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Japan's evolution from rather humble glam rock beginnings into stylish synth pop (and beyond) made the British group one of the more intriguing and successful artists of their era. Formed in London in 1974, Japan began its existence as a quintet comprised of singer/songwriter David Sylvian, bassist Mick Karn, keyboardist Richard Barbieri, drummer (and Sylvian's brother) Steve Jansen and guitarist Rob Dean. In their primary incarnation, the group emulated the sound and image of glam rockers like David Bowie and the New York Dolls; Sylvian's over-the-top vocals, much in the vein of Bryan Ferry, also earned Japan frequent (if derisive) comparisons to Roxy Music. After winning a label-sponsored talent contest, they were signed to Germany's Ariola-Hansa Records in 1977 and debuted a year later with a pair of LPs, Adolescent Sex and Obscure Alternatives, which received little notice at home or in the U.S. but did find favor among Japanese audiences. With 1979's Quiet Life, Japan made a tremendous leap into more sophisticated stylistic and subtle territory; a subsequent hit single covering Smokey Robinson's "I Second That Emotion" further underscored the newfound soulfulness of their music. 1980s Gentlemen Take Polaroids continued to broaden Japan's scope, incorporating a variety of exotic influences into their increasingly atmospheric sound. With 1981's Tin Drum (recorded minus Dean), the band peaked: tapping sources as diverse as funk and Middle Eastern rhythms, the album moved beyond pop confines into experimental tones and textures, and scored a U.K. smash with the single "Ghosts." However, Tin Drum also proved to be Japan's swan song: long-simmering differences among the bandmembers came to a head when Karn's girlfriend moved in with Sylvian, and the group disbanded in 1982. The individual members quickly forged ahead with their projects: Sylvian began a successful solo career and also entered into a series of collaborations with performers like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Holger Czukay and Robert Fripp, while Karn issued a 1982 solo LP, Titles, before founding the short-lived duo Dali's Car with Bauhaus' Peter Murphy. In 1986, meanwhile, Jansen and Barbieri issued Worlds in a Small Room under their own names before recording together as the Dolphin Brothers. In 1987, Karn released Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters, a solo LP which featured contributions from Sylvian and Jansen, spurring rumors of a reunion which came to fruition in 1989 when the four principal members re-teamed under the name Rain Tree Crow. By the time an eponymously-titled album appeared in 1991, however, relations had again dissolved in acrimony, and the musicians went their separate ways; while Sylvian continued working independently, as the decade wore on Karn, Jansen and Barbieri occasionally reunited in various projects while also maintaining solo careers. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Top Songs by

  1.   Song
  2.   The Art of Parties
  3.   Adolescent Sex
  4.   Gentlemen Take Polaroids
  5.   Life Without Buildings
  6.   The Unconventional
  7.   A Foreign Place
  8.   Ain't That Peculiar
  9.   Halloween
  10.   Life in Tokyo
  11.   Quiet Life
  12.   Oil on Canvas
  13.   Don't Rain on My Parade
  14.   Fall in Love With Me
  15.   The Width of a Room
  16.   The Experience of Swimming
  17.   Burning Bridges
  18.   Alien
  19.   Despair
  20.   Television
  21.   Suburban Love
  22.   Lovers on Main Street
  23.   Temple of Dawn
  24.   Canton
  25.   Voices Raised in Welcome, Hands Held in Prayer
  26.   Cantonese Boy
  27.   Sons of Pioneers
  28.   The Tenant
  29.   Love Is Infectious
  30.   Taking Islands in Africa
  31.   Still Life in Mobile Homes
  32.   Suburban Berlin
  33.   ...Rhodesia
  34.   Swing
  35.   Talking Drum
  36.   Ghosts
  37.   Visions of China
  38.   The Other Side of Life
  39.   My New Career
  40.   Nightporter
  41.   Methods of Dance
  42.   In Vogue
  43.   Obscure Alternatives
  44.   I Second That Emotion
  45.   European Son
  46.   All Tomorrow's Parties
  47.   Sometimes I Feel So Low
  48.   Deviation
  49.   State Line
  50.   Communist China
  51.   Performance
  52.   Transmission
  53.   Wish You Were Black
  54.   Automatic Gun

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