. I don't enjoy David Sylvian's performance. It's one of those 'I've sung this song so many times, to make it interesting for myself I'm going to have to take the melody all over the place and play around with the phrasing'. Thanks, but no.

As for Forbidden Colours, once again this is not the original version - it's the version Sylvian recorded later, replete with a string section that may well be a sample. I don't know ... anyway, it's not a bad version. It's fine and dandy, but it is not the original version. It's more than possible that the original versions of these two songs are subject to copyright issues. But if that is the case, I would have happily foregone having them on this comp.

About the audio. Sadly, it doesn't appear these tracks have been remastered for this particular compilation. They sound exactly like the remasters from a few years ago, and let's face it, those remasters weren't impressive.
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It's not hard to see why Japan/Sylvian fans have a tough time with the band/artist's previous record companies. The compilations of various kinds have been racking up over the years and just when you thought there couldn't be anything more to say, here comes A Victim of Stars put out through Virgin. Reviews are right, that it's a pretty decent primer for any introduction to Sylvian; though if you haven't been introduced to his music by now you're pretty late to the party and some will complain this all sounds either dated or wilfully ambient! Nevertheless, the "new" track accompanying this collection, Where's Your Gravity?, manages to bridge some of the atmospheric brilliance of Japan's later songs with echoes of Sylvian's own work stretching across nearly thirty years. But one reviewer is right, Ghosts and Forbidden Colours don't need to be off the Everything and Nothing compilation surely when the originals (and especially the Tin Drum version of Ghosts which mysteriously seems to have been the poor relation of the single/remix effort for years and yet is far superior) could be worked into this record if we have to be reminded of Japan in the former song's case.

Small Metal Gods and Manafon add a bit of clarity to the later work and update the story, though they are some lonely highlights to what have been indifferent records recently. Listeners will also wonder how remixed Bamboo Houses actually is while the album version of Heartbeat I happen to like more though this restrained remix is okay too. That aside, Sylvian's dedication to the style and mastery of his music shines through here.
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