Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Japan was a British rock group, formed in 1974. The original members were David Sylvian (original name David Batt), Mick Karn (original name Anthony Michaelides), Rob Dean, Steve Jansen (Sylvian's brother, Steve Batt) and Richard Barbieri. Japan began playing glam rock, influenced by David Bowie, The New York Dolls and Motown. Japan debuted on record with 1978's Adolescent Sex and subsequently Obscure Alternatives, which both sold well in the nation of Japan, though nowhere else. Their third album, 1979's Quiet Life , heralded a change in musical style from the earlier largely guitar based music to a more electronic sound, with more emphasis on synthesisers and Karn's unique fretless bass sound.
Their following two albums, Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980) and Tin Drum (1981) continued to expand their audience as the band refined its new sound and unintentionally became part of the early 1980s New Romantic movement. But Tin Drum ended up being their final album as personality conflicts tore the band apart. Nevertheless, the album's unconventional single "Ghosts" reached #5 on the UK pop charts.
Most of the original members of the band went on to work on other projects. By far the most successful is David Sylvian, who has recorded several albums with noted performers. An attempted reunion in 1991 with the Rain Tree Crow project was short lived, producing only one album.
Karn was originally going to be the group's lead singer, but he got stage fright at their first gig and Sylvian stepped in to replace him.
Barbieri has gone on to play keyboards in the art-rock band Porcupine Tree and with Steve Hogarth of Marillion in the h band . In 2005, he released his first solo album, Things Buried, on Racket Records.
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