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Tin Drum + The Art of Parties EP




Japan CD coverReleased in 1981, Tin Drum was Japan's final album before they broke up in 1982. It was and is a fantastic album. This package places a remastered copy of Tin Drum in a box with The Art of Parties EP and a booklet of photos of the band, modeled after the insert of the original LP.

Japan brought together many sounds and influences. On earlier records they were a musically sophisticated band that looked a bit like Hanoi Rocks. Tin Drum changed that, making them more like prog-punk.

David Sylvian sang like Bryan Ferry in Roxy Music, with a flair that honored John Cale. Mick Karn's bass had the chops of a pop Jaco Pastorius. He played fretless bass in a distinctive way. Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri combined the electronics of Closer era Joy Division with an Eastern feel. The Eastern feel of the music combined with the song titles and album's graphics make you think of grand Chinese epics.

The instrumental Canton could have been on the soundtrack of The Last Emperor - it is a very expressive track that can't help but tickle the imagination. Talking Drum twists and turns like a dancer on The Silk Road exhibiting her exotic wares.

The Joy Division sound really comes to the fore on the the last two tracks on Tin Drum. Sons of Pioneers has a tom tom heavy drum part like Atrocity Exhibition and Cantonese Boy has a tinkling keyboard riff like Decades - both from the Closer LP..

If you have never heard this album, it provided a model for bands like The Associates and Duran Duran, though the fornmer veered more toward a Bowie side, and the latter toward Chic.

The second CD in the box is the four song EP The Art of Parties. The Art of Parties has guitar work like Adrian Belew on Bowie's Scary Monsters (particularly on the album version). The single version on the EP is very catchy. Life Without Buildings is a fantastic track that inspired the name of a short-lived Glasgow band in 2000.

The live version of The Art of Parties shows that the band were as precise at shows as they were in the studio - you can barely tell it is not a studio track! The EP ends with the single version of Ghosts.

The Tin Drum box is a great find - all the music within is top notch, and the sound quality is really good.

---Carl, September 27, 2005

Tin Drum