Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids

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Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids.jpg
Studio album by
Released 24 October 1980
Recorded August 1980
Studio AIR Studios and Townhouse Studios, London, England
  • Avant pop
  • stnth pop
Length 46:26
Label Virgin
Producer John Punter
Japan chronology
Quiet Life
Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Tin Drum
Singles from Gentlemen Take Polaroids
  1. "Gentlemen Take Polaroids"
    Released: October 1980
  2. "Nightporter"
    Released: 12 November 1982


  "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" is the fourth studio album by the English band Japan, released on 24 October 1980 by Virgin records.




"Gentlemen Take Polaroids" was the band's first album for the Virgin Records label, after leaving Hansa-Ariola who had released their first three albums. It continued in the vein of their previous album "Quiet Life", drawing on its elegant Euro-disco stylings coupled with more ambitious arrangements. This was the last Japan album to feature guitarist Rob Dean, who left the band in spring 1981.



The album was preceded by the release of the title track as a single in October 1980, which peaked at number 60 in the UK Singles Chart, the group's first single to chart.

The album itself was moderately successful in the UK. It peaked at number 51, and was later certified Gold by the BPI in 1986 for 100,000 copies sold.

No further singles were immediately taken from the album, though "Nightporter" (influenced by the works of French composer Erik Satie, most particularly his Gymnopedies) was remixed and released as a single in November 1982, just after the band announced that they were breaking up. It peaked at number 29 in the UK Singles Chart, though both the edited 7" version and the full-length 12" remix remain unreleased on CD to this day.

The album was reissued in 2003, with slightly different cover art (taken from the same photo session as the original cover) and three bonus tracks, including the instrumentals "The Width of a Room" (the only track in the band's catalogue composed by guitarist Rob Dean) and "The Experience of Swimming", composed by Richard Barbieri. Both tracks had previously been released as B-sides in the early 1980s.



Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars
Smash Hits 8/10 stars
Trouser Press positive

"Gentlemen Take Polaroids" has been well received by critics. Writing in Smash Hits magazine in November 1980, Steve Taylor gave the album 8/10 and wrote: "If Brian Eno, rather than Bryan Ferry, had rerouted the original direction of Roxy Music, this might well have been the result..."

In his retrospective review, Ned Raggett of AllMusic called it "unquestionably the album in which Japan truly found its own unique voice and aesthetic approach." The Quietus wrote that the album "took the sound of Quiet Life and refined it into a series of oblique, almost cinematic avant-pop creations that exquisitely surround the frontman’s woozy post-Bryan Ferry croon in layers of pop textures that sounded like little else by Japan’s contemporaries.



Track listing

All tracks written by David Sylvian, except as noted.

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" 7:08
2. "Swing" 6:23
3. "Burning Bridges†" 5:23
4. "My New Career" 3:52
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Methods of Dance"   6:53
2. "Ain't That Peculiar" Smokey Robinson, Warren "Pete" Moore, Marvin Tarplin, Bobby Rogers 4:40
3. "Nightporter"   6:57
4. "Taking Islands in Africa" Rycichi Sakamoto, Sylvian 5:12

† The track "Burning Bridges" was put on the album as a last-minute replacement for a track titled "Some Kind of Fool", with quite a lot of UK and German pressings of the album listing the latter song on the inner sleeve and on the track listings. "Some Kind of Fool" was also going to be released as a single, but was replaced by "Nightporter". An overdubbed version with new lyrics was released on Sylvian's solo album Everything and Nothing in 2000, but the original Japan version has never been released.




Year Song UK Chart Additional information
1980 "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" 60 released as a double single pack: "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" (edit)/"The Experience of Swimming" and "The Width Of A Room"/"Burning Bridges" (a Sylvian-produced version unavailable elsewhere)
1982 "Nightporter" 29 released edited and remixed with "Ain't That Peculiar" (remix) on the 7" single and "Methods of Dance" on the 12" single




  • David Sylvian – vocals, synthesizers (ARP Omni, Oberheim OB-X, Minimoog, Roland System 700), piano, electric guitar
  • Mick Karn – fretless bass guitar, oboe, saxophone, recorder
  • Steve Jansen – drums, synthesizer (Roland System 700, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5), percussion
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers (Roland System 700, Micromoog, Polymoog 4, Prophet 5, Oberheim OB-X, Roland Jupiter 4), sequencer, piano
  • Rob Dean – guitar, ebow
Additional personnel
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto – synthesizers
  • Simon House – violin on "My New Career"
  • Cyo – vocals on "Methods of Dance"
  • Barry Guy – double bass
  • Andrew Cauthery – oboe
  • John Punter – production, mixing, recording, engineering
  • Colin Fairley – recording, engineering
  • Nigel Walker – recording, engineering
  • Steve Prestage – recording, engineering
  • Nicola Tyson – back cover
  • Stuart McLeod – front cover




Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids

UK Virgin Records V 2180 stereo (1980).

Album produced by John Punter.

The vinyl record has remained in excellent condition.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean, unmarked, and free from tears, stains or stickers.

The album cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minimal signs of wear.

The album cover has a strong, undamaged spine, displaying very clear, printed script.

The original manufacturers sticker confirming the replacement track titles, is still adhered to the rear side.

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