(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
Like one of the band’s seminal influences Roxy Music in the earlier part of the 70's, U.K.'s art-rock/new wave band Japan played a important role in what would become of bands that followed in their wake. Bands like Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode to name a few would go on to sell millions and millions of records worldwide, especially in the elusive U.S. market, where Japan, China Crisis and Ultravox barely made a dent.
Japan on their previous two albums, musically were heavily indebted to early Roxy Music, and David Bowie with the trend setting imagery of The New York Dolls and maturing to a more slick suit and tie based band.
On Gentlemen Take Polaroids the band's third album, Japan was clearly heading into their own on all facets with this gem, paving the way for their most enduring work. With the shift in musical direction, founding member and guitarist Rob Dean would make this album his swan song with the band.
The transition from glam rock to synth pop is pronounced throughout this album, with songs like the title track, the flubbery "Swing", quirky "Methods of Dance" could easily fit on to the band's later albums, but the highlights of Gentlemen Take Polaroids are the two slower pieces, the anthemic "Nightporter" which many Japan fans feel is the band's greatest masterwork and the album's closer "Taking Islands in Africa", which showed a band maturing as a whole into one of the most innovative bands of that era.
While the Japan would become known for their later work, the transitional album Gentlemen Take Polaroids was sadly too ahead of its time for the music public but yet the influence of this album on the "New Romantic" movement is profound.