Friday, 4 October 2019

Japan - Life Without Buildings (1983)

Japan were an English new wave band formed in 1974 in South London by brothers David Sylvian (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Steve Jansen (drums), together with Richard Barbieri (keyboards) and Mick Karn (bass guitar), and with Rob Dean joining on guitar the following year. After winning a label-sponsored talent contest, they were signed to Germany's Ariola-Hansa Records in 1977 and debuted a year later with a pair of albums, 'Adolescent Sex' and 'Obscure Alternatives', which received little notice at home or in the U.S. Initially a glam rock-inspired band, they developed their sound and androgynous look to incorporate electronic music and foreign influences, eventually becoming an influence on the UK's early 1980's New Romantic scene. By 1979 they were earning more respect from their audience and the critics, eventually releasing nine UK Top 40 hits, including the 1982 Top 5 hit single 'Ghosts'. Some of their singles included exclusive songs on the flip, and 'Life In Tokyo' never appeared on a UK album, so I've taken the 12" version of that single and added those b-sides, along with tracks from a Japanese release and a 1980 EP, and I've interspersed the three studio recordings that were added to the 'Oil On Canvas' live album. Lastly, there is the cancelled single 'Some Kind Of Fool', which Sylvian later added to his retrospective album 'Everything And Nothing', and as it's generally agreed that Sylvian used the original Japan backing track and just added new vocals then it's a Japan song in everything but name. 

Track listing

01 State Line (b-side of 'Don't Rain On My Parade' 1978)
02 Oil On Canvas (from 'Oil On Canvas' 1983)
03 Life In Tokyo (12" single 1979)
04 Temple Of Dawn (from 'Oil On Canvas' 1983)
05 I Second That Emotion (b-side of 'Quiet Life' 1980)
06 Voices Raised In Welcome, Hands Held In Prayer (from 'Oil On Canvas' 1983)
07 European Son (b-side of Japanese release of 'I Second That Emotion' 1980) 
08 The Experience Of Swimming (b-side of 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' EP 1980)
09 A Foreign Place (b-side of 'Quiet Life' re-issue 1981)
10 Some Kind Of Fool (cancelled single 1980)
11 The Width Of A Room (b-side of 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' EP 1980)
12 Life Without Buildings (b-side of 'The Art Of Parties' 1981)

Enjoy / Enjoy


  1. thank you for this, and everything you've put out !

  2. Thank you from the same guy who asked for OMD.

  3. You could at least mention the guitarist in the article, especially since he is on the cover, plays on half the tracks on the imaginary CD & even wrote one of them!

    Rob often gets overlooked as a member of Japan because he left before Tin Drum but it's fair to say his guitar sound was one of the key components of the Japan 'sound' throughout his tenure.

  4. Thanks for pointing that out. He's also overlooked in most of the biogs that I found, so now corrected.

  5. Thank you very much for your post. It would be nice to have a flac version...

  6. Thank You a Million - super Cool