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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Japan - 1977 Adolescent Sex
Japan - 1977 Adolescent Sex

ALBUM: Adolescent Sex
LABEL: Ariola
SERIAL: 50037
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 2004, BMG (UK), 82876 566932


LINEUP: David Sylvain - lead vocals, guitars * Rob Dean - guitars, vocals * Mick Karn - bass, vocals * Richard Barberi - keyboards, vocals * Steve Jansen - drums, percussion, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Transmission * 02 The Unconventional * 03 Wish You Were Black * 04 Performance * 05 Lovers On Main Street * 06 Don't Rain On My Parade * 07 Suburban Love * 08 Adolescent Sex * 09 Communist China * 10 Television

Formed in 1974 at the height of glam rock, the press blew Japan off as a day late and a dollar short when their first album - the charmingly controversial titled 'Adolescent Sex' was released. Roxy Music, David Bowie and the New York Dolls which Japan borrowed liberally from, were passe in 1977 according to the elitist flavour of the month British critics who in their misguided wisdom thought punk was king. Little did these pin heads realize just how influential Japan would be on a new generation of frustrated punks that would later morph into 'New Romantics' and set the music world on its ear in the 1980's. Duran Duran cited them as a huge influence as did many chart toppers and scene makers of the Thatcher era and while the group would collapse early in the 80's decade, Japan's influence and style on modern music can still be felt today.

The Songs
At times sleazy but always artful, this is an impressive debut and in line with the first Ultravox album. Sylvain's vocals are Bowie influenced but not to the point where you would consider him a clone. The New York Dolls influence is more attitude than anything and I would guess these boys listened to Be Bop Deluxe and took notes since I hear a lot of Bill Nelson's work in the Japan brew. Special mention has to go to Mick Karn and his funky bass which is prominent on much of the record and would play an even bigger roll on later albums such as the classic 'Tin Drum'. 'Adolescent Sex' is chock full of good tunes and the opener 'Transmission', 'Wish You Were Black' with it's funked up groove and the danceable 'Lover's On Main Street' are all classics, but the best cuts are saved for last with the title track and 'Communist China' which uses the Be Bop Deluxe sound as it's blueprint. Closing out the record is 'Television' featuring cheesy synth and jazzy rhythms backing up avant-garde guitar work reminiscent of the '80s New York 'No-Wave' movement and way ahead of its time.

In Summary
Early support tours with Jim Capaldi and Blue Oyster Cult in the UK really didn't do much to help their cause and a short visit to the US with just a handful of club dates went unnoticed. They never returned to the States, but each album improved, breaking new ground as Japan grew in stature as an art rock band that still has very few peers.

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#1 | Carl Noonan on February 03 2009 00:17:57
This is a brilliant album and one of my favourites of all time. Personally I think it's the best thing they ever did and although I have all their albums, they gradually got worse with each release. Sylvians vocals on this and the follow up "Obscure Alternatives" were more gravelly and sleazy than the Bryan Ferry style he adopted on their later albums. Still classy but I just liked the rockier edge of the early stuff.
I was lucky enough to see them on the BOC tour and thought they were amazing although most of the audience didn't seem bothered. I went out the next day to buy the album and it remains on of my most played records ever.
#2 | Eric on February 03 2009 00:32:16
Woah. First person I know who saw them live and on the BOC tour no less! Disagree with their albums getting worse as I think 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' and 'Tin Drum' were good, but I like that late period Roxy Music sound.
#3 | Carl Noonan on February 03 2009 01:17:43
Hi Eric
Yes, I was there at Liverpool Empire. BOC were awesome that night. Re the Japan albums, I like all their stuff but just prefer the earlier albums. Smile
#4 | reyno-roxx on February 03 2009 06:51:03
Agree with Eric that 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' is a great album also, but this remains my favourite Japan album.
As much as Japan lifted from Roxy Music, you can instantly hear just how much Duran Duran ripped off from Japan!!
#5 | Nick C on February 04 2009 19:33:11
Yeah the first two album are great, I like a little of their later stuff but their sound when Quiet Life was released did a full 180 and left all the glam influences behind. Quiet Life had it's sleazy moments but more like lounge room lizard sleaze than bohemian dropout haha!
#6 | tompa on March 02 2009 23:02:54
Really surprised myself when I found out I actually liked this album back in '78. Back then, it was all heavy rock for me (Triumph, Dirty Tricks, Sir Lord Baltimore an so on).
Love the disco-fied title track! Great, great use of synthesizers on the whole album!
Although I can't stand saxophone normally, this is a band that on later albums used it to great effect.
#7 | sabace on March 12 2009 14:00:16
great stuff!
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