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Adolescent Sex

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Album Review

Although Japan later became one of new romantics' poster children, their 1978 Adolescent Sex LP predated the movement by two years. A remarkable debut, the set snarls with leftover punk intent, a few glam rock riffs, and a wealth of electronics that not only reach back to the band's youth, but also predate much of what would explode out of the next wave of British underground. Sounding absolutely nothing like MTV's mainstream Japan, the quintet snarls across the opener "Transmission," all snotty lads and frazzled hair, setting the stage for what follows. Except, rather than toeing that line, the band pull some remarkable tricks out of their admittedly tight sleeves. The "wow factor" of an incredibly funky bass and guitar on "The Unconventional," repeated again on "Wish You Were Black," is not only a surprise but leaves one wondering if the band were closet Chic fans — especially in light of the seven-minute jam "Suburban Love" that follows a little later on. Elsewhere, though, the band play closer to their roots while defining their own style, which includes David Sylvian's wonderfully sexy, tousled vocals — most notably on the epic, and sexy, post-punker "Television" and a cover of the vintage showstopper "Don't Rain on My Parade." A more exciting album than just about anything else they'd ever record, Japan were young, hungry, and more than a little rough around the edges. Despite the slick R&B work twined in, it's important to remember that this band were in the sonic foothold of an early edgy era — groundbreakers at their own inception. The sound, that look — it fit them well.

Biography

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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Adolescent Sex, Japan
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