Japan – Adolescent Sex

8th November 2022 · Uncategorised

As punk was mutating and evolving in 1978, a new band called Japan surfed in on the New Wave. I went to see them at the Music Machine, attracted mainly by their image.

In those early days they looked like The New York Dolls. But when they began to play – very loud, as I recall – they were a fusion of glam powerchords, funky basslines and disco-influenced synth, with a punky vocal snarl.

I didn’t much like them, to be honest, and I never ended up liking what they turned into, but I did buy their debut album, Adolescent Sex.

The band had been formed in the early 1970s, not in Japan but in Catfford, by three school friends – brothers David (guitar) and Steve Batt (drums), and Mick Karn (bass, vocals).

After a while David took over from Mick as lead vocalist and adopted the stage name Sylvian (presumably from the lyrics of Bowie’s Drive-In Saturday), while his brother took the surname Jensen.

The band was completed with the addition of Richard Barbieri (keyboards) and Rob Dean (lead guitar) and signed with former Bolan and Yardbirds (and future Wham!) manager Simon Napier-Bell.

Their first single was a cover of a 1960s musical theatre number – Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl – and their second, The Unconventional, also failed to chart.

But the album’s sleazy title track became a hit in Europe.