Album #440 – Quiet Life

Album #440

This is one of the few albums I have seen where the album was released outside of the U.K. first. Due to a delay, Quiet Life was not released in England until the following year. Japan’s third album, Quiet Life, marked a change in sound. They moved away from their punk/glam rock roots and became more associated with the new romantic era. The group always hated that label, as do I. To me, Japan was creating a new sound synths mixed with sax, guitar, drums and bass. It was a unique, but accessible form of music that foreshadowed the 80’s. The music really was quiet compared to their previous output. David Sylvian’s voice became lower and more shaky (somewhat similar to Feargal Sharkey of the Undertones). Bassist and sax player, the late Mick Karn, added his funky bass lines, which probably influenced Duran Duran bassist John Taylor. It is interesting to see how much of an influence funk and disco had on new wave, punk and post-punk. The bass playing of many of these “alternative” bands takes influence from Black music. It makes me respect disco and funk so much more than I did before. The same is true of music today. Rap, Hip Hop, R&B and dance music heavily influence today’s indie bands/musicians. It’s probably the ONE thing that unties many alternative bands to the mainstream. Quiet Life also reminds me of the type of music an influential station in Toronto played in its heyday. CFNY, at the time programmed by David Marsden, gave a big break to many punk and new wave bands especially many who did not get airplay anywhere else, including Japan. In fact, Quiet Life was #6 on their top 79 albums of 1979 (and it hadn’t even been released for a full month!!!). Marsden is still on the air and not a show goes by where he doesn’t play Quiet Life or All Tomorrow’s Parties, both from this album. Sylvian is still making experimental music but, Japan have long since broken up. But, their music remains and they are one of my favorite unknown bands from the New Wave era. An underrated band who shaped the music that others became huge with. Not bad for their third album. Other highlights include: Fall In Love With Me, Despair, In Vogue, Halloween and The Other Side of Life. Overall, I give Quiet Life, 5 out of 5.

Next: Broken English by Marianne Faithfull

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