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In Vogue

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Album Review

In Vogue is a particularly ironic title, considering that these 1978-1980 recordings date from the period during which David Sylvian and company could barely have been less fashionable. Unreconstructed glam rockers during a period of post-punk urgency, Japan for the first two years of their recorded existence could only manage naff singles like "Adolescent Sex" and "Lovers on Main Street." However, as on earlier Japan comps like 1981's Assemblage, In Vogue rights itself about halfway through with tracks from the far-superior 1980 album Quiet Life and its associated singles. During this period, Japan finally found their artistic voice, and the jump in quality is remarkable. (They'd get even better starting with 1981's Gentlemen Take Polaroids, but alas, their later albums were on another label and therefore inaccessible.) For die-hard fans, In Vogue contains the longer — but not necessarily better — 12" mixes of "European Son" and the Giorgio Moroder collaboration, "Life in Tokyo," but those who are happy with their copies of Assemblage may not need to upgrade.


Formed: 1974 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Japan's evolution from rather humble glam rock beginnings into stylish synth pop (and beyond) made the British group one of the more intriguing and successful artists of their era. Formed in London in 1974, Japan began its existence as a quintet comprised of singer/songwriter David Sylvian, bassist Mick Karn, keyboardist Richard Barbieri, drummer (and Sylvian's brother) Steve Jansen and guitarist Rob Dean. In their primary incarnation, the group emulated the sound and image of glam rockers like David...
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