Category Archives: Mick Karn

Assembling Ghosts


01 Gentlemen Take Polaroids (7″ Edit) 03:29
02 The Art Of Parties (7″ Version) 03:51
03 Quiet Life (7″ Edit) 03:37
04 Visions Of China 03:41
05 European Son (Remix) 03:49
06 Ghosts (Single Version) 03:59
07 Cantonese Boy 03:49
08 I Second That Emotion (Remix) 03:54
09 Life In Tokyo (Remix) 04:02
10 Nightporter (Single Version) 05:04
11 All Tomorrow’s Parties (Remix) 03:34
12 Canton (Live) 05:30

INFO > Many longtime Japan fans were disappointed with the 2006 release of “The Very Best Of Japan.” On a positive note, the compilation was the first to feature singles from both of the band’s labels, Hansa and Virgin. But an early promise for the inclusion of hard-to-find edits was ultimately unfulfilled. Presented here is my attempt to rectify that failure.

While my beef with “The Very Best Of Japan” dates back seven years, this project has been on my to-do list for far longer. As a teenager in the mid-1980s, Japan expanded my listening habits beyond conventional pop, and forever changed my appreciation for music as art. For that, I have John Taylor and Nick Rhodes to thank—the Duran Duran founders listed “Tin Drum” among their favorite albums, circa 1984. I logically deduced that if I liked DD, and they liked “Tin Drum”, then I too would appreciate Japan. Amusingly, after seeing a photo of the band in an early edition of The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Rock, I assumed Japan to be Duran Duran imitators—I would later discover the reverse to be the case.

Transposed from the Guinness Book Of British Hit Singles, the list below formed the blueprint for “Assembling Ghosts”:

Release date > High chart position > Single

1980-10-18 > UK Singles No. 60 > “Gentlemen Take Polaroids”
1981-05-09 > UK Singles No. 48 > “The Art Of Parties”
1981-09-19 > UK Singles No. 19 > “Quiet Life”
1981-11-07 > UK Singles No. 32 > “Visions Of China”
1982-01-23 > UK Singles No. 31 > “European Son”
1982-03-20 > UK Singles No. 05 > “Ghosts”
1982-05-22 > UK Singles No. 24 > “Cantonese Boy”
1982-07-03 > UK Singles No. 09 > “I Second That Emotion”
1982-10-09 > UK Singles No. 28 > “Life In Tokyo”
1982-11-20 > UK Singles No. 29 > “Nightporter”
1983-03-12 > UK Singles No. 38 > “All Tomorrow’s Parties”
1983-05-21 > UK Singles No. 42 > “Canton” (Live)

I took one liberty in my tracklistings, replacing the ‘Special Remix’ of “Life In Tokyo” that charted in 1982 with a less common remix from the 1989 collection, “Souvenir From Japan.”

PW: Dachshund

Japan – Life In Tokyo


“Life In Tokyo”
1979 Ariola Hansa Records / 1982 Hansa Records (UK)
AHA 540 / HANSA 17

01. Life In Tokyo (Short Version) 03:30
02. Life In Tokyo (Part 2) 03:17
03. Life In Tokyo (Long Version) 07:08
04. Life In Tokyo (Special Remix) 04:03
05. Life In Tokyo (Theme) 03:55
06. Life In Tokyo (Extended Remix) 07:05
07. Life In Tokyo (‘Assemblage’ Remix) 06:15
08. Life In Tokyo (‘Souvenir’ Remix) 04:01

INFO > Released in 1979, “Life In Tokyo” marked a dramatic turning point in Japan’s career. Produced by Giorgio Moroder, the song’s Eurodisco style began the London quintet’s evolution from glam rockers into New Romantics. Although the original single and a subsequent 1981 reissue failed to chart, a remixed version of “Life In Tokyo” finally broke the UK Top 40 in 1982.

Life In Tokyo

Various Artists – Medium Label Sampler

Various Artists
“Medium Label Sampler”
1999 Medium Productions Limited (UK)

01. Jansen Barbieri Takemura – Spaced
02. Yoshihiro Hanno meets Mick Karn – Traveller’s Diary
03. JBK – The Shallow Pool
04. Takahashi Jansen – The Choice (Reinforced Mix)
05. Jansen Barbieri – A Disturbed Sense Of Distance
06. Jansen Barbieri – Mother London
07. Indigo Falls – Only Forward
08. JBK – Beginning To Melt
09. Takahashi Jansen – Life’s Like That (featuring Zoe Niblett)
10. JBK Band – Life Without Buildings (Live)

INFO > In 1993, former Japan bandmates Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri, and Mick Karn founded Medium Productions as a distribution outlet for their creative and collaborative output. Ever since Japan’s “Tin Drum”, the three instrumentalists have been pushing the boundaries of mainstream music, with their recordings becoming increasingly experimental. This sampler collects tracks from the label’s releases to 1999, along with a live recording of Japan B-side “Life Without Buildings.” Unfortunately, after only 15 releases, Medium Productions closed up shop in 2002.


Mick Karn (1958 – 2011)

Distinguished for his unique fretless bass style, Mick Karn was an immensely talented artist, his abilities extending beyond the realm of music to include sculpture, painting, and photography. Born Andonis Michaelides on 24 July 1958 in Nicosia, Cyprus, Karn and his family emigrated to England in 1961. While attending school in London, he met brothers David and Steve Batt, and Richard Barbieri, who collectively formed the band Japan in 1974.

Following rough beginnings as a glam rock ensemble recording for the German Hansa label, Japan changed their sound and image, signed with Virgin Records, and found greater success spearheading the New Romantic movement in the early 1980s. In May 1986, I first heard Japan’s “Tin Drum” – it was a revelatory listening experience which completely changed my perspective and appreciation for music as an art form.

Karn’s subsequent solo material, session work, and collaborations were no less captivating; his distinctive bass sound can be heard on recordings by Gary Numan, Bill Nelson, Midge Ure, Kate Bush, Joan Armatrading, Mark Isham, and David Torn, among others. After Japan disintegrated in 1983, Karn formed the short-lived Dalis Car with Peter Murphy, whose band Bauhaus had also recently parted ways. Karn would continue collaborating with former bandmates Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri; a reunion including singer David Sylvian produced a one-off album as Rain Tree Crow in 1991. Karn, Jansen, and Barbieri founded Medium Productions Ltd in 1993, providing an outlet for the trio’s avant-garde soundscapes and sonic experiments.

Karn returned to his Cyprus homeland in 2004, and continued working on various projects. In June 2010, he made the grave announcement that he had been diagnosed with an advanced stage cancer. Struggling financially, Karn received generous support from fellow artists and fans, enabling him to return to London for treatment later in the year. Unfortunately, Mick Karn lost his fight on 4 January 2011 at the age of 52. He is survived by his wife and son.

Mick Karn’s creative legacy will continue to entertain and inspire, and he will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Mick.