I have pledged for this because I think this will be a cracking read. Anthony Reynolds is looking for funding on Kickstarter for his proposed Japan biography – ‘A Foreign Place’. Below is a link to some of his current writing, but, from the horse’s mouth:
A long overdue biography of my favourite band – Japan. I’ve been a fan of Japan and all the solo work that entails, since I was a teenager. I’m as obsessed with the music today as I was back in the 80’s. (The internet has no doubt helped).
I’ve had three biographies published so far. I have already interviewed Sylvian, Karn, Dean and Barbieri for my website and for an article on the seminal ‘Polaroids’ album. If I could afford to, I’d write this book for fun. But part of how I make my living is by writing biographies.
I’ve run the idea of writing a Japan biography past my agent and several publishers but for commercial reasons, they are not interested. I think it’s plain wrong that there is no decent, well researched and comprehensive book available on this unique, magical group. I sorely want to read one. And so do you. For us to do so, I’ll write the darned thing.
And will Love doing so.
The period covered will be between 1974 and 1984. Obviously, Japan split in 1982 but I feel it was only from ’84 onwards that the Ex-members began to truly leave Japan behind. The epilogue will deal with Rain Tree Crow.
I plan to use a custom book binders in Brighton that I once used for the artwork for one of my albums. I want the book to be a beautiful object in itself. It will also be illustrated, as much as budget allows. To help with this I will be asking for rare and candid pictures taken of the group by friends and fans. Hopefully most of these will be rarely seen.
Here is his review of Japan’s Gentlemen take Polaroids (1980) from his site:
Japan’s fourth album finally saw the group not only match but supersede their Bowie-Roxy influence. It was the work where they finally began to sound like themselves and the turning point of their commercial fortunes in the UK. It was also the album on which Sylvian began to dominate proceedings. Poised beautifully between their pop sensibility and art rock future, ‘GTP’ was also the beginning of the end of Japan.
At the time of ‘Gentlemen take Polaroid’s’ release in November 1980, Japan were still considered by much of the UK press as a Joke. ‘Japan’s current sound is one long, diffuse out-take from Roxy music’s Flesh and Blood’ summed up the NME’s opinion, a verdict shared by all the major weeklies.
The group had always worn their influences on their sleeves ‘Originality is so over rated…’ a 21 year old Sylvian had quipped a year earlier and Japan were the epitome of a group who had grown up in public. Their first two albums, ‘Adolescent sex’ and ‘Obscure Alternatives’, were made when the majority of the group were teenagers. As such they sounded like the aural equivalent of adolescent photo booth strips ; naïve, misjudged, gawky, embarrassing and fuelled by misplaced hormones. However, following the country (life) mile leap of 1979’s ‘Quiet life; ‘…Polaroid’s’ was a sudden, assured and serious statement that reflected both Sylvian’s new found sense of purpose and the rapid evolution of Japan as self taught musicians. The cover of the album alone, taken by Stuart McLeod was an instant classic, portraying Sylvian as a Helmut Newton – esque artifice that channelled Dirk Bogarde from ‘The Nightporter’ via the brand new New Romantic movement.