Having recently attended the Chinese New Year celebrations in Birmingham I soon made time to listen to this album again for the first time in years. Naturally the festivities involved Chinese music and I was struck by how much of a Chinese influence Japan had incorporated into ‘Tin Drum’. I had previously thought it to be little more than lip service via clichéd oriental type melodies, strange sounds of dubious origin, and a picture of Chairman Mao on the cover. Seems I was wrong.
‘Tin Drum’ genuinely fuses Eastern with Western musical forms, yet in a way that is still assessable. Quite an achievement for what many could easily dismiss as ‘just a pop album!’ The production is very clear, which helps distinguish the Chinese instruments when they are not too obvious. Sometimes the Chinese element can lack subtlety through this has not spoilt my enjoyment. Lovers of Mick Kahn’s bass will be delighted to hear that he is very prominent in the mix.
There are only eight tracks, fairly standard for Japan at this time, one of which is an instrumental, and a mighty four of which were singles. The best-known song here is undoubtedly the atmospheric ballad ‘Ghosts’, one of Japans finest songs without a doubt. The silent passages reflect the Eastern influence on the song structure as such influence it beyond just the addition of a few ethnic instruments. ‘Visions of China’, ‘Cantonese Boy ’ and a new version of ‘Art of Parties’ which I find inferior to the single version, also feature on the album. The instrumental ‘Canton’ may also be familiar as the BBC have predictably used it as back ground music for every TV programme since 1982 that is in any way connected with the far east. Still, I imagine it is a nice little money earner for the band. The remaining three songs are the equal of the singles, with the possible exception of the outstanding ‘Ghosts’, and make for a solid album.
It had been some time since I had played this album, my taste drawing me more towards its two predecessors, ‘Quiet Life’ and ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroid’s’. Having become re-aquatinted with its charms I will not leave it quite so long before playing it again. I wonder am I alone in seeing a certain irony in a band called Japan being so interested in China?
Comments On This Review On 20/03/2006 12:29 MyPassion said:
i love this.
Tin drum is one of my favourite records to listen and take in.. quite a solitary feel for me. so charming indeed.
On 21/03/2006 08:12 Alan Sharif said:
Your right it does,good point.
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