Big in Japan became better known for the subsequent successes of their band members than for their own music. Or, as the Liverpool Echo put it, they were “a supergroup with a difference – its members only became super after they left.”
The group formed in late 1977 in Liverpool and broke up the following summer, having released a single side of vinyl – this self-titled racket.
The core members were vocalist Jayne Casey (later of Pink Military), guitarists Bill Drummond (KLF) and Ian Broudie (Original Mirrors, Lightning Seeds), bassist Holly Johnson (Frankie), drummer Budgie (Siouxsie And The Banshees).
Their performances were wildly theatrical. Casey performed with a lampshade over her shaved head, Drummond wore a kilt and Johnson was well on the way to developing the flamboyant persona he would introduce to Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Local opinion was divided. So much so that a young Julian Cope began a petition begging them to break up. Posted in a local record shop, at attracted barely a dozen signatures – including the band’s themselves.
Local producer Clive Langer was a firm friend and fan who produced and (I think) played guitar on this, their only recorded output during their brief lifetime, released by the local Eric’s label in late 1977.
It was the A-side of an EP titled Brutality Religion And A Dance Beat, with a track called Do The Chud by The Yachts (under their Chuddy Nuddies alias) on the B-side. They broke up in August 1978 without releasing any other records.
The last member to join, Dave Balfe, went on to form the equally short-lived Lori & The Chameleons with Bill Drummond. Together they also formed Zoo Records, who released early singles by Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes.
They also put out two compilation albums – one of them Cope’s Scott Walker anthology, Fire Escape In The Sky – plus, some time after the band had broken up, their own four-track EP From Y To Z And Never Again.
Big In Japan also recorded a Peel session and had a handful songs on compilation albums: Match Of The Day appeared on Street To Street: A Liverpool Album (1982), Suicide A Go Go and Society For Cutting Up Men on the Zoo compilation To The Shores Of Lake Placid (1982) and a few more on a later Zoo compilation, The Zoo: Uncaged 1978-82 (1990).